Madrid in the Movies

Madrid is the setting for many films, not only in the films of Almodovar but also in International and Hollywood films. Here are some of the places you might recognise from the movies.

The most famous of Spanish directors internationally is Pedro Almodovar, one of the figureheads of the Movida Madrilena (read more in my article about this cultural movement here). Many of his films are love letters to Madrid.

I stumbled on this gem of a blog post which shows Almodovar film stills in front of the real places today. 


Let’s start with some Almodovar films…

Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988)

One of his most famous movies is the 1988 film “Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios” (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). He was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1988 and the film won 5 Goya awards. The main character, Pepa, is played by Carmen Maura, is abandoned by her boyfriend, Iván. She pursues him to confront him about why he decided to leave her, running into his ex-lover, a young couple, and a woman who is afraid the police may be looking for her due to the fact that she used to date a terrorist. The cast includes an incredibly young Antonio Banderas in the early days of his career (pictured below).

Most of the film was shot on a set made to look like the top floor terrace at Calle de Montalbán 7, with the famed Gran Vía skyline as a backdrop for the cast’s misadventures.Watch the trailer here.


Other Locations for Pedro Almodovar Films:

Villa Rosa, Plaza de Santa Ana 15, in

“Tacones Lejanos” or “High Heels” (1991)


In this 1991 Almodovar film, Miguel Bosé plays the drag queen Letal, whose act is based on a famous torch singer who is actually the mother of the film’s protagonist. Letal performs in a bar called Villa Rosa near Retiro Park, famed in real life for its flamenco shows.

Conde Duque, Calle Conde Duque 9-11, Madrid in

“La Ley del Deseo” or “Law of Desire” (1995)


In one of Almodovar’s most memorable scenes, Carmen Maura shouts “Water me down! Don’t be shy!” at a city worker with a massive hose on a hot Madrid summer night. This scene takes place in front of Conde Duque, which once served as the barracks for Spain’s Royal Guard Corps, and now is a cultural centre home to art exhibits and cultural events.



La Bobia, San Millán 3, Madrid in

“Labarinto de Pasiones”  or “Labyrinth of Passions” (1982)

La Bobia Laberinto de Pasiones

La Bobia cafe is one of the main locations in this early film of Almodovar, located near  El Rastro flea market (where Almodóvar worked when he first moved to the city), the bar was once a punk hangout but now is a trendy tapas bar.

Plaza Mayor in “El Flor de mi Secreto” or “The Flower of my Secret” (1995)

Plaza Mayor La Flor De Mi Secreto

In one of the final scenes from the 1995 film, the characters Leo and Angel stroll around a strikingly empty Plaza Mayor at night, reminiscing about their meeting years earlier.

Other films shot in Madrid

Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes, 1997)

This gripping Spanish drama starring Madrileñan actress Penelope Cruz and Eduardo Noriega is about a man who finds the love of his life, but suffers an accident and needs to have his face rebuilt by surgery after it is severely disfigured. One spectacular scene shows a deserted Gran Via, the scene was shot between 4am and 8am and police had to cordon off all of the surrounding streets to film this epic shot.
The movie was remade in 2001 as “Vanilla Sky” featuring Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz. Watch the trailer here.


Dr Zhivago (1965)

Isn’t this a film about Russia? You’re right. Unfortunately, the book was banned in the Soviet Union so parts of the movie were filmed in Spain, Finland and Canada. All the scenes for Moscow were filmed on a set constructed just outside of Madrid. One scene was even filmed in the Delicias train station, which is now the railway museum where the Mercado de los Motores vintage flea market is held. Watch the trailer here.

Dr Zhivago | © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

In the third film of the Bourne series, Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, a former CIA assassin and spy. The movie was filmed in a number of countries, but Madrid makes a cameo in a scene filmed in the busy Atocha train station. Watch the trailer here.

The Bourne Ultimatum | © Universal Pictures

Quantum of Solace (2008)

In this James Bond instalment, Daniel Craig plays the charismatic British Spy.

The action scenes take place in different worldwide locations such as Lake Garda, in northern Italy, Lake Constance in Austria, Panama City in Panama, and Italy, Lake Constance in Austria, Panama City in Panama, and Madrid, in Spain. Watch the trailer here.


Moulin Rouge (2001)

Director Baz Luhrmann filmed the romantic musical in his native Sydney, not in Paris, however, when filming overran and they were forced off the set, scenes were shot in Madrid, however, most of the scenes were shot inside buildings. Watch the trailer here.


The Others (2011)

Alejandro Amenabar directed this horror film starring Nicole Kidman in 2011. Though the film is set in Jersey after the Second World War, the movie was actually filmed in Madrid and Cantabria. It was the first film in English to win a Spanish Goya award. Watch the trailer here.

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