Madrid’s El Matadero

Visitors to El Matadero

A slaughterhouse-cum-art center, Madrid’s El Matadero surprises from the very beginning. The pale stone, red brick, and teal-tiled façade are admittedly pretty considering such a bloody history, but what strikes me most, apart from the contemporary art, is the vast amount of space. El Matadero spans so much ground that one can’t help but wonder how it wasn’t simply swallowed up into modern-day Madrid. It is so vast as to feel lonely, yet the creative juices that keep this powerhouse running don’t let it reach that point.

While certainly not the only establishment to receive this type of face-lift,  El Matadero isn’t merely a venue but also a point of reference and a springboard for inspiration  Concerts, plays, and art exhibits are on constant rotation, often complementing each another. For example, when we visited there was an exhibit about that famous villain, Dracula, which corresponded to a play under the same name.

Entrance to one of the working spaces / art galleries

New signs guide visitors around the old slaughterhouse

The cineteca, dedicated to AV art

Free form

In addition, the center attempts to foster imagination and collaborative projects. Long-term projects have set areas and even formal titles. For example, one of the buildings held a community garden, and we saw a huge map of Madrid with information on local seed swaps. There are sprawling work spaces for individuals, too; we spied locals camped out, doodling in drawing pads, scribbling notes, and typing up a storm.

One of the many workspaces

Creativity takes root with cacti chairs

A peek at the gardens

This installation piece was housed inside a van!

And then the art! When we went over Semana Santa there were a number of interesting art exhibits, many of them larger-than-life installation pieces. One entire building was dedicated to “contemporary archaeology of present-day ruins,” offering up found objects, comic books, traditional Mexican festival costumes, and more. It wasn’t what I was expecting to find, but then again, what could really be assumed about a slaughterhouse with a new lease on life?

Art exhibit featuring children’s books

Interactive art  in the Ilustrarte 2012 gallery

Read more about our time at Ilustrarte here. Check out the exhibit in Madrid until September 29, 2013!

Nave 16, one of the handful of galleries

Matadero Madrid Specifics

Address: Plaza de Legazpi, 8

Metro: Legazpi


Tuesday-Friday 16:00-21:00

Saturdays- Sunday: 11-21:00

Price: Free

 Tip: If you are in Madrid before April 21, check out this intriguing installation piece, Candela, which evokes the feeling of a fire. Not for the faint of heart!

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  1. I hope to make it to El Matadero one day. These pale stones, red brick, and teal-tiled façade really impressed me. Looks like a peaceful place for a weekend getaway 🙂

  2. This is so cool! First – the history of the place. I love when old buildings for one purpose has been turned into something completely different (a little like the old plaza de toros in Barcelona which is now a big fancy shopping centre) But the museum looks really cool too!

  3. Cassandra

    @ Agness – Hope you can check it out on your next trip to Madrid!

    @ New Life – I’m not familiar with the old Plaza de Toros – sounds intriguing. I’m also a fan of these converted buildings!

  4. I didn’t realize that El Matadero has so much space. The architecture looked beautiful, so Spanish. I have never been, but have seen pictures from when my brother toured the area several years ago. However I have never seen the cacti chair before… very cool.

  5. This looks so cool! I absolutely love places that combine art and community spaces. I’m pretty sure I’d plant myself in one of those cacti chairs AND NEVER LEAVE.

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