Plan your trip to Chueca.
The gay community of Madrid has chosen one of the most traditional areas and the once elegant city, with buildings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; many of them restored. They have set up many quality shops, especially fashion shops, as well as many catering establishments with excellent design. Salesas, in the Chueca area, has important stately buildings and a certain legal and business area, where there are many art galleries. It is adjacent to Paseo del Arte and the lively Gran Vía and Sol.
History of Chueca
The Salesas area, between Chueca and Recoletos, houses streets related to the dynasty of the Bourbons, as Fernando VI and Barbara de Braganza, drivers Reales Convent Salesas. After the Dos de Mayo Uprising of 1808, the population of Madrid had to accept as king Joseph Bonaparte, nicknamed by the locals “Pepe Botella” for his fondness for drink. Despite popular opposition, José I tried to win the people organizing numerous free events: bullfights, food festivals and religious processions. the nickname “King Squares” also won for demolishing churches and convents to create places, such as Santa Barbara, and promote the Viaduct Segovia. During his reign the public health is also improved and cemeteries on the outskirts of the city moved.
What to do in Chueca
Salesas, called by some the Soho of Madrid, is an area where you can lose yourself in its majestic streets and breathe in its bohemian, intellectual and chic atmosphere. Our tour can start at the end of Recoletos, at the height of the Plaza de Colon, bordering the Barrio de Salamanca, where the Wax Museum brings together portraits of more than 450 characters, national and international, from the Beatles and Bart Simpson to Cervantes.
From here we can take the street Fernando VI to get into the neighborhood of the Salesians, up to the Convent of the Royal Salesians, current Supreme Court, and Church of Santa Barbara, attached to the complex, which keeps inside the tombs of the kings Fernando VI and Barbara de Braganza.
Another building on the street Fernando VI is the Palacio de Longoria (1902), a spectacular modernist building that currently houses the headquarters of the SGAE. It is open to the public the first Monday of October (International Day of Architecture) and during the White Night.
Our next stop is the Plaza de Santa Barbara, a pleasant space which owes its name to the Convent of Santa Barbara. Down the street Gran Via Hortaleza, you can visit the Museum of Romanticism in San Mateo. Housed in a mansion of the late eighteenth century, the Marquis de Matallana houses a magnificent collection of nineteenth-century pieces, from painting to furniture and decorative objects that illustrate the lifestyle of high society in the mid-nineteenth century.
Reales Convent Salesas
Going down Hortaleza, you will arrive at the Plaza de Chueca, nerve center of the area. On Augusto Figueroa street is the Mercado de San Anton, recently restored as a sustainable and chic market. The current building consists of three floors where different types of products are sold. You can even cook yourself in La Cocina de San Anton, restaurant on the third floor of the market.
Down Barquillo street, you will reach the Plaza del Rey, where the House of Seven Chimneys is, a mansion of the XVI century which owes its name to the seven chimneys that crown. It currently houses the Ministry of Culture. It is a building surrounded by loving legends – it said that,some nights, the ghost of one of the lovers of Philip II still roams the halls.
Heading for the Infantas on Hortaleza street, you wll find the Plaza Vázquez de Mella, the epicenter of the neighborhood and umbrella from the activities of Pride festivities. The square is surrounded by a combination of nineteenth-century facades. Under it a modern car park, work of Teresa Sapey, whose entrance is decorated with a big red bow (symbol of the fight against AIDS) while its interior is made up of a series of spaces colorfully decorated with quotes from Dante’s divine Comedy.
Continuing along Princesa, you arrive to the street Fuencarral, the boundary between Chueca and Malasaña, and one of the main axes of the youth fashion and alternative scene of Madrid, focused on the Fuencarral market, exhibitor of new trends. A little further north, up to the Tribunal Metro is the Museum of History, former Municipal Museum and old Hospicio de Madrid.
Chueca fashion lovers will be able to roam, covering local governed by international firms or tienditas charming small designers. Some stores are a must-see, such as Luxenter, where you will find bold pieces of jewelry; Zadig & Voltaire, with its knitwear and shirts, or even Elsa, a French store installed in Piamonte that focuses hats for women.
For a small rest, we recommend making a stop at Cafe Bethlehem or the Bristol Bar and then, and now finally complete our visit to the neighborhood with a tour of art galleries, among which two deserve special attention: the Moriarty Gallery, which was during the “Movida Madrileña” one of the city’s most important meeting of culture and counterculture of Madrid, and Juana Aizpuru Gallery that since he was installed in Madrid in 1983 remains one of the flagships of Spanish private gallerism.