Madrid, located in the geographical center of the Iberian Peninsula, is a historically open and diverse southern European metropolis; currently considered one of the most exciting and creative cities in Europe. Madrid has a thriving flamenco scene, with many of Spain's finest performers living in the area during the winter season.
Madrid's dynamism draws numerous musicians from other parts of Spain and abroad. Thus, it is not surprising to find Galician pipers, Canary Islanders playing timple (a small Spanish instrument related to the cavaquinho), Cuban rappers, Argentine rockers and Brazilian guitarists playing flamenco. Music can be found in the surface, at Madrid clubs and festivals, and also underground, in the extensive metro (subway) system.
The city has gone through one of the largest renovations in its long history. The former M-30 loop, a freeway considered an eye sore by many, was buried underground. Now that the construction is over, the surface gained will connect both banks of the Manzanares River, with riverside parks.
The city of Madrid is Spain's melting pot and its largest metropolitan area. Tens of thousands of citizens have arrived from all corners of Spain. These new residents brought a constellation of regional influences and cuisines. In addition, Madrid is quickly becoming a “mestizo” city. Over 16% of the population is now formed by immigrants from other countries. The largest immigrant communities are formed by Argentines, Colombians, Ecuadorians, Romanians, Moroccans, Bulgarians, Equatorial Guineans, Filipinos, Chinese, Poles, and Ukrainians; as well as many citizens of the European Union, who can move freely within the union. The regional government is helping immigrants by building immigrant cultural centers.
There is a considerable African music community, including the largest number of Equatorial Guinean expatriates; Saharawi musicians from the former Spanish Sahara (currently known as the Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco); and many West Africans and Congolese. You can also find a growing number of Cuban musicians who play hip hop, rock and traditional son. Likewise, Madrid has a large number of Argentine and Brazilian musicians.
In some cases, entire bands have relocated from cities like Havana, Panama city and Buenos Aires to the Spanish capital. Many of these newcomers have joined forces with Spanish musicians and other expatriates to create various hybrid forms of Spanish folk music and Flamenco combined with Latin, African and Middle Eastern sounds. These new hybrids are sometimes called ”m” or mestizo music. Mestizo sounds are also found in other parts of Spain.
The Lavapies barrio (district) in central Madrid is an example of Madrid's multiculturalism. According to a report made by Madrid's Complutense University, Lavapi?s, located in the heart of Madrid, has residents from 60 different nationalities. The report also concluded that 12% of the residents in the Madrid metropolitan region are immigrants.
Many visitors already know that Madrid is the city that never sleeps, with the best night life in all of Europe. During the 1980s, the “Movida Madrileña” music and arts scene was the envy of the rest of the European capitals. Sadly, there was a decline in the music scene in the 1990s, but the thriving scene is back. There are new clubs, new festivals and the vibrant influence of the new immigrants and the Chueca gay district, which contributes to a rich cultural diversity.
An enclave known as El “pequeño Caribe” (Little Caribbean) is a Dominican area in the Tetu?n district. Along Almansa, Topete and Tenerife streets one can find Dominican bars, stores, beauty shops and CDs. There is also a growing Chinatown in the downtown area.
The locals in Madrid start dining after 10 p.m. and numerous bars, pubs, clubs and venues are open until very late.
Many independent stores struggled to survive and few are left. A handful of specialized such as Espacio Flamenco for flamenco, Tununtunumba for percussion and world music and Harmonia Mundi Madrid for classical and some world music are good places to check out.
The city also has numerous festivals and concert series at various cultural centers so it is worth buying a copy of the weekly Gu?a del Ocio, the local entertainment guide. One of the best series is Veranos de la Villa, during July. Numerous world music concerts take place at the historic Cuartel Conde Duque, former Army barracks.
The Festival Flamenco Caja Madrid is held annually, usually in January and February. It features conferences and performances by the top Flamenco artists in Spain. The venues are usually La Casa Encendida and Teatro Albeniz.
