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The tourist district of Lavapiés lies in the southeast part of almond-shaped central Madrid. As in the neighbouring Barrio de La Latina, the streets here are steep, narrow and maze-like, which reminds us that the area emerged in the Middle Ages as a quarter outside the walled town soon after Madrid became the capital of the kingdom in 1561. Since the sixteenth century, Lavapiés has been inhabited by the lower classes. Local residents used to live in apartment blocks, or tenements, called corralas that were arranged around an interior courtyard. You can see a typical example of this type of buildings at the corner of Tribulete and Mesón de Paredes. Lavapiés is closely linked to the genuine, humorous, snappy character of Madrileños, which is well represented in many of the zarzuelas composed at the turn of the century, like Francisco Asenjo Barbieri’s El barberillo de Lavapiés. Madrid’s popular heritage lives in perfect harmony with the customs and traditions that accompanied immigrants coming from different countries who settled in the area, meeting place of a broad variety of cultures.
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