VillaJardines as (y)our chill out area

My experience hosting through online platforms like Airbnb has allowed me to accumulate a huge amount of knowledge on the possibilities of a demand-driven digital society. And the specific learnings from the homesharing activity never seem to end.

I have had the chance to host through Airbnb a whole group of 13 professionals who came to Madrid from all over the world. Each one of them was hosted in a different hotel but they needed a place to hold meetings and to do things like respond to emails, hold skype interviews, plan their Madrid stay and relax.

For the first time ever, VillaJardines was specifically used as a relax area. Nothing was changed. All the furniture was the same and each piece was placed in its original place. Nothing had to be added or removed. All the rooms where used and the whole flat seemed to be useful for their purposes. And it worked!! 🙂

It was a pure delight to interact with them. They all work for a company that enlarges and expands the Internet with digital contents. Being a technology freak I was awed by their presence in VillaJardines.

These are their pictures. Thank you Rachel, Richard, Donncha and the rest for making the hosting experience a great adventure.


Posted in Guests at VillaJardines, Things that happen in VillaJardines | Tagged | Leave a comment

3 unique places in Madrid

Every space in the world could be proud of something that makes it distinctive from the rest. Our cultural heritage represents what we were and it can give us clues on what we want to be.

Madrid is a cosmopolitan city in the south of Western Europe. Until the 19th Century it was regarded as an international key player in all aspects. Now London, Paris and Berlin are the European leaders, while Madrid has really become a secondary city. Nevertheless, Madrid remains as a cultural reference and our visiting peers are….. culturally thirsty!

Many people know that Madrid hosts unique art venues like El Prado, Thyssen-Bornemitzsa, Reina Sofia and so many more. Not that many people know that we host hundreds of others around the whole city, and all of them inspire us things on a daily basis. Let us see three of them.


1. San Antonio de los Alemanes

San Antonio de los Alemanes is dedicated to the Portuguese St Antony of Padua, patron saint of the poor.

This Baroque little church was built in the 1620s. It was originally a refuge for Portuguese visitors and immigrants coming to Madrid, when Portugal was part of Spain. It houses frescos by Luca Giordano, court painter to Charles II of Spain from 1692 to 1702. Parts of the building were commissioned by the last Habsburg kings of Spain in the 18th century. It became a refuge for German immigrants when Portugal became independent from Spain. As Portugal was not any more in the scope of the Spanish Habsburg family, Phillip IV preferred to provide refuge to his Habsburg cousins’ citizens coming from Germany and not nationals ruled by other unfriendly families.

It is inspiring because it is a very creative solution to lack of financial resources. The only reason frescos cover all the church is because they did not have the money to invest in marbles, sculptors, heavy structures, millions of workers and all the necessary infrastructure plus all the technology. Frescos were much cheaper, quicker and the space is dedicated to the poor, so lack of gold and marble sounds reasonable. It was painted by the hyperactive Luca Giordano, who had the talent to paint faster than speak. It was finished in a record time, with a very low budget and 400 years later it still services its original objetive: provide peace to immigrants and refugees who go there to pray for their hopes. Four centuries later, hundreds of poor citizens and refugees still queue up on a daily basis for food and free assistance. The only difference is that today they are no longer German or Austrian.

San Antonio de los Alemanes is regarded as Madrid’s Sixtine Chapel and it is completely unknown to locals. It is 7 minutes walking from VillaJardines.

2. Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales

This convent was the former palace in Madrid of Emperor Charles I of Spain and V of Germany, and this is where his daughter Joanna of Austria was born in 1535. In 1559 she founded in the building a convent of cloistered nuns, when she was the sister of the King of Sapin and mother of the future king of Portugal.

Since the 16th century, the convent has been the natural destiny of young widowed European noblewomen and each brought with her a dowry. The riches quickly piled up, and the convent became one of the richest convents in all of Europe. Among the many relics on display are pieces from Christ‘s cross and bones of Saint Sebastian. Among the priceless art masterpieces are Titian‘s Caesar’s Money, tapestries designs by Rubens, and works by Hans de Beken and Brueghel the Elder. Spain’s finest Renaissance composer, Tomás Luis de Victoria, worked at the convent from 1587 to the end of his life in 1611.

It is inspiring because this time capsule proves you that fear really blocks everything. The Habsburgs were horrified with death. Being Heaven super cool and Hell not that cool, but still ok, the idea of going to the Purgatory was completely dismaying for them. I guess they felt that good attention was fine, and that it was better bad attention than no attention at all. They created congregations of nuns and monks who would specifically pray for them, until the end of time, to make sure they would end up in Heaven. Yes, in 2017 nuns are still praying for Joanna of Austria. They have been praying for her for 458 years. There is no way to check if Joanna of Austria got into Heaven in the 1790s, for instance, after some 200 years of solitude, prayer and repentance. Maybe she is still repenting. We can only know that her fear has been the main energy for not changing anything in centuries.

