Getting To Know Madrid

A glimpse of Madrid.
Madrid is located in the center of Spain. The city is known for its many art museums, its parks and the many tapas bars that fill the city’s streets.

There are many museums in the city, including a Costume Museum, an Archaeological Museum and a Naval Museum. The city’s three most visited museums are the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum and the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, which form the Golden Triangle of Museums located in the city center.

This large city has its share of gardens and parks. The city’s main park is the Retiro, a park located near the city center that used to be the Royal gardens. There are many fountains and statues in the park’s gardens, and visitors will be able to rent a boat and explore the pond. Another main park, located on the west side of the city, is the Casa de Campo. The Zoo and Aquarium is located in this park, next to the Parque de Atracciones theme park.


The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. ©

The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid.

Madrid can be explored by bike and on foot. Tapas tours are organized in the city center during the afternoons, and there are many guided tours around the city’s main landmarks. Those who do not want to participate in a guided tour can simply walk around the city’s streets, discovering ancient churches, art galleries and traditional restaurants along the way. The historic city center is partially pedestrianized. The Plaza de Sol is the city center, next to the Town Hall. The statue of the madroño tree and the bear, which is the city’s official symbol, is located on this plaza. A short walk away is the Plaza Mayor, another main square. From here visitors will be able to walk the streets built by the Hapsburgs, which take them to the Royal Palace. Tours are organized around some of the palace’s rooms. Next to this large palace, which is now used for official events, is the Almudena Cathedral, with many decorated crypts. On the other side of the palace are the Sabatini Gardens, filled with fountains.

A visit to Madrid has to include some tapas. Tapas a appetizers served in most of the city’s bars and restaurants. Any local bar serves caña beer and tinto de verano wine with soda. The most popular areas for tapas before a night out are Huertas, which is located in the city center, and Malasaña, a hip district a short walk away from the center. La Latina, to the south of the city center is filled with very traditional bars with terrazas where visitors will be able to enjoy authentic tapas, including aceitunas olives, tortilla de patatas omelette and croquetas.


 A tapa bar in Madrid during my visit last December 2011. ©

A tapa bar in Madrid during my visit last December 2011.

Many visitors come to the city for a shopping spree. Local brands, including Zara, can be found in any commercial center in the city, and there are many other local brandnames that specialize in leather products and shoes. Gran Vía is a central street that is known for its shops. The Corte Inglés department stores can be found in most of the city’s districts, where each floor is dedicated to women’s clothes, men’s clothes, children’s clothes, electronics, food and shoes. The Serrano area is known for its many boutique stores, and has many boulevards filled with chic stores. For a hip shops, Fuencarral is the area to visit, located steps away from the city center.


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