Best Neighborhoods in Madrid
Madrid is the largest city and the capital of Spain. But before the name Madrid, this city was known as Mayrit, a city founded by King Emir Muhammad I in the 9th century. And at this time, the city was not yet the capital of Spain. The city was only proclaimed as the capital of Spain in the 16th century. Madrid’s present location at the centre of Spain was established in 1083 by King Alfonso I, and the area of this city is almost the precise geographical centre of the Iberian Peninsula!
With the city being the third-largest city in Europe, having an estimated population of 3.2 million in 2015, one may wonder what to visit and the best neighborhoods to stay in Madrid. Here are some of the best communities in this facile and popular city.
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Sol and Gran Via
It is in this neighborhood where the famous Puerta del Sol is located. Puerta del sol is a public square in the centre of the radial network of all Spanish roads. It also houses the famous clock tower whose bells signifies the new year. The central location of these neighborhoods makes it hard to miss. It is both convenient and accessible to tourists and locals. Among the places of interest are the Casa de Correos, the oldest building in the area and the seat of the government of the Community of Madrid, and the Oso y el Madroño or The Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue which the symbol of Madrid. For the art enthusiast, you may visit the Círculo de Bellas Artes situated in a building designed by Antonio Palacios.
If you want a glimpse of Madrid’s history, this neighbourhood is the place to see, being one of Madrid’s oldest parts. Visit the San Isidro Museum to learn a more detailed account of Madrid’s history. This neighbourhood is also home to various churches like San Miguel, San Francisco, San Andrés and San Pedro. But aside from history, La Latina is known for its tapas bars serving cheese, meat, salads, and tortillas with Spanish wine and drinks.
This area is quite popular with the LGBT community and is coined as Madrid’s gay neighborhood. The Gay Pride festivities in this area are well-known and is also a major nightlife destination. But this chic and dynamic district also features stylish shops, fabulous bars and restaurants for all. Calle Hortaleza is considered the main street and Plaza Chueca as the central plaza.
Barrio de las Letras
This neighborhood, also called Huertas, is similar to Sol in that it is centrally located. However, its difference is that Barrio de las Letras has fewer tourists. Nevertheless, it’s a picturesque scene with its area full of history. The name Barrio de las Letras means “the Literary Quarter” and was named so because of the various literary minds who lived in this neighborhood. The home of the author Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote Don Quijote, is actually one of the exciting sights in the area.
The most notable sight in this neighborhood is how trendy, and contemporary restaurants exist adjacent to traditional establishments. Another sight to behold is the graffiti art around the area that are simply astonishing. Multiple eateries are now serving Sunday brunch, a concept new to Spain, with some establishments allowing pets in the establishments and an indoor bicycle parking. The Plaza del Dos de Mayo is most famous in this area. Its location is the site where the Palacio de Monteleón was constructed which was later transformed into the Parque de Artillería in 1807.
Tapas, tapas and more tapas. This neighborhood is known for multiple tapas bar, especially in the iconic street of Calle Cava Baja. The area is a mix of bohemian and Spanish vibe. Aside from tapas, this neighborhood is known for mojitos and terraces. The picturesque plazas provide a spectacular view for drinks, coffee or people-watching. But apart from tapa bars, it is also home to various basilicas and churches that are hidden in narrow streets. A must-see is the Basílica de San Francisco el Grande, a neo-classical church with a spectacular dome having a diameter of 33metres. On the site once stood a monastery founded by Saint Francis of Assisi, but was later destroyed in 1760. Inside the basilica are various paintings from artists in the 17th to 19th century, with notable works of an early Goya and 1781 The Sermon of San Bernardino of Siena.
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Other popular and must-see neighborhoods in Madrid are Moncloa, Argüelles, Lavapiés, and Los Austrias, to name a few. One thing is common is that these communities are beautiful and exciting in their own unique way. Whichever neighborhood you choose, you will see great architecture, intriguing historical museums, and a lively cultural life!
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