Royal Palace of Madrid

Royal Palace of Madrid, or Palacio Real de Madrid in Spanish, is one of the most remarkable buildings in the city and one of those places you simply must visit during your stay in Madrid. Rarely is there a place that is so intertwined with history and art in such a way that it a represents one of the city’s most important treasures, a landmark visited by millions of people each year. Tourists from all over the world are eager to see the remnants of court life displayed in the interior of the palace, as well as in the surrounding gardens which were once the place where court events were organized gathering royals from the Western Europe.

The Palace is located in Calle de Bailén, in the Western part of the city’s central area, so regardless if you are staying in the apartments in the city center or you decide to rent an apartment in Madrid which is not in the central area, it will be quite convenient for you to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid. Ópera metro station is the nearest one if you choose to use this type of transportation in Madrid.

Unfortunately, the complete interior of the palace is not open to the public, but several rooms which are available are certainly enough to get the idea of how the palace has been important part of Spanish history, which is why it has been declared Spanish Property of Cultural Interest. Admission fee is paid before entering the palace and the usual fee is 10 Euros. Here are some additional information about the fees and opening hours: http://www.patrimonionacional.es/en/real-sitio/palacios/8280.

 

History of the Royal Palace in Madrid

This location has always been important area of the city, as the exploration of the past has concluded that the old Alcazar, or castle, once stood in this exact position. After it has been destroyed by fire in the 18th century, King Philip V ordered a new palace to be built in the same place. The construction lasted between 1738 and 1755, and it became a product of collaboration of some of the most important architects in Spain, including Filippo Juvarra, Ventura Rodríguez, Francesco Sabatini, etc.

After the construction, the palace was called Palacio Nacional and it was actually a home to several Spanish monarchs. The palace has 135,000 square meters of floor space and contains 3,418 rooms, which makes it the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area. The renovation of the palace in the 19th century introduced some alterations to the style, incorporating some of the Victorian elements as well. During the 20th century another set of renovations was introduced, but the goal was only to repair the damage caused during the Spanish Civil War, while no alternations were introduced in regard to the style and appearance of the interior and exterior of the Palace.

 

Exterior of the Palace

Being such a massive construction, the palace is an extraordinary place visible from several sides in the city, and each represents a distinctive view on the exterior. The main façade of the palace, where the main entrance is located is facing the Plaza de la Armeria. The two-story stone façade faces the square with lots of ornaments designed to decorate the exterior, including the series of statues and columns.

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Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f7/Madrid_May_2014-34a.jpg

Since we are mentioning the exterior of the palace, besides the impressive exterior of the actual building, it is important to mention other parts in the close vicinity which make up the exterior and the surrounding as it was originally planned and designed. As a part of initial project, the building alone was never planned, but instead, the accompanying gardens were necessary part of the surrounding which would provide enjoyable exterior and be a perfect place to host events in the open when the weather allows it.

  • Plaza de la Armería is the square connecting the Palace with the Almudena Cathedral. It is also the place from which you can see the main entrance to the Palace.
  • Plaza de Oriente is a rectangular park which connects the Royal Palace and the Teatro Real. The Plaza de Oriente is divided into three sections by the pathways, and there are lots of statues and decorations in the park making it an enjoyable place for a walk.
  • Campo del Moro Gardens is the park designed in the Romanticist style with lots of fountains and diverse types of vegetations scattered around the park.
  • Sabatini Gardens is perhaps the most famous part of the exterior of the palace. It was designed much later than the rest of the areas, mainly under the influence of French deign. Full of patterns and symmetrical geometric shapes, the garden is adorned with lots of statues, fountains and a pool. The name of the gardens is supposed to honor Francesco Sabatini, an Italian architect who collaborated on the project of construction of the Palace, and who designed the royal stables which were once located in this site.

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Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Campo_del_Moro_(Madrid)_01.jpg

If you decide to opt for a visit that does not include visiting the interior of the palace, this could still be an amazing day of sightseeing, as you have so many interesting and fascinating places to visit around the Royal Palace. Spending time outdoors is a great way to spend a day with your family and friends, regardless of your age and your interests, as there is always something for everyone.

 

The interior of the palace

The interior of the palace is just as impressive, with lots of rooms packed with historic art pieces and treasures that are remnants of the past and the time that has left its trace in the art and style that are part of the Royal Palace interior design and collections.

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Image source: http://www.patrimonionacional.es/en/real-sitio/palacios/8280

On ground floor you will first encounter a grand staircase, built by Sabatini in the 18th century. Although the position of the staircase is different from the one Sabatini meant when building it, it still is an impressive construction made of marble. Two lion figures are also placed in the ground floor, as well as a statue of Charles III in a Roman toga. Each corner is adorned with the four cartouches, which all together represent the elements of water, earth, air and fire. The frescoes on the ceiling illustrating religion protected by Spain complete the entrance to the ground floor.

The Royal Library was not initially the part of the ground floor, but it was moved here during the regency of Maria Christina. The impressiveness and historic value of the Royal Library lies in the huge collection of books ranging from different time periods. Having in mind that books from different epochs are part of this collection, it is clearly visible how the binding style evolved over time, and how each epoch left its trace. The maps used during the extension of Spanish Empire are also kept here as an important historic evidence of Spanish history. The bookshelves date from the period of Charles III, Isabel II and Alfonso XII, and also represent the valuable objects preserved within the Royal Palace.

