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madrid Travel Guide

Madrid: The Cultural Capital of Spain

Madrid was designated the central capital of Spain in 1561 by King Philips II. Although Madrid was a small village at the time and without a coastline, the King was determined to expand Madrid into a grand Iberian capital city. Centuries later, Madrid is populated with over three million fiery Madrileños always available for a night of revelry at the many bars and nightclubs, or a performance at the Royal Theater, an internationally renowned opera house.

Madrid has seven bars for every 100 residents, but also has world-class cultural and theatrical offerings to rival any top European city. Residents and tourists can choose from a wide variety of cultural offerings from ballet, Broadway style theatre and opera.

Although Madrid is the third largest city in Western Europe, it is pleasantly compact with most of the top attractions easily accessible by wide pedestrian boulevards, beautiful plazas and an efficient Metro system. This Castilian capital offers something for every taste, from modern city districts, avant-garde cinema and theatre to medieval architecture royal palaces, historical monuments, bullfighting and magnificent art museums exhibiting Renaissance masterpieces.

Goya and Rembrandt - Madrid’s Prado and Reina Sofia Art Museums offers some of the world’s most famous paintings by masters such as, Rembrandt, Picasso, Reubens, El Greco, Dali, Goya, Velázquez and Raphael. A visitor can gaze at the famous “Artemis” by Rembrandt, the “The Adoration of the Magi” by Rubens or the “Las Meninas” by Velázquez.

Plazas and Parks - Madrid has some of the most beautiful parks, gardens and plazas in all of Europe. The Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor offer centrally located squares filled with beautiful fountains, statuary, lively street musicians, numerous cafes serving Bocadillo Calamaria, a Madrid specialty, tapas bars and sweet Chocolaterias. The Parque del Buen Retiro is a lovely urban oasis on the grounds of a former, weekend palace. Magnificent gardens and parklands surround the 18th century Royal Palace.

Architecture - Madrid boasts stunning examples of early twentieth century, Art Deco buildings along the Gran Via, a fashionable boulevard offering luxury shopping and a lively theatre district. The most famous building along the Gran Via is the emblematic Edificio Metrópolis with its ornate “Jazz Age” like façade. The Plaza de la Villa features the 15th century Lujanes Tower where King Francis I of France was imprisoned after the Battle of Pavia.

Ernest Hemingway Ate Here - The cultural icon and prolific writer, Ernest Hemingway left his mark all over Madrid as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War and his later visits as an aficionado of the bullfight. Today, many bars and cafes claim to be former haunts of Hemingway’s. A couple of the more famous Hemingway establishments are, the Chicote cocktail bar in the Gran Via district, which also was frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren and the Cervecería Alemana along the Plaza de Santa Ana.

Whether or not Papa Hemingway was favored with a regular table at one of Madrid’s many tapas spots, bullfighter’s bars and cafes, there are a multitude of lively establishments to choose from that stay open most of the night for a real taste of how the Madrileños party the night away. Madrid is unlike any other European city, it is meant to be savored and enjoyed, until it gets under your skin and you realize you are forever charmed by this Castilian city.

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Alcala Gate
Alcala Gate: Madrid’s Endearing National Monument
Almudena Cathedral
Almudena Cathedral: Madrid’s “Modern” Cathedral 100 Years in the Making
Arco de la Victoria
Arco de la Victoria: Franco’s Victory Arch
AZCA Business and Financial District
Gran Via
Gran Via: Shopping, Theatres and Art Deco Architecture
Las Ventas Bullring
Las Ventas Bullring
Parque del Buen Retiro
Parque del Buen Retiro: Madrid’s Royal Central Park
Plaza de Cibeles
Plaza de Cibeles: A Beautiful Fountain and Stunning Architecture
Plaza de España
Plaza de España: Don Quixote and a Green Oasis
Plaza de la Villa
Plaza de la Villa: A Quaint Medieval Square
Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor: A Grand 17th Century Plaza
Prado Museum
Museo del Prado: One of the World’s Greatest Art Museums
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol: The Heart of Madrid
Royal Palace
Madrid’s Royal Palace: The Largest Palace in Western Europe
Royal Theatre
Madrid’s Teatro Real: The Royal Theatre for Opera

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