The areas south of Plaza Mayor have traditionally been tough, working-class districts, with tenement buildings thrown up to accommodate the expansion of the population in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In many places, these old houses survive, huddled together in narrow streets, but the character of La Latina and Lavapiés has changed as their inhabitants, and the districts themselves, have become younger, more fashionable and more cosmopolitan. The streets of Cava Baja and Cava Alta in La Latina, for example, include some of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants. These are attractive barrios to explore, particularly for bar-hopping or during the Sunday-morning flea market, El Rastro, which takes place along and around the Ribera de Curtidores (La Latina/Tirso de Molina).

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