Ermita de la Virgen del Puerto, Arganzuela, Madrid

image Standing on one side of the sprawling Madrid Rio Park, along the Virgen del Puerto road, you will not miss seeing the beautiful hermitage of the same name. In my case, I never fail to appreciate its beauty whenever I ride the C2 autobus, which passes by the vicinity. Indeed, it is such an impressive edifice that the first time that I saw it from afar, I mistook it for a small castle.

Declared as a national monument in the year 1957, Ermita de la Virgen del Puerto is found inside the Madrid Rio Park, along the street of the same name. While many hermitages in Spain are simple and austere, Virgen del Puerto can be described as impressive and solemn at the same time. I often cast glances at the hermitage every time I pass through the paseo, along the length of Madrid, and I must say that it is one of the most stunning building within that area.

Virgen del Puerto hermitage was one of Spanish artist Pedro de Ribera’s edifice-masterpieces, the architect who is also responsible for the creation of other major Spanish Churches such as the San Jose Church, San Cayetano Church, and Nuestra Señora de Montserrat Church.

imageUnfortunately, the holy edifice was not spared during the Spanish Civil war, and it was damaged considerably. To bring it back to its former condition, restoration work was done during the 1950s.

Every year in the month of September, devotees perform a pilgrimage to the hermitage, where many of the participants are city residents of Galician origin. People from all over come to the site of Virgen del Puerto primarily to sell melons. It is for this reason why the pilgrimage feast is also called La Melonera.

Buried within the premises is an important Spanish royalty, the Marquise of Vadillo, who was the mayor of the place during the early 17th century. It was during his term that the hermitage was constructed. The beloved virgin is also recognized as the patroness of the District of Arganzuela.

Nearby Madrid Attractions you can also visit

1. Principe Pio commercial center and Madrid Metro
2. Palacio Real de Madrid: The official residence of the Royal family of Spain.
3. Jardines de Sabatini: A large, beautifual garden nearest the Palacio Rea.
4. Plaza Espana: One of the main squares of the city, near Edificio Madrid and monuments of Cervantes and Don Quijote.
5. Real Teatro: The Opera House of the Spanish capital.

How to go:

imageThe hermitage is easy to reach since it is set strategically within the central area of the city. Its exact address is at Paseo de Virgen del Puerto 4 Madrid. Take the C2 autobus and you can get off at the stop located right in its front. Other EMT Buses that pass through the paseo are 25, 33, 39, 41, and 50.

If you’re not in a hurry and would like to enjoy some leisurely promenade, you can take the Metro Train, and via Linea 6 (Circular Line), alight as you reach the Legaspi station. From here, you will have to enter the Matadero. Here is where you start your trek of the Madrid Rio until you reach the hermitage, which is located more or less halfway thru the park. You may also opt to take the Linea 10, and get off at Principe Pio, which is on the opposite side.
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Map

My Top 10 List of Madrid Theaters and Cinemas

Madrid is a city that never lacks in theaters, concert halls, and cinema houses. Clearly, there must be tons of these entertainment and artistic establishments scattered all over the place, which is a boon to the veritable film buffs and theater goers. Towering and gargantuan or cramp in space, modern or archaic, mainstream or independent, silver screen or the stage — cinemas and theatres of all types imaginable are found in the city. Needless to say, as a movie lover myself, I think it’s just apt that I draw out my own list of Madrid theaters and moviehouses. Here are my top 10:

1. Teatro Nuevo Apolo

imageThe New Apolo Theatre is a well-known and hip entertainment site in the heart of Madrid, located in the Tirso de Molina Square. It is frequented by theater lovers and enthusiasts, and its edifice is well-photographed by tourists passing through the area, being near important Madrid barrios and neighborhoods that also serve as major tourist areas, such as Lavapies, Embajadores, and Puerta del Sol. Apolo offers a variety of theatrical exhibitions as well as music entertainment shows of different genres. It is also a venue for presenting comedy and dance acts. You can find the establishment in Plaza de Tirso de Molina 28012 Madrid, standing at the corner of Calle Magdalena and Calle de Lavapies.

2. El Teatro Real de Madrid

Teatro RealAlso known as Madrid’s Royal Theater in English, the Teatro Real is Spain’s very own opera house, and it goes way back in the 1800’s. Being one of the oldest makes it one of the most important opera houses in the whole of Europe as well. I thought that it is apt to call it the Royal Theater, since it is very near the Palacio Real de Madrid. And since it is in the midst of the city’s tourist areas, this iconic theater is easy to find. The fastest way to the monument is either Calle Felipe V to its right or Calle Carlos III on its left, both of which opens to the Plaza de Oriente, where it is located. At the back of the theater is Plaza de Isabel II.

3. Cine Callao

Cine Callao If you’re raring to watch popular movies but would like to experience classy and nostalgic theater ambiance, the Callao Cinema should be your choice. Located in a strategic spot in Plaza del Callao, in front of Gran via, I never fail to stop to check the movie teasers and ads being flashed on its exterior screen. Just nearby is the Edificio Carrión, along Calle Jacometrezo.

