17 ene 2019

My Neighborhood - Barrio de Las Letras (Huertas)

We have enjoyed living in our neighborhood in Madrid, Barrio de Las Letras or the Neighborhood of the Writers. There are so many things to think about when selecting where to live in Madrid. I can at least guide you through this wonderful historic district.

We live in the heart of Madrid, and thus the oldest and arguably the most historic part as well. Bordered by Plaza de Sol, Prado, and the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art, this area is easily accessible by line 1 on the metro or about five different buslines that run up along in front of the Prado.

The buildings here were built as far back as the late 1500’s, but most have been gutted and updated inside, while the historic exteriors remain. For instance our building was built around the same period, but as a single family townhome, and then it wasn’t until the 1980s that it was converted into apartments. Pluses for this is that it has newer plumbing and electrical, and the original exterior walls are about a foot thick. The Cons for some of these buildings is that they are smaller apartments than in some of the newer neighborhoods, thus most apartments in our area are only one or two bedrooms.

Our area is a very working/living neighborhood, in the sense that most of the owners in our building own businesses down below such as a hair salon or the drycleaners. It also a very traditional area in the sense that a lot of stores observe siestas, Spanish holidays and are closed on Sundays. The closest “true” supermercado is about a ten minute walk to Sol from our place, so I do most of my food shopping the true European way, by buying my meat in one store, fruit in another, and cheese in another shop.

Another plus to this neighborhood is that all the narrow streets are closed off in the evening to traffic, only taxis, neighborhood residents, and emergency vehicles have a pass card to get through. This really makes the area conducive to outdoor cafes, and the typical 5pm Spanish stroll. Plus, it keeps it quiet in the late evenings. The exception being Huertas, of course, which is lined with bars, small clubs and traditional Spanish restaurants all with the black wrought iron that reminds me of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Besides the wine bars and jazz clubs in the area that I have written about in other posts, there are also two historical sites that are worth checking out. One is a plaque in front of the home of the great Spanish writer Cervantes, author of Don Quiote. Then down the street from his place is the playwright Lope de Vega’s home, which you can tour. (and well worth it)

Barrio de Las Letras is great area to live in if you like to be near all the culture during the day and tapa hopping by night all with a mix of traditional and eccentric locals, as well as tourists. Good luck if you are in the process of finding an apartment in Madrid.

Cervante’s home Corner of Calle Cervantes and Calle de Leon, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Lope de Vega’s home Calle de Cervantes, 11, 28014 Madrid, Spain 914 299 216

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