Living Museums

A stroll through La Latina’s ‘memory lane’

16 September 2019

There are few streets in Madrid with such a well preserved traditional shopping district. Green grocers, bodegas, a coal merchant’s and a wicker store are just some of the living museums I found on the short stretch of Calle Calatrava and its surrounding streets. I managed to total up seventeen old facades, which have survived the ruthless renovations and demolitions taking place elsewhere in the city.

These early 20th-century accidental works of art have been maintained well by the current owners, even if the use of the store has changed since it first opened. Madrid’s juxtaposing blend of old and new live on in parallel, so let’s take a stroll through La Latina’s memory lane and past 17 iconic examples of high street life 100 years ago.

The old green grocers…

The old egg shop…

The still-going-strong wine shops and bars…

The old offal store (and a silhouette of me with my camera)…

I don’t know what this used to be but I suspect the original signage lives on behind that black board…

The old dairy store…

From a sunny Friday to a rainy Sunday, here are more antique high street businesses on the adjoining streets around La Latina, starting with the botería – traditional leather “bottles” made for wine…

An old bodega and bar with a beautiful tiled facade…

The old plumber’s…

The old stationer’s…

The old glass and window shop…

The old bathroom shop…

The old tile shop and its storage unit opposite…

The old wicker store for baskets, blinds, mats and more…

And finally, the old coal merchants…

Other than their antiquity, you may have noticed that these photos have something else in common. All but one of them are closed, though not normally (don’t worry). I took most of these photos during late August and early September, when Madrid evacuates for the holidays and becomes a ghost town, but today, most of them will be open for business as usual.

Strolling through these quiet streets, however, I felt like I was taking a glimpse into the near future. Am I walking through the past without even realising it? Will these places soon close down, or are they set to remain open for their second or even third century of business?

You decide.

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1 Comment

célia 18 September 2019 at 9:49 am

Mi calle, me encanta pasear por alli a la hora de la comida 🙂
Also at the corner of “Calle de los Irlandeses” , there is a former “poster” fabric, that is not anymore. I read that they were making all the posters of the Gran via theatesr and letting them dry in the street.

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