The Royal Pharmacy was part of the royal household in the past, as it represented a collection of medicines that might be needed by the members of the royal family, and thus the pharmacy found its place within the Palace. The Royal Pharmacy was introduces during the reign of King Philip II. Today, the pharmacy still keeps the jars and bottles from that period.

The Royal Armory is the last one of the rooms that can be visited on the ground floor and it is one of the best armories in the world, as the pieces kept here date even back to the 13th century. The armory was opened in the end of the 19th century with a great collection of tournament pieces. The highlights of the collection are certainly the full armor and weapons used by Emperor Charles V in the Battle of Mühlberg. Although some parts of the collection were destroyed during the Peninsular War, as well as during the Spanish Civil War, the collection still contains some of the most important pieces of this kind in the world.

What is typical of the first floor is the fact that there are lots of royal chambers that preserve the original design and ornaments that decorated the place during the lifetime of the royals living in the Palace. Entering these chambers allows you to get the glimpse of the life led by the royals who used to occupy the Royal Palace as this was their residence.

Some of the royal chambers worth mentioning are the King Charles III’s Apartments, the Queen’s Apartments and Banqueting Hall and Apartments of Infante Luis. All of these are important in Spanish history as they depict the time period during which they were designed. Additionally, some of the most remarkable artists of the time designed the rooms, including Goya himself who painted the four royal family portraits still kept in the King Charles III’s Apartments on the first floor of the Royal Palace.

The Royal Chapel featuring frescoes the Trinity, Allegory of Religion, Glory and the Holy Trinity Crowning the Virgin is also located on the first floor of the Royal Palace, as well as the Crown Room, which stores the Charles III’s throne, scepter and crown.

Today, the Royal Palace in Madrid is an amazing monument of history and culture. It preserves so much treasures of national interest, which is why it is so proudly presented as one of the places you must see in Madrid. For tourists, the greatest value of the Palace is the fact that allows meeting the Spanish court life and historic elements that date centuries back and thus keep the spirit of the past visible to the new generations, that have so much to learn from the life in the past.

Although the Spanish Royal family does not live in the Palace, the importance of the Palace in the life of the royals is still present, which is why the wedding banquet of Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz took place in the central courtyard of the Palace, in 2004.

Apartments in Madrid City Center

You will finds numerous reasons to visit Madrid, regardless if you are fond of art and you want to visit some of the most prestigious museums in the world and internationally famous collections they house, or you are a party lover and you enjoy going out late in the evening. Shopping lovers, families with kids, business professionals, students, and basically all type of travelers around the world have at one point visited or considered visiting Madrid. This is a must-see location many travelers feature on their bucket lists, as the city never cease to stop to amaze and delight people from all over the world, people from different countries and different cultures.

The diversity which you will encounter in the city is something that is astonishing to international visitors, as they are able to see the traditional Spanish culture and customs, merging with the influences of neighboring countries, as well as the influence of settlers who have moved to Madrid in the past few decades.

If you are one of those people lucky to get a chance to visit Madrid, you will need help with finding accommodation. The city has so much to offer, there is no doubt about that, but as a traveler, you want to find the most convenient option for staying in the city, as this aspect should take only a smidge of your time during your trip. Obviously, your travel is all about getting in touch with different culture and customs, meeting new people and attending exciting events. There is not much time to spend on finding an apartment in Madrid to stay in, so here are some tips to help you along the way.

Madrid City Center

Madrid is a very large city, with metropolitan area being a home to more than six million people. The city stretches around the vast area, with lots of interesting places to visit and live in, but most of the tourists in Madrid actually only get in touch with the central area of the city. The main reason for this is certainly the fact that the historic center of Madrid is the oldest part of the city, and as such it holds a special place in the life of the city. Much has been preserved of the historic center, and monuments, buildings, squares, fountains and parks are all there to witness different epoch in the city’s history, epochs that shaped them, influenced the landscape of the area and made it to what it is today.

Madrid city center occupies four neighboring districts, which are generally considered a central area of the city. Travelers are most likely to visit at least one of them, but most travelers usually end up wandering around this entire area, as there is so much to see and visit in terms of culture, history, entertainment, etc.

1. Centro

This district is the oldest one in the city, so you will find a lot of old buildings and monuments that date centuries back and have been preserved from decay. As the city has grown over the centuries, the Centro district in Madrid remained the heart of the city with infrastructure being developed and improved as the area become a very important part of the local life. Some of the places tourists are interested in visiting in this part of the city include: Puerta del Sol, Royal Palace of Madrid, Plaza Mayor, Gran Vía, Plaza de España, Plaza de Colón, Paseo del Prado, etc. All of these places represent important places in the history of the city, and they are still as important, having in mind that some of the most city’s largest events, such as New Year’s celebration, are held at the squares of the Centro district.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plaza_Mayor_de_Madrid_06.jpg

2. Salamanca

Here is another district near the central area, very popular among visitors and tourists, and certainly a place you should consider visiting during you stay in Madrid. The area is now considered the most prestigious part of the city to live in, with lots of lavish buildings and houses, and some of the most luxurious and the most expensive shops in the city. One of the major reasons people love visiting this area is shopping. The landmarks you can visit in this district include: Calle de Alcalá, Paseo de la Castellana and Paseo de Recoletos.

