As you’re most certainly well aware of, Madrid is not just an excellent place to learn Spanish, but also a great city to experience — and what better way to do so than neighborhood by neighborhood? In a previous post we talked about the capital’s famed Malasaña district, but this time around we’d like to feature an area which is called el Barrio de las Letras, commonly known as Huertas. Primarily famous for it’s nightlife, this neighborhood is also home to a great many restaurants, shops, hotels, and historic buildings. So, once you make it here to Madrid, be sure to go and check it out.
History of Huertas
El Barrio de las Letras owes its name to the significant role the neighborhood played during the Siglo de Oro, or Golden Age of Spanish theater and literature. Serving as a residential area for pivotal writers and playwrights, figures such as Miguel de Cervantes, Francisco de Quevedo, Luis de Góngora, and Lope de Vega lived here at some point during their lives and careers. The neighborhood was also home to some of the first corrales de comedia, in particular el Teatro de la Cruz, which was located in Plaza del Ángel, and the Corral del Príncipe, which still functions today under the same roof as the Teatro Español.
In recent years, great attention has been given to the many historic buildings still located in the neighborhood, which in many cases have a plaque on their façade indicating their historical importance. Calle Huertas, after which the area has taken its common name, is a pedestrian street which traverses the neighborhood and bears modern-day inscriptions in its cobblestones from the famous authors who once resided on or near it. The street was named as such — huertas meaning ‘gardens’ — because of those which it once led to.
Restaurants and nightlife in Huertas
Adjacent to Sol, which is the very center of Madrid, Huertas is home to many restaurants. Heading from Puerta del Sol, streets such as Calle Victoria, Calle de la Cruz, and Calle Príncipe are all lined with bars and restaurants where you can enjoy Spanish tapas and cuisine. Among the establishments there are Venta El Buscón (c/Victoria, 5), La Venta de Farracas (c/Cruz, 21), Fatigas del Querer (c/Cruz, 17) and Las Cuevas de Sésamo (c/Príncipe, 7).
Further along lies the famous Plaza de Santa Ana, a large public square lined with terraces and crowned on either side by the Teatro Español and Hotel ME Reina Victoria Madrid. Although a bit pricey, having a drink or bite to eat here makes for a very pleasant morning, afternoon, or evening.
Due to its location and the large number of hotels which line its streets, Huertas is popular with both locals and tourists alike; virtually any night of the week is ideal for experiencing what it has to offer. The most important thing to keep in mind when going out for the evening — be it here or anywhere else in the capital — is the schedule. Remember that since in Madrid it’s customary to have dinner between 9pm-11pm, the night spots won’t be really going until some time after that, usually staying open until 3am — and in some cases even later. The most well-known pubs, bares de copas, and nightclubs include O’Neill’s (c/Príncipe, 12), Monnalisa (c/Núñez de Arce, 8), Samsara (c/Cruz, 7), and El Son Cubano (c/Victoria, 6).
As they say, ‘talk is cheap’, right? The best way to get a feel for what Huertas is like is to go there. Whether you’re looking for shops, restaurants, or nightlife, you’re bound to find it. Don’t take it from us — go take a look for yourself!