La Latina is one of the liveliest neighbourhoods of Madrid, as well as one of the most historic. It spreads southward Segovia street, where Muslim people used to live in the Middle Ages. The names of many streets in La Latina remind us of that ancient past: Plaza de la Paja (Hay square), where the hay was sent; Plaza de la Cebada (Barley square), where the barley could be bought; Puerta de Moros (Moors Gate), the entrance the Moors used in the Middle Ages...
What Madrilenian people mean by La Latina is the neighbourhood around Latina Metro Station (Line 5), but there also are other stations not too far from here: Puerta de Toledo (Line 5) and Tirso de Molina (Line 1). Many buses pass by Toledo Street and Gran Vía de San Francisco, the two main avenues of La Latina.
Some of the greatest buildings of Madrid de los Austrias are located here, as this was an important area during the reign of Habsburg dynasty. One of these buildings is the Capilla del Obispo (Bishop Chapel), the best example of the Madrilenian Renaissance, built in the 30s of the 16th century in Plaza de la Paja. Just behind the Bishop Chapel, the church of San Andrés is also remarkable: a large temple in La Latina designed in brick and granite as they used to do during Habsburg reign. It hosted the rests of Saint Isidore for one century.
In fact, La Latina is a neighbourhood that has much to do with Saint Isidore. Right here, the humble farmer worked and lived with Vargas Family. And as legend says, he made a miracle: he rescued his son, who has fallen into a well, by raising the water. This well can be visited today in the Municipal Museum, one of the cultural institutions in La Latina.
Some of the oldest churches of Madrid are located in La Latina. San Pedro el Viejo church is one of them, made in the 13th century following the mudéjar style. The tower stands out and it is 30 metres high. Some neighbours of La Latina say that it is a bit inclined.
Another construction in La Latina that is worth mentioning is the Viaducto. This bridge stays 23 metres over the floor and it’s sadly famous in Madrid: the most desperate people use to come here and commit suicide by throwing down themselves.
La Latina is one of the favourite neighbourhoods for young people to going out at night. Bars and pubs are everywhere and the atmosphere is friendly. This party atmosphere is even more evident in August, when the neighbours of La Latina celebrate their festivities, organizing a ‘verbena’ including traditional music, food and clothing.
Every Sunday, La Latina hosts a street market called El Rastro. This is a good chance to buy cheap clothing, handicrafts and collector’s items. The bars that open on Sunday morning in this area of La Latina are always full.
Anyway, La Latina is one of the best places for having lunch or dinner. Its restaurants are traditional and picturesque. Tourists can try typical dishes such as lamp, tripe, stew and Spanish tortilla. Some of the most famous restaurants in La Latina are Casa Lucio, Posada de la Villa and Posada del Dragón.
La Latina doesn’t offer many alternatives to the tourists. Posada del Dragón, already mentioned for its restaurant, is an interesting four-stars accommodation. Gavinet Hotel is another option, three-stars in this case, the same as Puerta de Toledo Hotel, in Puerta de Toledo square.