If you were travelling to Europe or even Spain to be specific, I’m not sure that Madrid should be right up there at the top of your places to visit. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about the city but if I’m honest, given the choice between visiting Madrid or Barcelona, you should head east first to the coast of Barcelona. Look out for my review on Barcelona coming soon.
That being said, I did get to spend some time in Madrid and enjoyed it. The bittersweet part of the trip was being in the city on both days when the Champions League semi final games between Atletico Madrid and Bayern as well as the Real Madrid, Man City game. The city was buzzing.
As you would expect from a capital city, Madrid is quite vast and is the economic and political centre of Spain. In fact it’s the third largest city in Europe after London and Berlin. If you are visiting the city, the centre is where you need to be. You can spend the day walking the centre and taking in the best parts of the city. I didn’t have much free time during my trip so “ndiye ndakhabela ezipalini” as we say in Xhosa.
I started out right in the city centre at Madrid’s most famous squares, La Puerta del Sol which is also home to one of Madrid’s most important statues El Oso y El Madrono (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree). This is also the official symbol of Madrid. Once you are at the square you basically can just get lost in the city centre. There are plenty of restaurants and shops to take up the most part of a day and I did just that.
Plaza Major is another top attraction with more than enough restaurants to keep you occupied. The streets around the plaza are as you would expect from a Spanish city and although large pats of Madrid have modernised, this pat of the city has still kept it’s ancient charm.
After wandering off from Plaza Major I stumbled upon another great sight, the Plaza de Oriente. The Plaza is made up of beautiful gardens and a statue of Phillip IV, King of Spain during the 1600’s in the centre. I later found out that the buildings which surround the square are some really important landmarks, on the west is the Royal Palace, on the east is the Royal Theatre, and to the north is the Royal Monastery of the Incarnation.
On the edge of the plaza, another series of restaurant’s one of which I enjoyed a few glasses of wine and a hearty serving of paella. One of the best things about the sun only setting around 22h00 is that I got to enjoy a long supper outdoors in this beautiful setting.