A new Flamenco festival was introduced in June 2006 by the regional government. Suma Flamenca is intended to show the importance of Madrid in the world of Flamenco. Top singers, dancers and guitarists perform in the capital, as well as in other locations throughout the Madrid autonomous region. More information is available at: http://www.sumaflamenca.com.
Madrid Encanto, produced by the regional government around late May and early June usually features international and Spanish world music acts, as well as other artists that are harder to classify.
Feminas is a festival dedicated to women. It showcases dozens of female acts, ranging from folk and rock to world music. It also features other forms of art; photography, painting, etc.
Madrid's metropolitan area is very large and there are numerous festivals and fairs in the surrounding towns and cities.
Parla, south of Madrid presents the annual Interparla world music festival. That same month, Las Rozas, northeast of Madrid, hosts Folkinvierno, which is a world music festival featuring top Spanish and international acts.
Folk Chinchon takes place in June in the enchanting medieval town of Chinchon, not far Madrid. Several traditional and modern Spanish folk music bands from Castile, Galicia and other parts of Spain, are usually featured, together with a small trade show with booths representing instrument makers, bands, labels, crafts and publications. E-mail: email@example.com.
The cities in the southern metro area of Madrid are larger than many provincial capitals. The Festival Internacional Madrid Sur presents internationally renowned world music artists in the cities of Fuenlabrada, Getafe and Legan?s. The festival is usually held in October.
A new world music festival was created in 2005, Festival Folksticio de Verano, in San Fernando de Henares. It is intended to be the largest summer world music event in central Spain, with artists from Spain, various European countries and the Magreb region. It is held at Parque Dolores Ibarruri. To get there you can catch the Interbus bus line. They depart from the transportation hub (Intercambiador) at Plaza de Castilla (Metro station: Plaza de Castilla). There is also a commuter train service that leaves from the Chamartin train station.
Also in June, jazz festivals are plentiful. Many of them feature Latin jazz and flamenco jazz: Alcalatinjazz (Alcal? de Henares, which runs through July), A Todo Jazz (M?stoles), Galapajazz, (Galapagar) and Villalba Jazz (Collado Villalba).
The Sierra Norte mountains north of Madrid has its own world music festival. The Festival ?tnico Colores del Mundo is held in the mountain towns of El Vell?n, Cervera de Buitrago, Lozoya, Rascafr?a, Gascones, Pradena del Rincon and Cabanillas de la Sierra.
Another city in the mountains near Madrid, Collado Villalba, has two large events, a Celtic festival and a Jazz festival. The Celtic festival, Festival Internacional de musica Celta de Collado Villalba - Viacelta, is held in September and normally features top international acts, as well as some of the best Celtic acts from Spain. More information at http://www.ayto-colladovillalba.org.
There are many options in Madrid's radio dials. Radio Nacional de Espa?a (Spanish National Radio, available nationwide), Radio 3, 93.2 FM, has several national shows produced in Madrid that feature world music:
The Jos? Ramirez guitar shop was founded in 1882. Store: Calle La Paz 8, Madrid. Phone: +34 915 314 229. Shop (Taller): Calle General Margallo 10, Madrid. Phone: +34 915 718 431, Fax: +34 915 715 945. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To purchase percussion instruments you can visit the Taller de Percusion Gomez shop. Calle Goiri 11, 28039 Madrid. Phone: +34-91-733 1221. Metro station: Estrecho.
There are two branches of Total Percusion at Calle Alberto Aguilera 50 and Calle Valverde 8. Phone: +34 91.552.66.64
Tununtunumba sells musical instruments from many countries. Calle Santa Maria 34, Madrid. Phone: +34 91 420 04 50.
Garrido Bailen sells a wide variety of instruments, including Spanish and international folk instruments. Calle Mayor 88 Esquina Bailen. Phone: +34 91.542.45.01.
Victor Barral makes and sells percussion instruments. Phone: +34 91.314.11.36.
