Plaza de la Paja is a large square that slopes down from Plaza de los Carros to Calle Segovia – I lived 6 happy years here.
It’s on the edge of the oldest part of town called “Madrid de las Austrias”, an area that includes La Plaza de la Villa, la Plaza del Oriente and la Plaza Mayor – the heart of the old city. Back in the 13th and 14th centuries, there was a lively market here, selling straw (paja) for the mules that drew the carts (carros) and hence the name.
Back in the 1990s I remember this as being a bit of a no-go area; hard to believe as nowadays it’s a trendy place to sit and have a meal or drinks. As it is just slightly off the beaten track, it is relatively peaceful, and in the Spring the trees make it a very pleasant place to be.
There are some great restaurants to choose from on the square – Vida Burger has arguably the best vegan burgers in Madrid, while Delic has good cakes, cocktails and coffee. La Musa Latina has quite an eclectic choice of food that includes tapas and a fixed price lunch menu for 12 euros.
At the bottom of the square is a little walled garden you can check out, and if you take a left onto Calle Redondilla then a right onto Angosta de los Mancebos you’ll find yourself on Calle Bailen, with the Viaducto, the Royal Palace and the distant mountains to your right.