Madrid - a guide to the key
sites and monuments by Mike McDougall
in Madrid - Madrid Self-Catering
Apartments - Madrid Travel Guide
|Spain's capital has enjoyed
a serious boom as a city break destination on the last decade. The proliferation
of cheap flights has made more and more European cities accessible to weekend
travellers. Often overshadowed by the Catalan capital, Barcelona, Madrid
is now showing what it has to offer and, more importantly, sharing it with
"Los Austrias" is as good
a place as any to start; the oldest part of the city and still bearing
the stamp of the Hapsburg dynasty that had such a dominating influence
on Madrid until 1700. The "Plaza Mayor" is the focal point of the area;
built by Phillip III between 1617 and 1619, it's an elegant square with
a rich and varied history. This is where the great festivals and celebrations
of imperial Madrid took place. Visitors these days won't see quite so much
excitement but the square hosts a coin and stamp collectors market on Sundays
and hosts live bands and performers during festivals. Expect to pay through
the nose in the cafés and restaurants which line the square; some
however, will be willing to part with a little extra cash just to be able
to soak up the atmosphere of one of Madrid's most famous sites.
on Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain
Real, Madrid, Spain Photographic Print
|Next stop is the "Palacio
Real"; Madrid's royal palace is a monument to the classical Italian baroque
style. Charles III was the first king to take residence here in 1714. The
grand building has a, seemingly absurd, count of 3,000 rooms. The most
famous of these is the Throne Room with its sumptuous decorations. Visitors
should also pay heed to the gardens, in particular the "Jardine de Sabatini",
which was added to the Palace complex in the 1930's and can provide a bit
of peaceful seclusion away from the bustle of the city centre.
Another one of the city's
most celebrated landmarks is the "Puerto Del Sol" - originally the location
for one of the gates marking the eastern entrance to the city. The gate
is reported to have been erected around 1440 to control the comings and
goings of merchandise in the Spanish capital. These days the gate is long
gone but the square behind it has taken on the name.
|It's a lively place, equivalent
to Times Square and Trafalgar Square in the US and England respectively,
as on new year's eve Madrilenõs come here in their thousands to
hear the clock chime midnight and see in the new year. It is also the centre
point of Spain, kilometre zero is in the centre of the square and the six
main highways of Spain radiate from this point.
For a bit of greenery and
a shaded stroll then there's no better place than the magnificent "Parque
del Buen Retiro"; Madrid's most central park. This verdant expanse covers
350 acres and includes formal gardens, fountains, playgrounds and cafes.
There is even a lake where locals and tourists can clash oars on the water.
All in all, the perfect place
for a picnic or for the kids to let off some steam - bear in mind that
the park closes at 10.30pm every evening.
Canoeing Past Parque Del Retiro, Madrid, Spain
The "Panteon de Goya" is
a small chapel that serves as the final resting place to the celebrated
artist. The man himself decorated the intricate dome and cupola depicting
the miracles of St Anthony and it is certainly one of the city's lesser
known attractions that is well worth a visit.
One final stop on our tour
takes us a little way out of Madrid's centre to the home of one of the
world's most famous football teams. The Santiago Bernabeu stadium has been
home to Real Madrid CF since 1947 and the 80,000 seater stadium is an impressive
site whether you're a fan of Football or not. The stadium houses and excellent
museum and is open most days for tours where you get the chance to see
the stadium from the main stand and enter into the playing tunnel and even
the changing rooms.
in Madrid / Madrid Self-Catering
to Madrid Travel Guide