The Nubenegra label, founded by Manuel Dom?nguez, was recording Cuban artists before the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon. It also produces recordings by Spanish artists and African and Brazilian musicians based in Madrid.
Nuevos Medios, led by producer Mario Pacheco, became the benefactor of new flamenco artists while none of the other labels showed any interest. Its compilations of young flamenco artists called Los J?venes Flamencos, opened many people's ears to the sounds of flamenco guitar wizardry and young Gypsy bands fusing timeless flamenco with salsa, blues, jazz and African music.
Fonomusic has been around for quite a while. This former independent (now part of Warner Music) has a considerable catalog of flamenco, Gypsy rumba and Galician music.
Sonifolk has one of the largest catalogs of traditional Spanish folk music. It also produces new artists from various parts of the country that play contemporary folk sounds.
The Dance Factory provides international dance classes: belly dance, tribal american, tribal fusion, Bollywood, Bharata Natyam, Sevillanas, Flamenco, ballroom, salsa, house dance.
Casa Persa (Persian House) is a cultural center run by the Spanish-Persian Cultural Association. It features Sufi and Persian folk music concerts, as well as poetry readings and other events.
La Casa Encendida is a new cultural center funded by one of Madrid's largest banks, Caja de Madrid. It has archives, provides classes and workshops, programs concerts and features exhibitions. Address: Ronda Valencia 2, 28012 Madrid. Phone: +34 91 506 38 75/88, Fax: +34 91 506 38 76. E-mail: email@example.com.
A visit to Madrid would not be complete without visiting its great museums. One of the finest museum districts in the world can be found in Madrid. Three of the world's most excellent art museums (all of which are being expanded) are located along the Paseo del Prado. The spectacular El Prado is perhaps the most famous. Not far is the impressive Thyssen-Bornemisza museum which holds the collection of the late Baron von Thyssen, the largest private art collector in the world. Both can be accessed by Metro (station: Banco de Espa?a). The nearby Reina Sofia Museum holds a unique collection of contemporary art, including a large number of Dalí paintings.
Several museums in the Spanish capital include musical instrument collections. The Museo de América includes musical instruments from the American continent. Avenida Reyes Católicos 6, 48040 Madrid. Phones: +34 91/549 2641/543 9437, Fax: +34 91 544 6742
The Museo Nacional De Antropologia includes traditional Spanish musical instruments. It has two separate locations. The Alfonso XII museum contains the collections of the former Museo Nacional de Etnologia. Address: Calle Alfonso XII 68, 28014 Madrid. Phone: +34 91 539 5995/530 6418, Fax: +34 91 467 7098. The other museum is located at Avenida Juan de Herrera and it holds the former Museo Nacional del Pueblo Espa?ol assets. Address: Avda. Juan Herrera 2, 28040 Madrid. Phones: +34 91 549 2290/549 7150, Fax: +34 91 544 6970.
The Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas includes some musical instruments, specially elaborate percussion instruments and flutes. Address: Calle Montalb?n 12, 28014 Madrid. Phone: +34 91 532 6499/521 3440, Fax: +34 91 523 2086.
There is also an African museum (Museo Africano). It only opens Thursdays and Sunday afternoons. Address: Calle Arturo Soria 101, Madrid.
There are high quality music schools that teach many of the musical traditions of Spain.
The Madrid Royal Conservatory of Music (Real Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Madrid) not only offers courses in classical instruments, it also provides lessons in flamenco guitar, accordion, various Spanish string instruments, traditional instruments and ethnomusicology. Address: Calle Doctor Mata 2, 28012 Madrid. Phone: +34 915392901, Fax: +34 915275822. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Metro station: Congosto. Train station: Atocha.
