Get lost in La Latina, one of the oldest places in Madrid
The La Latina neighborhood is one of the oldest and most charismatic in the city, and one of our favorites. The urban layout of this area of the center retains the seventeenth-century layout and many references to the Arab domination that marked the Iberian Peninsula from the eighth to the thirteenth century, such as the Puerta de Moros or the Moreria Street.
The name of the neighborhood derives from Beatriz Galindo, tutor of the Spanish royal family which was called “La Latina” because of its classical culture. It was she who founded a hospital in this popular district of the center which today is the La Latina theater, one of the most important in the city.
What to do in La Latina
What can you do in La Latina? Definitely stroll through its picturesque streets, starting for example from the Cebada Square (Metro La Latina). With its fresh produce market, La Cebada is one of the most popular places for the inhabitants of the neighborhood and a great option to sample the delights of Spanish cuisine at affordable prices. Here you can choose fresh food and have it cooked directly at the counter, shop among the people of the neighborhood and breathe a unique atmosphere. Next to the market is the courtyard of la Cebada, a space available to the inhabitants of the neighborhood who meet here, play sports, listen to a concert or simply enjoy an aperitif. Continuing along Maldonadas Street you arrive at Cascorro Square, from which the Rastro market starts.
Toledo Street starts from Cebada Square leading to the square of the same name where the Puerta de Toledo is located, a self-celebrating monument wanted by Giuseppe Bonaparte in 1813 and inaugurated only in 1827 to celebrate the expulsion of the French troops who had invaded the Spain.
Other places of interest in La Latina
The palace and cloister of the Hospital of VOT (San Bernabé Street), the oldest still functioning hospital in Madrid and located in a 16th century palace, and the Church of San Francisco the Great, are among the most monumental buildings in the city. This church is worth a visit for the impressive dimensions of its dome (second in size only to the Pantheon in Rome) and for the works of art that decorate its interiors, including paintings by Goya, Luca Giordano, Francisco de Zurbaràn. If you arrive from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 to 12:30 or from 16:00 to 18:00 you can join a free guided tour. The entrance fee, outside of the celebration hours, is 3 euros.
It is certainly not for the monuments, however, that one comes to La Latina. Enter the narrow streets between Toledo Street and the Gran Via in San Francisco – the streets Calatrava, la Paloma, el Ángel, Tabernillas, Luciente, Humilladero … – to fully experience the lively atmosphere of the neighborhood together with its inhabitants. One of the busiest streets in the area is Cava Baja: walk along it and stop in the place that most inspires you for a beer and a tapa, or enter Casa Lucio. Here you can taste the famous huevos rotos (fried eggs with potatoes and ham) which have also conquered the royal house of Spain.
Bailén Street starts from the square of San Francisco leading to the Vistillas Garden, another very popular place for the panorama of Madrid and which every year in mid-August hosts the Fiesta de la Paloma, with concerts and outdoor food stalls where the inhabitants of the whole city poured in. Nearby is the Corral de la Moreria, one of the privileged places to watch a flamenco show.
What to see in La Latina
Following the Carrera de San Francisco (San Francisco Street) you will arrive at the Puerta de Moros and the Carros Square, one of the most popular places in the neighborhood. One of the oldest churches in Madrid overlooks here – the Church of San Andrés – and from here, by the costanilla(narrow street) de San Andrés, you arrive at the medieval Paja Square, a large irregular space in which a village atmosphere hovers. In medieval times it was one of the liveliest places in the city and home to an important agricultural market. The name itself – Plaza de la Paja (square of the straw) – derives from the hay brought here for the horses of the Bishop who resided here, as evidenced by the Capilla del Obispo (Bishop’s Chapel), a late Gothic building that stands in a corner of the square.
Just in front of the chapel is the Garden of Principe de Anglona, a small 18th century jewel unknown even to many “madrileños”. It is a garden from 1700 which still retains the original structure. It is a real oasis of peace: go inside and rest for a while on one of its benches to enjoy the tranquility that reigns here. Adjacent to the garden is the noble palace built in the seventeenth century with the typical sober style of Castilian buildings. You are already in the Madrid de los Austrias.
If you pass by the costanilla de San Andrés and you are in the mood for shopping, at number 18 enter COCOL to browse the ceramics, the small sculptures obtained with recycled material or the clothing, all strictly handcrafted.
Where to eat and drink in La Latina
If Casa Lucio (Cava Baja Street 35) is one of the historic restaurants of the neighborhood famous for “los huevos rotos” as well as for other typical dishes of Madrid cuisine, La Latina offers countless places where you can get tapas or divide plates of different dishes, a nice way to taste various delights of local cuisine. Among the many that offer excellent dishes and affordable prices, we liked EL BOMBIN, in calle Tabernillas 23: delicious fried aubergines with honey and also fish or ham croquettes. For music lovers, the venue was once the home of the singer-songwriter Joaquìn Sabina. Near the Opera metro, in Latoneros Street 3, there is the Casa Revuelta, a simple place with few seats, perfect for trying a beer with the best fried cod in the city.
Find an accommodation in La Latina neighborhood