La Latina - What to Do in Madrid's Historical Center
La Latina is Madrid’s oldest neighborhood, predating the city itself and covering ground once occupied by an Islamic citadel. Within this barrio is the mythic urban Spain that many visitors imagine before coming to the capital: crooked streets and narrow, winding lane-ways, busy markets and magnificent Baroque churches, cloistered public squares that are sleepy by day and lively at night.
There's no shortage of things to do at La Latina and here are our top five.
1. Take a Glimpse into Madrid's Past
You can fully immerse yourself in local history around here by admiring the lavish Golden Age artworks in the San Francisco el Grande Basilica (including frescoes by Goya) or exploring the atmospheric tombs in the crypt of San Pedro el Real. The Museo de San Isidro is a great but little-known museum that offer's a look into Madrid's past all the way back to the stone age. The plaza outside is also a favorite local spot for a cold beer.
2. Enjoy Gastro Tapas at Korgui
Indeed, today’s La Latina is famous for drinking and dining, with a run of taverns and tapas bars along Cava Baja, and some fantastic old and new restaurants tucked into the backstreets. At Portier, we love Korgui, a family-run restaurant and cocktail bar that features edgy Spanish-Mexican-Japanese fusion tapas. Nab a seat outside or on the terrace, where the odd angles of La Latina’s hills and houses let you sit with the sky at your feet.
Korgui - Madrid, Spain
Address: Calle del Rollo, 8, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday-Thursday, 7pm-1am; Friday, 7pm-2:30am; Saturday, 2pm-2:30am; Sunday, 2pm-1am
3. Visit La Latina's Lively Markets
The big draw is Sunday’s sprawling El Rastro flea market. The main cluster of stalls extends down Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, but the whole area comes alive through the afternoon, with shoppers taking breaks for coffee, sangria, and platters of chorizo and cheese on the surrounding terraces. The indoor food market at Mercado de la Cebada becomes a buzzing social hub on weekends, where locals fill their glasses, pile up their plates and stand around chatting all day.
4. Party the Spanish Way
La Latina is big on traditional festivals too. If you’re in town in May, you can join the pretty wild street parties for San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid. And the otherwise quiet month of August, when many Madrileños escape the heat and take their summer holidays on the coast, gets nice and rowdy for the parades, concerts and fireworks of La Paloma.
5. Jardines del Principe de Anglona
This small, perfectly-walled and secluded garden is designed to an elegant geometric layout of the 18th century and is arguably the most peaceful corner of the barrio. On a quiet afternoon amid the flowers and fruit trees, you might be sitting in a tranquil, forgotten corner of the distant, aristocratic past.
Jardines del Principe de Anglona - Madrid, Spain
Address: Plaza de la Paja, 6, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Hours: Daily, 10am-10pm