Free Art Gallery Tour in Madrid’s Lavapies Neighborhood

Madrid Tabacalera Gallery
A show at Madrid's La Tabacalera. Photo: Brocco Lee

By Nina Derham in Madrid— 

Madrid’s Golden Triangle of art museums is world renowned, but there is much more to the city’s art scene than the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia. So when you’re all Prado-ed out hit the streets of Lavapies to experience Madrid’s art and culture in its most eclectic, current and raw form. 

Lavapies is the city’s most diverse neighborhood and it serves as inspiration for a whole host of artists, actors, writers and musicians who are all in search of that laid-back bohemian vibe that is so apparent throughout the area. Tucked away amongst the curry houses and tapas bars you will find endless artistic enclaves from cultural centers, dance studios and ceramic workshops to tiny art galleries, inspirational bookshops and art cafes–all begging to be explored. 

Art walking tour Madrid

Click for a larger map image.

 1. La Fabrica Galeria
C/Alameda 9, 28014
Tuesday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4.30 p.m.-8.30 p.m. 
Web site 

Start your tour just outside Lavapies at La Fabrica Galeria. This tiny yet very atmospheric space displays temporary exhibitions by national and international contemporary young artists. There is a large emphasis on modern media as a vehicle for producing art and often exhibitions are video or photography based. 

2. Galeria Helga de Alvear
C/Doctor Fourquet 12, 28012
Tuesday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. 
Web site 

Next stop is the must-see Galeria Helga de Alvear. Here you will find conceptual and minimalist exhibitions that use projections and installations to really involve the visitor and create a thought-provoking experience. 

3. La Libre
C/Argumosa 39, 28012 

Refuel at La Libre. This old Lavapies bookshop has just had a makeover and is now a trendy vintage style bookshop-cafe that serves up cake and coffee as you browse new and second hand books. 

4. La Tabacalera
C/Embajadores 53, 28012
Web site  

Crossing over Plaza Lavapies you will find the newest addition to the neighborhood–La Tabacalera. This “self-managed social center” is one of a kind and is housed in an old tobacco factory. The Ministry of Culture snapped up the space with an aim to converting it into a new art gallery. However, lack of funds has delayed the process and the building has been handed over to the local community.  

Espacio Espora Madrid

Espacio Espora. Photo: Manuchis

The center is comprised of a network of different groups who use their skills to run various free activities and services. You can take a dance class, learn to sew, visit the library, use the indoor skate park, see an exhibition and even exchange clothes in the free shop.  There is a group for practically anything including sustainable architecture, communications, martial arts and flamenco.

In early 2011 the government will decide if they have the funds to restore the building and open the new art gallery or if the local community will continue running La Tabacalera. Either way, there will certainly be something of artistic interest occupying the space. 

5. Espacio Espora
C/Embajadores 35, 28012
Tuesday-Saturday: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. 
Web site  

Heading up the road be sure to stop off at Espacio Espora. This unusual gallery strives to create a space where street art and urban culture can shine. The focus is on contemporary emerging art projects displayed in the gallery or on the street. There is also a shop where you can buy unique tee-shirts designed by artists. 

Madrid’s art scene is constantly evolving and there are always new things to discover, most of which offer free entry just like the galleries listed here–so what are you waiting for? Get out and get exploring!

About the author

Nina Derham
About the author: Nina is a freelance travel writer who will leave no stone unturned in her quest to discover the very best on offer in a destination. She recently relocated to London after spending over four years in Madrid and is currently enjoying rediscovering her home town.
Posted in: Madrid
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