Paseo de la Castellana

Paseo de la Castellana

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paseo_de_la_Castellana_(Madrid)_44.jpg

3. Retiro

The most remarkable part of this central district is Retiro Park, the largest park in Madrid, which features some of the impressive landmarks such as the Crystal Palace, the Retiro Pond, and the Monument to Alfonso XII. Since the park had major influence in the monarchs’ life in the past, it is very important for the city in this historic sense. You will also find lots of cafes and restaurants in the area, which is great for having a break and enjoying the local cuisine. Besides the park, the most important landmark in this area is certainly Paseo del Prado, a grand boulevard with the famous museums, including the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the avenue. If you love art and culture, there is no way you are going to miss visiting this shrine, where some of the most important artworks are stored.

Parque del Retiro

El Retiro Park

Image source: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

4. Chamberí

Beautiful architecture is something that characterizes Chamberí district, which is why you will absolutely love going for a walk and enjoy gorgeous buildings as they display different styles that influenced the decoration and the outline of the facades of the buildings in this area. Plaza de Colón, Plaza de Chamberí and Plaza de Olavide are some places of interest that you might want to consider including in your day of sightseeing of Chamberí district.

Plaza de Colón

Plaza de Colón

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plaza_de_Col%C3%B3n_(Madrid)_06.jpg

Having presented the basic information about the districts in the central area, we will know focus on how to find an apartment in Madrid city center.

The best way to find an apartment in Madrid is to go through the offer online and scan the apartments that are available for the period during which you plan on visiting the city. A lot of websites and companies offer accommodation in Madrid using online presentations, so you will be able to choose and book the accommodation before you even arrive to the city. Although choosing accommodation online might seem more difficult than viewing the apartment in reality, you will have lots of images to look at the interior, in order to access if the particular apartment is really a place where you would like to spend your holiday in Madrid, regardless if we talk about short-term or long-term holiday. Reviews are also very helpful when choosing accommodation, as you get to read the experience of other travelers, who have chosen that particular accommodation provider in the past.

Online offer of accommodation is very vast that it will satisfy the choosiest travelers out there. Regardless if you want a cozy little studio apartment or a spacious apartment with a terrace, you will have a lot of opportunities to choose the accommodation that is perfect for you.

Benefits of apartments in Madrid city center

It is no wonder the travelers from all over the world choose the central districts as the place to stay while in Madrid. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Great connection to the airport

Although you can always use metro or taxi to get to and from the airport, Madrid’s Airport Express Shuttle Bus is a very convenient solution for all the travelers. The bus operates 24 hours, 365 days a year, within 15 to 20 minutes interval (35 minutes during the night). It is one of the quickest way to get to and from the Barajas Airport to Atocha (Cibeles at night), with an approximate 40-mintues ride. Four stops in the center of the city allow connection to other parts of the city. The price of the ride is 5 Euros.

  • Lots of cafes and restaurants

When visiting the city, you will surely want to go out and have coffee or try out some local specialties, and the best way to do so is in the central area, as this is where you will find lots of different types of restaurants and cafes. All of the gourmands visiting Madrid will enjoy eating out in Madrid and enjoying delicious Spanish cuisine, with tapas, paellas, Iberian ham and other treats on the menu, accompanied by Spanish wine and sangria. Additionally, some of the most popular parties are organized in the bars in the central districts of Madrid.

  • Shopping spree in Madrid

You will find a lot of shops in the central area of Madrid, perfect for a shopping spree, regardless if you are on the hunt for new clothing items, accessorizes or souvenirs. Apart from the large shopping malls located in the outskirts of the city, the central area is a shopping paradise for everyone looking to spend a day shopping in Madrid.

  • Walk and enjoy the sights

Another major benefit of finding an apartment in the city center is the fact that you will not have to spend much time using public transport. Instead, you will be able to visit the most important landmarks in the central area on foot, as they are all located quite nearby. Walking is a perfect way to enjoy sightseeing of the city such as Madrid, as walking from one landmark to another is very much interesting allowing you to enjoy the wonderful architecture and beautifully decorated shop windows along the way.

What else you need to know about city center

The central area of Madrid is the busiest part of the city, not only when it comes to tourists, but among locals as well. A lot of offices are located in the business centers scattered along the streets of the central districts, and you will see a lot of people commuting every day using the city’s metro to reach this part of the city. This means that you can expect the area to be crowded, even if there are not many tourists in the city.

Of course, the most crowded period for the central area is during holidays, when the concentration of tourists in this area is the highest. It does not matter if they are staying in the center, or they have stopped by for a meal or a drink, or day are walking along the streets enjoying sightseeing, a lot of tourists will end up in the central districts, one way or another. Therefore, you should not be surprised by huge crowds of people or hundreds of visitors queuing in front of the museum or other sights you can visit in Madrid.

The center of Madrid is also a home to many people, who live in the residential areas of the city. Frequently, you will find lots of people who have spent their entire life in the center of the city, and are unable to image their life outside the hub the central area has turned into. When you visit Madrid, you get a chance to become one of those people, even briefly, as renting an apartment in Madrid city center is a perfect way to feel like a local and get to experience the perks of living in the center of one of the busiest and one of the most exciting cities in Europe.

Museums to Visit in Madrid

Although internationally famous for many things, Madrid is certainly one of the first cities you think of when thinking about museums and art. In fact, Madrid has some of the most visited and most popular museums in the world, which is why you simply must not leave without visiting at least one of the museums in the city. Not only do they represent the artistic life of Spain’s culture, but they also some of the most famous masterpieces of art, such as Las Meninas by Velázquez, Picasso’s Guernica and many others. The museums are the hearth of the art and culture movements that cherish the master pieces created by numerous artists from Spain, as well as from abroad. As you walk around a museum, you get to experience an entire epoch that produced the remarkable art works still preserved today.

