Shopping

According to Trip Advisor, Madrid is a very interesting city for shopping. International brands mix with local shops and they open until very late (normally from 10 am to 10 pm). You can find almost everything, ranging from clothes, shoes, food, wines, souvenirs… from very different styles, at very different prices.

05 Shopping

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In the heart of Madrid there are numerous pedestrian or semi-pedestrian shopping areas that facilitate both an enjoyable time for shopping or just to enjoy the shop windows. Generally they are always very crowded and often many visitors are surprised to see the incredible number of people in the street. The six most interesting shopping areas and shops near VillaJardines are as follows.

1. FUENCARRAL.

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Fuencarral St. is 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

Pedestrian street and a cool style for a younger audience. There are brands like Calvin Klein, Adidas, Custo, Levi’s, Quicksilver, Diesel, Burberry, Michael Kors, Mac or Swarovski but most of the shops are retailers. There are gothic, hippie or grunge shops, many of them located on the Fuencarral market. Many silversmiths.

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Fuencarral St has recently become an important shopping area (photo from sinirmuylejos.com)

There are plenty of cafes and bars to take a break, get more fuel and continue using the credit card. Near the Fuencarral Market there is a nice plaza with several cafes with street terraces. It is better during week days, as Fuencarral St. gets really popular during weekends.

Not to miss the Fuencarral Market, the true origin of the whole shopping area. The market closed as a daily food market in the 80’s and reopened in the 90’s as a cheap cool clothes supermarket. According to Lonely Planet, this is a Madrid icon and consideres it as Madrid’s home of alternative clubbers.

2. CHUECA.

Chueca

Chueca is 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

Very lively, with many street cafes and boutique shops. Lonely Planet describes it as “extravagantly gay, lively young, and always inclusive regardless of your sexual orientation”. Chueca hosts the Gay Pride Festival and fills the streets with thousands of people who flock in to have a good time. You can enjoy fashion in all kinds of shops, everything from  avant-garde to top labels, with shops dedicated to all the urban tribes.

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Chueca has lovely fashion boutiques that sell top brands at lower prices (photo from L’Habilleur, Plaza de Chueca)

There are numerous gastronomic options with designer eateries and traditional restaurants. A walk up Almirante St. reveals what is one of the most stylish neighbourhoods in all of Madrid.

Peaceful during the day and full of life when the sun goes down, the elegant streets are lined with classy fashion boutiques, vibrant bars and sophisticated restaurants offering everything from Japanese sushi to a classic Sunday brunch at the popular Café Oliver. Chueca has an atmosphere of tolerance and diversity.

3. MALASAÑA.

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Malasaña is 10 minutes walking from VilllaJardines (photo from lau2.org)

Vibrant neighborhood full of lively places overflowing with young people. Cutting-edge shops featuring unknown designers, they are often cheap and rarely mainstream. There are many second-hand vintage shops, used book stores and unique gift shops. Hipster.

The attitude in Malasaña, as opposed to the neighbours of Chueca or nearby La Latina is relaxed, unpretentious and friendly.

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Malasaña is the bohemian neighborhood in Madrid (photo from lau2.org)

Commercially, Malasaña has many fashion boutiques as well as shops for design and niche market products. Shops are often economical and rarely mainstream. Calle Espiritu Santo represents the melange of Malasaña by having, on one full block alone, a retro shop, butchers with uncommon meats, a fancy pastry shop, two vintage shops, a small florist, vegetable shop, five bars, three bohemian cafes, a retro food shop, two ethnic restaurants, two mid range restaurants and a couple more traditional bars along with two hip-hop clothing shops.

4. PRECIADOS, MAYOR, GRAN VIA.

preciados

Preciados is 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

Preciados is a street with many shops. Ranked fifth in the streets of the world where the rent is more expensive. It is famous for the presence of El Corte Ingles and other international franchises. It is very popular and is always highly crowded. Mayor St. is an elegant historic street that dates back to the 15th century. Plenty of souvenir shops and cute shops in the area.

