Since the rise of skateboarding as one of the leading extreme sports in the world in the 1950s on the west coast of the United States, the high energy, fast paced sport has risen to become a defining pastime of the youth and subculture in many of the world’s major cities. Madrid is no different. Since the arrival of the sport on the European continent in the later part of the 20th century it has gone from strength to strength, and the Spanish capital has given the sport some of its finest professionals and pioneers.
As the sport flourished in Madrid, so it flourished too across the nation, and Spain quickly began to prove itself as the training ground of some of the world’s best, each excelling in different strands of the sport. Such figures are now either still strutting their stuff across the country’s many skate parks or renowned shredding spots, or have become the stuff of legends. In the former category, Killian Martin is perhaps best known as one of the most experimental of modern freestyle street skaters. It is a testimony to the nation’s Capital as a haven for the sport that Martin’s technique – one which relies heavily on gymnastic poses, stretches and curious body positions – was refined in one of Madrid’s very own gymnastics schools, which the skater joined at the age of just 10 years old.
Despite not claiming the title of ‘Spain’s skateboard capital’ outright (an accolade which is, for the most part reserved for the country’s second city, Barcelona), Madrid has propelled itself to the forefront of extreme sports in the previous decades. The city now has a myriad of skate parks to choose from, each with their own attractive pulls and resident skaters, while the melange of wide streets, modern plaza squares and open spaces that constitute the city’s new European architectural façade, has proven a great pull for street style skaters the world over.
Unusually for Spain, the high time for skaters in Madrid is not the summer, when the heat can simply overwhelm, and it can be difficult to stay out skating for a full day. Instead, many are attracted to the city in the autumn and spring months, and during this time there’s a really sociable vibe going on in most of the favourite skater spots.
If it is skate parks you are after then Madrid definitely still packs a punch, even when compared to the self-proclaimed skateboarding king city of Spain, Barcelona. Head to the Alcorcon skate park, in the Southwest of the metropolis, this place has a great series of half pipes and boxes, and is big enough for everyone – skaters and bikers alike. It can be a little way outside of the centre, but is great if you’re in for the long haul and want to skate all day, as there’s overhead flood lighting to let you skate after dark; something that will help you go for longer in the colder months.
There is also the Getafe skate park, again a little further from the centre of the city, but well worth the trip if it’s bowls and rails you are after. Most skate parks in the city are still on the metro line, and these tend to be pretty reliable in Madrid, so you shouldn’t have any worries about getting down and getting back.
For street skaters, many are attracted to the Plaza de los Castillos, where there are endless stair sets to keep you busy. At just a short walk from the Alcorcon skate park, why not mix your day up a bit with this spot? It has rails and some great street style contours, and there’s always a great atmosphere with the skaters here.
If you are after a really industrial skate setting then why not head to the Las Naves complex? This one is a real legendary spot, where skaters have been coming since the sport first arrived in the country to enjoy the extensive concrete layout that’s perfect for honing your skills. What’s more, this place is covered all year by a permanent structure, so you don’t have to worry about the, sometimes admittedly, unpredictable Spanish weather.
Skating in Madrid is very much alive and kicking.
There are literally hundreds of spots to choose from, and loads of skate parks that are filled the year round. Be careful if you’re skating down town, because the police are becoming increasingly wary of the effect of skating on the increased pedestrian traffic in the city. That said, don’t let that put you off making your skating pilgrimage to Madrid; the city remains a veritable boarding mecca.