The Escuela de Danza y Musica 'Marta De La Vega' was opened in 2001. It includes courses in Galician pipes, flamenco guitar, flutes, tin whistle, darbuka, riq, bodhran, Galician percussion, mandolin, hurdy gurdy, and musical theory. There are also Spanish culture and musical history classes, as well as seminars, workshops and concerts. Address: Calle Maria Teresa 11, 28028 Madrid, Spain. Phone: +34-91 725 55 69. E-mail: email@example.com.
The Escuela de Música Creativa (Creative Music School) is a reputable school that teaches Jazz instruments and techniques, as well as Flamenco (primarily guitar and cajon). Address: Calle Palma 35, 28004 Madrid, Spain - Phone: +34 915 211 156.
For flamenco dance classes there is the Escuela de Flamenco Puro, which teaches traditional flamenco dance in the style of the Gypsies of Lower Andalusia. Address: Raquel Quijano de la Fuente, Flamenco Puro, Calle Castell?n de la Plana 7, E - 28006 Madrid, Spain. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fundacion Conservatorio Flamenco Casa Patas is a center founded May 2000 inside a restored building located right above the famous Casa de Patas Flamenco tavern. Fundaci?n Conservatorio Flamenco Casa Patas is Madrid's first Flamenco conservatory. It includes a hall for conferences and presentations and several classrooms for teaching music theory and Flamenco guitar. The center also includes a store, library, audio library and video library. Address: calle de Ca?izares 10, Madrid, Spain.
For Galician pipes and drums there is the Escola de Gaita Tradicional Galega. This Galician bagpipe school was founded by Xo?n Brand?n, a Galician piper who moved to Madrid. The school offers pipe and drum courses. Address: Xoan Brand?n, calle San Claudio 41, Local 3, 28038 Madrid, Spain. Phone: +34-606-411895. E-mail: email@example.com.
A new school dedicated to Castilian folk music, Escuela De Folklore Castellano 'Plaza Castilla', is located next to Plaza de Castilla square. Founded by musician Fernando Llorente, one of Spain's finest dulzaina players. Other teachers include Eliseo Parra and Manuel P?rez. The school also has storytelling and theater workshops. Info about traditional music and dance workshops: Fernando Llorente. Tel?fonos: +34 670.05.71.63 / +34 91.315.62.37. Info about storytelling workshops: Ma?sa Marb?n: 607 604 633. Metro station: Plaza de Castilla.
If you are interested in Indian tabla, there is Tapan. Run by Tapan Bhattacharya, a professional musician from India and tabla teacher. The classes in Madrid take place at the Yoga Center, calle Lagasca #32 - 1ero. Izq. Phone: +34- 600 03 09 79.
Luis Lumbreras teaches didjeridu (didgeridoo) classes. Phones: 91 5287160 - 652636018. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Address: calle Salitre, 34, bj. 7. Madrid. Metro stations: Lavapi?s, Ant?n Mart?n or Atocha.
Mamá Africa teaches West African and dance classes on Mondays and Wednesdays from 20:00 to 22:00 at Centro Cultural Ramiro de Maeztu. Calle Mayorazgo (Leganés). Tlf.: 635 27 72 24 / 91 250 18 71. E-mail: email@example.com.
Bloco de Baliza is a samba group that also teaches Brazilian percussion and dance. Phone: 607852962.
Trade is a new school for DJs, offering basic and advanced DJ courses, turntablism, production, Protools, Logic, Reason, live, final scratch and DJ tools. Avda de Moratalaz 149 post. Phone: +34 902 900 495. E-mail: info at trade.com.es
Nieblas de Avalon is an Oriental (belly dance) school, specializing in tribal fusion and Goth. Calle Andaluc?a 4, 28007- Madrid. Phone: + 34 91 4339019. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Madrid's carnival was revived in the 1970s. It is slowly becoming a large popular event. Although the best carnivals in Spain are the ones in Tenerife (Canary Islands) and C?diz (Andalucia), Madrid's is worth checking out.
The Virgen de la Paloma celebration in August includes a religious procession and Madrid's traditional dance, chotis, with participants dressed in typical costumes. There are also music concerts and street performances.
