With only 2 nights and one full day, we didn’t have much time to waste. We had a bit of a wander on our first night, but as we’d arrived quite late, we basically had a couple of drinks, a quick dinner then turned in for the night.
Palacio Real de Madrid & Catedral de la Almudena de Madrid
The Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, but is only used for state ceremonies these days. I was surprised to find out that is the largest royal palace in Western Europe.
I’m absolutely fascinated with European architecture, most particularly palaces, castles, cathedrals etc. I’m not sure if it’s growing up in a country still in its infancy, but I do have to admit that I find them ‘offensively opulent’! That’s not to say I don’t love them, but it’s just hard to imagine justifying the obscene amount of money it would have cost to build, fit out, furnish, maintain and staff these architectural marvels, considering how the ‘other half’ oft times lived! It really is no wonder that the people rebelled throughout the ages! Having said that, this one was only built in the 18th & 19th centuries, replacing the old Alcázar, the Moorish castle destroyed by fire in 1734.
Sadly, there comes a point inside the palace where no photos were allowed, but here’s a collection of what I was able capture.
As far as our stomachs were concerned, Spain catered to them very, very well (a bit too well sometimes).
Mercado De San Miguel
The Mercado (market) was absolutely amazing, and we’re so glad we stumbled across it! They had everything you could imagine, and probably even a few things more. I tried to remember them all, but in the end went online and found their website, click here for some interesting information about the market, its purpose and history. Then click on the ‘Stalls’ tab and you’ll see what delights I meant when I said ‘everything you could imagine’!! And to keep everyone cool and comfortable all the while, water is misted throughout the market at regular intervals from pipes along the roof. Highly recommend you allow some time to visit the Mercado.
It was impossible picking one or two images here, so here's another little gallery!!
No trip to Spain would be complete without indulging once or twice in traditional tapas. We felt it was our civic duty, and so participated with as much gusto as we could!
Museo del Hamon
They even have ‘Ham Museums’ in Madrid, where you can dine in, or take away (from the deli).
Click here to read about the history of the Museo del Hamon, the first thematic restaurants in Spain.
In the centre of the city is The Plaza Mayor, Madrid's main square. Public executions, crowning ceremonies, bullfights, Inquisition trials and diverse fiestas have all taken place right here in the square!
Originally planned by Felipe II and his architect Juan de Herrera, the Square was inaugurated in 1620 during Felipe III’s reign.
There are a multitude of cafes and restaurants that skirt the square, and they tend to be on the pricey side. However, it is a marvellous place to enjoy some good Spanish wine and tapas, and watch people pass by.
Located at the north end of the square is the four-storey Casa de la Panadería building, its facade decorated with colourful frescos. I loved this building!
On a side note …
Everywhere we went, I loved their painted-tile street signs, but what the….? Not sure if this one was telling me where I was, or where to go!
I headed out on the second morning to shoot a sunrise. I’d searched online for something iconic and interesting nearby and discovered the Palicio de Comunicaciones (Spanish postal service) was only a short walk up the road. Although beautiful, the sunrise wasn’t as spectacular as I would have liked. This is the only picture I have, and it’s a phone shot, because I’ve lost all the camera shots (I think I must have inadvertently formatted the SD card before downloading! It happens.)
We decided to head south on the fast train to Malaga on the Costa del Sol. Great way to travel, some lovely scenery, and it’s not called a fast train for nothing. I think I recall our top speed was just under 300 km/h! Very challenging for getting photos, but I managed a couple of mediocre shots through the window.
When I started this blog with 'With only 2 nights and one full day, we didn’t have much time to waste.', I really didn't think we'd done and seen much in the short time we had in Madrid. Having just finished it, I am absolutely amazed at how much we squeezed in during that time. Take my advice, spend at least 2 nights and 2 days in Madrid - there's so much that we didn't see that I will have to put on the list for next time.
Click here if you'd like to read Spain Part 2 - Costa del Sol
The images in this blog were shot using iPhone and Sony NEX 5N.