While in Spain for the running of the bulls festival, I escaped for a day and went into Madrid to explore the capital of Spain. Madrid is a golden metropolitan obsessed with football (soccer) and fashion.
To start my self guided tour-which was more like aimless wandering- I took the train to Gran Vía station. Gran Via is a central street and is known as the street that never sleeps with its smorgasbord of nightclubs and variety of upscale shopping stores. Even if the shopping is out of your price range, it is still a great area to window shop or to sit in a cafe admiring the beautiful architecture around you. As a truly iconic street in Madrid a visit here is a necessity.
The art in Madrid isn’t just confined to the walls of a museum though. Walking around central Madrid I came across a lot of interesting street art-which I found added an interesting aspect to the culture of the city. Splashes of art brought the cement walls to life.
From there I wandered into a building that drew me in with its alluring architecture. It turns out that I walked into Circulo de Bellas Artes- a beautiful art museum. I spent over an hour taking in the fascinating art exhibitions.
Before I left, I spent a few Euros to take the elevator to the rooftop that offered a panoramic view of the city. There was a plaque explaining all the main buildings within view and their history. The rooftop also serves as a cafe and switches into a restaurant and bar at night- but at a price. The city view was amazing during the day so I can only imagine what it would look at in the evening as the sun sets over the Spanish metropolis.
While wandering through the artistic streets I managed to make my way over to the Royal Palace, next to the Catedral de la Almudena. This was the official residence of the Spanish royal family- until the moved to a more modest home. It is so interesting to me that Spain still has royalty.
When the palace is not being used for state ceremonies it is open to the public. To enter it costs a small fee and you can wander around leisurely on your own or with a walking tour for a higher fee. If you want to save all of your pennies you have the option to just explore the grounds outside and the courtyard.
Even though Madrid is one of Europe’s largest cities, it is not all about the buildings. In fact, Madrid has a lot of parks scattered throughout it. The largest park is Casa de Campo- it’s five times as big as New York’s Central Park! Another park that is walking distance from Gran Via is Parque de El Retiro. This outdoor space is very romantic with a beautiful pond where you can rent row boats.
After all of this walking around I started feeling pretty hungry- so you can imagine how happy I was when I came across a market.
The market I stumbled across was Mercado de San Miguel. Little did I know at the time that this market is actually one of Madrid’s oldest markets. This market has undergone renovations over the years and is now constructed with modern glass walls. It is a classy and beautiful market selling delectable food. You can order gourmet tapas and wine here- what more does a girl need!
The location of the market is in one of the liveliest spots in Madrid and next to Plaza de mayor. This plaza it a beautiful open space famous for its architecture. This plaza has seen a few things in its day- from bullfights to executions and stake burnings. Don’t worry- though it’s now a peaceful and beautiful place to hang out.
By the time I knew it my feet were aching and the sun was setting, with it’s beautiful light casting down on the city’s historical buildings, it was time for me to say goodnight to Madrid- with two kisses on the cheek.