Culture and fun in one of the most ancient neighborhood of Madrid
The Huertas area, which goes from Sol to calle Atocha, is one of the oldest in the city, as well as one of the most visited by tourists, as the Paseo del Prado is located here. If the Huertas district is particularly lively during the day due to its “concentration” of museums, it is even more so at night. It is the moment when its streets come alive with all kind of people ready to party in one of the many clubs and “bar de copas”.
The rich theatrical scene and the literary tradition which mark this area and whose origins date back to the 17th century can be recognized in the name given to the heart of Huertas, the Barrio de las Letras (Neighborhood of Literature). It is a melting pot of streets that take their name from some of the greatest Spanish writers of the so called Siglo de Oro, the Gold 17th century of Spanish literature: Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Gongora who lived in this part of the city center.
Precisely in calle Cervantes on the corner with calle Leòn is the house where the author of Don Quichotte lived and died, and a little further on, at number 11, is the Casa Museo Lope de Vega, where the great Spanish playwright lived. This cultural vocation of Huertas is also reflected in the presence of many cultural institutions: the University of Madrid in calle San Jeronimo, the San Fernando Institute of Fine Arts, the Spanish Theater and the Comedy Theater.
The heart of Huertas …
…. is undoubtedly the beautiful Plaza Santa Ana, adorned with the statues of Garcia Lorca
and Calderòn de la Barca and full of bars that in the summer season put out tables and chairs to fill the square. Among the most well-known and typical places in the square, Cerveceria Alemana is certainly to be counted, which, despite its name, is a local brewery where it is typical to accompany beer – home-made since 1904 – with tapas of squid and sardine.
In the background of the square, an elegant white building – the Luxury Hotel ME Madrid Reina Victoria – houses the Penthouse, one of the most fashionable (and expensive) clubs in the city, on the terrace. On the other side, ME Madrid overlooks Plaza del Angel, a little and nice square also full of bars and terraces where you can have a drink, perhaps listening to live jazz at the Café Central.
At the corner of Plaza del Angel and Me Madrid, starts Calle Huertas, the street that gives its name to the neighborhood and runs through it. Here, nestled on the street, some sentences taken from the masterpieces of Spanish literature indicate, in fact, the “literary” soul of the area. Calle Huertas and the surrounding streets are all pedestrianized, which makes walking around the neighborhood particularly pleasant. Its streets are always very lively during the day and especially at night. The same calle Huertas is full of bars and clubs for all tastes, and the Plaza de Matute (Matute Square) – about halfway down the street – is also another perfect place to spend the evening.
Where to eat in Huertas
If you are in Huertas during lunch or dinner times, you will be spoiled for choice, especially if you walk along calle Ventura de la Vega renamed “street of taste” because of the rich gastronomic offer. Choose the one that inspires you most, you will hardly be disappointed. We particularly like here the vegetarian restaurant Artemisia, which for lunch offers a tasty and abundant “day menu” for only 12 euros or the Bar-Restaurante Lacon on the corner with calle Emanuel Fernandez y Gonzalez which offers a very typical setting and excellent tapas and raciones. If you are particularly hungry and are looking for the typical flavors of Spanish cuisine, go to the Restaurant La Sanabresa in Calle Amor de Dios (metro Antòn Martin): the atmosphere is very Spanish and the peppers stuffed with meat or cod are divine.
Shopping in Huertas
The Huertas neighborhood is also full of small businesses and crafts not easy to find elsewhere, from shops selling hand-painted t-shirts to niche bookstores to “alternative” toys stores. Among all, we really love “La Intrusa” in calle Leòn 17, a concept store where you will certainly find some souvenirs for you or your family and friends. If you are in Madrid on the first Saturday of the month, go to the Mercado de las Ranas: the Huertas merchants open all day and display their most representative goods outside the shops offering discounts and a very nice atmosphere.
Find an accommodation in Huertas or in the Barrio de las Letras