4. Cine Capitol

Capitol Theater at Edificio CarrionStill another revered theater, located near the Cines Calle, is the Cine Capitol. It is a beautiful theater that enhances that part of Gran via, specifically at Edificio Carrion. The cinema is the reason why the Carrion building is also known as Edificio Carrión. It has been operating since December of 1933. The establishment belongs to the movie complex known as the Callao City Lights.

5. Teatro Circo Price

Teatro circo PriceNear the barrios of Atocha and Embajadores is the Circo Price theater, which was originally, as the name suggests, a circus. It was built by Thomas Price in 1853, but was taken down in 1970. In March 2007, the establishment was renovated, resulting in a modernistic facade. This theater holds dear to my heart because a popular Filipino artist, Gary Valenciano (who is partly Latino), held a concert here two years ago. From Estacion de Madrid de Atocha, you only need to walk a few hundred meters via Ronda de Atocha.

6. Teatro Español

teatro espanolAnother theater that exudes typical neo-classic architecture is the Teatro Espanol, known before as Teatro del Principe. Located in the historic Plaza de Santa Ana at Barrio de las Letras, in front of this major Madrid artistic landmark is one of Madrid’s premier hotels, ME by Melia. Tourists from Puerta del Sol, Retiro, Plaza Mayor and even the Palacio de Cibeles are likely to pass through the Santa Ana Square to marvel at this classic theater. An establishment filled with rich history, it is now a public establishment under the administration of the Spanish government.

7. Teatro Calderon

imageA historic theater situated in the heart of Madrid is the Calderón Theater, also known as Teatro Caser Calderón. Popular among Madridenos, you will find it in the corner of Atocha Street, in front of the Jacinto Benavente Square. The edifice is touted to be as one of Madrid’s most beautiful, a proud masterpiece of renowned Spanish architect Eduardo Sánchez Eznarriaga. Before it occupied the location, the site was where the old Trinitarios Calzados convent was found. Currently, the building has become much of an attraction, especially to tourists and visitors to the area, if only because of the gigantic plastic and shapely legs that jot out of one of its top windows.

8. Sala Triángulo

imageAlso known as Teatro del Barrio, Sala Triangulo is a small but frequented theater located within the Lavapies vicinity. It is often the venue of choice of various cultural and artistic events and activities for both the young and adults. It also presents various concert and theater acts, as well as workshops and courses. Plays are likewise featured here, which are productions from both in house and outside companies. Exact location is at Calle Zurita 20 Madrid. The nearest metro stations are Lavapiés and Antón Martín.

9. Cine Doré

imageAnother impressively beautiful theater is the Doré cinema, which is hidden in a narrow street called Calle Santa Isabel 3, in the center of Madrid, at the vicinity of Anton Martin. Opened in December of 1912, it was built and created by illustrious Spanish architects like Críspulo Moro Cabeza and Manuel Lopez-Mora Villega. In the 1980’s, Dore served as the exhibition site of Spanish Filmoteca, intended for the public. Renovations on the building and facade were also made, greatly enhancing its already classic appearance. Additions to the theater were also done, such as the creation of another projection room. Exhibitions were also allowed on its outdoor terrace. Its location is at Calle de Santa Isabel 3.

10. Cineteca

Cineteca, MataderoThe Matadero of Arganzuela, one of Madrid’s centers for arts, culture and entertainment, has its own cinema dedicated to showing independent and alternative films from Spain and all over the world, the Cineteca. If you love non-fiction and documentary films, and want to take advantage of free screenings, it’s time to head to Matadero for some fine Cine teca offerings.

Ejercito del Aire, Moncloa-Aravaca Madrid

imageOne of the most important buildings or monuments within the district of Moncloa is the Ejercito del Aire. It was formerly called the Ministerio del Aire or the Air Ministry of Spain. I never miss it whenever I ride the C1 autobus since calle Romero Robledo is part of its route. I also pass through it whenever I travel to nearby towns that could be reached via buses stationed at Moncloa.

imageCurrently the main headquarters of the country’s Air Force, the military agency’s office was previously responsible for the country’s civil and military air force, particularly during 1939 up to 1977. In the same year, under the reign of Adolfo Suarez, the then Ministry of Defense consisted of the Navy, Army and Air Force.
image The Cuartel General of the Air Force prides itself of having its headquarters within one of Moncloa District’s most impressive palaces, which stands near the Moncloa Gateway or the Victory Arch. It sprawls along the end northern portion of Calle de la Princesa.
imageImpreesive facade of Oficina de Atencion al Ciudadano of Moncloa-Aravaca’s Línea Madrid, right in front of the Victory Arch, or Arco de la Victoria and near the Air Force Headquarters

imageIt is also known as the Monasterio del Aire, because of its resemblance to the edifice found in a popular say trip destination, San Lorenzo El Escorial. Notice in the photo how people are everywhere; there is obviously a dense traffic of pedestrians within the vicinity. It is because not only is Moncloa filled with public and business offices, but it is also known as a university district.

How to go:

Address–Calle Romero Robledo 8 28008 Madrid

It is easy to reach the Ejercito del Aire ministry building. Such is massive and imposing that it is hardly to be miss whenever you are within the vicinity. The best way is via the Moncloa Metro train, the main station of which is right in front of the building. An access gate to the Metro is located right in the sidewalk of the Ministry.

