Vast countryside scattered with olive trees and orchards. The clearest Mediterranean coastal waters you have ever seen. Flat deserts and vast, mountainous pine forests stretching as far as the eye can see. Welcome to Spain. A place that takes you back to a simpler time. Slow down a little and see Spain’s true colours in the city of Madrid.
A homely metropolis for real working people. People who eat well, shop well, drink well and live well. And they rather generously share the magic of their city with visitors. Whether you’re looking for a cool vegan produce market, a sophisticated high tea in a luxury hotel lounge, or a traditional jamon sandwich at one of the local meat shops, Madrid will hook you up.
WHAT TO DO IN MADRID
Madrid subtly boasts hidden treasures and vibrant communities. Contrast is found in eccentric neighbourhoods and winding streets that combine the comforts of 21st century living with the architectural marvels of medieval Spain. It’s not the oldest city around, but definitely one where you can fall in love with the country, the people and the food. Museums and monuments enrapture every historical enthusiast while intercity parks offer green hide aways from the metropolitan buzz. Rent a public bike and experience Madrid like a local. Catch the metro and pay a visit to the famous El Rastro outdoor market for the best street food in town.
Madrid encapsulates the core flavours of Spanish cuisine by making optimal use of seasonal produce and local culinary impressions. Around every corner and squeezed into every imaginable inch of building space, a bar or “terras” invites you in for a “tinto de verano” and a slice of potato omelette. Eating outside is a great Spanish custom, especially in the fiery summer months. Some of the best food markets to visit are:
Mercado San Antón
Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Ildefonso
Mercado de San Fernando
If you have a few days free, set up a day trip to San Lorenzo de El Escorial just outside of the city. This site now functions as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university and hospital. From the outside it appears more of a fortress than a palace. Visit the main cathedral and prepare to be amazed. Take a stroll in the well-kept gardens or venture into the town for a espresso and churros at one of San Lorenzo’s charming cafes.
If fine art is your cup of tea, you will find famous museums and art galleries to choose from in Madrid. The giants, Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, are well situated and pleasantly air-conditioned. Do not miss out on the amazing Bosch collection on permanent display at the Museo del Prado
Public art installations are found throughout the city. Go to the architect’s college in the city centre to marvel at modern structures and landscaped gardens. The onsite restaurant also happens to be the perfect spot for a tasty mid-morning bite.
Hang out in trendy Chueca, go to the Retiro Park for ice cream and find inspiration in the lively streets of Malasaña, where treasured architectural wonders overlook enclosures dressed up by concert posters, bumper stickers and graffiti. Find events and activities for when you visit on www.esmadrid.com.
VISITING IN THE SUMMER? DONT FORGET TO PACK:
Sunglasses and cool summer dresses
a pair of comfortable cork wedges (you will see why)
GREAT DAY TRIPS FROM CITY CENTRE :
San Lorenzo de El Escorial
The medieval city of Cuenca
The ancient city of Segovia
Madrid is a modern city that will surprise you. Its geography makes it the perfect fusion point between Northern and Southern Spain. Visit Madrid and dance to the music of a city alive with culture and creativity.
Images and text by Tharien Guillaume
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