Lonely Planet review
The Plaza de Santa Ana is a delightful confluence of elegant architecture and irresistible energy. Situated in the heart of Huertas, it was laid out in 1810 during the controversial reign of Joseph Bonaparte, giving breathing space to what had hitherto been one of Madrid’s most claustrophobic barrios . The plaza quickly became a focal point for the intellectual life of the day, and the cafes surrounding the plaza thronged with writers, poets and artists engaging in endless tertulias (literary and philosophical discussions). Echoes of this literary history survive in the statues of the 17th-century writer Calderón de la Barca and Federíco García Lorca (added in 1998 on the 100th anniversary of his birth), and in the Teatro Español (formerly the Teatro del Príncipe) at the plaza’s eastern end, and continue down into the Barrio de las Letras. Culture of a very different kind – bullfighting – also took centre stage here, with many a (long-since disappeared) bullfighting bar nearby and the Hotel Reina Victoria (now Me by Melía) the hotel of choice for Spain’s best toreros (bullfighters). Apart from anything else, the plaza is both the starting point for many long Huertas nights and its outdoor tables are a good place to sit back in the afternoon and ponder the excesses of the night before.