In the heart of Madrid lies La Latina, one of the oldest neighborhoods there. Here, visitors can explore the beautiful buildings and décor of the chapels, and be mesmerized by the art and paintings that hang on the walls. Along with small narrow streets, there are also large community squares filled with shops and statues for tourists to explore. To find out more on what to to do and see in this small area of Spain, read our suggestions below.
San Isidro Museum
The San Isidro Museum space takes visitors on a journey through the history of Madrid, from prehistoric times to the establishment of the court, through various rooms such as San Isidro, the Renaissance courtyard, the archaeo-botanical garden or the storehouse. The permanent exhibition of the museum displays a total of 153 pieces. The opening of the museum revived the tradition of visiting the Pozo del Milagro (well of miracles) located next to the courtyard where, according to tradition, San Isidro saved his son from drowning when the waters rose to the curb. PlazaSan Andrés, 2, Madrid, Spain, +34 913 66 74 15
San Francisco El Grande Church
The San Francisco El Grande church is a Roman Catholic church in central Madrid, located in the neighborhood of La Latina, and the building faces the Plaza of San Francisco. Built in 1760 by King Carlos III, it stands on the site of a Franciscan convent, which is claimed to have been founded by St. Francis himself in 1217. This is one of five Royal Basilicas of Madrid. The church contains paintings by Zurbarán and incorporates three chapels, including the Chapel of San Bernardino de Siena with a magnificent painting of the saint by Francisco De Goya. San Buenaventura Street, 1, Madrid, Spain, +34 913 65 38 00
San Pedro El Viejo Church
San Pedro El Viejo Church is Madrid’s second oldest church. It dates as far back as the late 11th century, or early 12th century, though much of the building was renovated in the 17th and 19th centuries. San Pedro started out as a Benedictine monastery. It has intriguing Romanesque features, especially its main door, though arguably its Romanesque cloister is even more fascinating. There are gothic features too, as can be seen in the choir stalls. The interior plan of San Pedro has three naves and the transept has three apses; and perhaps its most important feature is its Moorish mudéjar tower. Calle del Nuncio, 14, Madrid, Spain, +34 913 65 12 84
Plaza de la Paja
Plaza de la Paja is a broad, shady square with a peaceful atmosphere that belies its role in history as Madrid’s commercial center and beating heart. Now fully pedestrianised and overshadowed by the city’s more modern corners, it is an ideal place to have a drink or a bite to eat while admiring architecture that spans over several centuries. A major marketplace during the 13th and 14th century, the plaza received its name, which means straw square, because in its medieval height it was also a tithing site for the Catholic church. Plaza de la Paja, Madrid, Spain
Príncipe de Anglona Garden
Príncipe de Anglona Garden is a small, partially hidden jewel located in the heart of Madrid. It was commissioned by the Marquises of La Romana to Javier de Winthuysen, an 18th century painter and garden designer. The garden belongs to the adjoining palace, from which the name was taken. Even though it was restored at the beginning of the 20th century, it still maintains the original structure that defines the entire area. The low bowl fountain made of unpolished white marble that stood in the center has been replaced by another higher fountain made of lustrous stone. Calle Príncipe Anglona, Madrid, Spain
Mercado de la Cebada
Inspired by the Les Halles de París market in the French capital, and built in 1875, Mercado de la Cebada, thanks to its proximity to the Puerta de Toledo, is one of Madrid’s main access points. It has been one of the most popular meeting points for Madrid’s business and trade workers for years. While waiting for a municipal plan to revitalise its business activity, the market has revamped its exterior, covering it in colors and turning it into one of the world’s biggest works of street art. Plaza de la Cebada, 15, Madrid, Spain
Teatro La Latina
Teatro La Latina is a theatrical venue in Madrid, located in the Plaza de la Cebada of La Latina, designed by architect Pedro Muguruza. It has been one of the most important venues for comedy and plays about the history of theater in Spain throughout the twentieth century. Check online to see the available shows on the stage. Remember to book your ticket beforehand so you too can show up to enjoy the entertainment that the Teatro La Latina brings to the neighborhood. Plaza de la Cebada, 2, Madrid, Spain, +34 913 65 28 35
Puerta de Toledo
Puerta de Toledo, translated as the Gate of Toledo, is a free-standing gate that is 19 meters high and is comprised of three archways. It is a flamboyant structure made of granite that was started in 1812 under the Napoleonic government of Joseph Bonaparte. On the north-facing side of the gate, the emblem of the City of Madrid is held up by two angels. Each of the two arches on either side of the central arch is also adorned with sculptures, which represent various military victories of the era. Ronda de Toledo, 1, Madrid, Spain
Capilla del Obispo
El Capilla del Obispo is probably the most beautiful chapel in all of Madrid. It was built between 1520 and 1535 by Francisco de Vargas. His son, Gutierres Vargas, later bishop of Plasencia in Cáceres, Extremadura, also helped to build it. The chapel was originally designed to house the body of San Isidro, though his remains were finally located in the Iglesia de San Andrés, next door. It now serves as the memory of Bishop Don Gutierrez, a member of the powerful Vargas family of Madrid who lived in the area. Plaza de la Paja, 9, Madrid, Spain
El Rastro is the most popular open-air flea market in Spain. It is held every Sunday and public holiday during the year and is located between Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo, just south of La Latina metro station and Puerta de Toledo station. Although there is a main street dedicated to market stalls, which predominantly sell clothing, the side streets contain the real treasures. A great variety of products, both new and used, can be found at El Rastro. A number of antique shops in the local area are also open on Sundays. Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, Madrid, Spain
By Talitha Duncan-Todd
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