Guest Post: Walking through the best street art in Madrid
Madrid is the kind of European capital that is full of monuments in the city center. It is also here that the majority of travelers spend their holidays, but have you ever stopped to observe the street art in Madrid? Spain’s capital features a handful of graffiti festivals around the Lavapiés and Malasaña neighborhoods, making these districts the most visited when you want to practice alternative tourism.
Here are the observations I made while I participated at Javier’s graffiti tours in Madrid; a local graffiti writer who created a project called Cooltourspain, where he guides his guests through the streets of Lavapiés. How did I find him? Just by wandering around the internet, I came by his Airbnb profile advertising his street art tours.
Which spots would I include in a list with the quirkiest street art in Madrid?
La Tabacalera is a former tobacco factory from the XIX century, now used as a self-sustained center. It is related to the street art in Madrid because it is on its interior where you will find the walls of the underground tunnels covered with color. Artists from all over the world go to this place to leave their artwork in a legal way. Also, its exterior walls feature a street art festival called Muros Tabacalera, held every second year.
“Esto es Una Plaza” is a family-friendly urban garden where the community has created a local hub to meet, create, chat and relax. The black&white animals from the famous Belgian artist Roa will welcome you once you enter this city council-owned square in Calle Doctor Fourquet. You will also find different kinds of workshops such as the summer cinema, Sunday’s DIY bike day or the poetry Jam sessions.
Calle Embajadores also features the urban art of local artists: Ze Carrión, MAZ or the 400 square meters wall created by El Rey de la Ruina. Do not forget to visit the small cafés located around the neighborhood. Personal recommendation: Swinton and Grant.
Is there any political message behind the graffiti and street art in Madrid?
According to Javier’s opinion, there exists a connection between the street art in Madrid and the political way this country runs. “You sometimes observe that graffiti writers include the term gentrification, feminist ideas or the politically corrupted situation in their artwork”, he says.
Graffiti has always been related to an illegal act but with the involvement of the local city council with street art festivals and events, the movement is coloring the city and its public buildings in such a creative way! I simply loved to observe Madrid’s city center in a way I never did before.
The street art in Madrid showed me that there exist more techniques than just the spray paint
I never participated in any kind of illegal bombing (tagging the streets with your alias), but I should admit that it was very interesting to learn about the techniques that both male and female local artists use while creating their art. The street art in Madrid taught me about the ‘paste-ups’, paper-based designs which are glued onto the walls with home-made paste. It also refreshed the stencil technique, famously used by well-known Banksy.
I even got interested in this world-wide movement where artists exchange their stickers and bomb cities all around the world without the necessity to travel to any given country. Isn’t it nice that there exists such a connection between people who have never met each other? Amazing!
The street art in Madrid changed the way I now observe the city.
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