Hotels in Madrid, Spain
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Madrid – An Elegant City with Beautiful Architecture and World-Famous Museums
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is one of Europe’s great cities. It elegantly combines a laid-back vibe with the hustle and bustle of modern life. It is famous for its beautiful buildings and stunning parks as well as offering a rich cultural heritage thanks to outstanding museums like the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza. Many visitors arrive via Madrid-Barajas Airport, located a 25-minute drive outside the city centre. There are cheap hotels near the airport for those arriving late at night, and stunning historic hotels in the city.
Shopping and Nightlife
Open on Sundays and public holidays, El Rastro flea market on Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores is great for souvenirs and curios. A 15-minute walk from there, Gran Via, or Great Road, is one of the main thoroughfares in Madrid and a very popular tourist destination with its theatres, cinemas, restaurants, high-end shops and nightclubs. The architecture here is particularly stunning with many of the buildings showcasing Art Deco, Beaux-Arts and Art Nouveau styles; a good example is the Metropolis Building which features a golden angel at the foot of its dome. There are plenty of accommodation options in this area too, ranging from traditional hostales to luxurious hotels. Nearby, department store El Corte Inglés on Calle de Carmen is a must-see. As well as offering a huge range of products it also features an excellent restaurant with great views over the city. At the far end of Gran Via is Plaza de España, a popular night-time spot with its beautifully illuminated fountain.
Golden Triangle of Art
Known as the Golden Triangle, the three museums in the Retiro district of Madrid, namely the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia), are an essential visit; between them, their collections cover an impressive range of styles and periods. Opened in 1819, the Prado is a stunning Neoclassical building designed by Juan de Villanueva. Its initial aim was to showcase the best of Spanish art by the likes of Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya. Over the years, the collection has become international including works by El Greco, Titian and Hieronymus Bosch amongst others. The Reina Sofia offers a different perspective, focusing entirely on modern art from the 20th-century with works by Picasso and Dali. Picasso’s powerful Guernica is a highlight of the collection. Finally, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum provides a more varied collection of European artists, many of which aren’t represented in the other two museums. Styles covered include Renaissance, Rococo and Baroque as well as Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.
Real Madrid and Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
Real Madrid is regarded by many as Europe’s greatest football team thanks to its 11 European Cup / Champions League victories as well as numerous Spanish La Liga titles and other trophies. Los Blancos (the whites) play at the magnificent Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, to the north of the city centre, which can hold over 80,000 fans; the atmosphere at a game is electric with the Madridistas, a nickname for the Real Madrid supporters, very passionate, expecting nothing but the best from their players. If it’s not possible to attend a game, the next best thing is to take a tour of the stadium: visitors get to see the dressing room, dugouts, press room and have their picture taken in front of all the trophies! If possible, try to book ahead to avoid the long queues. Several restaurants serving great tapas dishes and other local delicacies can be found around the stadium, there is also a good selection of budget hotels in the area too.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace, located in the east of the city close to the River Manzanares, is an official residence of the Spanish Royal Family mainly used for state occasions; they instead prefer to live in the smaller Palace of Zarzuela outside Madrid. The Royal Palace has a staggering 3,418 rooms and visitors can choose to make their own way through the stunning interior or alternatively opt for a guided tour. Highlights include the Royal Armoury with antique suits of armour and the Royal Pharmacy which displays numerous phials and fascinating medical memorabilia. To the front of the palace is Plaza de Oriente and to the side Sabatini Gardens: both display various monuments and statues of the Spanish kings. To the rear, the amazing Campo del Moro Gardens offers tranquillity and beautiful views of the Palace. Also in the area, the imposing Roman Catholic Almudena Cathedral is worth a visit and the Royal Theatre on Plaza de Isabel II is the place to catch an operatic performance.
Other Parks and Attractions
Madrid is a city blessed with gorgeous parks and open spaces. Located next to the Prado is the Royal Botanical Garden, founded by King Ferdinand VI in 1755. It features bonsais and cacti and houses a herbarium with over a million specimens. Buen Retiro Park is another of Madrid’s stunning parks, also located near the Golden Triangle. Here, there are lovely lakes where rowing boats can be hired and ducks can be fed. There’s also the magnificent Crystal Palace which displays plant species from former Spanish colonies. If there’s still time, other attractions worth visiting in Madrid include the Sorolla Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. Joaquín Sorolla was a Spanish impressionist artist who spent the last years of his life in this beautiful house which now showcases many of his paintings. The National Archaeological Museum features an immense collection of Iberian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. This area also offers several high-end hotels to choose from.
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