Tag Archive: Viva Madrid

It was one of Rizal’s favorite haunts in Madrid. A “hangout”, if you like, with fellow patriots, to enjoy tapas y vino. And how convenient that it is just a few meters away from his apartment and 3 other hangouts: Teatro Espaรฑol, Hotel Ingles and Los Gabrielles, another hangout famous for its azulejos or glazed tiles. Viva Madrid is in the heart of Madrid’s historic center along Calle de Manuel Fernandez y Gonzales, 7. Not too far from Puerto del Sol and just a stonesthrow from Plaza Santa Ana, this restaurante is quite a looker from outside with its murals, and even better-looking inside. The warm interiors match the friendly service and delicious food. This place is good for both dining, people-watching or simply basking in “Rizal’s life in Madrid”.




Viva Madrid in Calle de Manuel Fernandez y Gonzales, 7.


Imagine Rizal enjoying his vino y tapas here.



The rioja y tapas were a perfect prelude to the blackest, inkiest, most flavorful paella negra to be had in Madrid. Very negra indeed. And muy delicioso,especially with generous servings of salsa alioli. Thanks to Jaime Marco, the go-to guy for Rizal’s Madrid, for bringing me here. Jaime is not only a Filipino historian and Rizal expert but a foodie through and through. Dining in Viva Madrid combines the best of both worlds: food and history. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย 




Jamon y Salmon…. Con Brie.


Piece de Resistance. Paella Negra.



How fortunate that Viva Madrid exists to this day. Not like nearby Los Gabrielles, which has closed. Every Filipino visiting Madrid should dine here. Just be warned that the food may distract you from appreciating the lovely interiors of Viva Madrid. The same glazed ceramic tiles adorn the interior walls, framed by columns and dark wood panels. Imagine our national hero sitting in a quiet corner here, enjoying his light meals and vino. Imagine many of our propagandists whiling away their time here while discussing what gets printed on La Solidaridad.




Lovely Interiors. Then, as in Now.


Rizal’s Corner.



When you get here, do ask for Rizal’s corner. Jaime says it’s the one near the 2 columns. Check out the 6th photo. And on your way out, check out the Rizal marker. Doesn’t that make you proud?




Good for family dining too!

So much has been written about the national hero and his life here in Madrid. For many Rizal enthusiasts, our numero uno patriot’s habit of writing down almost every detail of his life makes it easier to imagine how he spent his days here in Madrid. But what was really going on in his mind? Rizal listed down every peseta spent and even drawn or sketched the items, places and persons he liked. Like some bloggers would? Except that these days, memory catchers do not require drawing skills. Back then, Rizal’s penchant to record (and to share, via his letters) compelled him to sketch to amply describe the things he wrote about.




Rizal’s First Madrid Nest in Calle Amor de Dios, 13-15 (Sept 1882-May 1883)


Rizal studied Medicine here, which later became Colegio de Medicos in Madrid.



Having just arrived in Madrid , how did he find his first residence in Calle Amor de Dios 13-15? Out of his comfort zone, far from his family and friends, unaccustomed to Spanish ways and practices. When he walks home from school, did anyone ask him how his day went? Though he lives very near his school, did he go out for long walks to enjoy the solitude, even the desolation? Was he overwhelmed by the grandeur of Spanish monuments and buildings, enchanted by the sophistication of the theatre, confused by the flashy (and heavily adorned) costumes of men engaging in violent bullfights or simply disoriented by the four seasons, late meals and very late nights?




Rizal took painting lessons here in Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Calle Alcala, a main road in Madrid. Now a museum of fine arts.