Nearby Moncloa Madrid attractions

1. Museum of tthe Americas – Where museum lovers will be thrilled to find a great variety of arts and archeaologicw finds and ollections coming from the Americaw.

2. Arco de la Victoria – gateway to the city built by Francisco Franco, a monument that symbolizes Franco’s victory in a battle during the country’s civil war, 1936 Ciudad Universitaria battle

3. Faro de Moncloa – located in Avenida Reyes Catolicos with Plaza de Moncloa, it is also called The Faro de Moncloa is also known Torre de Iluminacion y Comunicaciones de Madrid.

Map

Parque Madrid Rio: Green Park by the Manzanares River

The city of Madrid is not without impressive and beautiful parks There’s one that’s worth visiting, near the popular areas of Principe Pio Metro Station and Centro commercial — it is the ultra-green city park known as Parque Madrid Río.

The park can be described as complete and modern recreational because of the presence of various facilities found within. Modern recreational and sports structures and equipment, in particular, are situated in strategic areas along its length. Hence, promenaders and hikers, physical fitness enthusiasts doing some exercise using their favorite equipment, bikers, and even skaters are familiar sights in the park. Do you know that it even has what they call an urban beach? Amazing, isn’t it?

The park is linear in shape, running along the course of the historic Manzanares River. Comprising a total length of 10 kilometers, it traverses through a number of Madrid city districts such as Carabanchel and Centro, but it is best associated with Arganzuela, which is why many refer to it as the Arganzuela Park. Also found are a number of bridges meant for use by pedestrians and bicycle riders, such as the Arganzuela bridge. Most of these structure basically connect one side of the park to the other.

The Parque Madrid Rio is touted to be one of the most pedestrian-friendly places within the capital, where one can enjoy miles of walkways that stretch through the park. I myself had already taken a long and leisurely walk through it not once, but a couple of times, starting my promenade in the area of Plaza Legaspi, reaching Principe Pio n front of the gateway monument after almost 2 hours.

All in all, the fascinating green city park strip runs a total of 10 kilometres and on the average, is 25 meters wide. It also connects already existing green areas such as the Casa del Campo with the city centre.
Madrid Rio bridgePedestrian bridge offer convenient transfer of pedestrians and bikers from one bank to another
imageSign along pathway going to Matadero, a culture and arts center of Madrid
imageNave buildings at Matadero MadridimagePalacio de Arganzuela or Invernadero building (greenhouse) is found at the Plaza Legaspi portion of the park, beside Matadero
imageSky sleigh ride is one of the fun rides inside Parque Madrid

imageThese gigantic slides remind me of my childhood playground; such facilities are certainly a joy to kid visitors of the park

imageThe park features a spacious rink for skates and skate board riders and enthusiasts
imageLush fauna abound within the Madrid Rio park
imageWooden benches are also everywhere, in case your feet tire from all the walking
imageStately monument stands in the middle of the park
imageArganzuela coniaxial pedestrian bridge is one of the major bridges spanning the historic Manzanares River
imageThe Arganzuel footbridge consists of metal spirals that interlock. Wood component serves as floor of the bridge
imagePuente de Toledo is a very famous baroque-style bridge of Madrid filled with history, built way back in the early part of the 1700’s. Like the other park bridges, the Toledo bridge links both banks and roundabouts of Pyramides and Carabanchel or Marquis de Vadillo.
imageAlso known as Puente Segoviana, the Segovia Bridge a major bridge within Madrid Rio Park, and one of the popular Renaissance work of Spanish architect Juan de Herrera. The bridge is considered as a vital access point to the town
imageThe Bridge of Segovia with fountains accenting its area. Seen in the background are the Palacio Real and the Almuneda Cathedral
imagePuente de Segovia is recognized as the city’s oldest bridge in Madrid, constructed during the sixteenth century
imageEntrance to the Casa de Campo, located at the portion of Madrid Rio near Principe Pio

Direccion: Puente de Toledo Madrid, 28019

Metro: Principe Pio Line 6, Line 10, R
Bus: 25, 36, 33, 36, 50, 39, 65

Map:

Parroquia San Agustin, Madrid

imageParroquia San Agustin, or the St. Augustinus’ Church in English, is one of the finest work of Spanish architect Luis Moya Blanco, who is a strong advocate of classic architecture. Located on Calle Joaquin Costa or Paseo de Ronda in the District of Chamartin, the construction of the church lasted for six long years, from 1946 up until 1950.

image Marker found on the facade providing vital details of the church, like Moya Blanco being indicated as the architect and the duration of its construction

The church boasts of four small lateral chapels, all shaped in a circle, and are dedicated or used for various religious services and devotions such as baptism services, the Sacristy, the devotion to Sta. Filomena, and the Blessed Sacrament. The back area of the church is used as the parish house.

I had already attend Sunday mass at San Agustin a couple of times, the latest of which is just recently. While I needed to take a ride to the church via the Metro system (getting off at Nuevos Ministerios station), it takes only a few minute walk to reach the paroquia. The apparent quiet and solemnity of the church is what makes me want to attend the mass there once in a while. If ever, I always hear the mass at 1PM, the last one in the afternoon.

imageSimple yet beautiful principal facade of the church of San Agustin

According to its official website, Parroquia San Agustin is not merely a place of worship but moreso a community of the faithful that work toward commitment, conversion and action. To be a true member of the parish, one must feel it and takes an active part in the activities of the community.