Madrid has a lot of museums, several of which are located in the central area of the city, which will be quite convenient to visit if you are planning to rent an apartment in the center of Madrid. We have made a selection of the most interesting museums to visit in Madrid.

As a general rule, most of the museums in Madrid are closed on Mondays, so you should always check the opening hours for the museum you want to visit.

Museo del Aire (The Aviation Museum)

If you are fond of aviation and want to see all of the amazing aircrafts used over the years by Spanish Air Force, this museum is a great choice. It is located in the outskirts of Madrid, so you might need a while to get there if you are staying in the apartment in the center of Madrid. The museum includes both indoor and outdoor displays, with more than 66,000 square meters of spaces. An exciting display of aircrafts and helicopters, as well as other instruments used by the Spanish Air Force, is a perfect way to spend a day out while you are in Madrid. The museum visitors can also enjoy hundreds of miniature models of uniforms, aircrafts, weapons, etc.

Location: Cuatro Vientos Airport, Madrid. You can use metro line 10 to get there.

When to visit: The museum is opened between Tuesday and Sunday from 10 am until 2 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays and special days, such as public holidays. The entrance is free for all the visitors.

Website: http://www.ejercitodelaire.mde.es/EA/ejercitodelaire/en/

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Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Museo_del_Aire_panorama.JPG

Museo de América (The Museum of America)

This is a National museum in Madrid, featuring an extensive collection of items brought from the American continent during the colonization of the continent. The museum was founded in 1941 and its permanent exhibit is divided into five areas which all represent a certain part of American culture and society. Those areas are: the awareness of America, the reality of America, society, religion, and communication. Artistic and archaeological treasures featured in this museum date centuries back allowing us to learn interesting things about the past.

Location: Avenida de los Reyes Católicos , 6. Metro lines 3, 6,  and 7 can be used to reach the museum.

When to visit: The museum is opened between 9:30 am and 3 pm every day, except on Thursdays, when it is opened until 7 pm. On Sundays, the museum opens at 10 am. The museum is closed on Mondays, and during local holidays. The general admission is 3€, while groups can pay reduced admission fee, which is 1,50€. The museum offers free admission every Sunday, and on special holidays in Spain: 18th of April, 18th of May, 12th of October, and 6th of December.

Website: http://www.mecd.gob.es/museodeamerica/en/el-museo.html

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Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Museo_de_Am%C3%A9rica_(Madrid)_03.jpg

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

The first of the three extraordinary museums, collectively called the Golden Triangle of Art, is the Reina Sofía Museum, devoted to the 20th-century modern art. The museum mainly features the artworks of 20th-century geniuses such as Picasso and Salvador Dalí, as well as other modern Spanish painters, but you will also find some works produced by international artists. Besides the permanent and temporary collections featured in the museum, there is also a library specialized in contemporary art with over 100,000 books, as well as thousands of recordings and videos.

Location: Calle Santa Isabel, 52. Metro lines 1 and 3 have stops near the museum.

When to visit: The museum consists of several venues, which sometimes have different opening or closing times. You might also need a different type of ticket, depending on the type of the exhibition and the venue. In general, the museum opens around 10 am and closes around 7 pm or 9 pm, and the tickets are between 4 and 8 Euros. The museum is closed on Tuesday, and free entrance is allowed every day between 7 pm and 9 pm and from 1:30 pm and 7 pm on Sundays.

Website: http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/visit

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Image source: http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/museum/venues

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum)

The second museum, in the group of the three museums generally known as the Golden Triangle of Art, is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and it features one of the largest private collections in the world. The artworks housed in this museum are mainly from the 19th and 20th century period, including many European artists. The movements such as Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Cubism are all present through the art works featured as a part of permanent and temporary collections. The museum also houses some of the North American paintings. In total, there are over 1,600 paintings stored in the museum, which you can explore during your visit in Madrid.

Location: Paseo del Prado, 8. You can use metro line 2 to get to the museum.

When to visit: The museum is opened every day from 10 am until 7 pm, except on Mondays, when the museum is opened between 12 pm and 4 pm, and during this day the entrance is free for the permanent collection. Otherwise, admission fee is between 10 and 17 Euros, depending on the type of exhibition you are going to visit.

Website: http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/home

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Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Museo_Thyssen-Bornemisza_(Madrid)_08.jpg

Museo del Prado (The Prado Museum)

The third, and perhaps the most popular museum in the Golden Triangle of Art group, and certainly the most famous museum to visit in Madrid, is the Prado Museum. In fact, this is one of the most visited museums in the world. It contains one of the fines art collections of European art, from the period between the 12th and the 19th century, making this collection the most comprehensive representation of the Spanish history and culture and the way they changed over the course of centuries.

The collection includes approximately 7,600 paintings, over 1,000 sculptures and thousands of prints, drawings and other historic documents that are preserved in the museum and put on display to all visitors interested in seeing the imprints of the past. Artists like Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, El Greco, and Peter Paul Rubens should be mentioned as some of the numerous artists whose work you will find the Prado Museum, featured in permanent or temporary exhibits.

Location: The museum is located in the Paseo del Prado, but there are four entrances to the museum. The best way to get to the museum is to use metro line 1.

When to visit: The museum is opened every day between 10 am and 8 pm. On Sundays and holidays the museum closes one hour earlier, at 7 pm. This museum is only closed three days during the year, and those are the 1st of January, the 1st of May and the 25th of December. General admission fee is 14€, but groups and special categories can get discount. Admission is free every day two hours before the museum closed.

