Gå i den berømte, spanske filmmester Pedro Almodóvars fodspor i hans elskede hjemby, Madrid. Oplev både berømte og hemmelige steder fra hans film, hvoraf flere har opnået kultstatus.
No Spanish city has added as many streets, buildings, squares, bars and personalities to Pedro Almodóvar’s films as Madrid. The Spanish film artist has shot thousands of scenes in every corner of the city, and most of the locations are not well-known landmarks.
The Palme d’Or, Oscar, BAFTA and Goya award-winning film director was born in Castilla La Mancha but lives in the Spanish capital. Even in Almodóvar’s early films, his love of Madrid shines through, and it permeates several of his films, including some of his most recent Pain and Glory, as well as some of his most famous, such as All About My Mother, The Law of Desire, Speak to Her and The Flesh Trembles.
My good friend and photographer, Christian Grønne, and I have scoured the streets of Madrid and found some of Almodóvar’s most iconic film locations, while quoting lines from unforgettable scenes.
Here’s a selection of Almodóvar locations in Madrid, so you can explore his Madrid universe for yourself. You can replay the scenes from some of his greatest films for your inner eye and see the places as they look now (take the map with you on your mobile). At the same time, you’ll get to see Madrid from a completely different perspective than you would on the well-known tourist routes.
1. Calle Fernando VI
In the Alonzo Martínez neighbourhood, Madrid’s answer to Copenhagen’s Østerbro, the street Fernando VI plays a major role in the film Julieta (2016).
Julieta’s (Adriana Ugarte) apartment is located at number 19, where we see, among other things, the lonely Julieta in front of the balcony door of her apartment.
A scene where Julieta has gone shopping is shot in the street, and the front door with the character’s brass hands as door handles is zoomed in on several times.
2. Plaza Alonzo Martínez
Near Calle Fernando VI is the Alonzo Martínez square, where we also see Julieta on one of her walks in Madrid.
3. Segovia Viaduct
The bridge over Calle de Segovia is known locally as the “suicide bridge” because several people have killed themselves here. To prevent more, high glass walls have now been erected on the bridge.
In a couple of Almodóvar films, some of the characters also challenge death on the same bridge. In The Loving Passengers (2013), Alba (Paz Vega) attempts suicide on the spot because she has boyfriend troubles.
In The Matadors of Love, about passions taken to the extreme, Diego Monto (Nacho Martínez) pursues María Cardenal (Assumpta Serna) around Madrid. He finally finds her on the suicide bridge.
4. Calle de Segovia
Under the Segovia viaduct runs Calle de Segovia, which also appears in both The Matadors of Love and The Lovers. Diego Monto from The Matadors of Love lives in the street.
In The Loving Passengers , where most of the action takes place in an aeroplane, some of the funniest scenes are filmed in Calle de Segovia.
Ruth (Blanca Suarez) is cycling through the street, with the yellow house in the background, when suddenly a mobile phone comes flying from the viaduct. The phone is Alba’s, and it drops as she considers jumping off the bridge.
Further down the street, at the viaduct, is the apartment where Alba lives and has a studio.
5. Plaza de la Paja
Plaza de la Paja is a peaceful oasis in the La Latina district in the centre of Madrid. In summer, it’s a pleasant place to have a drink on one of the café terraces.
In The Matadors of Love, María picks up a stranger in the square. We see them sitting on a bench in the square in front of the Renaissance Vargas Palace, whose façade is shown in the photo.
6. Teatro Bellas Artes
One of the most powerful scenes in All About My Mother (1999) takes place in front of the Teatro Bellas Artes in Madrid. Manuela (Cecilia Roth) waits for her son Esteban (Eloy Azorín), who meanwhile is writing a diary in a bar across the street.
Mother and son go to see “A Streetcar Named Desire” starring Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes). Esteban leaves the café and walks out into the pouring rain. When he runs after Huma Rojo to get an autograph, he is run down by a car.
7. La Bobia Bar
In the 1980s, La Bobia Bar was used as a backdrop by several film directors, including Pedro Almodóvar. He used the bar as a scene in the film The Maze of Passions (1982). This is where the important opening scene and the heated encounter between Sexilia (Cecilia Roth) and Riza Niro (Imanol Arias) takes place on the terrace.
Although the bar has changed names and owners, today, with its old name restored, it remains one of the most important cult bars in Madrid – especially for film nerds.
8. Puerta de Alcalá
“Look, Madrid!” says Isabel’s (Penélope Cruz) landlord and birth attendant to the newborn baby, who has just been born in a city bus, as they drive past the Puerta de Alcalá in the opening scenes of The Flesh Trembles (1997).
The Puerta Alcala was commissioned by King Carlos III and completed in 1778. It is one of the few well-known attractions in Madrid to appear in Almódovar’s films.
9. Conde Duque
One of the most famous scenes from Almodóvar’s Madrid is the scene from The Law of Desire (1987), in which the transsexual actress Tina (Carmen Saura) stops in front of a giant gate one hot summer evening and demands to be hosed down by a municipal worker, while insistently shouting, “Come on! Get me wet! Don’t be shy! Get me wet!
The stage is set in the Conde Duque Cultural Centre, a gigantic and beautiful 18th century building that used to house a barracks. Today, the place is filled with exciting art exhibitions and performances.