How to reach Parroquia San Agustin:

imageAddress: C/ Joaquin Costa 10 Madrid
The most convenient way to reach the church is via Madrid Metro, with Nuevos Ministerios and República Argentina as the two nearest stations.
You may also ride the Auto Bus: C1, C2, 7, 16, 51, 19

Schedule of Masses:

Monday to Saturday: 8:00AM, 1PM, 8:00PM
Sundays and Holidays: 11:00AM, 12:00PM, 1:00PM, 8:00PM

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia: Heart of Barcelona, Spain

imageIt was a pleasant surprise that I got an online message from a favorite aunt based in California, who was excited because she learned I visited Barcelona. She told me about her own trip to the Catalan city, which I was more than happy to hear.

She gushed about her Spanish experience, euphoric about her tour of Sagrada Familia. Traveling halfway around the world was by no means an easy feat and their trip to Spain came with serious expenses, but she swore seeing Gaudi’s mammoth of a masterpiece more than compensated all this. If given the chance she said, she and my uncle would love to go through it again, if only to relive the experience.

I told her that I had already been to Barcelona, but was not able to tour the Sagrada due to time constraints. Hearing this, she was clearly frustrated, and wished I had the chance on the first visit. She egged me go back soon, and with entry tickets to the basilica.

Finally, Sagrada Famila

The first time I went to Barca, I only had half a day to spend there, which meant being content with the more easy-to-reach Barcelona attractions like La Rambla, the port, the beach, New City of Arts and Sciences, and the Old town. Like other Spain attractions such as Santiago de Compostela and Valencia, Barcelona was such a beautiful city that I found myself planning for a revisit in the future, albeit, nothing was definite.

Now, the recent talk with my aunt got me fired up and really committed to seeing Sagrada that it must have caused the Universe to heed my inner desires to return to Barcelona. To make a long story short, I was presented with another great opportunity to go there. Friends are going to the city and I was asked to come along.

It’s a coincidence that like the first, my second visit to the place proved to be unexpected as people decided on another spur-of-the-moment, car-travel, eight-hour-long trip. But this time, everyone was more excited as the main reason for going there was to see the basilica. And so it didn’t matter that the trip was a total of 8 hours, which was probably that long because of the number of stops. In my case, such long trips are burdensome as they always render me sleepless (I could hardly get a decent shut-eye during long travels, even if it happens in the middle of the night).

I’m back, Barcelona!

And so, the revisit happened at last. Early morning we passed by at the Philippine consulate in Spain at Plaça Reial, wandered through the area as we waited for the time of our scheduled entry to the Sagrada, and saw another beautiful Barcelonan church , the Catedral de Barcelona. We then went back to the plaza for some lunch, and finally 30 minutes before 1PM, went straight to the basilica.

Always, the sight of the basilica is mesmerizing from afar. But this also led me to wondering when its construction will finally be completed.  This time, I contented myself with just a few shots of the facade upon finding out the battery charge of my mobile phone had gone down to almost half empty. I needed to save as much battery as I expected to make tons of shots once I went inside.

After just a few minutes of staying in line, my group was able to go inside and see La Sagrada Familia. One of the most noticeable features inside the church is the hanging Crucifix, below a yellow umbrella that seems to glow. Everything inside church, the altar, walls decored witg stained-glass, the religious sculptures — everything is simply amazing.

La Sagrada Familia is one reason why people would want to visit Barcelona. While it can be disappointing that the basilica is in perpetual construction, with scaffolding here and there, it sseems that total completion is within just a few more year. I’ll make sure I’d be back to see again and witness the basilica’s full and glory when that time comes.

Facts about Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia

image1. Antonio Gaudi was assigned the construction of the church in 1884, but did you know that he was not the original choice, but another Spanish architect Francesc del Villar? Gaudi was offered to replace del Villar after the latter had major disagreements with the people in charge of the project.

2. One reason why Gaudi’s own vision of the church has not been followed is because of the fact that portions of the basilica were damaged during Spanish Civil War. Likewise, after Gaudi’s death, work was continued by a number of Spanish architects, such as Lluis Gari and Francesc Quintana. Another famous artist, Josep Subirachs, was assigned to work on the facade.

3. Antonio Gaudi has a religious reason for getting involved in the building of the La Sagrada Familia. To be specific, he wanted it to be the last place sanctuary of Christendom.

4. The beloved Barcelona architect made sure the basilica is filled with Christian symbolism. For instance,once the holy edifice is finished, 18 towers will have been finished, representing the 12 Apostles, the 4 Evangelists, the Blessed Virgin, and Jesus Christ. The tower representing Christ will be the tallest of them all, and on top of it, a gargantuan cross will be placed.

5. The towers representing the four Evangelists – St Luke, St Matthew, St. Mark, and St. John will be capped by their respective symbols — an angel, a bull an eagle and a lion.

6. Antonio Gaudi lived to see the completion of the Nativity Facade. His death in 1926 was both tragic and senseless, as the master was hit by a tram on his way to the Sagrada.