Pasodecebra.net not only provides students with the tourist information about Madrid, but also gives advice on the everyday student life. All the information about Madrid universities and language schools, as well as the important hints on the apartment/job search are very helpful for students. There are also useful tips about restaurants, bars and discos.
Universidad Politecnica de Madrid's student guide in English.
Board of European Students of Technology (BEST) - BEST Madrid's Survival Guide
A new portal dedicated to immigrants living in Madrid is available at http://www.madrid.org. The site is called Inmigramadrid. It provides information about immigration paperwork, social services, employment, housing and other resources. The site is available in Spanish, English, French and Romanian.
Spaniards are used to very long lunches and late dinners, where slow food is appreciated and waiters are not in a hurry to get you out of the restaurant.
Tapas are a Spanish invention and Madrid has some of the best. They are served at numerous bars and restaurants. Some of the most popular tapas are aceitunas (olives), which are marinated and stuffed in many forms; jam?n serrano (serrano ham), jamón de pata negra (dark red acorn-fed ham made from free range pigs, an expensive and rare delicacy), patatas bravas (spicy fried potatoes), callos (tripes), tortilla de patata (potato omelet), boquerones en vinagre, (pickled sardines), calamares (calamari, fried squid), croquetas (croquettes with ham, cod, cheese or chicken), pescaito frito or fritura (fried fish), gambas a la plancha (grilled shrimp), gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), pulpo a la gallega (octopus Galician style), adobo (marinated fish), ensaladilla rusa (literally means Russian salad, but it is really Spanish potato salad with homemade mayonnaise), pinchos morunos (pork kebabs), montados de lomo (marinated pork loin sandwiches), and chorizo.
Bocadillos are sandwiches made with crusty Spanish bread. The English word sandwich is used for sliced bread sandwiches. The Atocha area has numerous bars that serve bocadillos. The Bar de los Bocadillos is very popular with students. They sell inexpensive bocadillos de calamares (fried calamari sandwiches). You can find it at Paseo del Marqués de Urquijo street, near Calle Princesa, in the Arguelles district.
If you are looking for Spanish food, you need to seek the various regional styles. For example, gazpacho is Andalusian, paella is Valencian, grilled lamb is Castilian, etc.
There are many restaurants representing the different Spanish regions: Cocina andaluza (Andalusian, southern Spain), asturiana (Asturian, northern Spain), aragonesa (Aragonese, northern Spain and Pyrenees), balear (Balearic), cantabra (Cantabrian, northern Spain), castellana (Castilian, central Spain), catalana (Catalonian, northeastern Spain), extreme?a (western Spain), gallega (Galician, northwestern Spain), leonesa (Leonese, northwestern Spain), madrile?a (from Madrid), navarra (Navarrese, Northeastern Spain), murciana (southeastern Spain), riojana (central Spain), valenciana (Valencian, eastern Spain), vasca (Basque, northern Spain), and canaria (Canary Islands).
For lovers of international cuisine, there are restaurants representing American (US), Arabic, Argentine, Armenian, Belgian, Brazilian, Chilean, Chinese, Colombian, Ecuadorian, French, German, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Peruvian, Portuguese, Russian, Thai, Uruguayan and Vietnamese, styles.
For those with a small budget, there are many resturants that offer an affordable men? del dia for a fixed price. It usually includes a two course meal, water or house wine and a dessert.
Madrid has been building a network of paved bike paths. A 60 kilometer ring around the city was completed in 2007. The path has no barriers. Road crossings and other obstacles are avoided with bridges. The main loop allows riders to cycle through several parks and connect to other parts of the city with numerous side trails.
These are web sites that focus on some interesting aspects of Madrid.
http://www.atardeceresdemadrid.org shows evening photos of Madrid cityscapes.
Angel Romero, Juan Antonio Vázquez & Araceli Tzigane of Mapamundi Radio