Pedro Almodóvar is one of Spain’s best-loved directors, famed for bringing the magic, color, and life of the city of Madrid to the big screen, through the world of characters who are as tortured as they are funny, eccentric, and ‘on the edge’. Madrid has always been Almodóvar’s muse; a symbol of the growth and changes of his own personal and professional life and a perfect backdrop to some of the most beautiful loves stories set in Spain. If a visit to the Madrid is in your plans and you’d like to visit a few of the iconic places given to life in Almodóvar’s work, then this post may be right up your street.
Iconic City Monuments
If you want to turn your trip into a purely Almodóvarian-flavored one, Sacha Azcona’s El Madrid de Almodóvar is worthy of reading. Not only does it describe general locations across the city, but also restaurants, museums and even shops visited by the director’s most famed characters, played by everyone from Penélope Cruz to Antonio Banderas, Carmen Maura, and Rossy de Palma. Otherwise, simply take the metro to the City Center and visit the most iconic monuments featured in his films. These include the Plaza Mayor (the stunning plaza built in the late 16th century/early 17th century during the Habsburg period of King Philip III’s reign), featured in the The Flower of my Secret). The Plaza has a rich history and was once used for rituals of public penance during the Spanish Inquisition. Another iconic spot is the Puerta de Alcalá (featured in Live Flesh at the start of the film, when a young mother gives birth to a child aboard a bus as the it passes through the center of Madrid and the Puerta de Alcalá – the neo-classical ‘gate’ of the former walls to the city, built by Philip IV). Finally there is the Gran Vía – Madrid’s most famous avenue, featured in films like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and many more. Once you’ve been to these sites, check out Azcona’s list of houses, rooftops and hotels, which offer some of the most stunning views of Madrid imaginable.
Preparing for Your Trip
Because most of Almodóvar’s scenes are set in popular barrios (areas and suburbs) in Madrid, getting around is easy. The metro takes you from north to south of the capital in around 45 minutes, though central areas are just a few minutes away from each other and you can get to many sits on foot. The city is safe but as is the case in all big cities, you want to make sure you are protected against theft while travelling. Insurance should also cover any health issues that may arise. If you are travelling in the summer, pack light and bring fine clothing; the temperatures soar in July and August, so you will need to wear your sunscreen and stay hydrated.
Almodóvar is an unabashed fan of Madrid, but he has taken his filming to other cities on occasion. One of these is Barcelona – where most of All About My Mother was filmed. Locations include the famous Sagrada Familia church, designed by Barcelona’s most famous architect – Gaudí. Also featured is the Palau de la Música – built between 1905 and 1908 and considered a fine exponent of Catalan modernism.
Almodóvar celebrates the complexity of city life in Madrid in nearly all his films, its impressive architecture contrasting with the economic and personal struggles of many of his characters. The city’s monuments serve as symbols of struggle, achievement, and passion, while its suburbs house violence, injustice, as well as love. Barcelona is just a short train ride away (less than three hours on the high-speed AVE train) so if you have more than a week or two, try to visit this majestic city, famed for the dreamlike architecture of Gaudí.