These two adjacent districts are the most characteristic of Madrid. La Latina is on the southern side of the city from Puerta de Moros square and stretches across the streets where the El Rastro flea market is set up as far as the Lavapiés district. In this area, starting from somewhere like Plaza de la Paja square, you should just wander through the streets and trying some of the tapas in the nearby bars to get a taste of the real Madrid.
The Rastro flea market in Madrid dates back to the Middle Ages and stretches from the Plaza de Cascorro to the Manzanares river. Its main thoroughfare is Ribera de Curtidores where if you browse in the stalls you will find all sorts of articles, from World War II helmets, antique mirrors, furniture, shoes, clothes, plugs to books. It’s a place to search, find and haggle.
The Lavapiés district is one of the most alternative in Madrid. On Sundays you can dance salsa and eat in the San Fernando market. Alternatively, visit a temporary exhibition at La Tabacalera, the old tobacco factory on calle Embajadores, or relax on a terrace on calle Argumosa.