Madrid-based Filipino historian and Rizal enthusiast Jaime Marco led me to many of our hero’s favorite haunts. He does this con gusto and with much sincerity. You can almost “touch” Jaime’s passion as he rattles off historical trivia about his favorite Filipino. Neither did Jaime fail to remind me during our walks that we are likely stepping on the same cobblestoned paths, touching the same old city walls or banisters, dining in the same corner of a favorite restaurante cum hangout, looking at the exact painting which inspired Lolo Pepe to write his Noli Me Tangere. Now, this last one is a highlight for me. I made so many visits to the Prado Museum but not once bothered to check out Corregio’s “Noli Me Tangere” showing a Biblical illustration of the resurrected Jesus subtly restraining Mary Magdalene from touching Him before He sees His Father. Jaime said the Corregio painting has always hung in that same spot. Ergo, we were viewing the painting exactly where Rizal stood and drew inspiration! Viewing this painting provokes one to mull over what went on in our national hero’s mind.




Prado Museum. This Museo any visitor should never miss.


Correggio’s NOLI ME TANGERE is a Biblical illustration of Jesus restraining Mary Magdalene from touching Him before He ascends to His Father.



Who knows? But Jaime made me stand there to dig deep into my sentiments. I told him I was actually drawn more to Magdalene….. sensing her conflict, touched by her submission and quiet acceptance of something she failed to understand then. Her self-restraint is evident. Self-restraint bordering on agony. Jaime pokes your inner core as much as he gave this much thought. My amateur (but honest layman’s) opinion may fail his standards, but I can imagine Lolo Pepe being moved by that painting. How I’d love to know what prompted Rizal to write Noli after seeing this Corregio masterpiece! This time, he never committed his “inspiration” to writing. No clues. No letters alluding to his feelings over this obramaestra. No hints. But I’m sure he made many walks around the ciudad digesting this newfound inspiration, perhaps even outlining his thoughts while meandering around the streets and alleys of madrid. Quo pasa, Pepe?




Rizal’s Madrid. Then as in Now. Some things — and monuments — never change.


Teatro Infante Isabel. Same facade. Same seats! Imagine sitting in the same seat as Rizal when he watched the opera then.



Having exhausted himself, Rizal would likely not go home yet after those “meditative” walks. Maybe he’d visit some of his friends: Paterno, Viola, Luna, Lopez Jaena, Del Pilar. If he had enough money, I bet he dropped in at the nearby Teatro Infanta Isabel. Perhaps with some friends. The same friends with whom he’d have a drink at the Viva Madrid or Los Gabrielles, a few steps and a turn off the corner from his apartment. Did he eat heartily? Did he drink rioja, cerveza or sidra? Did he find the paella too moist? How was your day, Pepe?




Viva Madrid and its lovely interiors and glazed ceramic tiles. A favorite hangout of many Filipino patriots. A marker is installed here, thanks to Jaime marco et al.


Did Rizal enjoy the blackest, inkiest, most delicioso Paella Negra here with extra servings of salsa alioli? Viva Madrid and its lovely interiors.



Jaime pointed out that Rizal’s financial woes left him moving through many Madrid apartments. He is not as rich as Viola or Paterno with his golden spoon on his breast pocket, but Rizal’s wit and intellect combine for a most engaging personality and presence sought by many. That photo where Rizal clowned around dressed like an Egyptian scribe to pose for Luna’s Death of Cleopatra is a gem. Rizal without his overcoat, laughing his way through that sitting for another genius and another favorite Filipino, Juan Luna. I wonder if they were sober when they did that pose. Did they have a good round of drinks at Los Gabrielles, a few steps from Viva madrid and his apartment in Calle Fernandez y Gonzales, 8? Que tal, Pepe?




The humorous side of Jose Rizal, posing as a scribe in Luna’s rendition of Death of Cleopatra. Such “clowns”!


Hotel Ingles….. Venue of the banquet celebrating Luna and hidalgo’s victories in the art department. Where Rizal mentioned “Genius has no country”….