7. Gaudi lived much of his life within another one of his creations, the Park Guell. He enjoyed his walks from his house located inside the park to his work at La Sagrada Familia.

8. His abrupt death in 1926 derailed the making of the Pasion facade, and the construction of the basilica in general. Eventually, another Catalan artist, Josep Maria Subirachs i Sitjar, was commissioned to continue with the construction. Many argued that his work was a world different from Gaudi, his being mainly straight and linear, while the latter´s were of curves. Debates subsided when the work of Subirachs proved to be impressive.–

Great photos that will make you want to visit La Sagrada Familia:

Facade of the Church showing the birth of baby Jesus. The Nativity facade faces the east of Barcelona. Gaudi’s vision of the church includes 18 towers. So far, eight has been built — these are four at the Nativity and another four on the Pasion facade.

imageWhen touring the interior of the basilica, you will surely not miss the prayer door that’s made of bronze. Inscriptions of the powerful and meaningful prayer phrase “Give us this day our daily bread” in 50 languages fills the door. Found the tagalog translation in the bottom part.imageTourists marvel at the stunning interior of the Sagrada Familia

imageChrist on the cross hangs under an illuminated umbrella, which for me suggests a floatng jellyfish, suspended in midair over the main altar. It is located in the apse of the church, the area of which is filled with columns or pillars resembling trees bountiful with branches seemingly reaching out to the heavens. The thick, solid columns are obviously meant as strong support to the whole structure of thr basilica.

imageThe stained glass windows of predominant red, orange, and yellow colors are so beautiful you simply couldn’t take your eyes off them. All you wanted to do is take your time in examining their details. The hues are bold and intense as the stained glasses are kissed directly by the rays of the sun during that time

Holy water font baecelona's sagrada familiaThe holy water font of the church in the shape of a shell or oyster

imageA closer look at the holy inscriptions in the basilica door

Passion facade Sagrada FamiliaFacade of La Sagrada Familia deficting the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. Includes the suffering of the Lord as He was cruxified. This part of the church is meant to reveal the sins of men.  According to stories, Antonio Gaudí magnified the suffering and death of Jesus, intending to make everyone realize the graveness of his sacrifice just to save mankind.

imageThe four towers over the Passion Facade, facing the Barcelona city center. Note: Access to the towers (including those at the Nativity) is not included in the regular entry ticket. Tickets to the towers can be bought inside.

Address:
La Sagrada Familia
Calle Mallorca 401
Barcelona 08013 España

Opening hours:
November – February: 09:00 – 18:00
March: 09:00 – 19:00
April – September: 09:00 – 20:00
October: 09:00 – 19:00
25 and 26 December, 01 and 06 January: 09:00 – 14:00

Tickets are on sale until half an hour before closing time

Disabled Access: Yes

How to get to La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona Metro System: Sagrada Familia, Blue and purple lines (lines 5 and 2 respectively)

Hop on hop off tourist buses (Barcelona City Tour) will also drop you off the site,

How to enter the premises:

1. Main access — Entrance is at Calle Marina, at the basilica’s Nativity facade, whether you’re touring as an individual or as a group.

If you belong to a primary or secondary school group on a guided tour, entrance is at Calle Sardenya.

Getting Tickets:

Regular entrance tickets are bought at Calle Sardenya. Persons with disabilities and their companions, as well as friends of La Sagrada, can have their tickets bought at Calle Marina.

Note: The schedule when La Sagrada Familia is open to the public isn’t fixed and be be altered depending on the important activities happening within the church.

Sagrada Familia Website

Buy tickets online

Map:

Craving for Tapas or Just About Any Other Food? Visit Chueca’s Mercado San Antón

imageClean. Gastronomic. Inviting. These are the adjectives that fittingly describe Mercado San Antón as a market that’s worth a visit, and many revisits after. Located in the middle of the hip and diverse neighborhood of Chueca, right in the corner of Calle Augusto Figueroa, did you know that the San Anton Market wasn’t always the roofed establishment like it is now?

Once, it resembled any other traditional Madrid market, complete with the usual wooden drawers, shelves and containers upon which various wares are put and displayed. The St. Antony’s Market in English, it’s so-called because of its proximity to a neighborhood of the same name. It has taken a modern look after undergoing a major renovation in the early 2000’s, much to the approval of Chueca locals as well as regulars coming from all over Madrid.

imageEntrance/lobby of the market along Calle Augusto Figueroa. Displayed on the wall is a directory of the tenant-establishments, indicating where they are located on the three floors

What to find in Mercado San Anton, Madrid

San Anton Market has three main floors, each with specific designations on what it serves or sells to the public.

