A LONG WEEKEND IN SPAIN’S CAPITAL, MADRID
Spanish cities like Madrid make the perfect city break destinations due to their close proximity and short flight times, to jet off to on a refreshing city break! Dr C and I make a conscious effort to go away for our anniversaries so not only can we celebrate in a different location every year but it also quenches our thirst for travel, albeit for a few weeks or so! So, one anniversary, a couple of years back, we jetted off to Madrid in search of sun, sangria, cosmopolitan vibes and an Itinerary packed full of Spanish architectural sights!
I’ve compiled some of our top spots from Spain’s capital, Madrid that are sure to feature if you are putting your own travel plans together for the city.
CULTURE FILLED MUSEUMS
Second to Florence this museum has one of the best Renaissance art collections in the world as well as Spanish collections by Velázquez and El Greco. One of the must-see works contained here are Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. The Spanish artist, Goya, who has the most pieces of artwork here comprising 14 Black paintings.
Paseo del Prado
s/n, 28014 Madrid
THE NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
This museum is more of a journey through the history of Spain. The artefacts are dated from the pre-Roman period and estimated to be 2,500 years old. One of the stand-out pieces is the lady of Elche, which features the bust of a woman, with a detailed headdress and coils over her ears.
Calle de Serrano, 13,
THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA MUSEUM OF ART
This museum holds a mixture of arts from English, German, and less well known Renaissance artists. Additionally there’s a collection of American abstract expressionism and post-expressionism such as Monet, Renoir and Degas.
Paseo del Prado, 8
REINA SOFIA MUSEUM
This museum’s focus is mainly on Spanish art and is more modern in its pieces. It comprises many works by Dali and Picasso.
Just for reference it is the third museum in the Golden-triangle of museums, with the others being The Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Calle de Santa Isabel, 52,
STROLLING IN PARKS & GARDENS
PARQUE DE BUEN RETIRO
The largest park in Madrid and belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it was open to the public. It is a fantastic open space, which is great for a walk and picnic on a sunny afternoon to get away from the crowds of the inner city. There is a a pretty rose garden, the monument of Alfonso XII with semi-circular columns, adjacent to which is the Retiro park lake. Here you can hire a rowing boat for 45 minutes for €4.40. No prior rowing experience necessary!
Plaza de la Independencia, 7
JARDINES DE SABATINE
The Sabatini Gardens are part of the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain and were opened to the public by King Juan Carlos I in 1978.
Calle de Bailén, 2,
Jardines Carbo Noval (Plaza de Ote, 9, 28013 Madrid), Jardines de Leparito (Calle de Lepanto, 28013 Madrid) and the Nuevos Ministerios Jardines (Paseo de la Castellana, 67, 28046 Madrid)
MEANDERING THE PLAZAS
PLAZA DE LA ARMERIA & PALACIO REAL (ROYAL PALACE)
Plaza Plaza de Oriente is a square in the historic centre of Madrid, Spain. It is rectangular in shape and monumental in character and was designed in 1844 by Narciso Pascualy Colomera de Oriente. The Palace was built in the mid-1700s for King Philip V and is the largest royal palace in Western Europe with a blend of Baroque and neoclassical styles.
Calle de Bailén, 17,
PUERTO DEL SOL
This grand square is located next to the Casa de Correos (Post Office) is a point of meeting. The post office building dons a clock, which marks the countdown to New Year’s Eve. With every chime of the clock, you’re supposed to eat a grape for good luck-12 in total of course!
Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, s/n
The Plaza Mayor was built during Philip III’s reign and is a central plaza in the city of Madrid, Spain. It is located, only a few Spanish blocks away from Puerta del Sol. Plaza mayor is of pretty Renaissance design with the porticoes at the bottom of the three storey buildings having a few cute cafes. The coffees are of course overpriced due to the location but a fantastic place to sit outside and watch the world go by!
PLAZA DE CHUECA
This is the very cool and speaks of freedom and openness. It is the home of eclectic cafes and restaurants and is also known as the Gay neighbourhood with a number of great nightclubs and bars. Head on over here for a very hip evening out with street music and skilful entertainment.
Plaza de Chueca
CATEDRAL DE NUESTRA SENORA DE LA ALMUDENA
Paris has Notre Dame and Rome has St Peter’s Basilica. In fact, almost every European city of stature has its signature cathedral, a stand-out monument to a glorious Christian past. Not Madrid. Although the exterior of the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena sits in harmony with the adjacent Palacio Real, Madrid’s cathedral is cavernous and largely charmless within; its colourful, modern ceilings do little to make up for the lack of old-world gravitas that so distinguishes great cathedrals
Calle de Bailén, 10
The Gran Via is Madrid’s entertainment, shopping and cultural hub and is often busy well into the early hours of the morning. During the day you can shop till you drop at high street shops such as H & M, Zara and luxury stores but after dark you’ll see cinema goers and night clubbers. Look out for the Telefónica Building, built in 1928 and an early example of skyscrapers.
SANTIAGO BERNABÉU STADIUM
So obviously Dr C wanted to go and check-out the home of Real Madrid (Even though he’s not a football fan!!). The stadium is huge and seats 85,000. You can go on a panoramic stadium tour where you get to see the dressing rooms, dugouts, see the trophy collection, press room and the all-important presidential box!
Av. de Concha Espina, 1
LAS VENTAS (PLAZA DE TORROS) BULL RING
Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is a famous bullring located in Madrid, Spain. Situated in the Guindalera quarter of the district of Salamanca, it was inaugurated on June 17, 1931. It has a seating capacity of 23,798. The structure of the Bull ring is pretty impressive, however bull fighting is a sport I do not support.
Calle de Alcalá, 237
FOOD & ENTERTAINMENT
Madrid is a fantastic place for foodies but our weekend away was pretty casual so we opted for traditional little Spanish restaurants serving Paella, nice bread, sangria and churros. If I was asked to recommend somewhere I would say try and grab a meal and a drink somewhere there is live authentic Flamenco shows.
MERCADO SAN MIGUEL
A quick stroll from the Plaza Mayor is the central market place located in a beautiful art nouveau building dating back to 1916. There are grocery stalls but I definitely got the impression that is a gastro hub where authentic Spanish ingredients can be purchased, we’re talking Cava, Paprika (Pimenton) and indulgent saffron.
The Mercado San Miguel has many bars where you can rock up for all your favourite tapas such as patatas bravas, gambos al ajillo, boquerones, all washed down with beer, rioja or even Vermouth should you require something stronger.
Plaza de San Miguel, s/n
TABLANO LAS CARBONERAS
If it’s an authentic Flamenco show you want to see, then Tablao las Carboneras is the place. Make sure you call ahead and make a reservation to avoid disappointment. You can either book dinner or drinks and whilst sipping on your Sangria you’ll be able to watch a flamenco show with the full band. It’s a truly authentic experience and a must do in Madrid.
Plaza del Conde de Miranda, 1
CREPARIE MA BRETAGNE
If after a few days you’re a little tired of Tapas, this place is a charmingly run down little restaurant. Which provides food at a good budget but with a quirky twist. It’s a little shabby chic but that adds to the charm of the place and of course the crepes are amazing!
Calle de San Vicente Ferrer, 9,
If you’re planning on visiting Madrid or have pondered over it for a while, then I hope this has ignited some passion for a city beak. If you’ve been it’d be great to hear your take and recommendations on the city below!