Spain’s incredibly elegant capital Madrid has a great deal to offer its visitors. It is a sprawling city, indeed the third largest city in the EU after London and Berlin, with more than its fair share of fantastic places to visit.
If you enjoy soaking up culture on your travels this city will not disappoint. It is home to so many museums and art galleries. The most obvious place to start any tour would be with Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art”. This is comprised of three galleries, The Prado Museum, the Reina-Sofia Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
The Prado Museum, Madrid’s most well known attraction is considered to be one of the best museums in the world and should definitely be on your list of places to see. Located on El Paseo del Prado it houses the best collection of art from great European masters like Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, Titian, Hieronymus Bosch, to name but a few. There are so many outstanding paintings to be seen here but a few to look out for include “The Garden of Delights” by Bosch, who has several other works on display at the Prado, as he was one of the favourite artists of King Filipe II. Also ‘The Crucifixion’ by Juan de Flandes and “The Three Graces”, which depicts the daughters of Zeus, dancing and representing Love, Joy, and Revelry. You simply could not do justice to this museum in only a day so it’s good to have an idea of the pieces you’d like to see beforehand and plan from there.
Another fabulous gallery is the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Whereas the Prado will appeal largely to lovers of classical paintings, this is the place to go for lovers of modern art. It has an amazing collection of works from artists such as Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Francis Bacon amongst many others. Without doubt, its most famous work has to be the “Guernica”, probably the most famous work of Pablo Picasso depicting the tragedy and suffering inflicted on individuals by war. Such is the scale of this painting that it is actually given an exhibition room of its own.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum houses what was originally a private collection put together by Hans Heinrich von Thysses-Bornemisza, It is made up of 775 paintings and includes paintings from the oldest schools right through to the most modern. It is like an overview of art through the ages.
No trip to this amazing city would be complete without a visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid. This is the official residence of the Spanish royal family and the largest royal palace in Europe. Even if you don’t have time to take a tour of the inside, the outside with its huge courtyard is very impressive and the beautiful Sabatini and Campo del Moro parks which surround it are a perfect place to stop for a picnic or just to relax for a while.
For football lovers Santiago Bernabeu stadium is a must-see. Even if you’re not that interested in football it still makes for a great trip. I have no interest in football but thought it was fantastic. The Bernabeu tour takes in everything from the huge exhibition highlighting the huge range of paraphernalia from the club’s long history to the spectacular trophy rooms, the vast stadium, the presidential balcony, the pitch, where you get the chance to sit in the leather seats in the bench area, the press room and even the players changing rooms. Not surprisingly the tour ends at the club’s shop where you can buy all manner of souveniers.
In terms of city sightseeing, the Plaza Mayor Square is definitely worth a visit. Situated in the very pretty “old part” of the city, this marks a good starting point for the day’s sightseeing. At the centre of this incredibly grand square is a statue of King Philip III. It is a huge, rectangular square surrounded by three-storey residential buildings and is bustling with activity. There are plenty of tapas bars and restaurants here, nestled underneath the arches of this fabulous piece of architecture and it is a great place to just sit for a while and soak up the atmosphere.