1. First Floor: The Market

imageThe first floor is filled with stalls that sell “wet” and “dry” produce such as fish, meat, cheese, fruits, and vegetables.

imagePeas, beans, spices, and grain products

imageNicely stacked up in shelves are mangoes, persimmon, avocados, grapes, and many other fruits of bright and even hues, indicating their premium freshness and quality

imageThis floor isn’t strictly selling fresh produce, but it also has its share of food kiosks and bars

2. Second Floor: Comer y Llevar

imageFood kiosk serving all sorts of tapas with bacalao and sea foods as main ingredients. The second floor of the market has become a watering hole of sorts for tapa lovers and food connoiseurs

Spanish tapas at San AntonBelow the kiosk’s sign that says Tapa Espanola are an array of mouthwatering options. Not only does the second floor serve the popular Spanish delicacy, but other food varieties as well such as pescado (fish), hamburgers, Greek and Japanese food, postres and gelado, and vino

imageAsador de Manuela serves a variety of hamburgers

imageOccupying a part of the second floor is the Trapezio, the activity area of San Anton Market. From time to time, the exhibit and sale of novelty and eclectic items are held here. It also serves as a venue for cooking and tasting demos and shows.

3. Third Floor: El Restaurante

Much of the top floor of the building is La Cocina de San Antón, the market’s own restaurant. According to the esrablishment’s website, it assures the customers that it cooks and serves only the freshest and highest quality food ingredients, most of which come from the market’s own products. On the menu are popular, traditional Spanish cocidos, some of which are fused with the cuisine of other countries to afford customers uniquely international flavours.

Terrace at Mercado de San Anton RestaurantThe La Cocina de San Antón comes with a rooftop bar and a dining terrace, which I thought is the restaurant’s inviting feature, since Madrilenos do love to to eat el fresco, whether alone or with family and friends. Such a setting affords the diners to relish the best eats, engage in endless chats while under the blue city skies, and enjoy the fascinating views of the immediate surroundings of the barrio below

Tapas

Fancy Spanish tapas like I do? Let me tell you what I love about them. They’re bite-sized and so are easy to eat, but just a few pieces are enough to satisfy. To the shoestring traveler, they are top choice for food, being easy on the pocket.

But above all, tapas are full of taste. Bonafide lovers couldn’t be faulted for their unsatiable craving for these Spanish foods – they are just gastronomically divine. And when it comes to my first encounter of San Anton’s tapas, everything was sumptuous, to say the least. All that I ordered — the bacalao, pulpo, and cheese — they created an explosion of flavors in every bite.

Here are the tapas (and hamburguesa) I tasted at Mercado de San Anton:

imageBacalao Ajoarriero (Ajoarriero codfish), 1 euro

imageBrandada de Bacalao con cavier de lumpo (codfish brandada with lumpfish caviar), 1 euro

imagePulpo a la Gallego (Octopus Galician style), 1 euro

imageQueso de cabra con mostaza y miel y cebollas fritas (Goat cheese with mustard, honey and fried onion), 1.5 euros

imageQueso brie con frutos rojos (Brie Chees topped with red fruit jam), 1.5 euros

Hamburguesa

imageAsador La Manuela takes care of customers looking to dine on grilled food items. I decided that I must have a taste of its hamburger (selling for 6 euros, without fries). How was it? The Crema de Casar spread over the hamburger lends quite an intense taste, which only complemented the patty’s succulence and meaty flavor. Overall, it makes for a delightfully delicious meal.

Location

Mercado San Anton
Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24B Madrid 28004

Nearby Madrid attractions

Museo de Historia de Madrid, Gran Via, Plaza Callao, Plaza de Cibeles

Map

The Market’s Website: San Anton

Palacio de las Cortes de Espana – Home to the Spanish Congress of Deputies

imageGreat things abound that make Madrid a place to marvel at, they include the beautiful and majestic public offices found all around the city. Tall, sprawling, and possess impressive architectural designs — these are the qualities that the country’s government buildings have in common.

A fine example is the headquarters of the Congreso de los Diputados or the lower chamber of Spain’s legislative beanch, located at the Carretera de San Jeronimo. The Congress of Deputies in English, this branch of the Spanish Parliament is housed at the Palacio de las Cortes de Espana, the single most important edifice at the Plaza de las Cortes,

imageIt boasts of a grand design highlighted by the six columns in its entrance that lends strength to its dacade. The building is touted as one of the best examples of the city’s neoclassical architecture.

It is relatively new compared to other buildings in Madrid, having only been constructed in 1843 under the helm the Spanish architect Narciso Pascual Colomer and during the reign of Reina Isabel II. Still, the palace boasts of interesting stories about it, like its location being the former site of a convent. Needless to say, the Congress headquarters is one of the reasons the Carretera de San Jerónimo enjoys an influx of tourists throughout the day.

imageRenowned architect Pascual y Colomer is responsible for the neoclassical style of the building, while the attractive relief found in the upper front is a creation of sculptor Ponciano Ponzano. The most popular portion of the relief is the depiction of a lady with a girl on her side. Ponzano is also responsible for sculpting the two bronze lions found by the building’s staircase. His other creations are figures that represent various aspects of the state, such as Justice and Peace, Agriculture, and Fine Arts.

It is easy to reach Palacio de las Cortes since it is connected to Puerta del Sol via San Jeronimo street. It is also near other important tourist spots of Madrid such as Prado Museum,Puerta del Sol, Atocha station, Reina Sofia Museum,Plaza de Espana, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Cibeles Palace.

Opening hours:

Lion in front of Palace of the CourtsIndividual visits: Congreso de los Diputados is open to the public during Saturdays. Visiting time is from 10:30AM to 12:30PM. Schedule may change during the month of August, depending on the official activities.

