We couldn’t ever imagined ourselves stepping into a slaughterhouse, a place that we could only picture full of suffering and pain, but we happily did so during our time in Madrid, and without any regret too.
It’s amazing to see how a former municipal slaughterhouse has been turned into something incredibly amazing, and Matadero Madrid is in fact a great example that other cities should use, take in consideration and, why not copy the idea of, to create similar spaces that really gives something extra to the community.
This former slaughterhouse built in the early 1920s was an incredible and outstanding example of industrial architecture of that time, it is a shame that such an impressive architectonic masterpiece was used for many decades for one purpose only: killing animals. This finally reached an end in 1996, and even if it took a while to happen, as I always say, “it’s better later than never”. The slaughterhouse was then occupied by squatters who used its enormous spaces as their own considering the entire structure was not in use anymore.
The Cleverest of The Ideas
It took a few more years for Madrid City Council to realize the potential of such an impressive space and what could be done with it. In fact they, together with other public and private partners, turned the slaughterhouse into the amazing Matadero Madrid, a phenomenal culture hub for everyone, not just locals, but also for curious tourists and travellers like us. Who would have ever thought that a slaughter house could become a vibrant culture centre?
Matadero Madrid is today the highlight of the Spanish capital’s contemporary culture and art scene, and everything is held in this architectural gem. When we arrived I fell in love with the red bricks of the external structure, which is one of my favourite architecture materials. Then I couldn’t quite decide where to go first, the broad space in front of my eyes disoriented me a bit until we walked into the first door without thinking too much about it.
Feeling Almost Unreal
My wonderment kept raising the more I discovered El Matadero. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The work done to transform the slaughterhouse into what it is today is astonishing. I could tell that they renovated and used the various spaces without destroying the original look, I liked the fact that they preserved the architecture and used it in a different way, to form part of it’s identity rather than covering it up. I was so pleased to see how a place that – as a vegetarian – I would normally refuse to visit, could be converted into something where I could spend hours and hours, if not days. In fact, if I was living in Madrid I think I would become a regular visitor and user of the Matadero. I don’t know exactly why the slaughterhouse was closed, but I’m so glad it did and even happier because they’ve made something so incredibly clever, artistic, contemporary and so culturally important for the city.
El Matadero is no less impressive than El Prado or other museums in Madrid; in actual fact, in my opinion it’s on a complete different level because it offers and makes culture interactive, something to take part of and not just to look at and admire as a spectator.
No matter if you are a contemporary art lover or not, Matadero Madrid is a must visit for everyone. There is so much going on, new events and exhibitions are always happening that I’m pretty sure there is something for everyone’s taste and most of it is FREE. It costs nothing to walk around and enjoy the architecture transformation of the various spaces inside.
There are plenty and a constant amount of activities for everyone, families included. For designers and creatives, they can use some of the Matadero spaces as their workshops or exhibition areas. There is a café too that has a great lively atmosphere that makes you forget what it used to be when it was still a slaughterhouse (the old oven). There is a space dedicated to music for live concerts and also as a recording studio. There is a cinema Cineteca that shows various films including international and independent ones, unfortunately it was closed when we went and I’m incredibly disappointed about that because I really wanted to see the work they’d done to it.
We strongly recommend you go to the Matadero even if you are in Madrid for a short period of time, in fact, it’s not only the cultural and artistic side of this cultural hub that should attract you but also the impressive architecture of the complex itself which makes for an attraction of its own, and the concept of reusing a great derelict space. Plus it’s all free of charge.