Madrid isn't just a place to feast on paella and sip on the finest of red wines. In Spain's capital city, there's a wealth of literary treasures for those hoping to commemorate, to explore, and to appreciate the literati history. The modest birthplace of Don Quijote's author, a restaurant described by one of the world's most famous literary expats, and a hotel donning decorative poetry are can't-miss destinations for Madrid's more book-obsessed visitors.
The Dwellings of Cervantes
A plaque commemorates the building, located on the corner of Calle Cervantes and León, in which Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra—author of Don Quijote de la Mancha—spent his final days. Though the residence is not open for public viewing, it's just a quick trip from the city center to Alcalá de Henares, where a museum has been inside the house where he was born.
Related: T+L's Guide to Madrid
Dine at Restaurante Sobrino de Botín
Known as the oldest restaurant in the world per the Guinness Book of World Records, Restaurante Sobrino de Botín, this tavern-style establishment has long been a stomping ground for literary types. Legions of authors, both Spanish as well as American, have dined here, citing its excemplary paella and other Madrileñan eats, including a roast suckling pig, in their works. Ernest Hemingway, for instance, described Botín in the closing scene of his famed novel, "The Sun Also Rises." The restaurant is just footsteps away from the city center, Plaza Mayor
Wander Around Calle de las Huertas
A main connecting street in the Barrio de las Letras is Calle de Huertas—also a prime destination not only for nightlife and inventive cocktails but also for buzzing bookstores and cafes. Pay attention as you roam the streets, as words from authors such as Lope de Vega, Cervantes, and Quevedo (key authors from the Golden Age of Spanish Literature), may greet you at your feet in glimmering gold on the ground. Minutes away from Calle de las Huertas is La Fugitiva, a bookstore that sells café con leche, various teas, and sweet treats, boasts quiet spaces to use Wi-Fi, and hosts creative writing workshops and book clubs.
Takes Notes at Ateneo de Madrid
Near the Museo del Prado, on Calle de Prado, is the Ateneo de Madrid. Founded in 1835, this center, which also has a concert space on site, has the largest newspaper library in Europe. It's also home to a wealth of books and journals for guests to research or browse.
Lounge at IBEROSTAR Las Letras Gran Via
Not only does this hotel boast a stunning rooftop bar and lounge area, not to mention its prime location in the midst of the Gran Via shopping district in Madrid, but it's also a haven for literary lovers seeking refuge. In the basement of the hotel is a quiet mini library, and many rooms in this hotel feature prose or poetry on the walls. Bookworms, rejoice!