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Gran Vía is an ornate and upscale shopping street located in central Madrid. Certain shops that opened when the Gran Via was inaugurated are still open nowadays, like the internationally known jeweler Grassy (photo from revisioninterior.blogspot.com)

The lively Gran Via is one of the city’s most important shopping areas, with a large number of hotels and large movie theaters; it is also noted for the grand architecture prevalent among many of its buildings. Farther towards the Plaza de España, the Gran Vía crosses a small square, the Plaza del Callao, named after the battle of El Callao. This square used to be the heart of cinematic Madrid, with about six movie theaters. Now, most of the theatres have been replaced by shopping malls and now the Gran Via area hosts spacious shops like Zara, H&M, Mango, FNAC, and more.

4. LAS LETRAS.

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Las Letras neighborhood is 10 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

The Letras is also known as the neighborhood of the writers, the muses and the arts, named after the intense literary activity developed here from the 15th to 17th centuries.  Some of the most prominent writers of the Spanish Literary Golden Age settled in this area, as Cevantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo or Góngora, and two of the major comedy theaters of the time, the Theatre of the Prince and the Theatre of the Cross, were here. Don Quixote (1604), work summit of literature in Spanish, was printed here.

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The 2nd Downtown is very representative of the shops in Las Letras neighborhood. Rarely mainstream, they offer a great buying experience through delicate original items (photo from nuevo-estilo.es)

Several streets are pedestrian which make it very pleasant. Small shops with elegant furnishings offer a wide variety of small precious objects. The neighborhood features great nightlife activity, concentrated in bars, clubs and pubs around the street of Huertas and Plaza Santa Ana.

There are also fine antique dealers. Get into an antique shop and let yourself go with the wonders of the past. This neighborhood is perfect for walking, watching, buying, relaxing, or simply enjoying a coffee in a terrace while planning the next day in Madrid.

6. SERRANO.

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Serrano St. is 15 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

Trip Advisor feels that this is one of the most upscale neighborhoods of the city centers in Europe, where you can find cool restaurants, fashion bars and expensive shops. The main avenues are Serrano and Velázquez, but you can also explore  the small streets of the area, as you can find some surprises in them. Claudio Coello and Lagasca are filled with a wide variety of shops. you can also find the ABC Serrano shopping mall, pretty exclusive and upmarket.

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The ABC Shopping Mall used to be the HQs of one of the most important newspapers of Spain. The facade looking to Paseo de la Castellana, Madrid’s largest avenue, is quite impressive.

Goya is filled with shops that are very good and not as expensive as shops on Serrano. The shops are located between Serrano and Alcala. At the beginning of the street there is a cute shopping mall. The most expensive street is Ortega y Gasset. This is where one will find many designer shops such as Valentino and Jimmy Choo. This is the Rodeo Drive of Madrid. Carolina Herrera, Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo are just a few among other first class brands with shops in Serrano. International jewelries. Expensive.

7. LOEWE. Gran Via.

Loewe

Loewe is 5 minutes walking distance from VillaJardines

Loewe is a Spanish luxury fashion house based in Madrid, though it is owned by LVMH. It is an “Official Supplier to the Spanish Royal Crown“.

Loewe’s story goes back to 1846, when Madrid was preparing for two royal marriages, that of Her Majesty Isabel II of Bourbon to the Duke of Cadiz and that of the Princess Maria Luisa Fernanda to the Duke of Montpensier.

Loewe is known around the world as being one of the very best when it comes to luxury leather goods (photo from lorenzocastillo.org)

Loewe is known around the world as being one of the very best when it comes to luxury leather goods (photo from lorenzocastillo.org)

In the 1950’s, apparently Ernest Hemingway took Ava Gardner shopping at Loewe and she chose a chocolate brown crocodile handbag. The screen goddess is just one of a long list of Hollywood stars flocking to the Gran Vía store (and for cocktails at the nearby bar, Chicote). Loewe’s store in Gran Via was converted to a place where all Hollywood stars present in Madrid walked in to do some shopping. Epic movies (including “El Cid”, “55 Days in Peking” and “Doctor Zhivago”) brought the biggest stars to Madrid, and along with Grace Kelly, Deborah Kerr, Charlton Heston, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Margot Fonteyn and Maria Callas signed the store’s guest book.

This shop was established in 1939 and has become Loewe’s most frequented corner shop, while retaining its traditional, art-deco style.

8. ZARA. Gran Via.

zara

Zara is 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

Zara is a Spanish clothing and accessories retailer. It is the flagship chain store of the Inditex group; the fashion group also owns brands such as Massimo Dutti, Pull and Bear, Uterqüe, Stradivarius and Bershka, also present in the area.

