Las Letras is pure art, history, and literature.
The literary quarter is named after the literary authors of the Golden Age and it’s one of the most popular areas in Madrid. Home to some of the most important Spanish literature writers such as Miguel de Cervantes, Félix Lope de Vega, Luis de Góngora or Francisco de Quevedo, its streets are full of quoted references of their works. Cervantes is in fact buried in the neighboring convent of Las Trinitarias Descalzas, not far from the house where he died in 1616. Lope de Vega also lived in the area in his sixteenth century house-museum until he died in 1635. You can visit the museum at the number 11 of Calle Cervantes.
The neighborhood is bordered by the Paseo del Prado, also known as the Golden Triangle of Art due to three of the most important museums in Madrid are located in the area – Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen and Museo Reina Sofía – definitely worth paying a visit.
Walking around Calle Huertas means being immersed in the works of the Spanish Golden Age authors from the Spanish Golden Age such as Cervantes, Lope de Vega or Quevedo among others. You can find some of the most famous verses of 15th and 16th century literature on the pavement of its streets. Many other streets, squares, monuments and statues maintain famous Madrid literature and art figures alive.
For instance, the first edition of El Quixote was printed in Calle Atocha by Juan de la Cuesta. A popular square nearby owes its name to the XVII author Tirso de Molina. Furthermore, the painter Joaquín Sorolla opened his first studio in the area and where Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer lived. The mirrors in the Taberna Las Bravas inspired the work Ramón del Valle-Inclán at the beginning of the XX century. The Cervecería Alemana was one of American author and Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway’s favorite places in Madrid.
One of the things I like the most is that, in spite of being a place that attracts many tourists, Las Letras maintains this traditional and genuine vibe that I really enjoy. Wonderful bookstores such as La Forja or La Fugitiva; the art gallery of Leandro Navarro; and a variety of design stores and antique shops just to name a few. It is a neighborhood full of small stores, although it also has franchises and special restaurants for tourists. This combination is interesting because it doesn’t seem to be forced; Las Letras has adapted to the changes without losing its essence. During the day, it is full of art, theatre, literature, restaurants, cafés and trendy terraces. At night, all kinds of people gather in bars, taverns and karaokes. In Plaza del Ángel, for instance, we can find Café Central, one of the most famous concert lounges in Madrid with live music each night.
While you’re in Madrid, don’t miss walking around one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods!