As part of our series of routes around the city, today we want to stop in the bohemian Las Letras district. We are talking about the part of the city delimited between Carrera de San Jerónimo, Paseo del Prado, Calle de Atocha and Calle Carretas, who past is intimately linked to hundreds of authors of Spanish literature who used to live there.
Famous names such as Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Tirso de Molina or Góngora were all neighbours of Calle Huertas and its surrounding streets.
This area, of small and mostly pedestrianised streets, is today filled with antiques shops, bookshops, art galleries, music stores, decoration shops and even theatres and literary cafés… a temple for collectors and book lovers.
1) Palace of Parliament
Going down Carrera de San Jerónimo we come across the Spanish Parliament, on Plaza de las Cortes. The Palacio de las Cortes as it is known in Spanish is a neo-classical building that was inaugurated in 1850 by Queen Isabel II and it is the work of Narciso Pascual Colomer.
On the façade we can see a large triangular pediment with an allegorical bas-relief held by six Corinthian columns and two monumental bronze lions made with the bronze from the canons of the African War of 1860. The large main doors only open on special occasions, such as the recent proclamation of King Felipe IV.
2) Calle Huertas
It is the street that runs parallel to Calle Atocha from Plaza del Ángel to Platería Martínez. It gets its name from the fact that back in the Spanish Siglo de Oro, the Golden Century, this is where the city ended and the countryside began (known as huerta in Spanish).
Walking on Calle Huertas we come across literary fragments inscribed in golden letters on the floor, all of them belonging to great works of Spanish literature. This area gathers the best live music venues in the city, such as Café Central on Plaza del Ángel, considered the city’s temple of jazz.
3) Plaza de Santa Ana
In this square we find the Teatro Español, a scenic space of many centuries of age where some of the most famous plays of Spain’s Siglo de Oro were premiered. We also find Café del Príncipe, an establishment that was filled with intellectuals discussing literature in the late 19th century.
On the square, as well as pleasant terraces where you can have a drink, you can also find statues dedicated to Calderón de la Barca and Federico García Lorca.
4) Lope de Vega House Museum
Lope de Vega once said about his home: “mi house, my stillness, my garden and study”, referring to the house on Calle Cervantes where he lived between 1610 and 1635.
Today it is a museum dedicated to the writer in which the visitor goes back to the everyday life of the Golden Century through the furniture, goods and works of art of that time. Booking in advance is essential.
Discover this traditional district of Madrid by staying in our comfortable four-star hotel next to the Puerta del Sol.
Categories: Guías Madrid