Website: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/

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Image source: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/la-institucion/historia-del-museo/

Museo del Traje

This museum represents a modernist view of the culture and how the fashion changed over the years. The museum is devoted to fashion and costume, and it features collection of clothing dating from the Middle Ages up to modern times.  The extensive collection includes 160,000 pieces of clothing and documents relevant for this industry.

Location: Avenida de Juan de Herrera, 2. Metro lines 3 and 6 will take you to this museum.

When to visit: The museum is opened between 9:30 am and 7 pm from Tuesday to Saturday. You can visit the museum between 10 am and 3 pm on Sundays and public holidays, while the museum is closed on Mondays. General admission fee is 3 Euros, while free admission days are Saturdays after 2:30 pm and Sundays.

Website: http://museodeltraje.mcu.es/index.jsp?lang=eng

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Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Museo_del_Traje.JPG

 

Museo Nacional de Antropología (The National Museum of Anthropology)

Another National museum, located near the Golden Triangle of Art in the Parque del Buen Retiro is the National Museum of Anthropology where you can visit the exhibits devoted to cultural anthropology allowing you to understand different cultures that influenced and came in contact with Spanish culture at some point in the past. The culture of the Philippines, the culture of Equatorial Guinea, and the exhibit of the culture of Americas are the collections of all sorts of artifacts preserved from the time when Spanish colony was spreading its influence on these cultures.

Location: Calle Alfonso XII, 68. Metro line 1 is the best way to get there.

When to visit: The museum is opened from Tuesday to Saturday between 9:30 am and 8 pm. On Sundays and public holidays, the museum is opened between 10 am and 3 pm. General admission fee is 3€. Free entrance is available on Saturdays after 2 pm, and on Sundays.

Website: http://mnantropologia.mcu.es/index.html

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Museo Arqueológico Nacional (The National Archaeological Museum of Spain)

If you are fascinated with centuries-old objects and you want to see what has been preserved from the Pre-historic, Egyptian, Celtic or Iberian times, you should visit the National Archaeological Museum of Spain. Besides ancient times, the collection of this museum features the artifacts up to medieval times, providing a very inspirational collection of numismatic, archaeological and decorative arts dating back from different epochs that created the civilization and culture we know today.

Location: Calle Serrano, 13. Metro lines 2 and 4 can be used to reach the area around the museum.

When to visit: Opening hours between Tuesday and Saturday are between 9:30 am and 8 pm. On Sundays and public holidays the museum is opened between 9:30 am and 3 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays. General admission fee is 3€, while groups and volunteers are offered reduced admission fee. You can visit this museum for free on Saturdays after 2 pm and on Sunday mornings.

Website: http://www.man.es/man/home

madrid-museum_007

Image source: http://www.man.es/man/en/museo/historia.html

Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (The National Museum of Natural Sciences)

Gathering together archaeology, botanic and zoology, the National Museum of Natural Science offers an amazing display of natural history of Spain. Apart from the exhibitions area, the museum also has a research center exploring the diversity of species around the world. The following departments are part of the museum: biogeography and global change, biodiversity and evolutionary biology, environmental biology, evolutionary ecology, geology, paleobiology. Extensive documentation, library and archive are available to the researchers. The permanent collection is divided into three main sections: natural history section (presenting evaluation, humans and their environment), Mediterranean section (devoted to biological and ecological features of this particular area), and Royal Cabinet of Natural history (showing the development of the research). The total number of specimens preserved in the museum is estimated to be over 6 million, including different kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, etc.

Location: José Gutiérrez Abascal, 2

When to visit: If you are visiting between Tuesday and Friday, and on Sundays, you can visit the museum between 10 am and 5 pm. The museum is opened until 8 pm on Saturdays and on each Sunday before a public holiday. The museum is closed on Mondays. General admission fee is 7€, while elderly, children, groups and families can enter by paying a reduced fee.

Website: http://www.mncn.csic.es/index.jsp

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Image source: http://www.mncn.csic.es/Menu/Elmuseo/Eledificio/seccion=1178&idioma=es_ES.do

Short Holiday in Madrid

Most of people around the world anticipate weekend with joy, hoping to get well-deserved rest. Having to get up early and go to work can sometimes be stressful and tiring, so one is counting days until the rest is finally there. Although spending a weekend in your cozy home in front of the television set, with a large cup of coffee or tea might sound appealing, you can always be adventurous and plan a short trip. If you leave on Friday evening, you will have two days for the adventure you have planned, and you will be back home by Sunday evening, to prepare yourself for another busy week ahead of you. Organizing a trip on short notice might seem impossible, as there are so many things to think of and plan. However, with everything you need available on the internet, you can easily plan and book a short trip whenever you seem to find time to travel. This is why we want to recommend you this guide, which could be a great travel resource that will help you to organize a short holiday in Madrid.

Get to the city

Depending on where you are from, one of the easiest ways to get to Madrid is to use air transport. Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport is the main international airport in Madrid, with available flights to numerous destinations around the world. You should find tickets through an online portal specialized in selling plane tickets, or you could also go through the website of the airline company you have chosen to fly with. The website of the Madrid’s airport also features some useful information in terms of how to get to the city from the airport, how to rent a car, etc. In case you have not visited Madrid yet, this is quite helpful to find your way and get to the city in the most comfortable way.

short-holiday-madrid

http://www.aeropuertomadrid-barajas.com/eng/home.html

Find your apartment in Madrid

It is advisable to book your apartment in Madrid before you arrive to the city. Since you are on a short holiday, you absolutely do not want to end up looking for an apartment on the spot. This way you would waste a lot of time, that would otherwise would be spent on sightseeing. Therefore, you should go through the online offer of apartments and other types of accommodation, and book an apartment in Madrid that would be perfect for your short stay.

