Monthly Archives: August 2016

Royal Palace of Madrid – Jewel of Spain

imageSimply put, Spain is one of the best vacation options here in Europe, whether you’re traveling as an individual or flying in with your family or friends. What’s interesting about the country is that impressive attractions are not only found in Madrid, its capital, and other large cities, but also in small towns, barrios, and pueblos. One of the major attractions to see is the Palacio Real Madrid — once the residence of the Familia Real de Espana, and now a sought-after museum and considered by many as the  royal jewel of Spain.

Royal Palace of Madrid

imageIf you’re looking for some royal Spanish history to soak into, a must-see within the vibrant city of Madrid is the Royal Palace. Under the administration of the Ministry of the President’s Patrimonio National, it was once the  residence of the Spanish royal family. These days, however,  it functions as a venue for official ceremonies and  events.

Interesting Facts about Palacio Real de Madrid

imageDid you know that the palace covers a wide area of roughly 135,000 square meters? This easily renders it as one of the largest in Europe. It has about 2,800 lavishly decorated rooms, a good number of which the public has access to for general viewing. Entry of visitors is via the Plaza de la Armeria side of the palace.

imageHere are some other important trivia about the royal edifice:

1. Palaces built by the Moors are scattered all over Spain, including Madrid. In fact, it was an Alcazar or Moorish castle/fortress that once stood in the palace’s current location.

2. After the fortress was destroyed by a fire in the 18th Century, Spain’s ruler then, King Philips V, had reconstruction work done with the new design of the palace patterned loosely after France’s own extravagant palace – the Versailles.

3. It was the  royal residence up to 1931, when the King and his family decided to take residence at the Palacio de la Zarzuela, located in the outskirts of the capital. The the Real Palacio, it is under the administration of Spain’s Patrimonio Nacional.

image4. Reconstruction was started by Italian architect Filippo Juvarra and finished by another architect, Francesco Sabatini. The latter, also from Italy, was likewise the designer of the famous Jardines de Sabatini, the official royal garden.

5. A strong rival to top Spanish museums, on display everywhere the palace are a rich collection of gold and silver items, expensive jewels, luxurious furniture, and a wide array of valuable painting from revered artists like Velazquez, Giordano and Goya.

6. The Royal Palace of Madrid has a coveted location within Madrid, if I must say. It is near charming and quaint plazas, the Plaza del Oriente and Plaza de Isabel II and beautiful and luscious gardens, the Sabatini Gardens and Campo del Moro. It has one of the most spectacular Spanish churches in its front, the Almudena Cathedral, the underground museum Museo de los Canos del Peral that’s situated at Madrid Metro Opera, and a good choice of cafes and restaurantes within the vicinity.

Nearby Madrid Attractions

imageAlmudena Catedral, or Sta Maria la Real de La Almudena, Madrid’s Catholic Cathedral

imagePlaza del oriente, the square fronting the Royal Palace
imageStatue of Philips IV and his horse, located in the midst of Plaza del Oriente
imageTeatro Real Madrid (also known as the Royal Thetre) borders the Plaza del Oriente and fronts the palace

imageJardines de Sabatini, an integral part of the palace, sprawls on its northern portion

imageChalet de la Reina at Campo del Moro, a garden beside the palace and located at Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto

Easily, Madrid is filled with museums, plazas, alcazars, and churches. Not only does this afford vacationers the chance to a once-in-a-lifetime vacation; but the city also allows everyone to have a deeper knowledge of the rich Castilian history and culture. And if indeed, you’re staying in the city even for just a few days, do pass by the Royal Palace of Madrid.

Now touted as one of the city’s major museums, thousands upon thousands of visitors go to the site every year. Needless to say, the Palacio Real Madrid is one of the most precious monuments the city has ever possessed.

Opening Hours:

October to March – 10AM to 6PM
April to September – 10AM to 8PM

Royal Palace Madrid Tickets – Admission Prices and Admission Fees

General Admission: 11 euros

Reduced price of 6 euros: Available to children aged 5 to 16, seniors of EU and Latin American countries aged over 65, students under the age of 25

Free admission: Available to children below five years old, teachers, people with disability, and unemployed persons.

You may also gain free access if you go to the site from Monday to Thursday, starting at 4PM up to 6PM (months of October through March); and the same days, from 6PM to 8PM (from April to September). This is applicable only to EU and Latin American citizens.

