Visit Madrid Spain

Palace in Madrid

Photo by Gryffindor

Madrid is one of Europe' great capitals cities. It may lack the glitz of Barcelona or the popularity of Seville but it has plenty of its own particular charm and romance.

So why on a website about Menorca am I talking about Madrid? Well there is a very good flight schedule to the city as it is the Spanish capital and if you want a day or two out from the island Madrid is the obvious answer!

Firstly it is home to the Spanish Kings and Queens. Its medieval origins make it a haven for exploration. From its world famous Museums to its trendy tapas bars and nightclubs Madrid caters for visitors in its own unique way.

Starting in the Puerto del Sol, one of Madrid's most important squares, you are between the Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace in one direction and the museums in the other direction. Puerto del Sol is the point in Spain from which all distances are measured. There are many hotels in the vicinity and also a Subway Station if you prefer not to walk to the other main sights.

Plaza Mayor, the original town square, should be you first visit to start exploring old town Madrid. It is completely enclosed with 5 story burgundy buildings. The restaurants and tapas bars that line the lower story charge tourist prices, but it might be worth it just to sit and soak in the ambiance.

Once rested head off towards Calle Mayor and the Royal Palace. Many guides gloss over the Royal Palace, but they are well worth a visit. Spend an hour or so winding through extravagantly decorated rooms. It is the official residence of the King of Spain, though the family usually stays at a smaller palace on the outskirts of town. However if there is a "state occasion" at the time of your visit the palace may open late or even be closed!

Across from the Royal Palace is the Almudena Cathedral and the Plaza de Oriente with the restaurants where you can stop for lunch. A nearby Subway Station lets you get conveniently travel on to the museum area.

There are three museums to see. The Prado is the most famous. It's one of the greatest painting museums in the world. In the Reina Sofia Museum you will find impressionist and modern art... most notably Picasso's Guernica. Finally you must see the Thyssen-Bornemisza with a full range of art from 13th century to today. Consider a museum card which will get you into all three for less than you would pay if you paid admission to each one separately.

At the end of the day, relax in Retiro Park, which is just behind the museums. Just inside the park, there is a large artificial lake with outdoor snack shops.

Tapas bars are a part of Madrid's nightlife. Order a glass of wine and a few tapas and enjoy. "Raciones" are larger portions, tapas are smaller snacks. Sometimes in the tourist areas, you can order a menu of tapas and get a sample of maybe 5 to share. Tapas might become your evening meal unless you plan on eating late at night like Madrienos do!

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