Sights to See in Madrid

Hola Madrid!  The largest city in Spain and the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, is fill with historical sites, art and history museums, sidewalk cafes and is even home to an Egyptian Temple. It is a beautiful city with something new to discover around every corner.

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Plaza Mayor – the original main marketplace of Madrid
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Puerta del Sol – Madrid’s Time Square and the location of Europe’s larges Apple Store
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Monument to Alfonso XII in Buen Retiro Park – The park belonged to the Spanish monarchy until the late 19th century when it became a public park.
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Buen Retiro Park
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Crystal Palace in El Retiro
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Small art museum owned by the Museo Reina Sofia in El Retiro over by the Crystal Palace.
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Museo de Historia de Madrid – A great free museum where you can learn about the history of the city.
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Palacio Real de Madrid
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Courtyard in the Palacio Real
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Courtyard at the Palacio Real facing the Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena Cathedral

 

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View of Madrid from the palace courtyard.
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Madrid has 3 great art museums close to each other in what is known as the “Golden Triangle of Art”.  Each focuses on a different type of art.  The Reina Sofia focuses on modern art; the Museo Thyssen has works from the Dutch masters, impressionists, and some modern art; while the Prado is Madrid’s main art museum, on par with the Louve, and houses works by famous artists such as El Greco, Titian, Velazquez, and Rubens.
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The Prado.
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Plaza de Toros – Home of Madrid’s bull fights also serves as a venue for concerts and other events.  You can buy a ticket to view the bull fighters museum and explore the arena.

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Restaurante Sobrino de Botin – The world’s oldest continuously operating restaurant according to the Guinness Book of World Records.  It is known for its suckling pig and is famously mentioned at the end of Ernest Hemmingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises
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Temple of Debod – Originally built in Egypt, the construction of a dam threatened its safety and UNESCO helped arrange the transfer of the temple, stone by stone, to Spain where it was reconstructed and preserved.  This is a fun site to explore.  You can actually enter the temple, but be warned, it is national park and they close for siesta from about 2 pm to 6 pm.  Also prepare to stand in line to enter, since the temple is small and the number of people allowed inside at one time is limited.
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TAPAS!  OUTDOOR CAFES!  A big part of visiting Madrid is enjoying the city’s cuisine.  Paella, tapas restaurants, sangria, the food in this Mediterranean country is fresh and amazing.  They eat lunch later in the day, around 2 pm to 5 pm, and dinner service does not begin until 8 or 9 pm; however, tapas can be bought anytime during the day. 

Useful Travel Books for Madrid:

  • Lonely Planet Pocket Madrid – It is compact, comes with a pull-out map that I used to death (although be warned, it is not exactly drawn to scale), and I saw other tourists using it while we were out and about.  ($13.99)
  • Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary – This was literally a life saver.  It gives you phrases to use in almost any situation you can imagine, from shopping, to eating out, to going to a pharmacy.  ($9.99)
  • Rick Steve’s Snapshot Madrid & Toledo – I downloaded this at the last minute to my nook before leaving to go to Spain.  This book really came in handy with self-guided tours of the Prado and the Royal Palace.  It was $7.99 well spent!

~ Candace


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