It would also be great if you could find an apartment that is located in the center of the city. There are two reason why this is the best option for tourists, especially those whose visit is rather limited. First of all, the center of the city is well-connected to the airport, as this is the tourist hub of the city, so there are city buses, as well as shuttle buses, allowing you to easily get to the city from the airport. Secondly, most of Madrid landmarks are located in the central area, so if you find apartment in the city center, you will be near all of the points of interests you wish to visit while you are in the city. With short holidays, saving time on any unnecessary activities is needed in order to take the most out of your holiday.

Late dinner or an evening out

In order to maximize the time you have on your short holiday, arriving to Madrid in the evening would be perfect. Even though it would be too late for sightseeing, you could still have time to explore the city and have dinner in one of Madrid’s restaurants. Additionally, if you like going out and partying late into the night, the central area of Madrid is perfect for you. Lots of Madrid’s cafes and bars are open until early morning hours, and the central area is especially famous as the party zone.

Day one of sightseeing

Having arrived on Friday in the evening enables you to have the entire Saturday to spend sightseeing. Obviously, you will not be able to visit absolutely every landmark of Madrid during your short holiday, so here is how you can plan a day of sightseeing in order to see the most important sights in the city of Madrid.

Start at the Paseo del Prado, Madrid’s main boulevard and major tourist attraction. As you walk along the street, you can enjoy the Spanish architecture and different styles that influenced architects that created some of the most famous pieces of Spanish architecture and Madrid’s scenery. The three most well-known museums in Madrid, also called the Golden Triangle of Art, are located in the Paseo del Prado, so make sure to visit at least one of them. Whether you choose the Prado Museum with its pre-20th century art collection, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum with the large collection ranging between historical art to contemporary art, or whether you decide to visit the Reina Sofía Museum with its amazing art collection featuring the 20th century modern art, this visit will allow you to embrace the culture and art of many different epochs and influences from around the world. Since all of the museums offer quite extensive collections, the best advice is to choose one that you would like to visit the most during your short visit. As you walk around the museum of your choice you will be able to enjoy some of the most famous master pieces of the Spanish art, as well as some internationally famous art works.

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http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/collection

As you continue your walk along the Paseo del Prado, you will also see the Plaza de Cibeles, the Fuente de Neptuno, and the Plaza Murillo. Each of these places is important part of Madrid’s history, as well as the history of Spain, as they were the places of great importance in the past.

Having in mind the number of landmarks in this area and their popularity among million of tourists arriving from the entire world during the year, it is no wonder that this part of the city is developed in terms of infrastructure to welcome such a large number of visitors. This is why, you will find lots of restaurants and cafes along the Paseo del Prado or in the nearby streets, so this would be a perfect timing to take a break and have lunch. Enjoy Spanish paella, patatas bravas, cocido madrilène or other typical Spanish dishes, and do not forget to try out the desserts, such as churros con chocolate. This would be a glimpse of how tasty Spanish cuisine is, and it will recharge you before you continue with the sightseeing of the central area of Madrid.

The next stop in your day of sightseeing should be the Retiro Park in Madrid. This park is the largest one in Madrid, as it is considered to be a great oasis in the city, hence the name, Parque del Buen Retiro, which is Spanish for Park of the Pleasant Retreat. Besides being a wonderful retreat in the heart of a busy city, the Retiro Park has great historical importance, which is why as you are exploring the park, you will learn about the Spanish history, the Spanish aristocracy life and the unique style in architecture that shaped certain parts of the park, some of which date centuries back. The Palacio de Velázquez, a large neoclassical building with the interior decorated with red brick and tiles, covered with iron vaults and glass, and the Palacio de Cristal, shaped like a Greek cross, made mainly out glass set up on the iron framework, are two most important buildings in the park, both built in the second half of the 19th century. Nowadays, both of them serve as exhibition halls, and you can visit them during your short holiday in Madrid.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Parque_del_Buen_Retiro_PalacioCristal03.jpg

A lot of small plazas, monuments, fountains and gardens are scattered around the park, which is why the walk in the Retiro Park in Madrid is an amazing experience for anyone visiting Madrid. Additionally, there are two lakes in the park, and a boat ride around the lake as you enjoy the sunset is perhaps the best way to wrap up your first day of sightseeing.

Day two of sightseeing

As you short trip slowly comes to an end, you will still have time to spend on sightseeing of the central area, in case you choose a late afternoon or an evening departure. This way, you will have a lot of time to explore the city, and here are some places to visit on your second day of exploring Madrid.

The Plaza Mayor should be your first location for the second day. This amazing square has been the central point of historical events in the past, and still is the location where major city events are held, such as the celebration for San Isidro, patron saint of Madrid. The square is completely surrounded by three to four-story residential buildings, most of which have that recognizable red-colored façade with balconies decorated with colorful flowers. The Plaza Mayor is a perfect place to have your morning coffee in one of the cafes around the square, which is especially enjoyable if the weather is sunny and warm.

