What is there not to love: with its back against the botanical gardens, little old wooden cabins stuffed to the rafters with books on every theme you can imagine, from 19th century erotic prints to a first edition of Harry Potter in English. Located on a sloping pedestrian street which leads from the Retiro to Atocha station, the Cuesta de Moyano book market, though perhaps not as ancient as the Rastro market in Lavapies, has existed here for a century.
You could spend an entire afternoon browsing here, taking your time to just enjoy the quiet atmosphere. Because that’s what this place is all about, a place where little changes, an oasis of tranquillity in the eye of the storm that is Madrid with its traffic and flowing currents of people.
Each of the booths has its speciality, even though most of them have a general literature section as well. Some of the specialities include a focus on Latin American authors whose works cannot be found elsewhere in Spain in booth 17, or booth 27 focusses on books published 50 years ago or more, whereas booth 16 has specialized in books with strange and funny covers. The market also hosts many cultural events, to see what’s on these days, to know more about each booth’s speciality or even to see interviews with the shop owners, see here.
For those in doubt about the ruinous effect of literature, starting from the market you can cross Calle de Alfonso XII and enter the Retiro park through the Puerta del Angel Caido. Here you proceed up the hill to a height of 666 meters above sea level (fact!), which is no coincidence because here you’ll find the only statue of the devil in a European capital, a dramatic statue of Lucifer crowning the so-called fountain of the fallen angel. Find a bench here to sit with your new book and contemplate on the strangeness of life. Whether on your lunch break or after class, the Cuesta de Moyano book market is a little gem of a place less than 5 minutes walk from the school and deserves an unhurried visit.