Huertas and Santa Ana was once the haunt of Madrid’s Golden Age literary set, which explains the district’s rather fussy alternative name Barrio de las Letras. Here were the theatres that provided them with a living, along with whorehoueses and low dives for entertaiment. It is still the city’s most distinctive theatre district. Close by, but not too close, lived the nobles who might toss a couple of ducats their way if they buttered them up with a sonnet. Otherwise there were feuds, libellous exchanges and duels to fall back on. A recent tidying up for the area has brought about pedestrianisation of much of Huerta’s streets, and literary quotes inlaid in bronze underfoot.
The Barrio de las Letras is a mandatory visit today, mainly because it has three of the four museums that compose “Paseo del Arte”, because it is between Madrid de los Austrias and the Retiro and finally because of how pleasant it is to get lost by the almost completely pedestrian neighborhood.
Calle Huertas is its main artery and it houses tapas bars and party places where young people in their thirties meet for drinks with friends on weekends. The Plaza de Santa Ana, with its large terraces, is another major attraction for tourists in the area.