Few makeover projects have been handled with such a degree of
architectural audacity as the recent transformation of a disused
electric station in Madrid’s Las Huertas
the cultural center La Caixa Forum - Madrid.
The Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron not only gutted the building,
removing most of its interiors and changing its shape and size by
conspicuously adding a layer of several floors, they also literally
lifted it from its foundation, giving the whole structure a tense
The resulting space now houses a cultural center with its own exhibition
space, a large auditorium, a bookstore and a top-floor café...
One of the most frequently photographed sights in Madrid, that is nevertheless completely ignored in guidebooks to the city, is the Tío Pepe sign in the Puerta del Sol. Given the number of tourists taking pictures in front of the sign (with many opting for the silly trick where they pretend to be “holding” the giant bottle behind them... very creative, guys, but it’s been done before) and consequently, given the sign’s status as the city’s de facto
second emblem (at least in tourists’ minds... the first still being the bear, of course), it seems almost unbelievable that no guidebook provides at least a cursory look at the sign’s story.
Allow me to take the onerous task upon myself..
If there’s one place that symbolizes the quirkiness of Madrid’s
history for me, it is the Sabatini Gardens next to the Palacio Real.
Of course, it’s not the quirkiness that draws hundreds of
people here every day - the gardens are beautiful and for
anybody who’s tired of the city’s heat (in summer), or
crowds (all year round) it’s a perfect place to chill,
relax a little bit, read or just people-watch. And did
I mention the location? Quite literally in the shadow of
the Palacio Real, perhaps Madrid’s most famous landmark:
it just doesn’t get more central than that!
But still, that’s not the whole story. The whole story
would need to mention a few quirky facts. Here’s one, for
example: the Sabatini Gardens are named after Italian architect
Francesco Sabatini who... had nothing to do with them...
If the above title makes you go “¿La Hora de QUÉ
?”, you’re not alone. Only a short year ago, I myself did not know what horchata
meant, much less what it tasted like.
As it turns out, it tastes pretty good. If you’re in Madrid, dubious, I’ll tell you were to go to order a glass that will remove all your doubts...