Zara was described by Louis Vuitton Fashion Director Daniel Piette as “possibly the most innovative and devastating retailer in the world.”

Zara has also been described as a “Spanish success story” by the international news group CNN.

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Zara in Gran Via is in what used to be the entry hall of the Cibeles Hotel, built in 1924 (photo from nomelopierdo.es)

Zara is basically urban wear at affordable prices for women, men and kids and you can always find something interesting and cool.

This shop in Gran Via outstands the other thirty Zara stores open in Madrid. The shop is the old reception hall of the Hotel Cibeles, built in 1924. There are three floors and a basement, with the varied range of fashions that characterizes the firm. Although Zara looks very white and minimal, it has mantained part of the decor and staircase of old Hotel Cibeles.

9. H&M. Gran Via 32 and 37.

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Both H&M stores are 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

H&M has two big stores in Gran Via and both are located in very interesting buildings.

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People buy now at H&M where they used to dance some years ago. The shop is a former club form the 1940s that became very popular in the 1990s as a Madrid’s most popular gay club (photo from radiogamma.wordpress.com)

Of the two shops that fashion giant H & M has on the Gran Via, the one in the number 32 has always been linked with the world of fashion. The building, opened in 1924, was the first headquarters of the Madrid-Paris super luxe stores and from 1934 the first department store in Spain, SEPU.

The second, in Gran Via 37, is set in a historic building that housed the theater Avenue, founded in 1926, and the party room Pasapoga, established in their basements since 1944. Pasapoga became very popular in the 1990s as a gay night club.

The lobby is very beatiful, offering a spectacular floor made of different colored marbles and a gilded stucco decoration for walls and ceilings. Buying here is a very funky buying experience.

10. MANGO. Gran Via 32.

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Mango is 5 minutes away from VillaJardines (photo from uygdi.es)

Another Spanish brand with enormous success. One of the world’s top international fashion retailers, with more than 2,500 stores in more than 100 countries, Mango is known for its fashionable designs for women, though it has launched fashion for men too.

Mango designs are fresh and daring, for  young girls and women who want to follow the fashion-edge. They have lots of clothes, plus a range of denim clothing and accessories. The prices are very affordable, designed for youth pockets.

11. FNAC. Plaza de Callao.

Fnac building at Plaza del Callao (square) in Madrid (Spain).

FNAC is 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

This five-storey megastore has a terrific range of musical offer, ranging from flamenco and world music to classical, as well as electronic equipment and books in several languages. There is a large children’s section on the 4th floor.

FNAC has created a whole little world of cultural activities in the building. Exhibitions, book presentations, concerts and conferences have made it 0ne of locals’ favorite stores.

It is a place to spend hours searching and listening records, reading books, etc. There is also a cafe to rest after so much intellectual overenjoyment. Cultural and performing activities, such as concerts, are free and seldom interesting.

12. EL CORTE INGLES. Puerta del Sol and Callao.

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El Corte Inglés is 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

El Corte Inglés (or The English Cut, as in tailor’s cut), headquartered in Madrid, is the biggest department store group in Europe and ranks fourth worldwide.

There are two in the area, one in Puerta del Sol and another in Callao Sq. Both are enormous buildings that have the most comprehensive collection of designers of any large store in Spain. Designer boutiques in this store include: Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Armani, Gucci, Loewe, Bulgari, Dior, Dior Homme, Georges Rech, Hugo Boss, Boss Woman, Ermenegildo Zegna, Burberry (men/women), Façonnable, Pal Zileri, Paul & Shark, Lacoste, Pavillon Christofle, CH by Carolina Herrera, Escada Sport, James Purdey and Sons, Lloyd’s, Purificación Garcia, store brands (Emidio Tucci, Dustin) and many others.

13. APPLE STORE. Puerta del Sol.

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The Apple Store shall be located where the Grand Hotel de Paris surprised Madrilians with a luxury never seen before in hotels (photo from todocoleccion.net)

The new kid on the block. An Apple Store shall open in Puerta del Sol after summer 2013, in the place of a hotel.

