During our recent holiday in Spain, Madrid’s Barrio de Las Letras had to be the highlight of our visit to this beautiful city. The area known as the Literary Quarter is a neighborhood in the center of Madrid where some of Spain’s greatest authors have lived and wrote novels, poems, and works of literature over the years. Today it is an area that combines an artistic atmosphere, entertainment, shopping, and great food.
El Barrio de Las Letras is comprised of narrow streets with a very unique feature – cobblestone streets inscribed with inscriptions and brief texts from the works of some of Spain’s famous writers.
Adding to the charm of this neighborhood is the mix of traditional shops with centuries of history such as cobblers and silversmiths mixed with modern avant-garde establishments such as bars and restaurants. As with any Spanish city there are plenty of tapas bars and cafes with outdoor seating where one can enjoy the street scene with a glass of sangria! From here one can even walk to Madrid’s famed museums CaixaForum Museum, the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, in addition to Madrid’s popular Plaza Mayor.
One can easily spend the day in this quaint area exploring the shops, cafes and plazas. Here is a look at what we stumbled upon and enjoyed while strolling Barrio de Las Letras, the Literary Quarter in Madrid, Spain.
Buying art supplies at Artesania Chopo
As some of you may know my eldest daughter Sri is an artist. She has been taking art for fifteen years and has become a very accomplished artist today. At the age of 24 she paints now more as a hobby. As you can expect from an artist, her eye is constantly looking out for art inspiration. Walking the streets of Barro de Las Letras was her favorite part of our trip to Madrid. It’s because of all the art she came across including an art supply store! On one of the streets we strolled in this neighborhood we came across Artesania Chopo, an art supply store that Sri had to walk in and take a look. What she found amazed her – the prices of art supplies specifically for paint brushes and palette knifes were 60 to 70% cheaper than back in the U.S.! She went nuts and bought a good selection of art supplies from here. I can’t wait to see what scenes from Spain she will be putting down on canvas!
Fabric shopping at Julian Lopez
One of my twins Rani is an avid dress designer and seamstress. After our art supply shopping we noticed a fabric store right across the street. Of course Rani HAD to step in! To purchase fabrics from Spain to make a dress or two? How could we say no?
I can’t wait to see what amazing dress Rani is going to make with these fabrics!
Street Artists at Plaza Mayor
The plaza at the center of the Literary Quarter is called Plaza Mayor. Surrounded by bustling restaurants and shops this is a great place to go shopping, grab a bite to eat and stroll the charming streets in the heart of Madrid. This is where we came across street artists. My eldest daughter Sri had been looking for street art made my street artists in Spain for 7 days! We didn’t find any in Barcelona, nor in Sevilla, nor in Granada, but she finally found them on the last day of our trip in Madrid!
A look at street art and artists at Plaza Mayor in Madrid.
We bought a couple of canvases from this artist named Julio.
Hitesh negotiated with artist Said for a modern Picasso-like interpretation of the los toros, bull-fighting scene. Sri bought this one for herself 😊. Saed even has a web site!
Food for all the foodies at Mercado de San Miguel
After so much shopping 😀😀 everyone was hungry. Enter into the scene Mercado de San Miguel. As we continued to stroll the streets of Madrid in the Literary Quarter we stumbled upon a very cool historic looking building and ventured to check it out, only to find out that it is a food market! A bustling market that obviously is very popular among tourists and locals alike and packed with wall-to-wall food stalls and people!!! How did we not know about this place before? Foodies in our family were thrilled to have discovered this very cool market. Here is a look at the Mercado de San Miguel.
Anything from pastries, empanadas, sangrias, sandwiches, tapas, wine, meats and cheeses can be found at this food square. One can easily make this a dinner or lunch option; with so many foods to choose from there is something for everyone all set in a fun, festive atmosphere.
I picked up this gorgeous looking chocolate cake from one of the dessert stalls.
Sangrias in as many flavors as you can concoct.
If you love to explore a city’s culture by just strolling the streets then Barrio de Las Letras, The Literary Quarter in Madrid, Spain is the ticket to a cultural immersion in the capital city of Spain.