Madrid City Guide-Madrid Apartments for Rent

Go to content

Main menu

Madrid centre: Gran Via, Chueca & Malasaña, the liviest and trendiest areas of Madrid centre



Gran Via divides Madrid in districts: on its northside are Malasaña -to the west- and Chueca further east. Gran Vía ends to the west in Plaza de España and to the east at the intersection with Calle de Alcalá.

Permanently crowded with shoppers and sightseers, the street is appropriately named -the great lane- with splendidly quirky Art Nouveau and Art Deco facades fronting its banks, offices and apartments, and huge posters on the cinemas.

During the 1920s, the Gran Vía became an area where inhabitants could stroll around, with many shops, insurance company offices and leisure buildings that combined cinemas, theatres or varieties.

The first section, approximately up to  Callao, is characterised by monumental buildings influenced by a modernist style and based on classicism and neo-Mudejar. The Metropolis Building is one of the most representative constructions: a beautiful and unique creation with a stunning tower composed by a rotonda of Corinthian columns that supports a third level finished off by a dome crowned by an winged victory.

From Callao, two pedestrian streets lead directly to Puerta del Sol: calle Preciados, with El Corte Inglés & FNAC department stores, and calle del Carmen. At the end of Carmen you'll find the city's most popular meeting place, "el Oso y el Madroño" (the Bear & the strawberry tree), at Puerta del Sol.

The Gran Vía ends in an open area, Plaza España, created in the 1920s to air the old city and constructed on land occupied by low houses, small gardens and billeting.

Plaza de España is one of the biggest squares in the city. The massive Plaza de España is flanked by Madrid's first skyscrapers, built in the 1950's: Torre de Madrid and Edificio España.  Plaza de España's large central statue pays homage to Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes, seated, is accompanied by statues of his beloved characters, Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.

Madrid’s Broadway - The Gran Vía

Madrid has ranked third in the world in the number of musical shows premiering in the city. That says much about the city’s taste for shows that move the masses and make the stories of Victor Hugo and his Misérables and the songs of Lloyd Weber universal, not to mention the Disney characters given life by flesh-and-blood actors.

Famous voices that reveal their acting ability on stage, giving life to Mary Magdalene, the flower-seller Elisa Doolittle or the ex-convict Jean Valjean, whether international productions that have triumphed in other climates or domestic dramatisations that bring back the pop hits of the eighties, these shows triumph on the stages of Madrid’s Broadway - the Gran Vía.


Chueca is a small but lively neighbourhood squeezed between Paseo de Recoletos to the east and Calle de Fuencarral to the west. Its epicenter is Plaza de Chueca.
Plaza de Chueca is the center of barrio activity. Cafes around the square set up tables when the weather is nice. It's the see and be seen of Gay Madrid.

Chueca is full of restaurants
, any type of cuisine, of style, different budgets, -and with surprisingly affordable options. It's among the most lively and cosmopolitan neighbourhoods downtown, and remarkably, the gay center of Madrid and all of Spain. The "Barrio Rosa" (Pink Neighborhood) shines during Gay Pride every June with an extravagant parade and debaucherous street partying.

Chueca is the kind of neighbourhood perfect for strolling and stumbling upon attractive establishments... Taste the forward-thinking, fusion cuisine of New York-style cafes along calles Libertad and San Marcos (Cafe Diurno & Bazaar are two stand-outs).

Calle Fuencarral
is a cool area for shopping , with the hippest shops: Diesel, Puma, Adidas, Hoss; and calle Augusto Figueroa for top brands ocassion shoes. In the calles Almirante and Prim, one can find some of Madrid's most chic fashion and shoe shops.

All the district is peppered with lots of bars and clubs, both for gay and non gay night life.

Chueca is also interesting in terms of architecture. In fact, it holds some of the most beautiful blocks in Madrid. Brightly-colored facades and intricate iron balconies characterize these streets.

Malasaña & Conde Duque

Malasaña is the area enclosed by San Bernardo to the west, Gran Vía to the south, calle Fuencarral to the east and Calle de Carranza to the north. Cross Calle San Bernardo and you enter the area of Conde Duque with the same northern and southern boundaries but ending at Plaza de España/ Calle de la Princesa.

Two important revolutions took place in Malasaña: The first was an uprising against Napoleonic occupation in 1808 --Manuela Malasaña, who gives her name to the quarter was a 17 year old embroiderer who was shot on the 2nd May (the famous painting by Goya depicts this shootings) because she carried a pair of scissors judged to be a weapon by the French military-- The second was on the 1980´s: La Movida madrileña
. It was a sociocultural movement that took place in Madrid during the first ten years after the death of Franco in 1975 and represented an attempt by the young generation to change the morals ans style of everything. Pedro Almodóvar is a good example of this hedonistic and radical cultural wave, his first films, such as Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón, reflected the freedom of the moment. "Madrid me Mata" (Madrid kills me) and "De Madrid al Cielo" (From Madrid to heaven) were war shouts of the time, and express both its intense vitality and its destructiveness.

The center of Malasaña is the Plaza del Dos de Mayo. The people who hang around this area proudly call themselves 'malasañeros' and the district keeps some flavour of the mentioned "Movida" spirit... This is a vibrant neighbourhood full of bars and cafés crowded at weekends with all sorts of people from hard rock lovers to the trendiest fashion followers, but residents tend to be more on the alternative and arty style....A lot of its streets have been renovated, making it a much more attractive quarter. The renovation seems to be attracting a growing number of good, reasonably priced restaurants and interesting shops. Calle Pez is an atractive street with good cafés, restaurants, shops and a theater. The charming squares of San Ildefonso or plaza de Juan Pujol are barrio feeling places with nice cafés and shops around.

Malasaña is one of the classic areas for partying the night away. In the clubs the age group is generally between 17 and 3
5, but there's space for any age group here. Most of the accommodation in this area consists of cheap hostels and pensiones, some of which are among the best value in the city.

Across San Bernardo the Conde Duque area
is a quiet part of the district. It gets its name from the impressive Cuartel del Conde Duque -the huge military barracks built in 1720 for 600 guards and 400 horses- that separates the district from Plaza de España and Princesa street. The barracks, built by Pedro de Rivera -royal architect of Philip V-, have three imposing courtyards and a beautiful baroque entrance, and now house a cultural center run by the city government. Nearby plazas set up outdoor cafes to cater to Madrid's hipster arty set.

What to do in Chueca & Malasaña


  • Mercado de Fuencarral
  • Desigual - atypical Spanish wear

    In Gran Via

    • Gran Vía (L1, L5) / Callao (L3, L5) /Plaza de España (L3, L10, L2)
    • Chueca: Chueca (L5)
    • Malasaña: Tribunal (L1,L10) /Bilbao (L1, L4) /Noviciado (L2)
    Back to content | Back to main menu