One of the oldest parts of Madrid and just a ten minute walk from the Puerta del Sol, the historic neighbourhood of Cortes offers you chance to step back in time and experience the old Madrid through its quiet streets and bustling, atmospheric squares. The most historic part of Cortes is often referred to as the Barrio de Las Letras, (meaning “literary neighbourhood”) due to the fact that it was, and still is home to many of the city´s writers, artists and performers. The heart and soul of Cortes is Calle Huertas, a long pedestrianised street that starts at the popular Plaza Santa Ana and runs all the way down to the Paseo de Prado, home to the city´s famous art museums.
During the day Cortes is quiet and reflective, with many of the local craft shops and services still choosing to close during the afternoon siesta. The zone´s protected status means that traffic is severely restricted, only adding to the neighbourhoods peaceful atmosphere. At night, it´s here, in one of the oldest barrios of Madrid that people go looking for a night of good food, good drink and good music, all of which can be found along one of the larger streets radiating out of Plaza Santa Ana. There are various live jazz venues, including the elegant art deco Café Central which plays host to international jazz acts every night of the week. Popular with visitors, Cortes has many excellent places to eat and drink, and is one of the best places to head to during the summer months for some traditional tapas and excellent wine. Many of Madrid´s most exclusive five star hotels like the Palace, the ME and the Urban can be found in the area, and enjoying dinner and a cocktail on one of their luxurious terraces overlooking the city is an absolute must for visitors. Cortes is also home to some hidden cultural treasures, as you would expect from a neighbourhood that was home to many of Spain´s celebrated Golden Age authors. The Lope de Vega house in Calle Cervantes pays homage to Félix Lope de Vega, the country´s most prolific playwright, and is where he spent the last 25 years of his life. The Ateneo de Madrid cultural society, formed in 1895 and still going strong, is located on nearby Calle Prado and offers up a diverse calendar of events that you can enjoy during your stay. With its private theatres and art galleries, centuries-old architecture and classic café´s and bars, exploring the area of Cortes is an absolute must for anyone wanting to get to discover the true heart and soul of Madrid.