10. Cine Doré
A beautiful Modernista building in Madrid’s Sant Antoni district houses the Spanish Film Library. It screens non-commercial international and Spanish films in their original language, including several by Pedro Almodóvar.
In the film Pain and Glory (2019), the Spanish Cinematek organises a screening of the film “Sabor”, directed by the main character, filmmaker Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas). The scenes from the screening were filmed at the Cine Doré in Madrid.
Almodóvar has also used the place as a backdrop in the film Talk to Her (2002), where Benigno (Javier Cámara) goes to the cinema on one of the free movie nights. The cinema visit influences him to do something very crucial in the film’s story.
11. Plaza de la Villa
Madrid’s Town Hall has for many years been located in the historic Plaza de la Villa, which also houses one of the city’s oldest houses.
Almodovar has shot a scene in Bind Me Love Me in front of the statue in the square. In the scene, Ricky (Antonio Banderas) goes to get drugs for Marina (Victoria Abril), whom he has kidnapped so she can relieve her toothache.
In Plaza de la Villa, Ricky is immediately recognised by the Camel (Rossy de Palma), which he has stolen from the night before. Ricky escapes, but is later caught and beaten by the Camel and his handlers.
12. Museo Chicote
This art deco bar has been made famous by stars such as Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren. Almodóvar is also a regular, and the bar was the setting for the film Broken Embraces (2009).
At the corner table, Judit (Blanca Portillo) downs a large gin before revealing her dark secrets to blind film director Mateo (Llúis Homar) and their love child.
13. Plaza del Callao
Plaza Callao, located on Madrid’s main artery, the Gran Vía boulevard.
In the film The Flower of My Secret , Leo wakes up in Àngel’s apartment after a suicide attempt. Àngel’s apartment is on the top floor of Palacio de la Prensa in Callao Square.
Later, the poster advertising author Amanda Gris’s (Leo’s synonym) first book is displayed at the bookstore on FNAC’s large neon sign.
The square is also home to the Callao cinema, where all Almodóvar’s films have premiered.
14. Taberna Angel Sierra
Taberna Angel Sierra is located in Plaza Chueca in Madrid’s gay quarter, which has been the setting for several Almodóvar films. In the square is the Angel Sierra bar, where Leo in The Flower of My Secret meets and has dinner with his friend Betty (Carme Elías).
The historic bar hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1917. The facade is decorated with wood from Cuba and the interior features classic tiles from Seville. The bar is good place to drink a beer or vermouth from the tap.
15. Plaza Mayor
Scenes from several Almodóvar films were filmed in the famous Plaza Mayor, which has been used in the past for royal coronations, bullfights and executions.
In one of the final scenes of The Flower of My Secret , Leo Macías (Maria Paredes and Àngel (Juan Echanove) stroll across the Plaza Mayor in the middle of the night, where she reminds him of the first time they met. Many will also remember Àngel’s dance in the square.
Today, the square is filled with tapas bars under the arches, where tourists meet to eat and drink sangria.
16. Flamenco bar Villa-Rosa
One of the key scenes in the melodrama High Heels (1991) is shot in the over 100-year-old flamenco bar Villa-Rosa in Plaza Santa Ana. On stage at Villa-Rosa, drag queen Lethal (Miguel Bosé) performs the song Un año de amor. The film is about a bad mother-daughter relationship and the mother of the main character is a famous torch singer.
17. UGT headquarters
The black comedy Entre tinieblas (1983), which is not subtitled in English, also features one of the more secret locations in Pedro Almodóvar’s Madrid, the headquarters of the workers’ union, the UGT.
Previously, the convent of Santa Maria Magdalena was located here at Calle de Hortaleza 88 in the Chueca district, where the director has filmed extensively.
In Entre tinieblas , the action takes place in the monastery and we see the building from outside in the scene where the postman rings the doorbell to deliver the mail.
18. El Rastro
Madrid’s largest and most visited outdoor flea market, El Rasto, was also used as a location in Entre tinieblas (1983) in a scene where Antonio Banderas runs between the stalls. The lesbian nuns also sell their miracle cakes, infused with the Blood of Jesus Christ, at the market.
In The Maze of Passions, Sexilia walksaround the market.
As a young man, Almodóvar financed his first Super 8 camera by selling second-hand items at the Rasto market. The camera was used he to shoot his first short films in Madrid.
The famous market fills a large part of the La Latina and Lavapiés neighbourhoods with stalls every Sunday, when many side-street shops are also open.
19. Ocho y Medio Film Café
Named after Fellini’s film 8 1/2, the Ocho y Medio film cafe is a haven for film geeks, filled with film books, scripts and props. Here you will also find several of Almodóvar’s film posters and props, including from the restaurant in the film Volver (2006) starring Penélope Cruz.
20. Círculo de Bellas Artes
In the café of the Círculo de Bellas Artes cultural centre, a number of Almodóvar’s film scripts have come into being. It is also in the café that Andrea Caracortada (Victoria Abril) and Nicholas (Peter Coyote) meet to discuss the script of the film Kika (1993)
Listen to Pedro Almodóvar talk about his relationship with Madrid (in Spanish)
You can read more Pedro Almodóvar and his films on film critic Søren Høy’s blog