Buskers rule in Europe, especially in Madrid where artists, musicians and hippies take to the streets. Take a stroll around downtown Madrid on a Sunday and you’ll see the vibrant busking scene come alive. During a recent weekend stay in Madrid, we relived those days spent wandering through its labyrinth-like downtown while living in the metropolis. Instead of empty streets typical of a Sunday, we were treated to magic-performing artists and Moroccan Sufi music on the streets. Here’s a look at buskers’ favourite stomping grounds in Madrid:
Start your trail at Plaza Mayor, the main square in Madrid where both tourists and locals flock to for good food and latest happenings. A tourist playground as always attracts buskers like magnet. Expect to find the usual suspects – solo violinists crooning the outdoor diners and buskers disguised in ancient costumes. You might be surprised by the innovative ones though: an old Chinese men playing the traditional instrument of er-hu and groups of Moroccans tapping on typical Arabic drums.
Continue on to the next barrio (district) of La Latina, just a short walk from Plaza Mayor. This hip district is chaotic and characteristic in the day, but transforms to a pumping tapas hub by night. On a Sunday, you won’t be disappointed by the amount of energy present here. We stumbled across a Chinese man clad in a bullfighter’s glittery costume, armed with a bandera and a fake bull – undoubtedly he got plenty of laughs and cheers from the crowd.
One of Europe’s biggest antique/flea market, El Rastro is only opened on Sundays in La Latina. Thousands of made-shift tents line the streets selling things from centuries-old coins to hip ethnic wear. In between the crowd and vendors, you’ll find interesting buskers strutting their stuff. We found a hippy playing a diggeridoo, impressing the crowd with his stamina and talent. There were plenty of trumpet-blowing musicians and flamenco singers on the streets.
Once the energy overwhelms you, it’s time to head out to a quieter slice of Madrid.The Retiro Park slightly out of the city center promises some quiet time to yourself and nature. Pretty pine trees spread through out the park, while leisure strollers and amorous lovers let down their hair on the park’s green lands.
Buskers here tend to be more low-key, with some playing the accordion and others performing puppet shows for the young ones. Those looking for accommodation might prefer to find a hotel near Retiro Park to get away from the city’s bustling center.
Wherever you are in Madrid, just look deeper and you’ll find street performers at every corner. They might not have made it to the stage, but this kind of art – lives forever.
I’m the new Madrid local expert for PlanetEye Traveler, so look out for my tips and articles on the best restaurants, tapas bar, hotels and every oddball activity in the Spanish capital.
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