Visitors are limited in numbers and you do not get the professional tour someone would expect from a National Museum. If you are lucky, you will hear the nuns singing, though you will not be able to see them. It is 7 minutes walking from VillaJardines.

3. Cerralbo Museum

The Cerralbo Palace was built in the 1880s, and it is an essential reference to know the lifestyle of the 19th Century aristocracy in Madrid. It retains the original atmosphere of the residence of the Marquis of Cerralbo and his family and hosts a unique art collection.

The museum reflects the artistic taste of that period of time in Madrid, showing the most complete private collection of its time in Spain. Highlights include paintings by different Spanish and European artists dating from the 16th-19th centuries, sculptures, drawings, prints, coins, medals, weapons and armours, watches, lamps, jewels, ceramics, furniture, carpets, books, toys…and all kinds of everyday objects set in their original rooms, all collected by this intellectual who was a passionate patron of the arts and humanities.

It is inspiring because it shows the end of a period of time in Spain. It was the end of the end. After some 400 years as a powerful country, the slow deterioration of the old Spanish influence was definitely lost in 1898, when Spain lost the war against United States and its last colonies (Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines) became independent. After 400 years with something to say around the world, Spain found itself at the end of the 19th Century limited to a very impoverished Spanish territory. No more colonies. No more power. Not welcome in any clubs anymore. An illiterate society historically ruled by an intolerant Church was culturally underprivileged and was not able to react to the crisis. At the beginning of the 20th Century, when some new countries were blossoming, the old Spain suffered a long social depression that later on had a direct impact on political changes. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Spanish society felt that they would never live in the future how they lived in the past. The whole country was depressed.

The museum has established a maximum capacity of 60 people. Beautiful building, lots of interesting objets d’art and a magnificent frescoed ceiling in a grand ballroom. It is 15 minutes walking from VillaJardines.

Posted in 10 min walk from VillaJardines, 15 min walk from VillaJardines, 5 min walk from VillaJardines, Museums in Madrid | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Clandestine cocktails in VillaJardines

Whenever you put two peers together an incredible energy catalyzes into something unique. Two people with the same values and the same mentality can create brilliant ideas. Twenty five peers together can change the world.

Since it was first built in 1627, extraordinary events happen in VillaJardines all the time. Our clandestine cocktails gather the best members of the best families. While we share dreams, we feel we are a clan with a destiny (in Spanish, clan-destino).

Me with the founding members of the Spanish Dance Digital Nation Estela Alarcón, Ricardo Cue, Cecilia Rodrigo, Carlos Vilan, Carmen Cantero, Esther Jurado, Carmen Rojas, Mercedes Albi, Maria Carrasco...

This is the last clandestine cocktail held in VillaJardines (January 2017). Estela Alarcón, Ricardo Cue, Cecilia Rodrigo, Carlos Vilan, Carmen Cantero, Esther Jurado, Carmen Rojas, Mercedes Albi, Maria Carrasco…are the founding members of the future Spanish Dance Digital Nation

In the past years, the majority of clandestine cocktails held in VillaJardines were linked to the buildup of Peer to Peer communities related to the sharing economy in Madrid (that includes Airbnb). They gathered the first forerunners who made a bet on the sharing economy and now VillaJardines is considered as a reference for the madrilenian collaborative community. Most of those pioneers who are now a big voice in the sharing economy world in Madrid met in VillaJardines. To such extent it is considered (y)our natural collaborative space that Sharing España, the association in Spain of startups like Airbnb, Blablacar, Uber, etc asked Thinkeers to organise in October 2016 the closing cocktail for the 1st Sharing Week…. in VillaJardines. Yes, my home is (y)ours.

InvitaciónCC06.10.16.pngThe sharing economy has not been the only theme in our cocktails. In VillaJardines we have provided a warm welcome to Madrid to distinguished people like William Singer (lawyer), Stefano Sannino (Ambassador of Italy in Spain) or Samantha Flores (philanthropist). People like Ramón Tamames (economist), Pedro Schwartz (economist) or Jordi Sevilla (exMinister with President Zapatero) have been in VillaJardines to deliberate about our future. The list of singular people who have been in VillaJardines is very extensive and in all cases we felt like peers. Since we seem to have no end, we have even dared to found a transhumanist digital nation with José Cordeiro (Singularity University) in December 2016. I wonder what comes next 🙂


VillaJardines is perfect for clandestine meetings. The space attracts incredible people willing to share emotions with their peers. Imagine when a few of those meet under a nice atmosphere and the right energy… They could change the world!!