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http://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/madrid/sights/squares-plazas/plaza-mayor

You should continue your walk and get to another important building in the neighborhood, which is one of the recognizable symbols of the Spanish history. The Palacio Real de Madrid, meaning the Royal Palace of Madrid, is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, but the main purpose of the building is to host official ceremonies. What is remarkable about this building is the fact that it is the largest palace in Europe by floor area. It occupies impressive 135,000 square meters, with almost 3500 rooms. Regardless if you choose to visit the interior of the palace, for which you will need more time, or if you choose to admire from afar and take photos of the impressive exterior design, this is an astounding landmark of Madrid, and it is worth visiting it, even though your visit might be short.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Madrid_May_2014-35a.jpg

As long as you are in the neighborhood and in case you have a little bit more time, you should also visit the Plaza de Oriente, located opposite the Palacio Real de Madrid. The Plaza de Oriente is a rectangular square in the historic center of Madrid, with gardens and an astonishing sculpture collection.

We should also mention an alternative, for all of travelers who like to do some shopping when on holiday. After visiting the Plaza Mayor, you can actually head to the nearby Puerta del Sol, one of the busiest places in Madrid. Besides the historic importance of the Puerta del Sol square, this is also favorite place for locals to meet, and it is also the place that hosts the New Year celebration.

The area around the square is famous shopping area, with lots of designer shops, souvenir shops, and the most famous department store in Spain, El Corte Inglés, located in the vicinity. If you enjoy shopping, this is the place where you should head during your second day of exploring Madrid. Additionally, lots of cafes and restaurants in this area allow you to choose a place where you will once again be convinced why Spanish cuisine is internationally famous.

After you sightseeing or shopping spree is over, you can go back to your apartment in Madrid and pack up so you can be home on time to prepare yourself for the next week. Having experienced the joy of traveling and exploring different scenery, culture and cuisine, you will be much eager to handle your daily tasks and enjoy being back in your routine. You need these short holiday breaks once in a while to help you recharge and distance yourself from the tasks that might have become monotonous, and might be having negative effect on your state of mind. Traveling allows you to create memories that will fulfill your life.

 

 

Visiting Retiro Park in Madrid

An interesting fact about Madrid is that one cannot walk more than fifteen minutes without coming across a green area, such as a park or a garden. Even though the city of Madrid is a large urban hub, center of commerce and business, it still is the city with the largest number of trees and green surfaces per inhabitant in Europe. Retiro Park is the largest park in Madrid and certainly one of the major attractions in the city.

Depending on where you are located in the city during your stay, whether your apartment in Madrid is in the center of the city, or you choose to rent an apartment in other districts of Madrid, you can easily use public transportation to reach the Retiro Park.

The full name of the park is the Buen Retiro Park, which is often shorted to Retiro Park, or simply Retiro. The Spanish name of the park is Parque del Buen Retiro, which means Park of the Pleasant Retreat. This name symbolizes what the park is, an oasis in the hearth of the urban city, the place to have a break of all the city hassle, a hidden retreat in the noisy surrounding of the central area of Madrid. Additionally, park also played an important role in the court life of Spain, which is why it is important part of country’s history.

History of Retiro Park

Although the park is a public area nowadays, with people being able to visit it at any moment, this has not always been the case. For centuries, the park was owned by Spanish Monarchy, and the area, which was considered a garden, had been available to members of royalty, and the guests that used to visit them.

It all started with a garden which was designed between 1631 and 1640. Count-Duke of Olivares was determined to build a royal house, which was supposed to be accompanied by gardens. Philip IV, who was on the throne at the time, thought highly of Olivares, which is why he entrusted him with this task. The goal was to build an outstanding mansion that would overshadow the villas of Roman nobles. Despite the fact that several buildings were constructed in 1630s, only two of them still remain in the park. Those are Casón del Buen Retiro, which served as a ballroom, and a building that housed the military museum.

As the construction of the building was finished in haste, the development of the garden happened simultaneously. The main asset of the garden was a pond, Estanque del Retiro. In that period, besides the visual aspect, the pond actually served for setting up mock naval battles.

When the construction of the park was finished, it became the center of the court life in Spain, as well an important center of the court life in Europe. The park was the state of the art at the time it was built, and it became a recognizable symbol of Spanish royalty. Besides being the center of the court life, the park was also a representation of Spanish art and design, with style that captured what is considered to be the last phase of Renaissance in Spain.

The situation changed after 1665, when Philip IV died. The garden was neglected, and it remained to be so until 1767 when the garden was opened for public. Prior to public opening, the garden underwent renovations and it changed the scenery. Some of the deteriorated buildings and constructions, such as old walls, were replaced, and some new buildings were added, such as Astronomical Observatory, built in the end of the 18th century.

Situation again changed during the Peninsular War in the beginning of the 19th century, when most of the palaces in the garden were destroyed. This was followed by a series of renovation projects, planting the trees and expanding the green surface, which drastically changed the original design of the garden. In 1868, the garden finally became a public park, becoming the great oasis in the center of the city.

The 20th century brought additional renovation, where statues, monuments and fountains were added into the park. Today the park is a cultural landmark of the city, as many tours include visiting the park, and some of the best known places in the park.

What to visit in Retiro Park?

Retiro Park encompasses a large area, with lot of landmarks dating from different periods, all of which are representation of the period of time that produced them. Although the park itself is a landmark, perhaps one of the most famous one in the city, there are lots of places to see in the park and here are the most important ones:

The Retiro Pond

The Retiro Pond, in Spanish the Estanque del Retiro, is the place in the park that dates back to the original garden that was first designed in this location. It is an artificial lake in the middle of the park, surrounded by trees. Additionally, some buildings have been built near the lake. Besides walking or sitting by the lake, you can always go on a boat ride.

