Must See Sites in Madrid

Posted on Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Madrid is full of many must see sites. For those that want to have an authentic Spanish experience, there are many sites that will reflect just that. There are also quite a few spots where you can escape some of the hustle and bustle and just enjoy the enchantment of the city.

Plaza De Cibeles
This is Madrid’s most famous plaza. It’s adjacent to Paseo del Prado. The architecture is what brings in a lot of tourists. The Palace of Communications, which used to be a post office, is now the city’s mayor’s office and the main building in the plaza. Another popular spot for tourists to visit at the Plaza De Cibeles is the fountain that features the Roman goddess of Cybele. Not all of the Palace is available for tourists to visit. However, the observation deck is open to the public and offers amazing views of the city.

Parque Del Buen Retiro
Also, known as Retiro Park, Parque Del Buen Retiro features 300 acres of lush greenery, lakes, gardens, playgrounds and cafes. It used to house Felipe IV’s palace, but it burnt down in the middle of the 18th century. After that time the park became open to the public. Some of the more popular spots to visit include the rose garden that features over 4,000 roses, the Palacio de Cristal that has art exhibitions and Estanque lake where visitors can rent a paddle boat. The park can be easily accessed by the Atocha, Ibiza or Retiro metro stations.

Plaza Mayor
This plaza has a lot going on. There are numerous cafes and bars to get a bite to eat or drink at. There are also street performers that put on many entertaining acts. During the Christmas season there are also a variety of Christmas markets to attend. The plaza starts getting lively in the afternoon and goes well into the night. It is located west of Puerta del Sol.

Palacio Real
This famous royal palace once housed the kings of Spain from the mid-1700s to the 1900s. It’s still considered the royal family’s official residence despite the fact that they no longer live there. It consists of 3,000 rooms and is Western Europe’s largest royal palace. The rooms open to the public include the royal pharmacy and armory room.

Mercado San Miguel
Located just outside of Plaza Mayor and west of Puerta del Sol, this cast iron market is a favorite among tourists. There’s such a variety of items to eat here that many visitors claim they could stay at the market all day. Favorites include the tapas and seafood. If you visit here, keep in mind there isn’t a lot of seating so you may have to stand up and eat.

Spain Then and Now

Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2016

Moorish, Modern and Inspirational describes Spain. Find Moorish arcades, French Gothic styling and Romanesque arches all over Spain. Enjoy Gaudi's whimsical Modernism movement in Barcelona, the works of Golden age artist Velazquez and 18th century Goya in Madrid's Prado Museum. Take in the sights of whitewashed Andalucian villages, the magnificent Alhambra, the sultan's Palace in Granada and the flower draped balconies in Seville. Discover Barcelona's Las Ramblas, where cafes, restaurants and shops attract street performers and flower vendors. The promenade teems with local flavors and scents. Visit Barri Gotic, the city's old Gothis quarter with her narrow streets and squares dating back to the Middle Ages and the city's 13th-century cathedral. Drive the seaside Montjuic area and past the 1992 Olympic Stadium. Next stop Gaudi's whimsical temple, known as Sagrada Familia. This is described as "Art Nouveau run wild." You can fly to Malaga and see one of the oldest buildings in Spain perched on a clifftop called Ronda. A stop in Granada takes you to the Sierra Nevada foothills in Southern Spain. How about a tour of the 14th century palace and gardens at Alhambra in Seville? Explore the massive Renaissance palace of Charles V and the fountain-filed gardens of the Generalife, and continue through the white washed villages of Andalucia. Seville dates back nearly 2000 years.

Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Maria Luisa Park or maybe a walking tour of the Barrio de Santa Cruz and the old streets in the former Jewish Quarter. Don't miss the Seville Cathedral, the final resting place of Christopher Columbus and the Giralda Bell Tower. Cordoba reflects a city that evolved through centuries of Roman, Moorish and Christian influence; a city once renowned as a center of artistic and intellectual creativity and religious tolerance. Walk through the Jewish Quarter and visit the 8th century mosque which turned cathedral called LaMezquita. A high speed train called the AVE will take you from Cordoba to Madrid. In Madrid visit the Museo Nacional Del Prado, where one of the finest collections of European art includes numerous works by Goya, Velazquez, Rubens and Bosch. To top your visit to Spain, you must not depart without seeing a flamenco show. Venture into the mountains, stopping at the saw-toothed mountain of Montserrat, northwest of Barcelona. Visit the Bebedictine monastery and see the shrine of la Moreneta, the Black Madonna. The statue was discovered in the year 880 by shepherds who saw a strange light in the sky and heard music coming from a cave in the mountain. Even though this is legend, it has become one of the most famous pilgrimage sights in Spain.

A short drive from there will bring you to Cardona, the Romanesque Church of Saint Vicenc, consecrated in 1047. Your drive will take you through the snow-capped Catalonian Pyrenees. There you will find a 12th century Romanesque Cathedral renowned as the finest in the Pyrenees. A short drive to Andorraand a Catalan cooking demonstration is not to be missed. Pamplona, Ernest Hemingway's immortalized town is mentioned in his book The Sun Also Rises. You can walk the route of the running of the bulls here and then go on to the coastal town of San Sebastian in Basque Country. The views from the top of Mt. Igueldo are magnificent. Visit the Guggenheim Museum in nearby Bilbao and venture to medieval Santillana del Mar in the Cantabria region of Spain. Throughout Spain you will see historic Paradors to stay at. To be designated as a Parador, a property must have a historic pedigree in the building it occupies or the setting it is located in. Look for Parador de Fuente De or Parador de Leon and the Parador de Santaigo de Compostela to give you that feel of Spain's history.

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