Madrid is a busy capital city full of culture, historic sights and art corners. It’s likely to become your holiday rest place, although I managed to capture some quiet spots around the city.
After what I saw from the main sightseeing places, I would definitely recommend to skip few of them. Via Grande – busy and overrated. Main squares: Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Espana, Puerta del Sol (Bear licking the strawberry – Monument) apart from their historical importance and interesting architecture, they are extremely busy, noisy and chaotic. At the end it always depends on what you like to see and explore.
Mercado de San Miguel.
What I would definitely recommend is a famous local market Mercado de San Miguel. Not only to taste some great food but also to have a little bite of local traditions and customs. The place is probably a little overpriced but worth exploring different kind of amazing Spanish cuisine. This is where I tried scallops for the first time.. and although I’m crazy about sea food, I didn’t like them at all! The market offers fresh and well cooked sea food specialities (great oysters). Lots of stand offer small portion of different snacks, which is good option to try lots of different flavours. Everything smells and looks colorful and delicious. You eat with your eyes 😉 You must try Sangria! It’s really good there.
Madrid from the above.
Madrid from the above is absolutely stunning. There’s lots of monuments and important history marks on the roof of city buildings. To experience best city view you need to visit Terrace Circullo de Bellas Artes. The entrance to the top floor costs around 5 Euro. Upstairs restaurants will spoil you with tasty drinks, champagne and food served on comfortable canopy. There also a museum on first floor. I just missed Picasso exhibition, which was showed in few Spanish cities over the summer time.
On the last picture there are sculptures of two chariots pulled by four horses on the roof of BBVA Bank (Banco de Bilbao) which illustrates the strength of the banks in previous centuries. The two sculptural sets weight 25 tons. Originally covered in golden color but during the Spanish Civil War the sculptures were coated with dark paint and finally moved to Madrid.
A great piece of art.
There’s one place you should definitely don’t miss – Prado – a place of world’s art treasure. One place with paintings of Picasso, Goya, Rubens, Caravaggio, Velázquez and many more great artists..
If you are looking for free tickets – let me explain how it works. Free tickets are available from 6.00 pm. If you stay in the queue from 5.30 pm. you’ll probably be able to collect your free ticket around 6.15 pm. It means you’ll have an hour to explore the museum, as it closes at 8 pm., which is definitely not enough to explore 2 huge floors of the museum. A very good option is two day general admission ticket. That means you don’t have to explore everything on one day, as to be honest after 3.5 hours visiting the museum I struggled with my back pain, so it’s a very good option to enjoy this attraction over two days. Of course no photos allowed inside. So here’s the characteristic monument of Velazquez, symbol of the museum.
The places gathers gorgeous art of world’s most famous artists. Goya black paintings was something most touching for me.
Royal Palace – Palacio Real.
Built for King Philip V in 18th century. It’s the largest royal palace in western Europe. There are also works by Goya, Caravaggio and Velázquez, as well as amazing displays of furniture, porcelain, silverware and sceptre of course.
Parque del Buen Retiro.
Take a walk through Retiro Park. There’s an amazing monument of Alfonso XII located on artificial lake. Further you can enjoy green valleys and have some rest from the heat. There’s an interesting monument of Jacinto Benavente, one of the foremost Spanish dramatists of the 20th century. When sightseeing Madrid I noticed that ram horns must be a very important symbol in Spanish history. The royal jewel I saw in Royal Palace had a gold hanging ram. In Retiro Park the marmoreal elements had elements of ram’s horns. It must be related to the beaten bull, a symbol of strength and power.
Enjoy the streets of Madrid.
Catedral de Sta Maria la Real de la Almudena, the famous catherdal in Madrid. Most spectacular part of this structure – bronze relief door with images of some most famous people.
But if you really want to explore a magnificent basilica, you need to reach Basilica de San Miguel. This stunning, non-touristic basilica is located not far from the Cathedral de Sta Maria la Real.
Plaza Mayor – one of the main city squares. Aside the amazing architecture the square is odious. Touristic crowd and migrant merchants overshadow the beauty of the old buildings, leaving no space for a nice atmosphere.
One of the enjoying moments for me was walking Calle de Atocha. This tourist free street is full of small shops of local merchants, designers and dress-making workshops. It took me directly to Anton Martin Metro station with a monument of killed lawyers in Atocha massacre in 1977.
Best tips where to eat in Madrid?
Everyone knows Spanish cuisine is one of the best in the world. Madrid is still relatively cheap comparing to rest of Europe. And also most famous for it’s tapas. Tapas – it’s simply a small portion of a main dish, a snack or appetiser. They play an important part of Spanish culture and social life, which spins around restaurants, cafes and never ending conversations. The small portion of a course gives you a possibility to taste few different options, instead of one big meal.
Best tip – always ask for Menu del Dia/meal of the day. Usually available from 12-3 pm lunchtime at fixed price 10-14 euro. It gives a possibility to choose one starter from all positions and one main course, usually with a drink and coffee included.
Public transport Madrid.
Madrid has great old underground. With 10 lines it’s possible to explore whole city by fastest existing public transport. The map is available on main stations. I always recommend getting to the closes tourist information (there are many in Madrid) for a city map and useful tips (like real local restaurant). It’s so interesting how the customs differ in specific country. Spanish underground is noisy, people laugh, talk, play instruments. Which is so different than Japan – where the rules are very strict and say: keep silent, no phone allowed, etc.
Tickets are available in metro stations. Although from choosing the language option only greeting stays in English and all the rest goes in Spanish. First you need to buy a card at the same machine. You’ll probably spend few minutes trying to figure out how to buy a ticket but you should be successful at the end. It’s easier in main stations where you can always ask a staff for help.
Write me if you have any questions!
And in case you’re planning to visit Barcelona check: http://freestyletraveling.com/around-barcelona/