How to go:

Direccion: Calle de Bailen, Madrid
Nearest Metro Station: Opera (next nearest is Vodafone Sol)

Mapa:

Mesmerizing Madrid Monuments: Temple of Debod

imageWant to explore and experience some real and magnificent Egyptian wonder right in the middle of Madrid, Spain? Indeed there is one that’s a wholly genuine Egyptian structure, straight from the Middle Eastern country. If you’re thinking that it’s one of those gargantuan pyramids now serving as magnificent Madrid monuments, no it’s not. But definitely, the one at Plaza del Oeste, near Plaza de Espana, is nothing less. It is the Templo de Debod, a solid stone structure dedicated to Amon, a major Egyptian deity.

No doubt the centerpiece of the park is the temple — it is one of the reason why a huge number of visitor go to the park day and night. Especially at night, the whole structure becomes as spectacle as soon as it is enveloped in strong, yellowish illumination at night. There are three main portions of the building, and all glisten brighten like gold that even if you have a simple camera, it will still come up with superb pictures of the Debod.

imageSuch an amazing tourist spot come nighttime, the temple never fails to earn the immense appreciation of anyone who witnesses its enthralling beauty

For a few who doubt if what one can find in the park is a real temple, it really is a structure that comes from Egypt, and so it stands proud atop an elevated land in the middle of Centro Madrid. The structure was actually a token of appreciation by the Egyptian government to Spain way back in the late 70’s as a gift of appreciation after the latter provided security to valuable Egyptian and Middle Eastern archeological and historic antiquities during a major dam erection.

A 2-BC edifice, its original location was at Nile. It has to be dismantled, which resulted in hundreds of parts and pieces being brought to Spain. In other words, the temple was totally deconstructed in the Middle East, and was only reassembled to its original state after it arrived in the country.

Masterful Creation at Parque de Oeste

imageYou don’t need to go to Cairo to see an authentic Egyptian monument. Here, the beauty of the Debod is impressive even during daytime

While this park is known to be home to a number of Madrid attractions such as the huge and inviting rose garden called La Roseleda, nothing beat the Temple Debod when it comes to enhancing the park’s already awesome landscape, the park is the location of several attractions. The temple is actually found in the southern park of the parque, just near the the popular Plaza de España.

Templo de Debod is one major specimen of ancient history that offers a concrete glimpse of what the 2nd century civilization of Egypt is all about. Needless to say, any tour of Madrid is not complete without you passing by the monument and experience the breathtaking spectacle that it offers, especially at night. This attraction must be included in your list of Madrid sightseeing tour.
imageEvening shots of the monument of De bod is mesmerizing that it’s worth going to its hilly location just to see it

How to go to Temple of Debod

Direccion: 1 Calle Ferraz, 28008 Madrid

Entrance fee: Admission is free

Opening hours: 10AM-2PM; 6PM-8PM

Metro: Take Line 3 and get off at Plaza de Espana

Best time to visit

The Templo de Debod became available for public viewing in the country in 1972. Since then, it has attracted everyone, tourists and locals. Basically people from all walks of life visit to appreciate this magnificent gift of the Egyptian government to its Spanish counterpart.

During daytime, the temple is such as beautiful view. Albeit, it is best to go to the site during evening hours. This is the time when the edifices are brightly lighted, and so its beauty is magnified many times over. The only downside about going at nighttime — the place get crowded, groups consisting of teens are all over this part of the park.

Map:

Top 10 Things to Do In and Around Plaza Mayor Madrid

If you just visited Spain’s beautiful capital for the first time, you might want to go straight to Plaza Mayor Madrid; there’s no doubt that this popular enclosed and pedestrianized square is one of the city’s most important attractions.
imageKnown before as the Plaza Arrabal, the square was first an arena where ancient bullfighting games were held, and so, you can only imagine how noisy the square used to be then, what with the boisterous spectators of the game. I myself was surprised upon knowing about the initial purpose of the square. Obviously, a substantial part of Spanish bullfighting history occurred in this place.

During the early days, fiesta and carnival activities were commonplace scenes in the plaza. Also, at the height of the dreaded Inquisition, heretics and other criminals were persecuted within the area. Those found guilty were put to death by burning or strangulation.

Today’s Plaza Mayor Madrid

imageOne thing you would notice is the uniform appearance of the facade of the structures found on all sides. The buildings also possess the same structural feature, specifically porticoes (porch) at the their front or roof structures over walkways. The thick columns provide support to these structures as they surround the whole square.

