How Photogenic is Madrid, Spain?

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Photographing Madrid

Madrid is one of Europe’s, if not the world’s, most popular places to visit and rightfully so. As a tourist destination you get a little of everything, food, culture, nightlife, art etc… So you’d assume that it would make a great place to add to your travel photography portfolio if you do happen to find yourself there one day, but just how photogenic is Madrid really?

Well that depends on your style of photography. If, like me, you prefer being in nature and photographing landscapes or wildlife then it’s safe to say you might struggle a little in Madrid. That doesn’t mean though that you can’t produce great images from this city, you just might have to try a little harder.

Street Photography

The streets of Madrid are full of life and no matter the time of day or which neighbourhood you find yourself in you’re sure to come across great opportunities to capture a candid moment that tells a story. Head to neighbourhoods like Malasaña where you’ll find plenty of young people, vintage clothes shops and dare I say it, hipsters. The area is a vibrant hub of activity and it’s sure to product some great street photography opportunities. Plaza de 2 de Mayo is a square in Malasaña that hosts regular markets and at night plays host to Madrid’s ‘cool’ crowd.

Landscape Photography

When in Madrid itself you can pretty much forget about landscape photography. Unless you go to one of the parks such as Retiro or Casa de Campo (which you can hardly call landscape photography) then you’re better off getting that 50 or 35mm lens out and shooting the people or buildings of Madrid. There are some places outside of Madrid which make for great day trips with great hiking trails such as El Escorial. You’ll get some great landscape shots there, especially if you head up to the Silla de Felipe ii for sunset.

Are you a Fujifilm shooter like me? If you are, check out one of my favorite Fuji lenses for landscape photography.

Silla de Felipe translates to Felipe’s seat. It was built in 1563 and is where King Felipe ii sat to overlook the building of the El Escorial Monastery in the valley below which is still in use today.

Architectural Photography

This is where the city really comes into its own; if you could only spend one day in Madrid, you could easily spend it wandering around shooting the amazing architecture. The city is full of grand and imposing buildings such as the Royal Palace, but that’s only the beginning. Walking through the streets is like stepping back in time. The buildings people live in are almost just as grand. Gran Via (the main street running through the centre of Madrid) gives of a slight impression of what I imagine New York was like back in the 1920’s. Looking at the old buildings is when you find out just how photogenic Madrid really is.

Gran Via, Madrid. Credit: Felipe Gabaldón

Night-Time Photography

Madrid has some of the best nightlife in Spain so you’re always guaranteed to find something going on, but if like me street photography isn’t you’re strong point then after dark is one of the best times to go out and grab some epic cityscapes. The city’s lights are truly stunning. If you’re lucky enough to be there during the Christmas period then you’re in for an even bigger treat, they put a lot of effort into decorating the city. Even if you’re not, every building in the centre is lit up beautifully. Work in some long exposures and you’ll be good to go.

Photo: Nico Trinkhaus – Gran Via and the Metropolis Building in Madrid, Spain

So is Madrid a Photogenic City?

Yes, you just might have to adapt your normal style of photography to fit in. One piece of advice, make sure you have a wide angle lens! You will probably find yourself using it almost all of the time. Even a 50mm might be too tight for the majority of scenes in such a dense city.

1 thought on “How Photogenic is Madrid, Spain?”

  1. I must say I share your point of view. Lived in Madrid for some time myself and found it hard to get some epic shots!

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