Madrid is one of Europe’s greatest cities, and yet is often left off lists of must-visit places. Ask most people and they won’t be able to list any one attraction or building it has to offer or any one reason why they should go. Yet this is its secret. Its architecture rivals any in Europe, yet it is as a whole that it must be considered, a seamless development of styles from mediaeval quarters to modern, contemporary design that sit together with a harmony rarely seen. It has a style, a character and a life about it that few places can rival.
When it comes to the Arts it’s no slouch either. It was home to Francisco Goya, considered to link the Old masters to the modern, and Diego Velazquez whose work has been copied by Picasso and Dali. There work can be seen throughout the city, including at the Museo del Prado and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Throw in works by Picasso, Miro and many other Spanish artists and their collections rival any.
Madrid more than anything is there to be experienced. A coffee at the bustling Plaza mayor is a great place to start, situated at the heart of the city. Its architecture sets the scene, while its cobbles and maze of lanes leading off from it promise the feel of the real Spain. Its been at the heart of the city since 1619 and seen a lot of history, ranging from the beatification of saints to the burning of heretics during the Spanish Inquisition. These days it is a more peaceful spot, perfect for people watching while relaxing over a long, lazy lunch.
Cuisine is another aspect to enjoy while visiting Madrid. It has come to be at the cutting edge of cuisine, with many restaurants opening and offering a huge range of fares. There is the traditional, serving stews and dishes that have survived the test of time, such as the Casa Lucio and the El Sobrino de Botin (which claims to be the oldest Restaurant in the World). Try some of their local classics and join a whole list of previous eaters, from Ernest Hemmingway to Spanish Royalty. Other restaurants put a modern, contemporary slant of the Spanish cooking traditions. One to look out for is the Barrio de Salamanca.
After you’ve finished your meal you can head out to enjoy the city’s famous nightlife, its bars and clubs staying open for as long as you would need them. Life in Madrid tends to run late, with supper eaten late in the evening to escape the heat so a drink at midnight sees the city still buzzing with life. And when you have explored and enjoyed enough, you can return to your hotel. As any large city, Madrid offers a vast range of accommodation options, from small guest houses to luxury hotels. As befitting such a stylish city, it has hotels to match, offering boutique accommodation in the heart of the fashionable areas. Look for a luxury hotel in Madrid that offers character, is well located and is a short walk from the cities attractions.
Madrid is a characterful and atmospheric city, its people passionate and proud. Its two football teams reflect this and illustrate the vitality you can enjoy on a stay there.