The Grand Hôtel de Paris opened here in the summer of 1864. It was the first hotel in Madrid with a bathroom in each room and room service. It was built with French investment and this is noted in the decoration and style of its gone interiors. Its spacious dining room was famous for serving fine French cuisine. On the first floor was the popular Café Imperial, with seating for five hundred people. This cafe was so exquisite in all senses that it was a favorite of the royal family. Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, ganddaughter of british Queen Victoria, was a regular. The hotel was built to meet the anticipated demands of new travelers from the opening of the railway line between Madrid and Paris. In 1874, it was considered to be the best hotel of Madrid, as well as the only place in Spain where a stranger could find really good accommodation. The hotel closed in 2006.

14. TELEFONICA. Gran Via 28.

telefonica

Telefonica is 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

In 1924 the building was one of the first skyscrapers built in Europe and the first built in Spain. In the early twenty-first century it is the 16th tallest building in Madrid. Since 1992, 46% of the floor area in the massive building is devoted to cultural uses and houses a Museum of Telecommunications.

In the ground and first floors of the building, the Telefonica Flagship Store shows the company’s technology.

17. SWAROVSKI. 34 Fuencarral St.

Swarovski is 5 minutes walking distance from VillaJardines

Swarovski is 5 minutes walking distance from VillaJardines

18. FUENCARRAL MARKET. Calle de Fuencarral.

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Fuencarral Market is 5 minutes walking from VilllaJardines. For trendy alternative fashioners, it is considered as one of Madrid’s landmarks.

Much more than a market, the Fuencarral Market is more of a meeting place, but rather a place to explore ground breaking alternative fashion.

This clothes market challenges the traditional idea of a mall to become a space for new experiences. Its more than 60 shops offer design, imagination and creativity that go beyond alternative fashion in accessories, piercing, gifts, cosmetics and whatnot.

Known as the shopping center for people who hate shopping centers. Open everyday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

24. EL RASTRO. Flea Market. Ribera de curtidores.

Mauro A. Fuentes çlvarez

The Rastro is documented since 1740 as a meeting place for the sale, exchange and skullduggery of second hand things(photo from fotomaf.com)

El Rastro is the most popular open air flea market in Madrid. For more than 250 years, it is held every Sunday during the year. It is located just south of La Latina metro station. A great variety of products (new and used) can be found in the 3,500 stalls that cover the area from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

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El Rastro (Flea Market) is 15 minutes walking from VilllaJardines

According to Lonely Planet, a Sunday morning at El Rastro is a Madrid institution. You could easily spend an entire morning inching your way down the Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores and through the maze of streets that hosts El Rastro flea market every Sunday morning. Cheap clothes, luggage, old flamenco records, even older photos of Madrid, faux designer purses, grungy T-shirts, household goods and electronics are the main fare.

For every 10 pieces of junk, there’s a real gem (a lost masterpiece, an Underwood typewriter) waiting to be found. In some places you can still bargain!.

Warning: Pickpockets love El Rastro as much as you do, so don’t keep valuables in easy-to-reach pockets.

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If there is a time to enjoy tapas with locals is on Sunday morning near the Rastro (photo from efectomadrid.com)

Top tip: After this hectic stroll, and with the search for bargains satisfied, you cannot leave Cascorro without consolidating this typically Madrilenian activity of purchasing at the Rastro with a decent aperitif in one of the crowded bars located all over this area.

The traditional custom of drinking one glass and eating a tapa before lunch has its own paradise in the Rastro area. With good weather, local overflood the streets to conquer bars and enjoy tapas.

A glass of wine, a beer or an on-tap vermouth would not be the same without the priceless company of a ‘tapa-sized’ portion of paella or a squid ring sandwich, on offer in the bars that line the Ribera de Curtidores and nearby streets.

Good atmosphere, clamour, the urge to buy, and far more so to sell, abound.

All the above information intends simply to inform about the center of Madrid. Please let me know if any of this information is inappropriate or outdated.

One Response to Shopping

  1. Paivi says:

    For shopping clothing I´d choose Calle Fuencarral and its´ surroundings. There´re not only international trademarks but also lovely and interesting Spanish fashion. Also dare to enter the Fuencarral market (Mercado Fuencarral) and see if you find something different for yourself. The prices are a bit high in Fuencarral market but there´re a lot of offers (rebajas). My other favorite is El Corte Inglés which, despite of the reputation of being expensive, offers a good value for money, great service and you can get everything at the same place.

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