Group visits: Guided tours are scheduled from Monday to Friday, 9:00AM to 2:30PM and 4:00PM to 6:30PM. Time of visit may change during August, depending on scheduled official activities. Reservation is a must for guided tours.

Address:

Calle de Floridablanca, 28071 Madrid

How to Reach:

Long shot of Palacio de los CortesThe best way to get to the site is via Madrid Metro, with Sevilla, Banco de Espana, and Vodafone Sol as the nearest stations

Autobus: 3, 5, 9, 10, 15, 20, 34, 37, 45, 46, 52, 53, 203, 150

Admission

Enttance is Free, however visitors are required to present and ID or passport.

Map:

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15 Fun Things to See and Do In (and Near the Vicinity of) Puerta del Sol, Madrid

imageBustling, reverberating, full of life — these words perfectly describe Puerta del Sol, or the Gate of the Sun in English. A gargantuan, irregularly-shaped plaza in the midst of Madrid, it serves as a focal point from which important streets like Calles Preciado and de la Montera branch out and lead to various other major Madrid spots, like Plaza del Callao and Gran Via, respectively.

Needless to say, Puerta del Sol is the heart of Spain.

Whether you’re a backpacker, a first-time traveller, or a high-flying businessman-jetsetter en route to Madrid, it is a must that you include Puerta del Sol in your itinerary. Surely, you will by enthralled by the place and its immediate surroundings as you spend the whole afternoon exploring its attractions, souvenir stores and kiosks, casas de juego (slot machine shops), spanish cafes and restaurantes, churches, and a lot more.

Here are 10 things that you will want to see and do in and around Plaza del Sol:

1. Step on the Kilometro Cero Marker

imageThe Kilometro Cero marker is proof that Puerta del Sol is the heart of the country. Located on the sidewalk in front of the Ayuntamiento building, take a picture of the marker with your feet stepping on it. This is traditionally done if it is your first time in the square.

2. Ogle at the Oso y el MadronoimageThe Bear and the Strawberry tree statue is regarded as one of the city’s important symbols. In fact, you will find its depiction in the official coat of arms of Madrid. El Oso y el Madrono is one of the most visited attractions of the square.

3. Be amused by the square’s street performersimageimageStreet performers must be permanent fixtures of Puerta del Sol. You might chance on one corner a motorcycle rider floating high with his bike, and on another a human statue playing chess. Others scatter all around the square as they act out the Predator, Edward Scissorshands, and various characters, mostly from Disney. Each one is eager to get the attention of passing tourists. Be wary about taking their pictures, however, as it isn’t free. See to it that you have at least a euro to pay afterwards.

4. Brought along your little ones? Delight them with kid’s face paintingimagePuerta del Sol is the ultimate fun place for kids if only because of the street performers dressed up as various fantasy characters. Heighten their excitement even further by having their faces painted with the likeness of popular cartoon heroes like Spiderman and Incredible Hulk. (Find the artist in that part of the plaza nearest Casa de Correos.)

5. Shop till you dropimageEl corte Ingles is arguably the most popular retail chain in the country. Packed with shoppers even on ordinary days, El Corte sells just about everything, even insurance, trip tickets and pet care supplies. The best times to shop — and get more out of your Euro — are the months when prices are at their lowest, like the mid-year months of July and August, and post-Christmas month of February.

6. Ride the Madrid MetroimageThe Metro Train Station has several access points in the plaza.  Known as the Vodafone Sol, it’s one fast ride that connects Puerta del Sol to other beautiful spots of Madrid. Adequate signs make riding the metro quite easy even for first-time riders. I suggest you take a city pocket map from the metro info counter; it is free, and definitely a handy guide.

7. Explore the Nearest (and equally popular) squareimageThe historic Plaza Mayor, Sol’s “Little Brother” (as I like to call it), is an enclosed square that once served as a bullring. Walk through the porticoed paths on its sides and check out the souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. Need assistance in touring Madrid? Visit Madrid’s largest tourism office, housed at the square’s Casa de la Panaderia

8. Buy all the souvenirs you wantimageLooking for an authentic abanico? Buy a traditional Spanish fan at Casa de Diego. Plaza Mayor boasts of shops that offer tons of souvenir items of all types, like porcelain statues of Flamengo dancers or toreros, Madrid shirts, mugs, and plates, keychains, and many others.

9. Sit by the central fountain
imageIn the midst of the square are two fountains, both of which have ledges that serve as popular resting places. Any spot here is perfect for you to people watch, gaze at the Casa de Correos and the giant billboards, or simply rest and while the time away.
10. Stroll around the royal gardenimageA must-see is Jardines de Sabatini, which is a mere few hundred meters away from the plaza and just beside the Palacio Real. In contrast to the dizzying pace at Sol, here you’ll experience a relaxing promenade. Filled with manicured hedges and lush greeneries, stroll by the garden’s sandy paths while checking the magnificent view of the Royal Palace from time to time.

