"WONDERFUL MADRID" Top 5 Page for this destination Madrid by ger4444

Madrid Travel Guide: 5,383 reviews and 10,968 photos

a colourful mix of different barrios

In 1996 i was in Madrid for the first time. Then, I had my prejudice that this city was way not that exciting as Barcelona was, the city i had been so many times before. Later on i found out that i was not the only one having that kind of thoughts and found out to be mistaken, since, if you only visit Madrid for a couple of days (as i did during my firts visit) its impossible to get a good picture of Madrid as it is. Now, i ve been in Madrid for several times and i learned to love this beautifull place and i adjusted my naïve prejudices. Madrid is at least as phantastic as Barca - if not more wonderfull - but i ll leave this in the middle; its up to you to decide when you finished reading these pages. Since i still 'd like to be welcome in Barcelona i wont put the Spanish capital over the Catalunian one and vice verca. And, lets be honest: are they really comparable? NO. Madrid has a unique atmosphere, a totally different way of life and whats more: There is no "real" madrid. This place is more a sudden conjunction of different barrios, like as if it has no identity but is rather constituted by its many barrios like the old town, La Latina, El Prado, Malasaña, Salamaca etc. All these areas are breathing out their own special atmosphere and it seems as if, allthough being in one and the same Capitol, you are entering differnt places. Places with their own architectural style, different people, diverging habits and their own preferences for food and drinks. Thats what i guess is Madrid: to grasp on it, you need to experience all its parts, and take your time. Walk along the Gran Via and get amazed by the greatness of the buildings in that avenue, stroll along the old town and have a coffee at the Plaza Mayor, lay on the grass or rent a boat at the lake in Parque del Retro, or maybe you just want to party in Chueca. Well, its all there for you. And dont make the same mistake as i did as i was there for the first time: Madrid "cannot be done" in 3 or 4 days, it takes a lifetime to explore this wonderfull place, and yest, thats not enough

What to do in Madrid?

Depending on how much time you have to visit Madrid i have the following suggestions for you. If you only can spend 3 or 4 days (less than 3 days is absolute a shame: you better then not go there since its impossible to see Madrid then well enough) you may include the following important sights in your program: that is: the old town. Visit: Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Plaza de la vIlle, Plaza deSanta Ana, Gran Via, Palacio de Communicaciones,Plaza Espana, then take the next day to visit Palacio Real with the royal gardens, teatro Real, and plaza de Oriente, take a walk in the barro de La Latina (if you are there on sunday: visit El Rastro, (a market) and dont forget to visit the Cathedral. The third day you go to El Prado museum and explore the many famous paintings by Goya, Velazquez etc. If you can stay 5 days you should add the following sights at your programm: Colegatio de San Isidro, Mercado de San Miguel, the Arab Wall, Plaza de Cibeles, Banco Espana, The Bolsa de Commercio, Plaza Canovas del Castillo, and take a quick look inside the decadent Ritz and Palace hotels, see Puerta del Alcala, and visit the Reina Sofia museum. If you have one week time you might add the following things on your list: museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Real jardin Botanico, Atocha railwaystation (yes its a site, it has a beautifull garden inside of it and it is an architectural beauty), plaza Colon, have a coffee at café Gijon, have nightlife at Chueca, go shopping at the Calle de Serrano, visit the Arco de la Victoria and the Puerto de Toledo, see the Templo de Debod and stroll along the streets of barro Salamanca.

a brief history of Madrid

The history of Madrid begins in the year 852, as the Arabs founded a fortress at the river Manzanares. The name Madrid actually comes from the arab word Mayrit. In the 11 th century Mayrit got conquested by the christians and it became a part ofthe Kingdom of Castilia. In the beginning of that area Madrid was quite a sleepy village, inhabited mainly by monks containing some 13 churches. In the 13 th century Madrid got into conflict with the Church on a subject matter concerning the right to hunt on the madrelenian land property. It was decided that Madrid had the right to do everything it wished on its own property and so the town's weaponshiled, e.g. a bear eating fruits from a tree, was born. This fact was not unnoticed by the royalties, who loved hunting and so the royals decided to settle down in Madrid. King Phillip the Second therfor made Madrid the capital of his kingdom. This was the 16 th century. The Arab alcazar got transformed into the Royal Palace and became the royal residence, later it got the residence of the Bourbons as in the 18 th. century Philips the Fifth went living there. The 19 th century was dominated by the occupation by the French under Bonaparte, in which period there have been many revolts by spanish rebellions, a time that is very well depicted in Goya's painting may the third. As in the early 20 th century Madrid became a grand city, as the architects were allowed to experiment in the cityplanning project: the Gran Via with its modernité buildings became a fact. Then a peiod of dictatorship followed in the 30's of that century: General Franco got installed as dictator and his reign rested till the seventies. After his dead, spain became a democracy in 1977. Under the reign of the popular prime minister Gonzales, Madrid and Spain flourished: there were the Olympicgames in Barcalona in 1992 as well the Expo in Sevilla and Madrid even became the European Capital of Culture. Nowadays its striking that the major is very ambitious in renovating the whole town. Everywere construction works are buzy rebuilding, renovating and transforming the city. (The photographing tourist however may not like this since dozens of buildings and places are looking ugly now as they are covered by construction pilars etc)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:diversity in architecture, great nightlife, friendly madrilenes, tasty tapas!
  • Cons:many sights are being under construction so not really photo-genetic
  • In a nutshell:as soon as the restauration works are done it will be a heaven for the tourist
  • Last visit to Madrid: Feb 2006
  • Intro Updated Jun 28, 2007
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