12 Most Magical Reasons to Visit Madrid
Madrid is at the top of my list of cities I want to visit in Europe. All of my family have been there and they come back raving about it and talking about the things they did. My father has even led guided tours of the city during several visits for a holiday company.
I love art and Madrid has several great galleries. But I also love Spain for the food, the people and of course, the sunshine. Here are the things I will be doing when I visit, helped along by gushing recommendations from my family.
1. Museo Del Prado
Built in the 18th Century, this beautiful building houses fabulous paintings by Bosch, Brueghel, Titian, Tintoretto, El Greco, Goya and Diego Velazquez alongside other famous artists. The Prado hosts the largest collection of Spanish art in the world and a whole day can be spent in its beautiful galleries.
2. Palacio Real
The Royal Palace was rebuilt after fire and is based upon a second design for the Louvre. Inside there are fabulous imperial staircases, frescoes and painted ceilings and beautiful furniture to admire; outside there are acres of gardens to admire including the Campo del Moro garden which is a little like an English romantic garden but there are also neo classic and formal gardens to admire too.
3. Real Jardin Botanico
Dedicated to maintaining Europe’s ecosystem this is a fabulous place to look at the history of plants and being next to the Prado can offer a great place to relax if you are zoned out on art.
4. Parque del Buen Retiro
One of the largest parks in the city and arguably the best loved this was formerly the grounds of the palace and has a fine lake, sculpture, monuments and galleries and lovely cafes.
5. Reina Sofia Museum
No one should miss seeing Picasso’s painting Guernica but this museum also hosts great collections of Salvador Dali alongside many other great 20th century artists, mainly from Spain.
A short train ride will bring you to the city where El Greco spent most of his life and where you can visit churches for which he painted. The cathedral is sumptuous and dates from the 11th century. You can also visit El Greco’s house which is now a museum alongside Santo Tome where his painting of the Burial Of the Count of Argaz is considered one of his finest works.
For purists and tourists alike Madrid has great venues for Flamenco such as the Casa Patas of the Corral de la Pacheca. You can even seen students from the Amor de Dios school perform flamenco on Sunday nights at El Juglar.
8. Shoes galore
Madrid is shoe heaven and so for any lovers of footwear a stroll down Augusto Figueroa will turn up bargains from the shoe factories in Valencia and Alicante and sample footwear.
9. Drink in the footsteps of Hemingway
Grace Kelly drank at the Museo Chicote and Hemingway loved the Cerveceria Alemana where you can spot the table he used almost daily.
10. See Madrid from a cable car
The one-and-a-half mile trip gives you views across the city of the Palace and parks at a great rate of just over €4 for a return ticket.
11. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Architect Rafael Moneo converted this 19th century building into a marble and terracotta environment, beautifully lit to house the collection of Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza: 775 paintings from the 13th century all the way to Roy Lichtenstein.
12. El Rastro
A market dating back five centuries, this is a must for lovers of antiques and leather bags. Madrid also has other great shopping opportunities — you can buy a classic guitar for playing Flamenco in the area around the Opera house or a quality gourmet experience Mercado de la Paz in the Salamanca district.
This is somewhere I really want to visit but I know there is plenty more to see and do in Madrid — so share your top tips with me and tell me where else I should go when I visit.
Featured image courtesy of HDR-newaddict via Creative Commons.