One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world is Madrid, Spain. This is largely in part due to Madrid being one of the most fun cities in the world. Madrid has something for all ages and all tastes, and I’m not just talking food. The city is rich in arts, culture, history, and live entertainment. When people think of visiting Spain, they think of Madrid. You need to see it; trust me, you do. And you know what? I’m going to tell you how to have the most fun during your visit to fabulous Madrid, so keep reading.
This time we ditched the tour group and me and Kim went solo to enjoy Madrid the way we wanted to and see what we wanted to look at. Most of the time we ditched the cameras and enjoyed the attractions and shops.
The first fun thing we did while in Madrid was to buy a pass to the Hop on Hop off bus. We got to visit to the city’s most popular tourist attractions. There’s good reason why these sites attract millions of visitors annually: they’re spectacular!
Our first stop was Catedral de la Almudena. At the end of the 19th century building work was started on the Catedral de la Almudena which was constructed on the site of the old Santa María la Mayor church to honour the patron virgin of Madrid. In 1883 the first stone of this monument was laid but the building process was extremely slow. In 1993, the cathedral was consecrated for worship Pope John Paul II. The inside of the church retains a Gothic style, although the outside is Classicist. From here you can go to Mercado de San Miguel and Plaza Mayor.
Back on the bus our next stop was Museo del Prado’s. Museo del Prado’s walls were lined with masterpieces from the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools, including Velázquez’s ‘Las Meninas’ and Goya’s ‘Third of May, 1808’. The Museo del Prado opened for the first time on November 10, 1819.
We then pasted one of the most well-known monuments in Madrid. Built between 1769 and 1778 under the orders of King Carlos III, it was designed by Francisco Sabatini and erected as a triumphal arch to celebrate the arrival of the monarch at the capital. The granite gate is 19.5 metres tall and is elegant and well-proportioned. The façade features a number of decorative elements with groups of sculptures, capitals, reliefs and masks, among others.
Next up was Salamanca, which is one of the 21 districts that form the city of Madrid. Don José de Salamanca y Mayol, Marquis of Salamanca, gave his named to the area because of his involvement in the district’s project in 1860. Nowadays, the Salamanca district is one of the wealthiest areas in Madrid and some of its streets, such as Goya or Serrano, are part of the most expensive streets in Spain. Here we checked out the Palacio de los Deportes de Madrid, the Viviendas Velázquez, the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas and the Jardines del Descubrimiento.
After a look around we were back on the bus and passing Palacio de Cibeles. This is one of the liveliest, best-known and most beautiful squares in Madrid, and is home to such emblematic monuments as the Fuente de Cibeles and Palacio de Cibeles. The Fuente de Cibeles, the symbol of Madrid, stands in the middle of the square. Goddess of nature and protector of the town, this sculpture was designed by Ventura Rodríguez in 1777. Also in this square is the Palacio de Cibeles (today the site of the City Hall) which also houses the cultural space known as CentroCentro and the Galería de Cristal.Palacio de Cibeles.
We passed Gran Vía, which is one of the most important and symbolic arteries of downtown Madrid, and in few places will you experience the hustle and bustle of this busy street and then the Gran Via, which is one of Madrid's main thoroughfares, offering leisure, tourism and shopping activities. The segment between Plaza de Callao and Plaza de España is known for its cinemas and theatres.
We then jumped off at Plaza de España, which was a large square, and popular tourist destination, located in central Madrid. In the centre of the plaza was a monument to Spanish novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes. The tower portion of the monument includes a stone sculpture of Cervantes, which overlooks bronze sculptures of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. Flanking the Plaza de España you find two emblematic buildings of the city: the Madrid Tower and the Edificio España, which constitute one of the most interesting architectural areas of Madrid.
We then missed a few stops and next hopped off at The Palacio Real, which was built in the 18th century by order of Philip V on the site of the old Alcázar fortress, a former Moorish castle. Sachetti began the works in 1738, and the building was completed in 1764.
It was just hitting lunch time and we stopped at Plaza Mayor, which is a symbol of Madrid and must not be missed. Building work began on this huge open area in the city centre in the 17th century under the orders of Phillip III, whose bronze equestrian statue adorns the square. It was opened in 1620 and is rectangular in shape, with arcades running around the edges. This site used to be the venue for many public events, such as bullfights, processions and festivals. Underneath the arcades there are traditional shops, as well as a wealth of bars and restaurants. We stopped in and had lunch.
After some lunch it was time for Kim to shop. We stopped at Plaza del Callao, which was one of the most central and busiest squares in the entire city of Madrid since it is crossed by Gran Vía. It is a commercial area full of shops and entertainment. The buildings have a great personality and are influenced by American architecture as for instance the Cinema Callao building. Plaza del Callao holds a high concentration of movie theatres; most notably the 1920’s Palacio de la Prensa -an outstanding red brick building- and the Palacio de la Música.
Back on the bus we headed to Atlético de Madrid, which has an official museum at the Vicente Calderón stadium in Madrid’s Arganzuela district. It took us through the hundred-year history of the club and through the changes that football has seen in Spain and worldwide. Trophies, shirts, photographs and collections of boots are some of the memorabilia that are on display in the five main areas of the museum.
We then headed to Centro Comercial Príncipe Pío, which is a shopping mall in the western part of the city of Madrid. The building that houses the spectacular shopping extravaganza started life as a railway station. It still performs that duty, though to a much lesser extent today than it once did. It also has some bus lines, as well as a Metro station, all of which means that access to and from Centro Comercial Príncipe Pío is about as good as it gets in Madrid.
The shopping center has three floors where you will find shops with names like, Stradivarius, H & M, Eurekakids, Mango, Tapioca, Zara, Tintoretto, Bottega Verde, Natura, Parfois, Pull & Bear, and Colonel Oisho, Kim was in heaven. We stayed and had dinner then jumped back on the bus for an night tour of the city.