The appearance of the plaza was not always like it it now. In the late 1800’s, it was ravaged by a series of fires, and was only restored to its former greatness via the work of Senor Juan de Villanueva, Spain’s respected modern classical architect.

Things to do when in Plaza Mayor Spain

Did you know that the plaza takes on the shape of an almost perfect square? And that all its gates form beautiful aches? Thousands of people can be accommodated at the plaza, and because it is one of the most popular and accessible tourist sites in Centro Madrid, it never runs out of people.

Here are fun things that you can do inside the Mayor Plaza:

1. Dine at any of the plaza’s many restaurants (must get table at the terrace)

imagePlaza Mayor’s sides are lined with many popular restaurants and cafes. I suggest that you opt for the restaurante that offers terrace dining, as it meant the chance to enjoy the best views of exciting goings-in inside the plaza as you relish bocadillos, paella, or other delicious traditional Spanish cocido.

2.Eat bocadillo as you marvel at the beauty of the square

imageOn a hurry to see the plaza? Can’t wait to have a bite on a delicious bocadillo de calamares? Pleasure, contentment, and satiated hunger are easily achieved just by snacking on some hot, take-away bocadillo as you check out the square at the same time. Sandwich bars and cafes are aplenty; these establishments are found on all sides of the square, with prices of bocadillos ranging from 2.70 to 5 euro apiece.

3. Have a picture of you in a chulapo

imageDo you want to see yourself garbed in a chulapo? Find those headless mannequins that are dressed in such costumes. All you need to do is pose behind any of these mannequins and have someone take your photo, and Voila! You have a souvenir pic of yourself looking smart in this particular traditional Spanish costume. All for a fee, of course.

4. Visit the Tourism Information Center Office

imageHoused at the Casa de la Panaderia, the city tourism agency they will help you come up with the best tour itinerary. They also provide free  maps and brochures. Needless to say, the tourist information centre at the square is the most modern tourism information agency in the country. It offers assistance to local and foreign tourists all days of the year, starting at 9:30AM.

5. Purchase Madrid souvenir items to remember your visit by

imageSouvnir paradise, that’s what Mayor Plaza is – the place is where you’ll find Madrid mugs, dolls, abanicos, Real Madrid shirts, Flamenco figurines, and so many more. You will have a grand time choosing souvenirs as there are just many shops around to go to. Most offer fine quality souvenir items, all of which will help you cherish your Madrid Spain vacation.

6. Have a dose of rich Spanish history

I. Arco de los Cuchilleros

imageThere are more or less ten entrance gates to the square, the most popular of which is Arco de Cuchilleros (Arch of Catlers) on the southwestern corner of the square that leads to street of the same name. In this street, the knive-makers’ factories were found, and were there wares are made, to be sold to the butchers that worked in the plaza (Casa de la Carniceria)

II. Felipe III and horse bronze statues

imageA very impressive sculpture, a creation of Giambologna and Tacca, the Philip III statue and his horse statues are two highly valued art creations of the 17th century. The original location of the statues was actually not at Plaza Mayor, but Casa de Campo. In 1848, it was transferred to the square upon the request of Reina Isabel II. She intended it to be seen and appreciated by more residents of Madrid.

III. Casa de la Panadería

imageCasa de la Panaderia, built by Sillero by the end of the 16th century, reveals an original portion that separates it from the rest of the buildings that surround the square. Actually the only original parts of the building was the first floor and cellar.  Still, as you can observe, the buildings around the square are identical in design — they were patterned after that of Casa de la Panaderia.

IV. Gate Arch at Plaza Mayor

image

The arched entrance that opens to the Calle de Toledo experiences high pedestrian traffic since it is one of the touristy streets of the city

7. Join Free Tour

imageTake advantage of free tours that will take you to importnat spots and corners inside the square, but to other attractions of Madrid. Be alert for those who hold umbrellas the say “Free tours!”

8.Book at any of the hotels near Plaza Major Madrid

Hotel Plaza Mayor Madrid

imageHotel Plaza Mayor Madrid is actually not inside the square premises but a few meters outside, at the corner of Calle de Atocha. Still it is the choice of many tourists who want to be just a stone’s throw away from the plaza and other important attractions like Puerta del Sol and Palacio Real. The facade is quite simple, yet you know a lot of history has transpired in this building since it has been in existence since the 1700s. A mix of traditional and modern design in its interior, the hotel is complete with high-tech facilities like modern lighting and free WiFi

Petit Palace

imageAnother must-book hotel if you want to stay near the Plaza is the Petit Palace, just along Calle de Arenal. It is strutegically located, right in the midst of of the city. In fact, you are only a few steps away from Plaza Mayor, which is why it is an ideal place to book a room if you want to be near to the square. It offers vital amenities like free Internet and an iPad for use in your room.

