The Malasaña neighbourhood has for years been one of the most rebellious and emblematic areas of Madrid. It started already in 1880 when Daoíz y Velarde, two young army captains, led one of the most famous revolts in Madrid against the French occupation Madrid was enduring at the time, barricading themselves against the French on the plaza Dos de Mayo in Malasaña. You can still find a statue of them in the middle of the Dos de Mayo square that is located in the centre of Malasaña. The young seamstress Manuela Malasaña also fought against the French in the same years, paying with her life when she was only 15 years old. She unfortunately was arrested and executed for carrying a pair of scissors by the French invaders. On the north side of Malasaña you can still find a street named after this heroic girl.
Typical image from the “Movida Madrileña”
Later in the ninety eighties, the neighbourhood was the epic centre of the new modern Spanish people who enjoyed their just attained democracy, living and breathing the “Movida madrileña”. This revolutionary movement was characterized by its freedom of expression and bohemian people and had started in Spain after the country became a democracy in 1976, having suffered for decades under Franco´s dictatorship. You could find sex, drugs and rock and roll on every street corner and bars would not close at least until 12 in the morning or even later. Some famous bohemian Spaniards did pay a high price for this freedom like singer Enrique Urquijo from the mythical band “Los Secretos”. He, unfortunately, was found dead on the doorstep number 23 at Calle del Espíritu Santo after he had taken an overdose of heroine.
Going out in Malasaña
These days it is a lot quieter in the neighbourhood although you can still find a good party if you look for it in the right places. Maybe the first impression it gives at night is that Malasaña is a typical neighbourhood for younger people in their twenties but you can also find some good bars for the 30 and upwards crowd.
A good example is El Penta(grama), a bar/disco with a small dance floor and a long bar. If you feel like hearing some typical Spanish eighties/nineties music you definitely want to visit this bar on a Friday or Saturday night. You will not find a lot of tourists here and it is almost obligatory to shout along with the mainly Spanish songs, so it might be a good idea to ask a fellow Spanish friend for some music tips before entering. If you feel more like listening to some golden oldies you can have a look in “Angy” or in Little Angy where you can listen to the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young or some other classic rock songs.
If you are a bit younger (or feel younger!) you might feel more home in Tupperware of La Vía Láctea. The first one is a two story bar with a lot of boys in tight jeans and alternative style girls. The second is a legendary kind of Indie music bar where you can listen all kinds of pop, rock and indie music. Beware to not go there too late if you mind queuing, it can get really crowded after two o’clock.
If you don’t feel like going inside you can also have a look at the Plaza Dos de Mayo square where you can find great terraces surrounding the small park that is normally packed with beer-drinking teenagers, families with children and some friendly local alcoholics. If you feel hungry you can order a pizza at pizzería Maravillas, they have a good choice and the pizzas are really tasty although pretty pricy. There is another pizzeria on the other side of the square that also serves good pizzas but normally never has a free table at the terrace.
If you do not feel like partying (maybe you should consider relocating then to somewhere quieter in Spain!) Malasaña offers as well some good opportunities to stroll around in the day time and there are some wonderful vintage shops to discover. You can also have a nice Spanish breakfast or just a coffee in the famous coffee bar ‘Pepe Botella’ looking out on the 2 de Mayo square where word has it that Alejandro Amenábar also wrote his first film script.