Museum of Popular Art and Traditions – Madrid, Spain - Atlas Obscura
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Museum of Popular Art and Traditions

Strange masks and obscure costumes are housed in this old Madrid corrala.  

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This small and easy-to-miss museum is housed in an old rehabilitated corrala, or a Spanish apartment building with balconies overlooking a central interior courtyard.

Inside, the collection is a feast for the senses. The permanent exhibition includes daily utilities from popular houses, musical instruments, ceramics, jewelry, and other curious objects, many of which came from the Museum of Fine Arts. The real highlight of this amazing collection is the assortment of costumes and masks of the strange, bizarre, and sometimes disturbing traditional characters depicted in popular celebrations across Spain.

Many of these costumes resemble ancient characters like the Peliqueiros seen at the Galician Carnival. They are said to represent 16th-century Galacian taxmen. Also included in the exhibit are the Jarramplas, a strange character designed to represent the purge of all things negative. During the Piornal Festival of Extremadura, these mythical characters are belted by festival-goers with turnips throughout the streets.

A particular disturbing costume is that of the Cucurrumacho, a hairy being with goat or cow antlers. The Cucurrumacho is believed to have roots in Celtic traditions, but is a staple at the Navalosa Carnival, in Avila, Spain. In this tradition, a small number of locals run through the streets of the village of Navalosa (in Castile) disguised as evil beings. The devils of Almonacid del Marquesado (Castilla-La Mancha) and “giants and big heads” are of the same city in Madrid.

Know Before You Go

The museum is situated in the heart of Madrid with the closest tube station being Tirso de Molina. Also, the museum is closed on Mondays.