11. Chomp on a bocadilloimage Maybe you turned hungry after all that wandering around all morning. Want to try some Spanish sandwich? I suggest that you opt for some bocadillos of Museo del Jamon, located along Calle Major (there is another one in Carrera de San Jeronimo). Jamon, lacon, chorizo, cheese — you can eat all your favorite bocadillos for 1 euro a piece. Have them served with a cold glass of cola or a chilled copa of beer. What an affordable and satistying snack that’s enough to get you going for the rest of the day.

12. Visit nearby churchesimageimageThe San Gines Church (above) and Almudena Cathdral, located along Calle Arenal and Calle Bailen respectively, are popular among the locals and Madrid old-timers. Both are two of the most revered in the city, and are often the sites of the yearly major religious events.

13.Have a feel of Spanish royaltyimageAppreciate the facade of the stately Palacio Real in Calle Bailen or explore its interior even, to marvel at the finest furniture and work of art created by Spain´s most revered artists and craftsman.

14. Relish on a Suckling PigimageA few hundred meters from the square, along Calle Cuchilleros, is Sobrino de Botin, famous for its roasted suckling pig. Order whole so you could cut it into half using the plate’s edge. Eating at Botin affords you the bragging rights for having dined at the world’s oldest restaurant.

15. Wiggle your way around on a segwayimageTour the plaza and beyond by renting one of those fast-riding, two-wheeled, foot-controlled contractions. Many who had done so swore the segway was a uniquely exhilarating way of exploring Sol.

The list doesn’t stop here. In fact, there must be tons of exciting things to do that will make for a truly memorable visit of the square. Drop on by if you’re in Madrid, and find out for yourself why it is a must-see. Do so, for your trip to Madrid, Spain is not complete if you didn’t see Puerta del Sol.

Madrid Attraction: Biblioteca Nacional de España

imposing national museum of SpainThe library’s facade turns yellow when kissed by the rays of the afternoon sun. If you’re someone with a great fondness for beautiful edifice, the biblioteca is one you will marvel at.

Have you ever been to the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid? If you’re going to the direction of Plaza de Cibeles and Barrio Atocha via Paseo de la Castellana and Recoletos, you certainly will not miss it due to its sheer size and magnificence. The National Library of Spain in English, it is the largest library of the country, and one of the largest in the world.

The building is right in the corner of the paseo immediately after crossing the Plaza de Colon. In front is the Museo de Cera and Colon Metro Station.

Wealth of resources at Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid

The library boasts of large collections of books, documents, and reading resources. More than 26 million items are found in its keep;these are mainly 15 million books, thousands of “revistas” and journals, and various forms of manuspcripts and printed materials. It also possesses numerous items in different medium types such as audiovisuals, sounds and music scores, and electronic-based documents.

The library’s collections are overflowing that the items which could not be accommodated here are sent to an extention library located in Alcalá de Henares campus. The latter must be an appropriate choice for the library’s extenstion site since Alcala de Henares is considered to be the university town of the Communidad de Madrid.

Enjoy the Services of the National Library of Spain

While most public libraries in Madrid, and Spain as a whole, offer loan privileges, this is not the case with the National Library. In order to enjoy access to designated books and various library resources, you need to obtain a reader’s or researcher’s card.

Q1. What is a Readers Card?
Once you acquire your own Card, this affords you the basic privilege to borrow books.

Q2. What is the validity duration of the card?
It is valid for 3 years.

Q3. What are the requirements when applying for one?
You must present any of these legal documents: national identity card, residence permit, valid passport, driver’s license.

You can also apply for a card thru its website. Upon the approval of your application, you may claim your card at the library upon presenting any of the required ID’s.

Needless to say, Biblioteca Nacional is no ordinary library; but clearly, it reaches out to as many would-be users as possible, ensuring its easy accessibility via its Reader card.

Library Museum

Did you know that the Library has its own museum? 

Known before as the Book Museum, its task is to aid the library in providing the maximum educational, cultural, and recreational benefits to users and visitors. It also offers the public valuable information on the library’s history, operations, and various resources.

The museo’s collections include a number of valuable artistic and cultural pieces such as paintings and sculptures, and items that pertain to books, reading, and education, like typewriters and equipment used in the making of books.

imageThe library was built in 1712 during the administration of then King of Spain Philip V

imageThe Statue of Alfonso X, or Alfonso the Wise, stands on the entrance staircase of the building. He was the 13th-century ruler of Castile and Leon

imageBeside Alfonso X’s statue is that of San Isidoro. It is advisable to secure your own reader card to take full advantage of the benefits of being a borrower

imageIf you are a bibliophile, Spain’s national library is the best place for you to hang out and enjoy any of the immense reading resources that offers

Nacional Library of SpainOne of the two main gates of the building in front of Paseo Recoleto

How to go to the extention site:

Direccion: Meco, Alcalá de Henares, 28805 Madrid

By autobus: In Madrid, take bus number 227; upon reaching the town, take autobus 12, 250, 2

By Train: Ride the Renfe Cercanías Lines C2 and C7

Horarios:

Library hours: Mondays to Fridays: 9AM to 9PM; Saturdays: 9AM to 2PM

Museum hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays: From 10AM to 9PM; Sundays: 10AM to 2PM

Please refer to the website (by clicking at the link below) for any possible changes in the opening hours.
Admission: Entrance is Free

Library’s Website

Mapa