Friday, August 23, 2013

Madrid: The City of Museums and Tapas

Calle de Alcala: Madrid, Spain | Photo by Marc under Creative Commons license

Madrid is a city located in the center of Spain. This large city has many museums, large parks and streets filled with tapas bars, traditional restaurants and shops. Here is a short guide to Madrid, which receives millions of visitors who want to enjoy a trip to a new city.

Explore the city's markets.

Madrid is a city for foodies, filled with traditional markets, restaurants and tapas bars. Near the centric square of Puerta del Sol visitors will find the trendy Mercado de San Miguel, a remodeled traditional market where visitors will be able to buy fresh local products. In the city center there are many other markets, including the Antón Martín Market and the San Antón Market.

Spend an afternoon tasting tapas.

There are many restaurants that offer typical Castillian dishes, including callos, a thick meaty broth made from tripe and veal shanks. In the city center there are several restaurants known for their Basque cuisine and pintxos, similar to tapas. Many tapas bars are located in and around the city center. La Latina district is a traditional neighbourhood known for its tapas and its many restaurants. The district is only a short walk away from the city center. Visitors will be able to hop from one bar to the next and ordering drinks and tasting several types of tapas. Typical tapas include a selection of jamones hams, patatas bravas potatoes served with alioli sauce and spicy sauce, and tortilla de patata omelet. Farther away is the multicultural Lavapiés area, with many ethnic restaurants. In the trendy Malasaña district visitors will find many bars and lounges where they will be able to party until dawn.

Downtown Madrid | Photo by Marc under Creative Commons license

Visit the museums.

There are many museums in the city. The three main art museums are the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen Bornemisza. These form the Golden Triangle of Museums, which is located a short walk away from the centric Atocha train station. In the Plaza de Colón area, a large square with the statue of Columbus, is the Archaeological Museum.

Take a stroll around the gardens.

Near the Prado visitors will find the city's Botanical Gardens. There are several herb gardens and rose gardens and many exotic plants. The Retiro Park is located nearby. This large park has paths decorated with fountains and a lake where visitors can rent boats.

Enjoy views of the city.

Madrid is a city that can be explored on foot. A short walk away from the main street of Gran Vía, filled with shops, visitors will find the Palacio de Comunicaciones, a large white Gothic building with a facade decorated with cartouches and pilasters. This building used to be the post office and and is now part of the town hall. Visitors will be able to enjoy views of the city center from the observation deck located on one of the upper floors. The fountain of Cibeles can be seen from here, the fountain where the Real Madrid football players celebrate their victories.

Near this palace is the Círculo de Bellas Artes, a cultural center dedicated to the fine arts. In this center there is another observation deck with a cafeteria that has views towards the city and many of its most famous buildings.

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