My main work consists of running my Javea properties online portal, which means I am mostly based in Javea, but some work I can do virtually, which allows me to travel to other parts of Spain. One of my favourite destinations is Madrid. Just like any capital city, Madrid has plenty to see and do. Here I outline the main places of interest and make some suggestions, but leave the reader scope for exploring, which is an essential part of getting to know a new place and is more fun.
Madrid’s fascination comes not so much from its history but from its character. To get a feel for this, walk through the old quarter around the Plaza Mayor, or visit the Rastro, the Sunday flea market near the Puerta de Toledo, or spend an evening wandering around the “tapas” bars, (bars serving an enormous variety of hot and cold snacks).
Madrid’s modern architecture is also worth a mention. There are some superb new buildings on both sides of the Paseo de la Castellana, including the Torre Picasso, one of Madrid´s tallest building.
For a complete entertainment guide see La Guía del Ocio (in Spanish) which appears in all newsagents and newspaper kiosks once a week on a Monday. Similar publications printed in both English and Spanish are Enjoy Madrid (free publication which can be found in hotels, Barajas airport and tourism offices) and “What’s On”, which is available in tourism offices.
Prado Museum, famous for its collection of old master’s paintings.
Reina Sofia Centre – Contemporary art museum, where Picasso’s “Guernica” is on show.
Thyssen Bornemisza Museum – Private collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, paintings from 13th century onwards including sculptures and modern art.
Royal Palace, not the residence of the present Royal Family, but used for state receptions.
Opera, at present undergoing major reconstruction.
Plaza Mayor – “main square” with traditional shops, bars and restaurants.
Puerta del Sol, from which all distances in Spain are measured.
Retiro Park – centrally located with boating lake. A popular venue for a Sunday walk.
Casa de Campo – Large open area on the south-west side of Madrid with boating lake, amusement park and zoo.
THE SURROUNDING AREAS
Madrid is surrounded by many interesting towns and villages within easy reach for a day’s excursion. For example, in little over one hour one can reach the top of the Guadarrama mountains, where in summer the air is cool and fresh, and in winter the ski-slopes are very popular. Here is a short list of some of the most popular places:
Navacerrada, a village near the summit of the Guadarrama mountains, within easy reach of the monastery of El Paular and the valley of Lozoya. The nearest skiing resort to Madrid.
Segovia, with its Roman aqueduct and a medieval fortress, previously the capital city of Isabella and Ferdinand, the joint monarchs of Spain in the 16th century.
Avila. The highest regional capital of Spain, Avila is surrounded by a magnificent 12th century wall. The town is the birthplace of Saint Teresa and contains the oldest cathedral built in Spain.
Salamanca. Famous university town with a magnificent “plaza mayor”.
Aranjuez. Famous for its strawberries, asparagus and royal palaces.
Chinchón, home of the famous “anis” drink. Bullfights are held in its ancient circular “square”.
Toledo. The former Gothic capital of Spain, Toledo contains a wealth of architectural treasures, including a magnificent cathedral and synagogue, which reflects its past importance as a centre for Spanish Jewry. The town was the home of the painter El Greco and many of his works are on display. More recently, the Alcazar, or fortress, was the scene of a famous siege during the Spanish Civil War.
Pedraza. Medieval village with its own castle in the mountains to the north of Madrid renowned for its restaurants serving roast lamb cooked in big brick ovens. It well worth a visit on a cold, clear winter’s day, when the views of mountain scenery on the road up to the village can be breathtaking.
There are many other places worthy of mention here; just ask at Relocations España®’s Madrid office.
If wishing to explore further afield, it is worth bearing in mind the “paradores”. Literally “inns” the paradors are a chain of state-run hotels, manly of which are converted palaces, castles and convents, often situated in beautiful locations.
Duque de Medinaceli, 2
Tel. 91 429 31 77
Open Mon-Fri 9a.m. to 7p.m.
Sat 9a.m. to 1p.m.
Plaza Mayor, 3
Tel. 91 588 16 36
Open Mon-Fri 10a.m. to 8p.m.
Sat 10ª.m. to 2p.m.
Tel: 91 305 86 56
Open Mon-Fri 9a.m to 8p.m.
Sat 9a.m. to 2p.m.
Chamartín Railway Station
Tel: 91 315 99 76
Open Mon-Fri 8a.m. to 8p.m.
Sat 9a.m. to 1p.m.
This section is provided courtesy of:
Relocations España® S.L.
Bueso Pineda, 5, 1.ºC
Tel: +34 91 519 64 20
Fax: +34 91 519 64 19