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Madrid Museums area: Prado-Huertas-Atocha

 
 

Paseo del Prado/ Paseo de Recoletos/ Paseo de la Castellana are the three names given to this north-south boulevard that covers all metropolitan Madrid and divides Old Madrid (west) from New -19th century- Madrid (east: Salamanca) and continues north to the city's modern financial district. Paseo del Prado, the southernmost and oldest section, begins by the Atocha train station and Reina Sofia Museum. Paseo de Recoletos was added on later and lastly, the extensive Paseo de la Castellana.

The eastern border of Huertas is Paseo del Prado, also known as Paseo de los Artes or "Boulevard of the Arts," which lies between the emblematic Plaza de Cibeles and Puerta de Atocha. The southern border is calle Atocha, which runs all the way from the train station to Plaza Mayor, and the northern border is Carrera de San Jerónimo, which ends at Puerta del Sol.


Covering the area from Plaza de Neptuno to Atocha
, Paseo del Prado can be considered the core of aristocratic and institutional Madrid: The area contains the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Reina Sofía National Art Centre Museum, the Jardín Botánico (Royal Botanical Gardens), Palacio de las Cortes -the Spanish Parliament-, the fountains of Cibeles, Neptuno, and the Puerta de Alcalá -three of Madrid's icons-, the Bank of Spain, the Madrid City Headquarters, Spain's Stock Exchange, The Zarzuela Theater, Círculo de Bellas Artes and Casa América -two of the best cultural institutions of the city-, Hotel Ritz, Hotel Palace....and some of our favorite tapas bars. It's also an exceptionally quiet area given its central location.

The area between the Paseo de Prado and the Parque del Retiro
, is well known for the splendid houses it has.

The Palacio de las Cortes
-the Spanish parliament- at Carrera de San Jerónimo is a neoclasssic building dated 1850. Its imposing Greek temple facade with its two bronze lions, has now a new adjacent building.

Metro stops in this area: Antón Martín, Atocha, Sevilla, Banco de España


Huertas Area: The "Barrio de las Letras" (Literary Madrid)

Calle Huertas, only a 5 minutes walk from Sol, gives it's name to an old traditional neighbourhood with numerous bars and other little establishments serving tapas in the evenings.

Huertas is also known as "El Barrio de las Letras," literary Madrid. This is where Spain's most celebrated Golden Age authors - Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Tirso de Molina - lived during the 17th century. The streets radiating off its core, Plaza de Santa Ana, are packed with tapas bars and disco-pubs, popular as much among Spaniards as with an international crowd. And of course, the Paseo del Prado holds the magnificent Prado Museum and Botanical Gardens, along with a number of important architectural sights.

Plaza de Santa Ana is the heart of the Huertas neighborhood. The city government has given Santa Ana a face lift in recent years, from seedy to posh. Hotel Reina Victoria now Hotel Me Madrid, it is one of the coolest places to go at night for a drink at the Penthouse. The Reina Victoria was a traditional bullfighter's hangout: now it has morphed into a posh, sleek chain brand.

The streets radiating off its core, Plaza de Santa Ana, are packed with tapas bars and disco-pubs, popular as much among Spaniards as with an international crowd.

It also one of the main centers for nightlife and has a number of restaurants. This area is located between Paseo del Prado and Calle Atocha.

It's a popular area for foreigners to go out, but also for the 'not so young locals' (between 25 and 35) who may feel a bit old for Malasaña. There are also many theaters and it's quite common to retire to the bars nearby after performances. Plaza de Santa Ana is a common meeting point in the area since many bars there have made seating available outdoors - the square itself is also quite attractive. Bars here are small and are a bit crowded, but they're usually good fun. There are a couple of places are quite famous for their jazz concerts in this area. The traditional wine and tapas stops are well worth a visit.

It is also known as "El Barrio de las Letras," literary Madrid. This is where Spain's most celebrated Golden Age authors - Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Tirso de Molina - lived during the 17th century.

Continuing down on calle Atocha, get back into the picturesque streets of Huertas by turning onto Calle de León. León intersects with Calle de Cervantes: number 11 is the Casa-Museo Lope de Vega, the home of and museum honoring Spain's most prolific playwright.

Atocha Area

Atocha includes a rather large area which extends from the Atocha railway station up to the Huertas area on one side and Lavapiés on the other. Two important sites located in this area are the Reina Sofía Museum(Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) and the Atocha Railway station. In the area there are also a number of art galleries and restaurants . There are many hotels around the station and wandering about the smaller streets in this area one can find small shops selling a range of curiosities.

The massive crystal and brick Estación de Atocha across the street, is Madrid's first and largest train station, it dates to the 19th century. Don't miss the strange but lovely tropical greenhouse in the station's main entrance, part of the reform by Rafael Moneo.
The Ananda Terrace is a club located in Atocha Station and open from 11pm to 5am. The terraces have been a substantial part of the fashionable Madrid night scene for a number of years, Ananda is a place to see and be seen against a background of avant-garde and surprising décor.

In Atocha is also the monument to the victims of the 2004 Madrid train bombings (also known by Spaniards as 11-M -eleventh of March-). These were a series of coordinated bombings against the commuter trains in Madrid, which killed 191 people and wounded 2,050, perpetrated by Islamist extremists connected to al-Qaeda three days before Spain's general elections.

Near Atocha, on the side of Paseo del Prado is the Cuesta de Moyano. This second hand book market, sort of smaller literary Rastro, is worth a visit on Sunday morning, though it is daily open from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm. it's great fun to wander, browse, and simply absorb the scene, unchanged over many decades and one of the great traditional sights of outdoor Madrid.

The stalls line one of the outside walls of the Botanical Gardens, so you're close to other interesting sites like Prado Museum and Retiro Park.







 
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