Madrid – cradle of the Spanish Golden Age, birthplace of Pedro Salinas, José de Echegaray and José Ortega y Gasset, a city so devoted to literature that it has an entire district dedicated to it, the Barrio de las Letras, containing the residences of Miguel de Cervantes, Quevedo, Góngora, and Lope de Vega … No surprise that it has some superb literary cafes, for readers and writers alike.
Here are a few, culled from poet, painter and actress Sandra Barrera Martín‘s tribute on Unono.net. La Fugitiva, a bookshop and cafe, “a quiet, cozy place full of curiosities for book lovers,” is distinguished by its wide range of cultural activities, book launches, film screenings, readings, and concerts, as well as its English reading club. Then there’s Cafe Molar, “an ideal place to have a drink, relax and listen to good music while working or enjoying a read.” Or La Infinito, one of the English Cafe network which offers the chance for Spaniards to learn English in a more relaxed atmosphere than the classroom. Its other attractions include musical and comedy brunches, as well as storytelling and theatrical performances. Then there’s the enchanting-looking La Libre, a second-hand bookshop itself experiencing a sort of second life as a literary cafe: even though it apparently has decided on a no-wifi policy in the name of good conversation, it still garners five-star reviews on Facebook.
Meanwhile, for Americanos looking to follow in the foosteps of Ernest Hemingway during his several sojourns in Madrid, there’s always Cafe Gijon, celebrating more than 126 years as a home of culture, or the Restaurant Botín. In fact, I plan to spend one trip searching for the one bar with the legendary sign stating that Hemingway did not drink here. For it certainly exists.