May 23, 2024

The 2-way, 4-lane Calle de San Bernardo, the stretch between Gran Vía and the Glorieta de Ruiz Jimenez (a.k.a. Plaza de San Bernardo), is one of my favorite streets in Madrid – and I only recently discovered it!

Go to http://www.Google.com/maps , enter Calle de San Bernardo, 10, Madrid, Spain, turn “left” by 90º to head north, and start-a-walkin’.

WHY do I like this street? Because it’s so mixed culturally, has a kind of bohemian feel to it while maintaining most of its traditional stores and bars. It’s probably one of the most overlooked streets by travelers to Madrid. Not only does it have some of the most architecturally stunning and historical buildings in Madrid but also some of the ugliest office buildings – not to mention the worst graffiti covered buildings in the city.

Overlooking the graffiti (and it’s difficult to do), you see some buildings which will make you stop, gawk, and cross the street for a better look, wondering how they must look on the inside. The “upper half” of the street is cooler and more historic than the “lower half”.

Also along this route is the two-spire “Ministerio de Justicia” building (Calle de San Bernardo, 45), the connecting-and-cool Calle del Pez to the right. A couple blocks up and to the right is the Calle del Espiritu Santo where you find the (American) English-language, second-hand bookstore J&J Books and Coffee (and free Wi-Fi). Up San Bernardo a little further you have the absolutely stunning residential building at Calle de San Bernardo, 67. For this, look at my photo below and also on Google Maps “Street View”, look up and down.

calle-de-san-bernardo-67-madrid.jpgFurther up, at Calle de San Bernardo, 79 at the left, we see the large, beautiful barroque-style church, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Montserrat, designed by the famed Madrid artist, Pedro de Ribera, and whose construction began in 1668. Directly across the street from it is the yellow-façade convent “Convento de las Salesas Nuevas“.

calle-de-san-bernardo-madrid-graffiti.jpgAlong this street there are countless kitchy-bars, a couple restaurants, and lots and lots of shops. The graffiti really is a problem, though. See the photo at right (Calle de San Bernardo, 18) of the interesting, late afternoon sun reflecting from an adjacent building – and the graffiti too.This bank seems to be open for business so I don’t know why they haven’t painted the outside façade in so many years.,

I feel I could live in an area like this because of its variety. There are two metro stations along this street; one at mid-point called “Noviciado” and another at the top called, appropriately, “San Bernardo“.

So take a walk up Calle de San Bernardo the next time you’re in Madrid and see a part of the city often overlooked. Or simply take a virtual Street Maps stroll up the street. Either way, you’ll enjoy yourself.

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