Atocha - Huertas

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 Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art facing Atocha station, keeps different opening hours and days from its neighbours-museums, which is fortunate because this leading exhibition space and permanent collection of modern Spanish art, is another essential stop on the Madrid art scene. The museum, a massive former convent and hospital, built in the 18th century, is a kind of Madrid response to the Pompidou centre in Paris. Transparent lifts shuttle visitors up outside the building, whose levels, now extended by the French architect Jean Nouvel, feature a projections room, an excellent art and design bookshop, 2 auditoriums, a superb library, an inner garden enclosed in the porticoed cloister, a restaurant and a café, as well as the temporary exhibition halls (top floor) and the halls devoted to the permanent collection (second floor).

reina sofia museum madrid
It is for Picasso's Guernica that most visitors come to the Reina Sofía, and rightly so. Superbly displayed along with its preliminary studies, this icon of twentieth-century Spanish art and politics –a response to the fascist bombing of the Basque town of Guernica in the Spanish Civil War– carries a shock that defies all familiarity. Other halls are devoted to Dalí and Surrealism, early-twentieth-century Spanish artists including Miró, Picasso and Juan Gris. The collection maps all the evolution of 20th century art, from the beginning of abstraction through to Pop Art and the present avant-garde.
Inside the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is the restaurant run by Sergi Arola, one of the most famous Spanish chefs. Arola Madrid is located in the new building by Jean Nouvel. The restaurant has an informal spirit in which designer elements play an important role. The restaurant, which aims to recover the essence of traditional Mediterranean has three different atmospheres.

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.
11 march atochaThe 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 secondhand 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.


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.

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. There are innumerable places to stay here, ranging from cheap pensiones to luxury hotels.

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.

Lope de Vega House
It is house where Lope Félix de Vega Carpio lived (1562-1635) during the last 25 years of his life, declared to be an Historic-Artistic Monument in 1935, the building is an example of a restored Madrid family dwelling from the end of the 16th century, with large scale alterations in the 17th century.

Ateneo de Madrid
On Calle del Prado, number 21 is El Ateneo de Madrid, a cultural society founded in 1835, still going strong with a wonderful library and calendar of events.

Calle del Prado leaves you out on Plaza de las Cortes, right across the street from Spain's Parliament, el Congreso de Diputados. Follow
Calle de San Jerónimo northwest and you hit Puerta del Sol; follow it southeast and arrive at Paseo del Prado & Plaza de Neptuno, where is the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum stands right on Plaza de Neptuno.

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 (see Las Cortes zone) 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.

Links of interest






  • ATOCHA: Atocha & Atocha station (L1)
  • HUERTAS: Antón Martín (L1), Sevilla (L2)

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