One of the most well-known neighborhoods in Madrid is without a doubt La Latina. Famous for its historical significance, traditional vibe, and nightlife, this is certainly a part of the city you don’t want to miss while you’re in town. Although it’s exact boundaries are difficult to place, its most emblematic streets are Cava Baja, Cava Alta, Plaza de la Cebada, Plaza de la Paja, and Carrera de San Francisco. Much of the original city of Madrid — known as Madrid de los Austrias — is located within the neighborhood, resulting in the perfect blend of old and new all in the same area.
Churches in La Latina
Many of the most significant religious structures to have been erected in the city are located in La Latina. At the end of Carrera de San Francisco lies the Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande. Built in the second half of the 17th century, this building is famous primarily for possessing the third-largest dome of all Christian temples in the world, which measures 33 meters in diameter. La Latina is also home to the Iglesia de San Andrés, where the remains of Madrid’s patron saint San Isidro are located. The site was initially occupied by a primitive church which was frequented by San Isidro and his wife Santa María de la Cabeza. Over the years the building has seen many changes until reaching its current state, particularly in light of the fact that it is the resting place of the Saint. Another church in the neighborhood is the Iglesia de San Pedro el Viejo, which is well-known for its Mudejar-style tower, built during the 14th century.
Cañas and Tapas and Nightlife in La Latina
Beyond the many historical buildings in La Latina, the neighborhood is primarily known as being perhaps the best area in the city to enjoy Madrid’s famous cuisine in the way of cañas and tapas. Its streets are lined with bars and restaurants where you can enjoy traditional Spanish food. Whether it’s old-time dishes, such as tripe and pig’s ear, Basque pinchos, or modern fusion creations, La Latina has it all. Cava Baja is perhaps the most transited street containing bars and restaurants, although all the streets in the general vicinity have similar establishments. Sunday afternoon is when madrileños typically venture to La Latina to enjoy food and beverages. This is especially true during the fall and spring when the weather is not cold, but not too hot either. Plaza de la Cebada and other adjacent streets are lined with terraces where locals often have a beverage after having been to the Rastro flea market or having woken up late close to lunchtime after retiring late on Saturday night.
La Latina is also famous for its nightlife, when all the bars and restaurants in the area are teeming with people — locals and foreigners alike — who are out socializing. Folks often dress up quite nice and enjoy a full-on dinner or just some tapas, later moving on to some drinks. Most of the establishments in the area close around 2:30 or 3:00am, but there are also some nightclubs that are open until 6 in the morning.
De Madrid al Cielo
Many a madrileño will tell you of the many fond memories they have of time spent in this emblematic, centrally-located area of the city. Whether it’s on Sunday afternoon or Friday night, La Latina always has a wonderful vibe, especially those first days of spring when the weather just starts to warm up. Make sure that once you’re in town you head to this part of the city to experience it for yourself — you just might start to get an idea of why they say ‘De Madrid al Cielo’.