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Living in Madrid

Neighborhoods of Madrid: La Latina, Lavapiés and Madrid Río

Written by Laura

In this exploration of the different neighborhoods of Madrid, there are three that need to be discussed that represent the heart and life of the capital. Each and every one of these neighborhoods form an important part of Madrid’s population, and while they still embody the typical lifestyle of the city, they each have their own idiosyncrasies and unique aspects that set them apart. On one hand, they are all residential areas where the city’s inhabitants return to at the end of the work day, and they also are characterized by their offering of cultural, business and social activities centered around leisure and enjoyment. Today in this article from ShMadrid we’ll be talking about the neighborhoods of La Latina, Lavapiés and Madrid Río.  

Related article: Neighborhoods of Madrid: Retiro, Salesas and Aeropuerto-Feria de Madrid

La Latina, the medieval heart of Madrid

Photo via VisualHunt

La Latina is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the capital, with vestiges of the time when Romans were in control of the city. Its thin, winding streets lead to small, lovely plazas whose names reference the commercial trade of materials that took place during the time period. The name La Latina comes from one of the most important women of the 15th century, Beatriz Galindo. Galindo was a writer who founded a very important hospital located on Calle Toledo. In this neighborhood, you can enjoy the Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande, built in the 18th century and whose most notable characteristic is its large dome, one of the largest in Europe. You can also visit the Museo de San Isidro, an essential site to visit if your goal is to understand the roots of Madrid’s history. Other vital monuments to see in this neighborhood are the Puerta de Toledo, the Jardín de las Vistillas and the Colegiata de San Isidro.

Related article: Neighborhoods of Madrid – What Not to Miss

Madrid Río, connecting the city to the Manzanares river

Photo by grantuhard via VisualHunt

The Madrid Río neighborhood is the result of an aperture from the city to the Manzanares river thanks to the elimination of the bypass highway, a daily torrent of traffic that heavily impeded the citizens of Madrid from accessing the river and enjoying it in all its splendor. The result of this change in the neighborhood is the revitalization of green spaces and pedestrian areas where citizens can enjoy a variety of activities related to sports, culture and leisure.

Lavapiés, paradigm of the popular neighborhood

Lavapiés is one of the Spanish capital’s most popular neighborhoods, with a medieval origin similar to that of La Latina. A worker’s district par excellence, Lavapiés is the paradigm of the neighbor’s neighborhood in Madrid, having immortalized the popular zarzuelas of the 20th century. In this neighborhood you can find La Casa Encendida, the cultural center of the capital as well as the Museo Reina Sofía, another one of the neighborhood’s main attractions with its incredible collection of contemporary art. Other monuments of interest in Lavapiés include the Real Monasterio de Santa Isabel and the Palacio de Fernán Núñez.

*Main photo by gaelx via VisualHunt

Which neighborhood do you like the best?

About the author


American journalist writing about the beautiful country of Spain. Her passions include news and feature writing, Spanish language and culture and the outdoors.

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