My Madrid Neighborhood: Arganzuela

Since we moved to Madrid, I’ve come to realize that mi barrio, my neighborhood, isn’t one of Madrid’s coolest or most coveted places to live. I don’t live in Malasaña, where hipsters ride bicycles and drink cañas in old men bars; nor do I reside in La Latina, with its bares de tapas along Cava Baja street; I don’t call Chamberí or Chueca my home; Salamanca is out of the question. My neighborhood isn’t even included on this map made for you to choose the best one to live in.

Where do I live, then? Arganzuela. (Metro: Arganzuela Planetario or Legazpi.)

What I love about mi barrio:

The green spaces. We live right next to two great spots for being active. Mario and I are runners, so the fact that just 100 meters from our front door lies Parque Tierno Galván is a huge plus. This park is home to the planetarium as well as the IMAX. The planetarium offers free activities throughout the summer, indoors as well as outdoors.

Madrid Rio

We also love running alongside the Madrid Río, a project that began when a section of the M-30 road running parallel to the Manzanares river was moved into an underground tunnel. The park actually is in several districts of Madrid, including Moncloa, Carabanchel, and Usera. Here you’ll find runners, cyclists, skaters, and tons of families. There are places to stop and have a beer or eat some churros as well! You can also run under the picturesque Puente de Toledo.

Puente de Toledo Madrid

The quiet. Perhaps I’m outing myself as a 26-year-old grandma, but I don’t care! I love sleep, and I love going to bed at 11:30 on a weekday and not hearing people partying, not hearing cars drive by, and not getting my sleep interrupted by anything other than the occasional sound of the trash collectors (who drive by every night around midnight). Sure, it’s not quite the same as living in Indiana where you hear the crickets chirp outside your window in summer, but it’s perfect for me.

El Matadero. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t quite get this place—or at least its art. El Matadero was once Madrid’s slaughterhouse (in fact, matadero is literally “slaughterhouse) and was used as a livestock market. It closed in 1996. In the last few years it’s been made into a cultural space dedicated to the arts. El Matadero houses numerous exhibitions throughout the year in its many buildings. In each of the buildings there are programs and services related to a certain cultural area: theater, design, visual arts, and literature.

Matadero Madrid

The prices. If you want to eat cheaply in Spain, Madrid is not your best bet—most of the time! But Mario and I have our secret little bar in our neighborhood where we can eat dinner on Friday nights for €11–€12—for the both of us! Sure, we’re not eating anything groundbreaking. But you won’t find a better empanada. And I refuse to pay €4 for one pintxo de tortilla (especially if served cold, ahem ahem).

Moreover, we have a two-bedroom apartment here for the price of a one-bedroom in central Madrid. Since I expect to have family and friends visiting from the States sometime, it’ll come in handy to have a cheap (free) place for them to stay.

Legazpi

The people. Ours is a family neighborhood. Apparently quite a few people from Zamora choose to live in this area, which obviously helps. But our neighborhood panadera (baker) is the friendliest around and always refer to me as reina or cariño. Nothing beats Midwest-style kindness!

Would I change anything?

Well, yes. I’d like to live a bit closer to a metro stop, and I’d like to have a frutería right outside my door. But we can’t have everything, now can we?

Where do you live? What do you love about your  barrio?

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10 comments

  1. During my 4 years in Madrid, I lived in 3 neighborhoods… The first was Ciudad Universitaria (metro Guzmán el Bueno), the second was Chamberí / San Bernardo and the third, the Barrio de Justicia (close to Chueca).

    Now that I live in Barcelona, I’ve chosen a barrio which is not the old town, nor the über trendy or the party place – Villa de Grácia. I love it! I’m surrounded by little speciality shops and young families. There’s a lot going on every day, but only until midnight! Maybe I’m just being a bit of a granny, too… :)

  2. I live in the great neighborhood of Retiro, and I absolutely love it! First of all, the guy who made that map mentioned that Retiro doesn’t always have a great connection to the city center which I wholeheartedly disagree. There are several buses and trains that go to the center (I live near 3 metro stops). Then again, I can also just walk through Retiro Park to get to the center which ain’t bad for obvious reasons. Connections to other places are good too.

    Besides those reasons, another thing is that it’s close to the center but it’s not super crazy. It’s a residential, family-oriented area filled with many grocery stores (Friends usually get surprised when they find out how close my apartment is to them), nice bars, bakeries restaurants (not just Spanish), fruterias, etc. just near your doorstep. The sidewalks are big as well so it’s more open. I think you also get a good deal here with the prices. Like, my bf and I also live in a 2-bedroom apartment and rent’s not crazy. Lots of cute boutiques and shoe shops though so some savings might end up there. XD

    It’s also a quiet and safe neighborhood. No problems with outside noise when sleeping, and also I have no problems going home super late after a night out.

  3. Doesn’t count because I am not in Madrid, but I love the fact that both when I was in my barrio in Bilbao (Uribarri), I could walk to centre (ok- it was long steep walk back up but now there’s street moving ramps and lifts to help)- right to the El Corte Inglés about 15 minutes away and the countryside with cows 10 minutes further up the hill.
    And where I live now, a town of about 28,000, I can walk anywhere important in 5 minutes: doctor, analysis, butcher, baker, market, some clothes shops, hardware stores, a couple of shoe shops, the Post Office, the town hall… maybe not a great selection of the the shoe and clothes, but its there and they have good stuff! Lots of parks nearby and the countryside about 2 minutes (ok, again uphill) away. That’s great about the mountainous north; the mountains make the bottom bits of towns crowded but its very easy to get away from them.
    And I can walk to the sea front in about 20-25 minutes. I do love the fresh produce available. One of my butchers has his family lamb farm, with the occasional “real” chicken, and fresh eggs and the other one does some of the best steaks ever. Many “caserio owners” come and leave their produce in the “fruterias” to sell. A 10 minutes bus ride takes me to the centre of Bilbao, and 5-minute car drive to the coast with some excellent wine and pintxos.
    What’s not to like? The weather sometimes…which is the same as at erikras.com

  4. “I’m outing myself as a 26-year-old grandma”
    Me too. I hate the noise we have here in the city centre specially since I’ve always lived in smaller towns or in the countryside. It’s the worst about the cities. One thing I’ll do in MY house: cristales dobles.

  5. When some one searches for his required thing, so he/she wants to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here.

  6. Sounds like a wonderful neighborhood. I lived in Moncloa…oh how I miss it! But that was as a college student so now as an ‘adult’ I’d probably want to live somewhere else.
    My current state-side neighborhood is great – downtown, walkable, close to the lake, etc.

  7. Hidely-ho, neighborino! Well, almost-neighbor. I’m by Marqués de Vadillo, but we share many of the same sights. Your post pretty much sums up why I dig where I live. I’ve got two parks (Manzanares and San Isidro), a library, several grocery stores and a gym all within a five-minute walk from my front door. The cheap rent doesn’t hurt.

  8. I’d love to have a frutería outside my door too!

    It’s funny, I think I chose exactly the opposite living situation. I live at the intersection of two of the busiest streets in the city, smack-dab in the center. It’s noisy and crazy, but I love it! Being in the center of the action is so much fun.

  9. I actually live quite close to you – not sure if living across from principe pio constitutes as arguanzela (or officially.. arguelles/moncloa?). All I know is that I chose this area for similar reasons – I love the river and the green space here. Not living in central Madrid is great!

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