La Latina quarter
La Latina is one of the most genuinely authentic neighbourhoods in the city of Madrid. It is located in the centre, and its mediaeval streets are arranged around the squares of La Cebada and La Paja.
The streets in this neighbourhood are an illustration of the most popular side of Madrid. This district is much frequented by Madrid locals thanks to its numerous bars, pubs and traditional taverns full of character in streets such as Cava Baja, Cava Alta and right in the squares of La Cebada and La Paja. Although it tends to be very lively all the time, the atmosphere is particularly animated in the evenings and at weekends. Additionally, every Sunday the neighbouring streets are home to Madrid's famous El Rastro open-air street market.
Another good time to visit this neighbourhood is during the festivities in honour of the Virgin of La Paloma, which take place around 15 August and are some of the most authentic celebrations in Madrid. The streets are filled with cheerful high spirits, there is popular dancing for all, and many madrileños dress up as chulapos and chulapas in the typical regional costumes.
Other sights of interest in the La Latina quarter are the basilica of San Francisco el Grande and the park of Las Vistillas, which is the ideal spot for watching the sunset against the backdrop of the cathedral of Santa María Real de la Almudena.
This neighbourhood today is on the site of what was Madrid's first urban walled enclosure in the Middle Ages, and even now some remains of the defensive wall which originally surrounded it can still be seen. In the past this area was mainly occupied by artisans and manual workers, and the squares of both the Plaza de la Cebada ('barley square') and the Plaza de la Paja ('straw square') were home to busy markets selling farm produce and fodder respectively.
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