Beautiful and breathtaking murals decorate the multi-storied walls of this once-decrepit industrial hub. With a community garden, patio space, bar, library and kitchen, the space encourages an incredibly extensive array of uses. This social and cultural space is a bastion of democracy in central Madrid.
Housed in an old tobacco factory in the heart of Madrid — a history that informs the name, “La Tabacalera” — the space was vacated in 2009 after the tobacco company’s privatization, and repurposed as a popular public space for individual expression, hosting debates, exhibitions, galleries, and lectures.
Central to the idea of La Tabacalera is the emphasis on participatory democracy. Anyone can use the site — to paint, perform, urban farm, sing, dance — and anyone can benefit from it.
In an era of gentrification, maintaining the vibrant and eclectic culture in the neighborhood of Lavapiés has become both a challenge and a goal for its residents, one they hope La Tabacalera will help them achieve. Now listed as a “Heritage of Cultural Interest” by the Spanish government, the site is managed partly by the government and partly by the people, who are tasked with its upkeep and with respecting one another by maintaining open doors for all, regardless of social identity.
Know Before You Go
Information about the schedule of events taking place, most of which are free, can be found at La Tabacalera's website.