Taking advantage of the fact that Ricardo was doing ERASMUS in Murcia, we both went to Madrid for a weekend. I was also there a few months before, briefly.
Facts about the city:
The famous Real Madrid Football Club was founded in the year 1902 and is the world’s most successful and richest football club of the 20th century. Real Madrid has a record for the most victories in a row, i.e., five for having won the competition Champions League from 1956 to 1960.
Madrid’s flag symbol is a bear on its hind legs eating berries. This symbol is significantly a metaphor of Madrid’s growth and progress, also represents possession of the wood used to construct buildings. These two emblematic figures also represent the official Coat of Arms of Madrid.
The first time I went to Madrid, I took a train to Murcia to visit Ricardo. I went with Catia, the sister of a girl who was staying with him. As we had some free time, we were able to take a walk around the main points of the city, such as Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor.
The Puerta del Sol is a public square, one of the best known and busiest places in the city. The square contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year.
The Plaza Mayor is located only a few Spanish blocks away from Puerta del Sol. The Plaza Mayor is rectangular in shape, surrounded by three-story residential buildings having 237 balconies facing the Plaza. The Casa de la Panadería, serving municipal and cultural functions, dominates the Plaza Mayor.
The second time I was in Madrid was at the end of Ricardo’s Erasmus. I went to meet him in Madrid and I got to know the city better this time around.
We stayed at the hotel Hostal Alistana and I remember we did not like it because we heard the rain knocking on the window and it made a lot of noise and we could not fall asleep. The hotel is located in Hortaleza, 28 2º, 01.Centro Madrid and we paid 54€ for two nights, so 13,50€ per person per night.
We visited the Royal Palace, which is very nice inside. The Royal Palace is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, but it is only used for state ceremonies. King Felipe VI and the Royal Family do not reside in the palace, choosing instead the more modest Palace of Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid. It is the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area.
We were in Madrid the day that someone important died (I cannot remember who) and there was a funeral with ceremonies in the palace. I also remember that we went to a zone of narrow streets full of bars and we ate at 100 montaditos. We also went to see the Catedral de Almudena, right next to the Royal Palace.
Close to the Royal Palace, there’s also the Temple of Debod. The shrine was originally erected in Egypt, in the early 2nd century BC. In 1960, due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam and the consequent threat posed by its reservoir to numerous monuments and archaeological sites, UNESCO made an international call to save this rich historical legacy. As a sign of gratitude for the help provided by Spain in saving the Abu Simbel temples, the Egyptian state donated the temple of Debod to Spain in 1968.
The temple was rebuilt in one of Madrid’s parks, the Parque del Oeste, and opened to the public in 1972.
In addition to the points that I had previously visited, we visited Parque del Retiro. This is a large and popular 1.4 km2 park at the edge of the city center, very close to the Puerta de Alcalá, Plaza de Cibeles (this square and its fountain have become symbolic monuments of the city) and not far from the Prado Museum. Retiro is a magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculptures and monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake, and a host to a variety of events, it is one of Madrid’s premier attractions.
We visited Mercado San Miguel. This is a covered gourmet tapas market built in 1916, with over 30 different vendors selling a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods and other foods.
Finally, strolled around the Gran Vía. Gran Vía is an ornate and upscale shopping street and it is one of the streets with the most nightlife in Europe. It is known as the street that never sleeps. The street is also noted for the grand architecture of many of the buildings, like the Metropolis building.