In that Hotel Ingles banquet celebrating Luna and Hidalgo’s victories, Rizal’s toast turned out to be a long speech peppered with bravado and nationalistic fervor. It is claimed Rizal has not had a meal that day and promptly got a bit intoxicated, if not uninhibited, to give that fiery speech. What was in his mind? Did that speech stir those patriotic fibers in the hearts of the Filipino expats then? Where was Rizal going with that message? Quo vadis, Pepe?




Rioja, cerveza o sidra?


Calle Atocha, 43, where the newspaper La Solidaridad was published to give voice to the Filipino community in Spain.



After that speech, did the Madrid-based Filipinos “regroup” for a tertulla or perhaps organize a La Solidaridad meeting the same night? Or did they simply walk their separate ways, fascinated with Madrid’s quaint alleys, passing many apartments with laundry out to dry on balconies, eager to reach their homes or apartments to think through that moment of awakening. I read and re-read that part of the celebratory toast to Hidalgo and Luna and each time, feel my emotions stirring as I read the lines…….


โ€œLuna and Hidalgo are as much Spanish glories as they are Filipino. Just as they were born in the Philippines, they could have been born in Spain, because genius has no country, genius blossoms everywhere, genius is like the light, the air, it is the heritage of allโ€
—— Jose Rizal.



Typical street scene in madrid, circa 2013. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Madrid Then and Now.


Quo Vadis, Pinoys?

It started with Dr. Jose Rizal’s monument (built in 1996) in Avenida de las Islas Filipinas. Then a friend reminded me of Viva Madrid, the national hero’s favorite restaurant while he was still in university here. Finally, my search for ๐Ÿ‘จ Juan Luna’s award-winning paintings led me to Hotel Ingles where Filipino patriots met to celebrate his and Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo’s winning the gold and silver medals for their obra maestros.







It was a good walk ๐Ÿ‘ฃ from Puerto del Sol, away from Calle Mayor and along Carrera de San Jeronimo. The Net ๐Ÿ“ฒ came in so handy with this guide on which metro line ๐Ÿš‰ to use, where to get off and ๐Ÿ‘ฃ walking instructions on how to reach Viva Madrid ๐ŸดCalle Francisco Fernandez y Gonzalez, 7. Love it! My very own GPS. ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘







Soon, I found Viva Madrid. Right behind Teatro Espaรฑol. I checked out the menu and was secretly hoping there is a “Rizal’s Favorite” or something. A drink? Or a dessert? I found none. ๐Ÿ˜ž But I found a marker.







Just off the corner from Viva Madrid is Los Gabrielles, a music bar then where Filipino propagandists met regularly. I think this venue, described by Rizal in a letter to one of his sisters as having beautiful murals made of ceramic tiles, now hosts flamenco dance performances. ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ‘ฏ๐Ÿ’ƒ






A few steps more, on the same Calle Echegaray, is Hotel Ingles, ๐Ÿซ venue for the banquet tendered in honor of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo when they won in the Madrid Exposition of Fine Arts in 1884 with their masterpieces “Spoliarium” (now at the National Art Gallery in Manila) and “Las Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas Al Populacho (Christian Virgins Exposed to the Populace, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila). In this banquet, our national hero — who’s said not to have eaten the whole day for lack of funds — gave more than a toast to honor Luna and Hidalgo. More like a speech. A speech so full of bravado and spunk, where Rizal frontally attacked the religious establishment. Perhaps a preview of the Padre Damasos and Padre Silvas in his Noli Me Tangere.







This same hotel is also where our Filipino patriots met for ๐ŸŽ‡ ๐ŸŽ‰ ๐ŸŽ†New Year celebrations, or where they usually had their cenas or late dinners. For sure, they didn’t venture far. You see, Hotel Ingles and Los Gabrielles are just likely 30 steps away from each other, and Viva Madrid is just off the corner — perhaps another 30 steps. All in the same neighborhood! And all behind the lovely Teatro Espaรฑol ๐Ÿข๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ…. Errrr, another 30 steps.






Part 2 of Rizal’s Favorite Haunts ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿšถin the making. Watch this site!