Madrid’s Districts (barrios)
Madrid is divided into 21 zones and each zone is split into different neighbourhoods. The starting point is Puerta del Sol. There you can find the famous point zero mark, the point where all streets in Spain part. It is also an important meeting point for the people of Madrid. The most popular neighbourhoods in Madrid are located around Puerta del Sol: Sol, Huertas, La Latina, Chueca, Malasaña, a bit to the south is the colourful Lavapiés and to the north is the student neighbourhood Moncloa/Argüelles.
Sol is the area just around the Puerta del Sol and Huertas stretches out to the south of Sol. The vibrant area that is Sol is full of life and situated in the heart of Madrid. Around here you will find many typical Spanish bars and many tourist attractions.
|Sol - the heart of Madrid|
La Latina is south-west of Sol and the main characteristics of this quarter are its tiny streets and beautiful old buildings and “plazas”. On Sundays, “El Rastro” is open in La Latina. This is a big flea market where you can buy almost anything.
|La Latina - the district of tapas bars|
Metro: La Latina
Lavapiés is quite possibly the most multicultural “barrio” of Madrid heavily influenced by African, Arabic and gypsy cultures. The plaza of Lavapiés marks the centre of this “barrio”. If you walk to the south you will find many barsand restaurants. The bars here tend to have something of an artistic ambience. All tastes in food are catered for here including Arabic and Indian cuisine.
Tip: Lavapiés isn't the safest area in Madrid so keep an eye on your belongings.
|Lavapiés - the most multicultural district|
Calle Fuencarral which leads from Gran Via to the area of Malasaña has somewhat of a London-like appearance. Hip clothes and a variety of funky shops can be found in this somewhat alternative quarter of Madrid. The range of bars, restaurants and places you find here are very diverse.
|Malasaña - the district with the London look|
Metro: Chueca / Tribunal
Chueca is probably best known for being Madrid’s gay and lesbian district. During the day lots of the many good bars and restaurants are open. The centre of the “barrio” is the Plaza de Chueca. At night the quarter converts into a lively area frequented by all types of people partying and dancing in the streets.
|Chueca - one of the most lively and active districts|
Argüelles / Moncloa
Just next to the “Ciudad Universitaria” is the district of Moncloa and Argüelles which hosts a lot of students at night, but also offers things for everybody. Argüelles is especially known for the “Bajos de Argüelles” (the Basements of Argüelles) which are the many discos, bars and clubs located in the basements of local buildings.
|Argüelles - heart of student's nightlife|
Metro: Argüelles / Moncloa
Madrid de las Austrias
The name “Madrid de los Austrias” refers to the period when the Habsburgers were in Spain and many of the buildings with their beautiful architecture reflect this period of history. It’s a very stylish district which houses many of the city’s top sights.
|"Madrid de los Austrias" - amazing architecture|
Important Orientation Points
|Atocha - find the hidden botanical garden|
Madrid's most important avenue runs from the South to the North of the city and starts in Atocha (Madrid’s famous railway station). At Paseo del Prado it converts to Paseo de Recoletos and later again to Paseo de la Castellana at Plaza Cibeles where it leads far into the North of the city, ending just after Plaza de Castilla.
Heading North from Atocha on Paseo del Prado you will first pass the famous Reina Sofia and the Jardín Botánico. Next to that is the Museo del Prado which is in front of Retiro Park and just before Plaza Cibeles is the Thyssen Borneszima. Between Plaza Cibeles and Plaza Colón, the avenue is called Paseo de Recoletos and at Plaza Colón it becomes Paseo de la Castellana which goes through “Nuevos Ministerios”.
Further north along the avenue you will get to Real Madrid’s stadium the “Santiago Bernabeu”. Starting in Moncloa in La Calle Princesa leads you through Argüelles to the Plaza de Espana, where it turns into “Gran Via”. After going through “Callao”, “Gran Via” leads towards the Cibeles fountain and the very elegant central correos (Post Office). There the street turns into Calle Alcalá and passes through the Puerta de Alcalá and one of the main entrances into the Retiro Parque. If you follow, the street up you will reach Goya.