9. Meet up with friends, hang out at the plaza

imagePlaza Mayor is much like Puerto del Sol, it is also an ideal place to meet up with your friends if you’re in the city. After checking out every nook and corner of the square, your group can later proceed to other major Madrid attractions, like Plaza de Isabel II, Museo de los Canos del Peral, or even Jardines de Sabatini, to name a few. Many of these touristy sites are in close proximity to the place

10. Experience a merry Christmas at the square

imageBe a part of Christmas joy in Madrid by visiting its xmas bazaar. As the Yuletide season nears, the place transforms itself into a sort of wonderland for the whole family, where multi-colored lights, kiddie rides, street performances for the kids, and bazaars can be found in the square. The story of the Navidad is usually depicted in the form of clay figures of the men and women during the birth of Jesus, including the Holy Family itself. A miniature town of Bethlehem, where within these figures are positioned to play out the Nativity scenes, are on display in the middle of the square, for everyone to see.

Museo de los Canos del Peral – Underground Archeological Museum in Madrid

Those who dig archaeological finds (excuse the pun), and derive immense excitement from the sight of valuable remnants of the past must certainly visit the Museo de la Canos del Peral. Often called Museo del Peral, this underground archeological Madrid museum is situated in Centro Madrid, where many other major tourist spots and attractions are found,such as the Palacio de Cibeles, Plaza del Callao, and Palacio Real.

imageon top

Indeed, while there are so many outstanding museos scattered in the city, here is one that’s totally underground and offers easy access since it is right within the premises of the Opera Metro. You can easily enter it via the station, which itself is situated in the midst of the popular Plaza de Isabel II.

During the early 16th and 17th centuries when they were still in operation, the structures were regarded to be of utmost importance to the Madrid residents and the whole city itself. In fact, it is known that before the installation of these structures, water was a highly prized and sought-after commodity – it was because the necessary supply was not able to reach the homes of Madrid.

The display of this museum in Madrid is quite limited, but it is enough for the visitors to fully appreciate the importance of the antiquated aqueduct structures on display, as well as the story behind them. They were discovered around the area of the Plazuela de Peral, the former name of the current Plaza de Isabel II.

Arenal’s sewer system was also helpful in solving one of the city’s major problems – sewerage disposal. The system effectively brought wasted waters into the Leganitos Stream, and also at Cuesta de San Vicente, up to this day.

Apart from the aqueduct, also found are hydraulic structures; they are actually uncovered and identified to be so during the time when the Metro station was fixed and renovated.

Where to find: Inside the Opera Metro Station
Metro lines to take: Line 2 and Line 5
Admission price: Always Free, at all times that it is open
Visiting days: The museum is only open from Friday to Sunday. It is closed during Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Time the museum is open: 11AM to 1PM, 5PM to 7PM

imageYou can enter the underground museum of Canos del Peral through Opera Station right within the Plaza Isabel II – the entrance is free. The Real Cinema Theatre is in the background
imageWhat are displayed on the museum are aqueduct structures, which were of great importance then as they were tasked to bring the supply of water to the Palacio Real. These  archeological remains reminded me very much of the ruins at Palacios Nazaries at Alhambra, Granada of Andalucia
imageThe museo is one of the popular free museums in Madrid, accepting visitors by the thousands every week
imageThis archeological structure served during the early times of Madrid, to bring water supply to the city
imageMannequins in beautiful gowns are on display alongside the ruins, which appear to be connected to  El Bestiario by Opera de Oviedo and Teatro Real of Madrid
imageSimply called the Peral Museum, it is recognized as a top archaeological museo in Madrid that’s found underground
imageThe mannequins visitors will find on display at Museo Peral promotes the El Bestiario, a sung ballet under the choreography of Nuria Castejon

Metro Museo: Plaza de Chamberi Ghost Museum in Madrid

Had your fill of the conventional museums that are aplenty, found in almost every barrio of the city?  Looking for a museum in Madrid that veers away from the norm? Here’s one museo that’s quite different from the rest — the Metro Museum in Plaza de Chamberi, Madrid.

imageLine from Station Chamberi to Tetuan

Fantasma de Estacion de Metro de Chamberi

imageOld-styled metal entrance to the station – a recreation. This ghost station at Chamberi boasts of over 170,000 visitors

It was functioning at first, like any other Madrid Metro station. In fact, it was one of the original stations of Linea 1 that ran from Cuatro Camino to Puerta del Sol. However, for whatever reason, the early administration of the train system had to  close it down.

