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Palacio de Velazquez – Parque de El Retiro, Madrid

imageGrand  facade of the pavilion, also called the Palacio de Exposiciones, with its arches and columns, marbled steps. On both sides of the entrance to the building stand statues of winged lion-like creatures (right-side sculpture not shown on picture)

If you want to see some exciting galleries and exhibits, this is the place to go inside the Retiro Park, Madrid Spain – Palacio de Velasquez. One of the park’s grandest edifices, its design is largely neoclassical, with the facade made striking with its red bricks and tile combination.

It is named a palace, just like the nearby Palacio de Cristal. While both buildings are not really, they do boast of a regale design and impressive appearance overall. Another thing common between these these two edifices is that they were designed by the same Spanish architect, Senor Ricardo Velazquez.


A closer look at the winged creature, with a face representation of a man in its front. The column is ionic in nature

Indeed, the edifice was not built to serve as a residence of the royal rulers of Spain; but instead, it was intended as a pavilion for the National Mining Exhibition of 1883 in Madrid, which is why its original name is Palacio de Mineria. While many other pavilions were erected for the exposition, Velazquez is the only surviving one and is still used as a venue for modern exhibitions.

Location inside Parque de Retiro


The facade of the tower at the end of the building is decorated with tiles on which are drawn creatures that resemble a dragon and a few other perhaps mythical animals

The exhibition hall/pavilion is found in the middle of Retiro Park, at Paseo Venezuela 2, just beside the Crystal Palace and near the Estanque or the man-made lake of the park.

Stately palace


The palace is a favorite venue of exhibition for modern art creations by famous artists. Vital information about these exhibits, most of which are temporary, can be found posted on the building exterior (on large info board standing outside the palacio)

Inspiration for its design

The Palacio de Cristal, also a creation of Ricardo Velazquez, is smaller in size, yet it served as the major inspiration for the design of Palacio de Velazquez. Apart from tiles and bricks, materials like glass and iron were utilized in the latter’s construction so that the maximum amount of natural light can seep in and sufficiently illuminate the building’s interiors.


Along Paseo Venezuela 2, Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid

Time open:

10:00AM to 10:00PM

How Much: Entrance is Free

How to reach:

Auto Bus: Take number 51, and get off at the parada (bus stop) by the Retiro, in front of Plaza de la Independencia

Metro Station: Take Line 2, this will bring you to Retiro Station itself. Both Atocha and Atocha Renfe Stations are also near the park (although service for this lines will only become available starting November due to current renovation work).

Bus: Number 51 (stops near the entrance of Retiro, at La Independencia, Alcala).


The Rose Garden [La Roselada] at Retiro Park

imageEveryone will be delighted to see La Roselada or the Rose Garden, a heavenly piece of land found in a strategic corner inside the Retiro Park of Madrid, Spain. The whole area forms an elliptical shape, and is surrounded by beautifully trimmed hedges that are grown to a proper height; this allows passersby to have a peek of the garden from the outside.

This is precisely what I did, I peeked, excited to see what’s in store for me inside. I arrived some 30 minutes before 10AM and so, I walked around the outside perimeter while waiting for the garden’s gate to open to the public.

imageEntrance to the Rose Garden

Most flower plots have labels upon them — and so visitors would realize that many of the roses are varieties that originated from all over Europe. It was a beautiful park creation by the city’s chief garden then (in 1915) – Cecilio Rodriguez. He wanted to recreate the divinely beautiful rose gardens found in other major European capitals.

Now it boasts of thousands of roses of popular varieties to the appreciation of tourists and rose lovers. Definitely, this garden is one of the many spots that y0u should see if you must visit the Parque El Buen Retiro.

imageThe rose garden’s fountain offers a enchanting accent to the park
imageWinding pathways sprawl neatly in between continuous plots in order for visitors to better examine and appreciate the flowers
imageRoses of striking red-pink hue in full bloom at the La Roselada de Parque de Retiro
imageMany of the rose varieties come from other European countries like this Botticelle rose of France
imageI visited the garden this September, a time when the number of roses of various colors and sizes are still wanting. But wait till you visit the place during the month of May or June — this is the perfect season as there is a great abundance of roses in full bloom

Madrid Attractions and Landmarks Nearby

1. Puerta de la Independencia — triumphal arc monument in Madrid
2. Palacio de Cibeles — The city hall. Also known as the Palacio de Communicaciones. It is a white, granite-constructed building that houses the CentroCentro arts and cultural center of the city
3. Atocha Train Station – One of the important Renfe train/Metro stations of Madrid
4. Puerta del Sol – the city’s most popular main square
5. Prado Museum – Belongs to Madrid’s museum triad

Where to Find

The La Roselada is located inside the Retiro Park of Madrid, bordered by Paseo de Uruguay and Fernán Núñez.

Metro: Take Line 2 and get off at the Retiro Station, which is conveniently located inside the park. Other Stations near Retiro are Atocha and Atocha Renfe of Line 1. Take autobus number 51 if you want to reach it via bus — it stops right at the entrance of Retiro at Alcala.



Horario/Visiting Hours

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


More Andalucian Adventures: Alhambra Palace and Fortress Complex of Granada

imageSpain must thank the ancient Muslim conquerors if only for what the latter’s occupation of the country a long, long time ago had left behind — their precious Moorish architecture. Such a legacy is largely evident in that little kingdom set in the south of the country known as the Alhambra, in Granada.

Alhambra, which means red castle in Arabic, is actually a complex of palaces, and their courtyards and gardens, as well as a fortress — all rest on top of the famous Sabika Hill.

And so, after our trip to Cordoba, which was so enchanting that most wanted to stay longer and were practically hauled off to the bus, we continued our trek en route to the next destination - Granada.

