In our last post on Madrid’s many neighborhoods, having previously discussed several of the areas located within the center district — namely Malasaña, Huertas (el Barrio de las letras), la Latina and Lavapiés — we ventured outside the city center to the affluent Barrio Salamanca. This time around we’re going to highlight another unique area of the capital: Distrito Chamberí. Adjacent to the center district (Malasaña bordering to the southwest) and with Barrio Salamanca to the east, Chamberí is in a privileged location — close enough to the center to enjoy all that it has to offer, yet at enough of a distance to have a true ‘neighborhood feel’. This is just one of the factors that make this neighborhood one of the best Madrid has to offer.
The name of this area of Madrid — Chamberí — is actually the name of a city in southeast France (the French spelling being Chambéry). Although the neighborhood’s name is derived from this, it was not named directly after the city in Provence. During the Napoleonic invasion in the early nineteenth century, there was a military barracks located in the current Plaza de Chamberí, which the Napoleonic soldiers called ‘Chambéry’. It is said that the neighborhood’s current name is a result of that of this military installation.
Though not nearly as large as some of the other administrative districts of Madrid, Chamberí encompasses a great number of important elements. It’s southern border is demarcated by a line drawn along the following streets: Alberto Aguilera, Carranza, Sagasta, Plaza Alonso Martínez, and Génova. In the North, Moncloa and Reina Victoria Avenues, Glorieta de Cuatro Caminos, and Raimundo Fernández Villaverde Street establish its limit. The western border runs along Princesa, Meléndez Valdés, Arcipreste de Hita, and Isaac Peral Streets, Plaza Isla de Alborán, and Paseo de Juan XXIII. Lastly, the Paseo de la Castellana sets its eastern boundary.
Chamberí museums and historic buildings
The District of Chamberí is home to a great number of buildings which have been declared national monuments by the Spanish government. This includes a large number of churches and schools, as well as convents and other religious structures, such as the Iglesia de San Fermín de los Navarros, built in 1890, and the Hospital de Maudes, built in the early twentieth century. Another structure within the district which was recently declared a monument is the Frontón Beti Jai, a sports installation to play pelota vasca, known in the US as Jai Alai.
Perhaps the most well-known museum in the district is the Museo Sorolla, a museum erected within the former personal residence of Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. A visit to this museum is very pleasant as one can see not only Sorolla’s work, but where he produced it. What’s more, is that the museum is just the right size so not as to overwhelm the visitor with paintings.
Worth the Visit
Beyond musems and the like, Chamberí also has several live music venues, such as Sala Clamores and Galileo Galilei, as well as shopping on Fuencarral Street and even nightlife. When you get to Madrid, be sure to make it to this neighborhood, as it has a little bit of everything in pleasant, centrally-located setting.