I lived in the capital of Spain for 3 months doing my internship in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For that time, I had lots of free time to explore the city and enjoy the sun in late winter days.
I usually had my coffee on Plaza de Sol or Plaza Mayor. They are central squares in the city with the bronze statue of King Philip III at the center of the square, created in 17 century. Plaza del Sol has also the statue of the bear eating strawberry trees. The legend says the city was named after many bears that were to be found in the nearby forests to eat the mentioned strawberry tree (esp madroño).
I shopped in Gran Via, the biggest street in Madrid with the headquarters of Zara. 🙂 The street is known as the Spanish Broadway, and is one of the streets with the most nightlife in Europe. It is known as the street that never sleeps and a showcase of early 20th-century architecture.
One of my favourite places was the park El Retiro. Living in Madrid is not copmplete if at least once you did not go there and do some activities. This green oasis is the biggest park in Europe and it includes botanical garden, exhibition halls, jogging paths, picnic meadows, statues of famous Spaniards etc.
Sundays I used to nag out in the museums because quite often they were free at that time of the week. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Prado National Museum can’t be missed. It’s an art museum famous by world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century. It numbers famous works by de Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Titian, Rubens and Bosch.
The Royal Palace is something not to be missed. It is representing nicely the history of war and colonialism during the Spanish Reign. The official residence of the Spanish Royal Family is decorated in baroque style.
Of course, being surrounded mostly by male cousins and brother, I could not come back home saying I haven’t visit Santiago Bernabeu stadium – one of the world’s most famous and prestigious football venues.
My second favourite place in Madrid is Temple de Debot in the Parque del Oeste. An ancient Egyptian temple shipped to Madrid and constructed there to celebrate the goddess Isis around 200 BC. Later the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius completed its decorations.
Where I was not told to go, but I still visited because of pure interest is the Plaza de toros de Ronda. The arena aka famous bullring erected in of the district of Salamanca. The bullfighting season starts in March and ends in October so I did not participate the show, but I found the building interesting as it was builded in Maori style.
Madrid has a cable car, called the Teleférico, that runs from the Parque del Oeste, until the highest point in the Casa de Campo, where you have a great view over the city and the park itself. The cable car covers a distance of almost 2.5 kilometres, across the Rio Manazanares and park Manzanares (former habitat of prostitutes).
Yap, what a great winter in Spain!
Especially when I remember the markets like Mercado de San Miguel with all the goods offered there…