Posted in Things that happen in VillaJardines | Tagged | Leave a comment

Carmen Rojas in VillaJardines

Sometimes life is super generous and it allows you to interact with people who have led incredible lives. Please let me introduce you to Carmen Rojas, a dancer who has been caressed by time.

Carmen Rojas has just been interviewed by Spain’s top dance blogger, Mercedes Albi, from Albidanza. Carmen’s name is written in gold characters in the history of Spanish Dance. This is the interview and even if you don’t understand Spanish, you might still enjoy the pictures (look at a very young Kirk Douglas!)

Carmen Rojas and Mercedes Albi. Photo from Albidanceweb, please do not reproduce

Carmen Rojas and Mercedes Albi. Photo from Albidance, please do not reproduce. Picture taken in Villajardines

Who is Carmen Rojas?

She was a usual dancing partner of Antonio Ruiz Soler (nicknamed el Bailarín), Spain’s greatest dancer ever.

She started to dance when she was “8 or 9 years old” and never went to school.

Her first teacher was María de Román ate the age of 15.

Her debut was at the age of 15 with Rafael de Córdoba in Barcelona.

She joined Antonio Ruiz Soler’s company in 1952, after improvising the audition. She debuted in her new company at the Granada Festival in 1953

She appears in the movie “Honeymoon” (Michael Powell) where a mother tells Antonio to watch her daughter to dance and they end up dancing together. It really happened when she was a girl.

Her preferred role with Antonio Ruiz Soler was Garcia Lorca’s “The gypsy zorongo”

She danced for Jackie and John Kennedy.

She danced with Gene Kelly.

She flirted with Kirk Douglas and Yves Montand.

She has a street.

She is magic!

Letter from John Kennedy to Carmen Rojas. Photo from Albidanza (please do not reproduce)

Letter from John Kennedy to Carmen Rojas. Photo from Albidanza (please do not reproduce)

Posted in Things that happen in VillaJardines | Tagged | Leave a comment

Christmas in Madrid (2016)

This is how Madrid celebrates a new year. All images are from our central beautiful neighborhood and all spots are walking distance from VillaJardines. Everything can been seen during a nice calm walk. In 2016, day or night, Madrid still  remains a safe and charming small cosmopolitan city. Happy 2017 🙂

Posted in 10 min walk from VillaJardines, 15 min walk from VillaJardines, 5 min walk from VillaJardines, Madrid at night, Things that happen in Madrid | Tagged | 1 Comment

VillaJardines becomes Embassy of a Digital Nation

Technology is changing everything. For the first time in our history the inhabitants of planet earth are connected and we have generated a huge interconnected brain that operates 24/7 globally. Now digital nations are being created… in VillaJardines

On December 6th, 2016 the first Transhumanist Digital Nation was funded in Madrid. A group of 50 citizens involved in science and technology decided to test what will be expected to be normal in the 2030s.

The founders of the Transhumanist Digital Nation in what has become its first Embassy, in VillaJardines

The founders of the Transhumanist Digital Nation in what has become its first Embassy, in VillaJardines

The word nation comes from the Latin nātio (derived from nāscor, to be born). A nation is usually a set of people who share historical and cultural ties, who are aware of belonging to the same community, communicate in the same language and share a common territory. In the same way, a digital nation would encompass, under a concept of a peer community, a group of people who share values and knowledge and build their collective consciousness under a digital territory. In the end, a digital nation would be a connected social community that has a common political organization under a digital territory with own governing bodies, being sovereign and independent from other digital communities.

Ramón Tamames, father of the 1978 Spanish Consitution, addressing the founders of the firts Digital Nation. Next to him, José Luis Cordeiro, founder of Singularity University

Ramón Tamames addressing the founders of the first Digital Nation. Next to him, José Luis Cordeiro, founder of Singularity University. Fifty citizens from different parts of the world gathered in VillaJardines, now an Embassy of this first Digital Nation.

Digital nations are expected for the 2030s decade, but it will not be necessary to wait fifteen years to observe their creation. In 2016 we have already witnessed the birth of two of them. On 28 October, the creation of Asgardia, promoted by the Aerospace International Research Centre (Vienna, Austria), was announced by UNESCO (Paris). On 6 December, the Transhumanist Digital Nation was funded in Madrid, promoted by Thinkeers and Fundación Vida Plus. In both cases, the goal is to generate a connected structure of knowledge by content-producing citizens who digitally express their opinion on how they believe their particular nation should be. It will be the members of both new nations who will decide their values and symbols. We will decide our own Constitution, values and laws, under a scheme of digital reputation that will operate under a single currency, trust, the new 21st century gold.

Posted in Things that happen in VillaJardines | Tagged | 1 Comment

Sergio Sanz and Manu Clavijo in VillaJardines

Posted in Sin categoría | Tagged | Leave a comment