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Image source: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

Paseo de las Estatuas

El Paseo de la Argentina del Retiro is popularly known as Paseo de las Estatuas, as it is populated by a series of statues of Spanish monarchs. Although the statues were initially placed next to the Royal Palace, they were moved in the park since the palace itself is beautifully adorned and the statues would take over the focus from the palace’s extraordinary design.

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Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paseo_de_la_Argentina_(Retiro,_Madrid)_02.jpg

Palacio de Cristal

El Palacio de Cristal del Retiro is without doubt the most important feature of the park. The Crystal Palace was built in 1887 next to the lake. Built like a glass cathedral, the palace has massive glass walls, sustained by iron columns, with a large dome reaching the height of over 20 meters. There is a portal built in the classical Greek style, but the overall inspiration for building Palacio de Cristal was London’s Crystal Palace. Located right besides the lake, the palace even has a staircase leading to the lake.

The initial purpose of the palace was to be a greenhouse, a home to the exhibitions of flora and fauna from Philippines. This is why the walls have been created of glass, allowing transparent setting for the plants that have been kept in the greenhouse. However, the palace is no longer used for this purpose. Today, various city museums organize exhibitions in the Crystal Palace in Madrid.

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Image source: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

Palacio de Velázquez

Built between 1881 and 1883 for the occasion of celebration of Exposición Nacional de Minería in 1883, the palace was designed by an architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, which is why it is named Palacio de Velázquez. The palace is a construction covered with vaults of iron as well as glass surfaces allowing natural light into the rooms. Like the Crystal Palace, it once served as a green house, but today it belongs to the Ministry of Culture and it houses exhibitions organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

La Rosaleda

La Rosaleda is a rose garden designed in elliptical shape, surrounded by hedges that are meticulously trimmed. The garden is populated with a variety of roses that are brought from different parts of Europe, mostly from other famous European’s gardens. Although the rose garden was completely destroyed in the Civil War in 1941, it was renovated and over 4000 new rose bushes were planted. However, despite the abundance of roses, the garden lacked a systematic management in plantation of roses, which is why a new rose garden was created in 1956, in the el Parque del Oeste de Madrid, where the annual rose competition is held. Still, this is a great place to visit in the Retiro Park, as the scenery is perfect for walking around enjoying the beauty of flowers around you.

Monumento a Alfonso XII

The central area of the park occupies the monument to the King Alfonso XII. The monument is a product of national competition, where the architect José Grases Riera won with his grandiose project. The monument features the statue of the king in the center, surrounded by numerous sculptures and columns. The entire monument is built from bronze and marble, 30 meters high and 86 meters long. The monument is close to the Retiro lake with stairs leading to the lake. Besides the statues, there are two lions with cupids on both sides of the monument.

This massive monument is one of the most recognizable symbols of the park, along with the Crystal Palace, and it is frequently the stop of tourists who visit Madrid.

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Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monumento_a_Alfonso_XII_de_Espa%C3%B1a_en_los_Jardines_del_Retiro_-_04.jpg

Fuente de la Alcachofa

This fountain was built in 1781 and it was originally placed at the Puerta de Atocha. However, the fountain was moved in 1880 to the Retiro Park, where it still stands today. The fountain represents a mixture of neoclassical style and the influence of Baroque, which follows the style present in other constructions in the park, such as the Royal Palace. The fountain has a circular center with a column formed of two parts. The first one represents the sea nymphs holding the coat of arms of Madrid. The second one is located on top of the first part of the fountain and it features four cupids on a cup.

Fuente del Ángel Caído

Fuente del Ángel Caído, meaning the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, is greatly inspired by verses from Milton’s Paradise Lost. The statue at the top of the monument was designed by Ricardo Bellver. The statue was initially housed in the Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura. Fully cast in bronze the statue itself is over 2.5 meters high. The fountain has a pedestal, octagonal in shape, with lizards and snakes on each side. The total height of the fountain is 7 meters. It is renowned as a monument to the devil with several possible interpretations of its true meaning. This reputation of being a sculpture devoted to the devil is supported by the fact that the statue stands 666 meters above the sea level.

Activities in the park

While the visit to the park is an amazing way to spend a day in Madrid, with lots of opportunities for sightseeing, there are numerous activities organized in the park during the year, especially between May and October, when the weather is perfect for outdoor activities.

Annual Madrid Book Fair is organized every year in Retiro Park since 1967. The fair is usually organized in late May or early June each year, and during the fair various discounts are offered for the visitors. The fair is also known to gather a lot of publishers with a huge book offer.

Other activities in the park include concerts, firework shows and other cultural events, such as exhibitions, workshops, etc. If you like exercising outdoor, you will also love the park, as it is great for running, cycling and roller-skating. There is also equipment for exercising installed in the park. Playgrounds with swings and other toys for kids are also available. You can also rent a rowboat and paddle around the lake or you can enjoy horse-drawn carriages as you ride along the park.

Lots of street performers can be seen around the park, especially near the popular landmarks, such as the lake.

How to get there?

The Retiro Park is the largest park in Madrid with 1.4 square kilometers large surface. If you choose to get to the park using metro, line 2 is the best way to go, with Retiro and Ibiza being the closest metro stops.

On the other hand, if you choose to use the public buses to get to the park, there are several lines that have stops somewhere around the Retiro Park. The bus numbers that have a stop here include: 1, 2, 9, 14, 15, 19, 20, 26, 28, 32, 51, 52, 61, 63, 74, 146, 152 and 202.