Sunday, June 2, 2013

Madrid, Spain

\About Madrid, Spain, Europe

By Aurora Ferrero

Madrid is the capital of Spain, a very European city with lots of monuments to see around, most of them from 17th to 18th centuries, a typical gastronomic culture to taste and enjoy and a varied cultural agenda for the most artistic people.

Without doubt, a walking sightseeing of Madrid should start from “Puerta del Sol” (“Sun Tower”),
which is considered the most central  place of the city, actually us Spaniards know it as “kilometer 0”. Also “Puerta del Sol” is the place in where every 31st of December Spaniards  meet to take the famous “twelve grapes”. This is perhaps the most typical tradition of our country, since this tradition only takes place in here. When you reach the place you’ll see a building with a clock on its top. Now this building belongs to the City Coulcil. That clock is in charge to announce the comming of the New Year and the tradition is based on taking one grape per ring at 12 am o’clock.

In “Puerta del Sol” you will also see the sculture of “El oso y el madroño” (“The bear and the arbutus”), which is the symbol of Madrid. At this point, we just need to wander around the most shopping streets of Madrid: Preciados, Callao, Gran Vía. In them you will be able to enjoy a shopping time in the most popular brands. Furthermore, “Gran Vía” is also well known by its theaters in which the most popular musicals and comedias are performed.

Coming back to “Puerta del Sol” we can head towards “Arenal” street to reach “Sophia Queen’s theater” (“El teatro Reina Sofía”), the home of opera and ballet performances. Just behind Sophia Queen’s theater the majestic “Royal Palace” (“Palacio Real”) appears in front of us. The Royal Palace is the biggest in wester Europe and it was built under the order of the spanish King “Carlos III”. It can be visited inside and the “Change of Guard” takes place every Wednesday. On the right side of Royal Palace we can’t forget to have a look at “Sabatini Gardens” (Jardines de Sabatini). Keeping ahead following that way there are another two beatiful places to discover: Spanish Square (“Plaza España”) and Debod Temple (“El Templo de Debod”).

However, if we take the left path at “Royal Place”, “The Almudena Cathedral” will be waiting for us. Although more austere than other European cathedrals, Almudena shouldn’t be left to be visited. At there, several steps straight down we can take “Mayor” street in order to reach “Mayor Square” (Plaza Mayor), very famous place in Madrid. On the way, I should recommend a
wander around the small streets that cross Mayor street since in there you can find ancient bars that still keep the appearance of the 19th century. One of the most popular gastronomic tradition here in Spain, and undoubtedly also here in Madrid, is “Tapas y cañas”. So you will undeniably be able to enjoy “Tapas y cañas” in these bars. Tapas y cañas consists on taking a beer or a wine with an appetizer, that is free with the drink. So if per drink you order you are served a free appetizer at the end of the midday you have nearly taken your meal. That is the reason because of many Spaniards meet on Saturdays or Sundays to go “tapas y cañas” instead of meeting at a restaurant to have a common meal. Each bar is specialized in a different sort of appetizer so the funny thing is that you can go moving bar to bar and tasting a bit of everything.

Once we have left “Plaza Mayor” behind, we will be back at “Puerta del Sol”. We can take there “Alcala” street in order to reach “Cibeles fountain”, “Bank of Spain” and “Correos building”. Cibeles fountain is very famous as well since is the chosen place by Spanish Football team and Real Madrid football team to celebrate their victories.
If we cross “Cibeles fountain” and continue towards Alcala street we reach “Alcala Tower” and “Retiro Park”, the lungs of the city.

If we return to Cibeles and take “Paseo del Prado” street we reach “Prado Museum”, one of the most famous museums in Europe, “Thyssen Museum” on the sidewalk in front, and at the end of the street we can see “Atocha train Station” and on the right sidewalk a little bit straight down “Reina Sofía Museum”, home of the modern art with pictures such as “Guernica” by “Pablo Picasso”.

With this quick sightseeing you will discover a wonderful city not easily to forget.

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