Whether it’s your first time as a visitor in town, or you’ve previously walked around the streets of the Spanish capital city, you should know that there exists way more spots to visit than El Prado, Reina Sofia and/or Thyssen Museums. That’s the main reason why we wrote this guide entitled “alternative art routes in Madrid”. However, if you are visiting us in the near future, do not forget a Coronavirus travel insurance.
In touristic terms, Cooltourspain’s professional guides will offer you a quirky but at the same time interesting point of view. They’ll focus on street art, graffiti and contemporary & emergent art exhibitions. That’s something completely different to what classic visitors are used to discover. Isn’t it? For instance, Gran Via street, Plaza Mayor or Puerta del Sol.
What are the areas covered in our art routes in Madrid?
Our guided visits are organized to showcase the city centre’s most colorful artworks. At this time, we’ll show the alternative art routes in Madrid that any visitor shouldn’t miss if spending a 2-3-4 days (long) weekend in town. To us, those suggested spots are unique.
While some people will prefer walking outdoors, others will use the public transport to commute from one location to another. What’s true is that the Spanish capital is a very walkable city. However, you could even rent a bike to move faster around Embajadores, Universidad and other downtown districts.
Let us introduce you to different neighborhoods that you’d probably never visit on your own. Have you ever heard about Lavapies and Dos de Mayo? Completely local style for an artistic & cultural immersion.
Not to be missed contemporary art galleries and avant garde centers.
First and foremost, Cooltourspain team members are specialists on the field. We do not only spend the weekends visiting culture related locations during our free time, but we also take the opportunity to learn what to mention during our art routes in Madrid. Investigating is the part of our job that comes before hosting the contemporary art tours.
One of them is La Neomudejar. This building used to be a railway warehouse, but it’s now used as a modern art spot featuring brut, street and visual arts mixed with live performances. It dates back to the XIX century, and despite you could visit it in less than an hour, it’s totally worth check! You’ll find it next to Atocha railway station (Calle Antonio Nebrija, s/n).
The other non-mainstream exhibition center within Madrid modern art circuit is Tabacalera Promoción del Arte (Calle Embajadores, 53). It hosts emergent & talented artists’ exhibitions in a monthly basis. The spot is located at a former tobacco factory from the XIX century.
Last but not least, you should check Urvanity art fair, Swinton Gallery, Gorila Arte & La Causa art shop.
Which one is considered as the best of all street art routes in Madrid?
If you were interested in getting to see the city in a non-touristy way, we would then suggest you walking around Lavapiés district. As a matter of fact, our art routes in Madrid will show you how multicultural this neighborhood is. A melting pot in the city center!
To us, Embajadores district is known for its community spirit, its great street art and the beautiful murals performed by local, national and international artists. Here is a list of the three most important events that take place in the area:
- CALLE: businesses’ metal shutters taken over by graffiti writers and urban artists
- Urvanity: probably Madrid’s most important post-graffiti art fair.
- Muros Tabacalera: decorated exterior walls located in Calle Miguel Servet.
Where could you photograph the most impressive murals in town?
You should take into account that artists painted the majority of large scale walls within the M30 road’s inner ring. However, there are other art routes in Madrid that could take you to the outskirts. Ever heard of Getafe, Rivas or Alcala de Henares?
While the biggest number of events take place around the center, it’s our duty to inform that local cultural projects are interested in decentralizing the art circuit. We’d like to see how everybody enjoys art, not only those who are close to museums/cultural centers.
Consequently, you should visit Paco de Lucía metro station to check Okuda’s mural. It was dedicated to one of the most talented flamenco artists in Spain. Furthermore, do not miss Villaverde’s urban landscape. Is trash a resource for artists’ creativity? Go visit Circular festival website.
What are the main styles that we talk about during the art routes in Madrid?
As you may have observed from our cultural, educational and social project, Cooltourspain’s art routes in Madriid mostly talk about urban art. It’s our passion! We are a group of graffiti enthusiasts, emergent artists, photographers and educators who love sharing our knowledge with other fellow travellers/locals.
Please do not expect us to cover any classic artistic information. Although we are familiar with its history, we prefer to engage visitors in a conversation around a never ending question. Is graffiti considered as art or vandalism? What’s your opinion about the issue?
Above all, the styles that we’ll mainly talk about might have been performed with permission of the spot’s owner, or illegaly. In the same vein, you should get familiar with the prosecution that law & police forces establish for graffiti writers. What’s the fine that you’ll pay if you’re ever caught while painting?
Tags and throw-ups. The most common ways to perfom in the streets in a quick way
Despite everybody knows that there are no written laws within the graffiti community, there still exist some ethical codes that every writer should follow. For instance, our art routes in Madrid will inform you about the fact that a throw-up could cover a bunch of tags.
If you are one of those pedestrians unfamiliar with the terms, the latter refers to signatures/names usually painted with markers or spray paint, whereas the former points to bubble style letter which take around 3-5 minutes to achieve. Is it clearer now?
Both of them are written on walls because of the artist’s ego. He/she doesn’t care about anybody else’s opinion. It’s the way to spread a name around the city: metro wagons (known as wholecars), trash containers, private metalic doors... At times, they use what’s called “destroy ink”: an unremovable paint made for writers.
The art routes in Madrid that talk about social street art
Similarly to what happens in other European capital cities, the art routes in Madrid do not only cover one specific style. Moreover, we would like to teach you how artists usually recycle materials to perform in the streets. For instance, artworks created with stencils made from x-ray films. As a matter of fact, they use these plastic elements to state an opinion in a very quick way.
You’ll not only find small sized creations, but you’ll also observe large murals developed with wet paint. Moreover, artists obtain it from the streets. Taking into account that they are always searching for free paint, it’s understandable that emergent creators prefer to save money and use recycled materials rather than purchasing new, and sometimes expensive, spray cans.
Last but not least, paste-ups might be created with regular office paper, or old unused newspapers/magazines. It’s just a matter of sticking them on a wall with natural or artificial glue. Isn’t it a cost effective way to produce art?
Abstract, figurative and other forms of contemporary art
As you may imagine, art could be represented in many various ways. Furthermore, people’s interpretations will differ according to personal preferences. In that sense, our art routes in Madrid will show you in a friendly manner what are the differences and similarities between the existing styles and techniques.
On one hand, you’ll be able to photograph outdoor walls which feature shapes, lines and urban elements. For example, Digo Diego’s landscaping for CALLE Lavapies festival. On the other side, Zeta1970’s feet and human & animal figures for Compartiendo muros‘ event.
This last performance is developed among several city center and outskirt districts. It offers the audience an opportunity to spray paint over public buildings and other locations, such as sport centers, libraries and parks. To us, it’s the best way to promote cultural activities for the whole family.
Cooltourspain’s opinion about the art routes in Madrid
Despite there might now exist other art routes in Madrid that focus on graffiti and street art, you should know that we became pioneers in town last 2016. By that time, we were the only local cultural project offering these guided visits on a daily way.
Right now, we do not only offer guided visits, but we also have workshops available for all audiences. As a matter of fact, these services are frequently requested by groups of friends/coworkers who want to participate in an alternative experience in town.