Madrid, Spain audio tour: From the Inquisition to Multiculturalism: A Walk from Plaza Mayor to Lavapiés

From the Inquisition to Multiculturalism: A Walk from Plaza Mayor to Lavapiés

Walking Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

From the church to rebellion; from bandits to traders. As the capital of Spain, Madrid has always been a city of contrasts, attracting many newcomers throughout its complex history. And they have always found a home just outside the ancient city walls, in what is still one of the most vibrant and most multicultural neighbourhoods of Madrid. Join me, another newcomer, as we take in the rich culture and history of of Lavapiés. Along the way, you'll hear about the stories, characters and architecture that have helped define the spirit of Madrid.

Tour Producer


Melissa Dura

Once a teacher in the UK, I moved to Madrid in 2012, where I now divide my time between teaching Business English and writing for local English news outlets - as well as translations, proof-reading and writing my personal blog.

Major Landmarks

  • Plaza Puerta Cerrada

  • Church of San Isidro Madrid

  • El Rastro

  • Mercado de San Fernando

  • Tabacalera Madrid

  • Cine Doré

Directions to Starting Point

Leave Puerta del Sol, walking up Calle Mayor (to the left of the bakery La Mallorquina) and take the first entrance on the left, just opposite Calle Coloreros. Closest metro, Sol. From the metro, take the exit for Calle Mayor.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

Church of San Isidro, The Rastro Market, El Pavón Cafe, Church of San Cayetano and San Millán, Mercado de San Fernando, La Tabacalera Art Gallery, La Falda Bar/ Restaurant, Juan Raro Bar/ Restaurant, Más Corazon Terrace Bar

Best time of day

This tour is best taken earlier in the day, around 11am, especially if you want to avoid the crowds from the Sunday Rastro market. It is also a good time to gain access to churches, shops and bars, whilst avoiding the heat in the afternoon.

The Mercado de San Fernando is open between 9am and 9pm on most days, apart from Sunday, when it closes at 5pm. It also closes between 2 - 5pm on Mondays, and at 5pm on Saturdays during August.

Please be aware that during the month of August, smaller shops and bars may be closed whilst their owners take holidays. This shouldn't affect any of the places mentioned, however.

Below are opening hours for all the spots:

Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas
Monday- Sunday: 12am-12pm, 1pm-12am

Sobrino de Botín
Monday-Sunday: 1-4pm, 8pm-12am

San Fernando Market
Monday: 9am-2pm, 5-9pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 9am-9pm
Friday, Saturday: 9am-11pm
Sunday: 11am-5pm

Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: 12-8pm
Saturday-Sunday: 11am-8pm

Juan Raro
Monday-Thursday: 10am-12am
Friday: 10am-2am
Saturday: 11am-2am
Sunday: 11am-6pm


During the day, especially, this is a safe and well-monitored neighbourhood. It is also home to a number of people. But please take all normal precautions to ensure personal belongings are kept out of easy reach of pickpockets.


I was looking forward to this tour of Madrid. Unfortunately, the tour was incredibly boring and lacked key important information about the city (when and why it was built for example, is basic). Overall, it was very dull and non informative with 60% of the audio recorded as walking instructions rather than actual information. The route taken also is very boring, who really cares about the abandons tobacco factory or the tour guide’s previous and current apartment?! One of the worst tours by far, and made us dislike Madrid if anything…

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 4 months ago

thanks Melissa! I really enjoyed your tour and will be back to try a couple of the cafes you mentioned. I feel I understand Lavapies so much better now. Jackie

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 7 months ago

That's great to hear. Thank you Jackie!

Posted by Melissa , 5 months ago

This tour helped me make sense of why Lavapies is such an unusual, distinctively Madrileño neighbourhood. It’s a well chosen route and the directions make it easy to follow. I also really enjoyed the personal touches. Thanks Melissa!

Posted by Iain , over 2 years ago

That's great to hear. Thank you for your comment Iain!

Posted by Melissa , over 2 years ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
From the Inquisition to Multiculturalism: A Walk from Plaza Mayor to Lavapiés