Madrid – this human-sized capital that I fell in love with 11 years ago. It’s impossible to get bored in this city. You will always find something to do, 24/7. It will not come as a surprise if I tell you that Madrid gained a lot of tourists. Even during the pandemic, after 3 months of being very strict, we were one of the only cities where tourists could still enjoy eating, drinking or visit the tourist places. Madrid has a lot to offer to tourists, places like the Plaza Mayor, the Prado Museum, the Retiro Park, the Royal Palace, and the Almudena Cathedral. Even neighbourhoods like La Latina and her Sunday’s market, El Rastro. I’m sure they sound pretty familiar to you. Or at least, if you are planning to come to Madrid for a weekend, you will find them. But, what are the hidden gems in Madrid?
That’s exactly what I would like to tell you today: places that you may not find so easily in the tourism blogs of the capital. I will share with you 5 hidden places that may go unnoticed by many people but are certainly worth visiting. Let me know if I was right after you visited Madrid one day 🙂
1. El Capricho Park
If you like parks, as I do, and like to feel surrounded by nature in the middle of the city, you have to check out this emblematic and unique park. It’s not exactly in the city centre, but it’s easy to go by metro. In the summer, Madrid’s metro even has air conditioning so you will for sure appreciate it. El Capricho Park is located in Alameda de Osuna, a bit northeast of the city. This park was created in 1784 by the Duke of Osuna and houses a large amount of “botanical, sculptural and artistic wealth”.
Also, another hidden secret is the famous bunker called the “Jaca Position”. This bunker, which is located in the park, was constructed in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. It was the command bunker of General Miaja from which he commanded the defence of Madrid. You can access Jaca Position with a guided tour.
Image by EsMadrid
2. Ghost Metro Station
If you like old stories that become legends, you have to visit this metro station. In 2006 a rehabilitation project was launched with the idea of reopening it to the public as a museum. This project became reality a couple of years after. You can travel back in time and see what the city of Madrid was like decades ago. Chamberí Station was inaugurated in 1919 and served between the Iglesia and Bilbao stops. It ceased its activity in 1966, although it retains much of its original elements.
Do you want to know why it is called a ghost station? Legend has it that the Chamberi Station served as a shelter for the homeless people and, when the trains passed, travellers saw moving silhouettes. Over the years, the original stop fell into oblivion and the idea of a ghost station in the Madrid Metro remained. If you go to visit it, you will be very surprised by the ads you will see – all made with tiles. Painted tiles on which the brands and their advertising messages appeared.
3. Hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida
For art lovers, here is the gem to enjoy Goya’s frescoes. Another not well-known place, even by the people of Madrid. It is a hermitage located in the district of Moncloa-Aravaca that houses magnificent works of Francisco de Goya, painted in the late eighteenth century. It was declared a National Monument in 1905 for its proper preservation and it’s the place where the tomb of the famous artist is located since 1919.
4. Escuelas Pías de San Fernando
After more than two years of being closed, this amazing place has reopened, and you can go only if you need to take a study break. Located in the neighbourhood of Lavapiés, it is a church that is part of the headquarters of the UNED, the National University of Distance Education, and was the scene of the Civil War. It’s used as a library where people go to study. Sadly, they haven’t reopened the bar with the beautiful terrace they used to have on the rooftop of the library, but of course it’s still worth it. Don’t forget to bring your book!
Image by javier1949 on Flickr
5. A Hidden Art Space
To finish the hidden gems in Madrid, the fifth and last place is the most exotic one. Let’s say a more alternative option. It is called ‘La Neomudéjar’, an art space aimed at innovation and unknown to many tourists and even locals. It’s very close to the Paseo del Arte. This place is a museum dedicated to the most innovative creations. Video art festivals, exhibitions, colloquiums and artistic installations are programmed in this museum, which also offers residencies for artists who leave their mark in the building itself. The building belonged to the old Atocha station and the end of the train track reached the same door from where materials were supplied directly from the freight wagons.
Image by javier1949 on Flickr
I hope you enjoyed this unusual tour through the hidden gems in Madrid. I look forward to showing you the gastronomic side, tapas, sangria, and ‘cañas’ (Spanish beer) next time. Also, if during your stay you want to improve your Spanish and meet new wonderful people, you are more than welcome to join a SPEAK group in Madrid. Still interested in knowing more about Madrid? Find out another 7 must-do things in Madrid!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of SPEAK.