THE CASTIZO QUARTER
The Castizo Quarter sits roughly in the center of Madrid extending to the south. It overlaps portions of the Paseo de Prado. It contains the neighborhoods of La Latina and Lavapiés. Castizo is considered to be the area where the true Madrileño lives. Castizo (or Castiza) literally means "pure" or "authentic". As such this area contains some of the buildings and and other areas that are important to the people of Madrid.
We will start our walk at the Basílica de San Isidro (#2). San Isidro is the male Patron Saint of Madrid. (The Virgen of the Almudena is the female Patron Saint of Madrid.) This church served as a substitute cathedral for Madrid.
As heading south down the Calle de Toledo we may if we wish turn west towards the Plaza de San Andrés. This is roughly the area of the Barrio de los Austrias which is Madrid's oldest district. It's origins go back to Medieval times.
Instead we head east toward the Plaza de Cascorro. This plaza is named after a battle in Cuba. Here is a statue to Eloy Gonzales. He was an orphan from this area who is considered to be the "Hero of the Battle of Cascorro". Eloy. We are now in the Rastro (#4). The Rastro is the site of a "flea market" that is held each weekend. Every major city in Europe has a section that holds a major "flea market" which are on a much grander scale than what we may think of in the United States. This is where the people of Madrid go to search out bargains. Since it has become a "tourist spot" the bargains may no longer exist, but it is still fun to go to see the crowds and the different merchandise for sale. The Rastro was established in 1955 and is reportedly the world's largest. It is held each Sunday and holidays from about 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. There are stalls set up selling just about anything that you wish to buy. The Rastro stretches down the Calle Ribera de Curtidores, where you buy mainly clothes, and east down the Mira el Sol, where you can buy books, comic books, CDs, and west and up the Calle Carlos Arniches whre you can buy the true flea market items such as old cameras, furniture and typewriters.
From the Rastro we head west towards the Plaza del General Vara del Ray. General Joaquín Vara del Ray (1840 - 1898) was commander of the Spanish defensive forces at El Caney in Cuba during the Spanish - American War. He was wounded in battle and was killed while being taken off the battlefield.
Located here is the Museo de Artes Populares (#1). It contains examples of local arts and crafts, but also contains some regional items.
We head west to the Calle de Toledo and south to the Glorieta Puerta de Toledo. Located here is the Puerta de Toledo (#3). It was originally order to be built by Jose Bonaparte to commemorate France's victory over Spain in 1808. But it took six years to build, by which time the French had been driven out of Spain. It was then turned into a commemoration of the Spanish victory.
We head back east along through the Plaza Campillo Mundo Nuevo. Here is located the Ministerio de Economía (Economics Ministry) and the Ministerio de Hacienda (The Treasury Ministry).
Continuing along we enter the area of Embajadores. It is so called because during a plague in Madrid a number of ambassadors went to live there because (at the time) is was considered to be outside of the populated areas of Madrid.
We continue along the Ronda de Toledo (ronda means avenue) arriving at the Glorieta de Embajadores. Glorieta means rotary. Heading north along the Calle Embajadores on the right is the Fábrica de Tabacos. This is an 18th century tobacco factory. Fábrica by the way does not mean "fabric", which is sounds like, but "factory".
We continue for a few more blocks and turn west (right) onto Calle Mira el Sol arriving at La Corrala. This building is actual a monument to the type of architecture (corral) that was in this area during the 16th century. At that time there was a local law that no house could overlook a convent or monastery garden. So houses were built with no windows on the outside, and balconies overlooking open-air courtyards or wells. Most of these buildings were torn down, but this building and a very few others remain. The Museo de Artes Populares (above) is located in a restored corral building.
Continuing west on the Calle Somberete we arrive at the Plaza de Lavapiés (#5). Lavapiés means "wash feet". This plaza is called that because originally there was a fountain located here.
We head northwest arriving at our final destination, Filmoteca (National Film Center) #6. This is a restored theatre originally built in 1923. Here we can watch current and classic films.
Some of the streets (located north to south):