Fast track to current times, and the metro is now a museo.

I had the chance to visit it just recently. And indeed, as soon as I stepped inside, somehow I experienced that feel of an eerie air that seems to pervade all around.  It is the same weird, if not ghastly feeling you might get if you ride the metro, and try to have a glimpse of the station as the train passes through it.

imageThe old Line 1 included stations that are also found in the modern line, like Cuatro Caminos and Estrecho

 imageOld notices on the ticket prices posted on the Wall

This must be the reason why it is called the Ghost station of Madrid. While the area quite had the ghostly feel, nothing of the supernatural occurred. Thankfully, no fastasma showed up, as seeing one would really scare the daylights out of me. At any rate, I’m sure Madrid Metro and the people behind the museo don’t mind the title – it might even add great to prospective visitors, instead of scaring them.

imageCompanies had their advertisements painted into the tiled walls of the metro

While this metro stop is not useful anymore as a station, it certainly served well in the past, as it acted as a major shelter for civilians who needed a safe place to stay during the Civil war. It was also used as  a warehouse where vital supplies were hidden.

imageGal was one of the major companies that advertised at Chamberi Station. You will have a good glance of it and other old advertisements still posted on the tiled walls, as well as the early logos of the train system as you look through the train window as it passes through

The fantasma museo concept started in 2008, when the railway management decided to reopen it but as a museum. Everything within, specifically the design and display, was the work of Spanish architect Antonio Palacios, the same genius who was commissioned to design the Palacio de Cibeles. He was also responsible in creating the interior areas of the early  station.

imageTrain runs fast that you could see as it bypasses the Chamteri Station

Metro Museum in Madrid is compact, its area is more or less similar to that of the current modern stations. In fact, you can explore the place and finish the tour in under thirty minutes. Still, it was effective in providing interesting facts about the history of the station. Needless to say,  the museum offers an interesting glimpse to the beginnings of Plaza Chamberi station.

imageCarabana is another company that has its ad posted at the tiled wall of the station

imageThe ad is literally translated as “Philips Lamps – the best in the world”

imageEntrance to the museum

Where located: Plaza de Chamberi, Madrid

Touring Days & Hours:

1. Friday – 11AM to 1PM and 5PM to 7PM

2. Saturday and Sunday – 10AM to 2PM

How to go: The fastest and nearest line to take is Line 1. Get off at either Station Iglesia or Bilbao, and a few minutes of walking will bring you to your destination. If you go down at Metro Iglesia, you must take Calle de Santa Engracia

imageThere is also a film showing at the end of the tour. People are fortunate to be treated to a unique Madrid museo that features the Old Metro. My visit was invaluable as it transported me to the past; ticket machines and booths, the yellow and tarnished signs, the wall ads – all are reminders of the good old Metro Station at Chamberi

Plaza de Chamberi: A Beautiful Madrid Square

After a interesting tour of the museum, I thought that the Plaza de Chamberi is the next place for me to check out. In fact, my original plan is to see just the museum, but realized that the plaza is just nearby. And so, off to it I go. One thing I noticed about the place is that it’s well-kept. The promenades within are clean, like they are swept of fallen leaves at all times of the day. You can enjoy the sight of a fountain, its water supply flowing creating a number of water spouts in the middle. Also found in the midst of the fountain are three child statues. Also found within the square are the church, the municipal hall, and a few local bars.

Beautiful Images of Plaza de Chamberi, Madrid

imagePlaza y Iglesia of Chamberi – beautiful and well-maintained, one that you would like to stay all afternoon even on a hot summer day

image A safe place that’s conducive for child’s play. At the foreground is the Iglesia delas Siervas de Maria (Convent of the Servants of Mary) by Francisco de Cubas

imageFountain in the midst of the Chamberi plaza

imageSenor Francisco Largo Caballero, a popular politician and union leader, was born in Chamberi

imageMarker of the El Racing Club attached to the wall of the Municipal Hall. The organization, which was created in 1914 was popularly associated to the place

imageThis beautiful walkway within the plaza leads to the Iglesia de las Siervas de Maria

imageA fews bars and cafes situated alongside the municipio are frequented by locals

imageSimple yet elegant facade of the municipal hall