If you travel to Madrid, one of the essential visits is the Barrio de La Latina, one of the most historic and charismatic that you can visit in Madrid. It is part of the oldest area of the city, Madrid de los Austrias, and the number of monuments, unique streets and charming squares that you will find is very large.
Many people wonder where the name of the neighborhood comes from. Well, it is due to Beatriz Galindo, counselor and teacher of Isabel la Católica. She was her Latin teacher, for which she received the nickname “La Latina”. And since she founded a hospital in the same place where the Teatro de La Latina is located today, the neighborhood received the same name. Did you know?
From now on we are going to take a tour of La Latina, one of the best neighborhoods to see in Madrid so you don’t miss a thing. If you prefer to be told what you see, the best thing you can do is this free tour of La Latina and Lavapiés where, in addition to this neighborhood, you will also get to know the neighboring neighborhood of Lavapiés.
What to see in La Latina, one of the neighborhoods of Madrid
The Plaza de la Cebada and its surroundings
Our tour of La Latina will begin at Plaza de la Cebada, its nerve center and where the La Latina Metro station is located. It is one of the most frequented places in Madrid and where you will always find a great atmosphere, thanks to the terraces of the tapas bars that are around it and the Teatro de La Latina, one of the most important in the city.
Also in this place we find the Mercado de la Cebada, one of the largest markets in Madrid, which dates from 1958, although previously there was another market built in 1875 which in turn had replaced another from the 16th century.
A few meters from the Plaza de la Cebada is another of the picturesque squares in the Barrio de La Latina. This is the Plaza de Cascorro, also with a great atmosphere for its terraces and the place where El Rastro begins, the great market that brings the neighborhood to life every Sunday.
In the center is Eloy Gonzalo. Well, the statue of him. He is one of the heroes of the Cuban War, at the end of the 19th century, fundamental in the defense of Cascorro, a Cuban municipality.
Toledo Street and the Toledo Gate
Going down Calle Ribera de Curtidores you can turn right along any of the streets to reach Calle Toledo, one of the busiest in the center of Madrid where numerous bars and shops open up, some with a great history and With a lot of charm.
La Fuentecilla is one of the points of interest on Calle Toledo. It is a small fountain built to commemorate Fernando VII’s return to the city in the 19th century before reaching the Church of La Paloma and the Puerta de Toledo.
It is a monument that began to be built in 1812 to commemorate the arrival of José Bonaparte to the throne of Spain and that was completed in 1827 to celebrate his expulsion. The history of the Puerta de Toledo is curious.
The Basilica of Saint Francis the Great and its surroundings
From the Puerta de Toledo, from where you can see the Puente de Toledo, we turn onto the Gran Vía de San Francisco and head to one of the essential places to visit in Madrid. But first we will come across the Church of La Paloma and its characteristic façade with two towers.
We leave aside the Hospital de la VOT, the oldest hospital in Madrid, and arrive at a small park with a very special charm, located on one of the sides of the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande. We are talking about the Dalieda de San Francisco, which now no longer houses dahlias but does have a large collection of roses, spectacular every spring. It is one of the most unique parks in the city and deserves a visit, both for its flowers and for the sculpture “El Sueño de San Isidro” as well as the fantastic views from there.
And finally we arrive at the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, one of the most beautiful religious temples in Madrid. From its exterior we must highlight its façade and its towers, but above all its great dome, the third largest circular one in Christendom. Impressive is, of course, its interior, with the paintings that we can find both on its walls and inside the dome. An essential visit in Madrid.
The Vistillas and the Plaza de la Paja
Continuing our way towards Bailén Street we come to other unique gardens that are worth a visit. We are talking about Las Vistillas, very famous for the La Paloma festivities in August, and also for the spectacular views from these gardens of the Almudena Cathedral and the west of the city. In Las Vistillas is the Statue of La Violetera and in this environment we will also find the famous Corral de la Morería and the Madrid Seminary.
If we go back into the narrow streets that take you to the heart of La Latina, we will arrive at another very unique square, Plaza de la Paja, a square with a great history in Madrid since it was the seat of a large market and the place where some of the main noble families of Madrid’s history lived.
Next to the Plaza de la Paja is the Jardín del Príncipe de Anglona, a tiny garden hidden behind a wall but of extraordinary beauty, which is why its visit is essential despite the fact that many people from Madrid are unaware that it exists. It has been in that place since the 18th century and it is really surprising.
From the Plaza de la Paja to the Plaza de los Carros
We continue strolling and arrive at the Church of San Pedro el Viejo, one of the few exponents of Mudejar art that we can admire in Madrid. It dates from the 14th century and its tower, hidden among alleys, will surprise you.
A little further on we find the Plaza de la Puerta Cerrada, from where Cava Baja begins, one of the most popular streets in Madrid where there are countless restaurants where you can taste the typical food of Madrid. Among them stands out the famous Casa Lucio. Further on we come to the Plaza de Puerta de Moros and its adjoining Plaza de los Carros from where we can admire the Church of San Andrés, which in fact we have already seen before, from behind, in the Plaza de la Paja, where it is also the Bishop’s Chapel.
Next to it is a unique building that was the home of San Isidro. It currently houses the Museo de los Orígenes, a museum dedicated to the patron saint of Madrid where you can learn about the history of Madrid’s origins. Inside it is also the Well of Miracles, which according to tradition was the well where the son of San Isidro fell and he saved him from drowning by making the waters rise.
The Collegiate Church of San Isidro
To end our tour, we will return to the Plaza de la Cebada and walk a few meters north until we come across another of the architectural gems that the Barrio de La Latina encloses. We are talking about the Collegiate Church of San Isidro, which was the provisional cathedral of Madrid for centuries until the consecration of the Almudena Cathedral.
The Collegiate Church of San Isidro, from the 17th century, has a simply spectacular altarpiece that deserves a visit, as well as the remains of San Isidro and his wife, Santa María de la Cabeza.
Thus ends our tour of the Barrio de La Latina, one of the most traditional neighborhoods in Madrid.