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Cinema sign | © Steve Snodgrass
Cinema sign | © Steve Snodgrass
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7 Films and TV Shows To See Before Visiting Madrid

Picture of Lori Zaino
Updated: 12 May 2017
If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Madrid, seeing its gorgeous architecture and lively nightlife on TV or on the big screen will certainly tempt you. If you are planning a trip to the Spanish capital, here are some television shows and movies you should watch before you go, to check out the city and get some insight into Spanish culture.

Velvet

One of Spain’s most popular television shows, Velvet is a drama about a 1950s fashion atelier. Seamstress Ana and rich kid Alberto (who is poised to inherent the fashion house, the eponymous Velvet), have been in love since they were kids, but things get complicated. Velvet combines the best of fashion, romance and 1950s fun. Most of the show takes place indoors, but the shots of Madrid’s famous Gran Vía street and the city’s rooftops are priceless. You can even see the building where the show supposedly takes place on Calle Gran Vía.

Velvet
Velvet | © Bambú Productions

Volver

You can’t visit Madrid without catching a Pedro Almodóvar film or two, especially Volver, starring Penelope Cruz. In typical Almodóvar fashion, things get crazy pretty fast in this family, which includes Raimunda; her 14-year-old daughter Paula; and Irene, Raimunda’s mother, who comes back from the dead. The family lives in Madrid and the film will give you some insight to Madrid cultural norms, but don’t worry, not all families in Madrid are this eccentric – this is Almodóvar’s world.

Volver
Volver | © Sony Pictures Classic

Dr Zhivago

You may be thinking that this movie isn’t Spanish at all, and you’d be right. But since the book was banned in the Soviet Union, many parts of the movie were filmed in Spain, as well as in Finland and Canada. The entire Moscow portion of the set was built just outside Madrid, and many other locations in and around Madrid were used. One scene was filmed in the Delicias train station, which is now the railway museum hosting the monthly Mercado de los Motores vintage flea market.

Dr Zhivago
Dr Zhivago | © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The Bourne Ultimatum

In this, the third thriller movie in the Bourne series, Matt Damon plays former CIA assassin and spy Jason Bourne. While searching for information regarding past operations, he himself becomes a target. The movie was filmed in a number of countries, but you’ll see a scene filmed in the busy Atocha train station right in the heart of Madrid.

The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Ultimatum | © Universal Pictures

¡Bienvenido Mister Marshall!

While this movie wasn’t actually filmed in Madrid, it offers some interesting historical and cultural insights into Spain and is one of the most famous films in the history of Spanish cinema. Directed by Luis García Berlanga, the comedy is about a tiny Spanish town waiting excitedly for the arrival of some American diplomats in the 1950s. The movie talks to some typical stereotypes of Americans and Spanish people, and will prepare you for what you’ll find when you visit Madrid.

¡Bienvenido Mister Marshall!
¡Bienvenido Mister Marshall! | © Uninci

Law of Desire (La Ley del Deseo)

This 1987 film directed by Pedro Almodóvar stars a young Antonio Banderas. It’s about a love triangle between three men. Shot mainly in Madrid, the film is Almodóvar’s first work focused on homosexuality, and was a real game-changer for his career. Parts of the film were shot in Cádiz, so you’ll get to see some other parts of Spain, too.

Law of Desire
Law of Desire | © Agustín Almodóvar

The Others

This 2001 supernatural horror movie directed by Alejandro Amenabar stars Nicole Kidman. Though the story supposedly takes place after World War II in the British Crown Dependency of Jersey, the movie was actually filmed in Madrid and Cantabria. It was the first film in English to win a Spanish Goya award, and is about two children who suffer from extreme sensitivity to light and have to live in almost total darkness.

The Others
The Others | © Miramax