Our Granada tour focused on the complex and didn’t venture into the adjoining districts such as the famous Albaycin, which is fine as I thought Alhambra alone is what Granada’s all about. I’m sure this is everyone’s opinion as well. Alhambra is perhaps the single reason why the Andalucian city attracts numerous tourists throughout the year.

We arrived at the site at 11.30AM, with the bus stopping near the station where the entrance tickets are collected. Being a large group, we were divided into two; one would enter the palaces at 1.30PM, while the other, which included me, was scheduled at 5:30. The complex is a World Heritage Site, and as a precaution, it has to limit the number of visitors at a given time.

This presented us with a long six-hour lull, to our exasperation as we didn’t know where else to go. Our leader (who got to join the 1.30PM group) advised us to take an early lunch and then use our remaining time exploring the area, giving the assurance that there is so much to see aside from the palaces.

This is exactly we did.

imageWe had our lunch at Restaurante Alberto, with me going for some “healthy” options – mushroom and bacon omelet and fish with spinach. At 17 euros, the menu del dia choices at Alberto are delectable enough, I have to say.

After having our lunch, we deemed it best to wander around the area, realizing there’s still a couple of hours till 5.30. I went alone, apart from the group, and took the pathway between the palaces and Generalife gardens.

Just stunning is what I saw when I walked to the direction of the Alhambra Palace Granada, Palacios Nazaries.

imageArcheological ruins of the Palacio de los Abencerrajes

imageBack area of the Puerta del Siete suelos

imageParador de San Francisco

imageTall hedges line the path to the Nazaries Palaces. All are beautiful, but more importantly, they provide refreshing shade, protecting everyone from the sun’s rays

I went further, passing by Santa Maria de la Alhambra until I reached two important sites in this part of the complex – the Palace of Emperor Charles V and Alcazaba.

Palacio de Carlos V



Palacio Carlos V differs from the rest in that it boasts of a western, Renaissance-style facade. The others, in contrast, were constructed while applying Moorish architecture.

The massive 16th century royal edifice was a major work of Pedro Machuca and dedicated to Emperor Charles V. The sheer magnitude of its size is meant to compete with the already existing Islamic palaces at the time. Unfortunately, it was never completed.

The second photo above is the imposing courtyard within the palace’s interior, accented by impressive columns.

The palace also houses the Museum of Fine Arts, the entrance to which is free for European Union citizens and 1.50 euros for non-EU individuals. Entry to the Palace itself is free.


imageThis is the strong fortress of the complex, standing proudly atop the Sabika hills. Built for sole military reasons, it was meant to protect and defend the complex against any enemy threat and invasion. The Alcazaba, the interior of which is filled with historical ruins, is said to have existed long after the palaces were constructed. From inside the fortress, one is afforded stunning views of the town from afar.

Palace and Gardens of Generalife

I still had a good two hours before we could enter the Palacios Nazaries, and so I decided to go back and head to the opposite direction, this time, to Generalife. A major part of the complex, it was touted as the summer palace during the times of the Nazrid reign.

imageThe Generalife palace grounds, the courtyard and pool

imageGeneralife Outdoor Theatre

imageLike other palaces in the complex, Generalife has the walls of its chambers and rooms covered by either plaster or stalactite materials. But what makes it a standout is its lush and colorful garden, which flourished under both Arabic and Christian powers for many centuries, and continues to this day. If only for its rich flora, Generalife deserves to be called the main summer gardens of the Nazaries dynasty.

Tres Palacios Nazaries

Finally, it was our turn to enter the Palacios Nazaries. “Vamos a la cola!” We joined the long line of visitors who were likewise excited to see the site.

1. Palacio del Mexuar

imageOne of the oldest structures within the complex, the palace had an enclosed room where the ruler then used to stay to listen to his surroundings. Within the premises is an area where great views of the Distrito de Albaycín can be enjoyed. The palace has its own courtyard, the Patio de Cuarto Dorado, with a small fountain in its midst.

2. Palacio de Comares

imageAnother old edifice in the Nazaries, it is one with a rather heavy Moorish decor, with the walls displaying Arab writings. Major decoration work were made during the reign of Yusuf I.

It is said that this courtyard, the Patio de los Arrayanes, or the Courtyard of Myrtles (so-named because of the two long hedges of myrtles alongside the pool) like many others, has not undergone any major changes in the design or structure, or even the way the vegetation are arranged.

3. Palacio de los Leones

imageThe particular palace is famous for its graceful courtyard surrounded by delicate stilts or columns. The structure possesses no window on which to look through and see the outside of the complex. In the midst of the patio are twelve stately marble lions that are sculpted to look fully alert. They seem to shelter and protect the fountain from anyone who threatens to go near it. The presence of the lion statues surprises everyone as it is an Arabic custom not to create representations of any life form.

More of the Nazrid Palaces – Features and Designs


imageThe plastered or ceramic covered walls of the Palaces are bold and rich in its linear and geometric designs. On many parts of the wall are carefully rendered Arabic inscriptions. Mysterious to most, some of these writings are portions  of popular poetic creations of palace poets, while the others are praises to Allah.


imageCeilings are as elaborately built as the walls. Note how the windows are positioned near the ceilings, which I presume is meant to allow more illumination to come in. The first image is a stalactite-decorated ceiling. Top left picture is the ceiling to the golden room.

Windows, arches, and columns

imageThe windows, columns, and arches separate the rooms to the courtyards. These are graceful features that reveal the combined Moorish-Renaissance origin of the Nazaries Palaces’ architecture.

Few Tips when visiting Alhambra Granada Spain

Are you a serious history lover, or someone who appreciates ancient Arabic architecture, or perhaps a traveler raring to fly to his next exotic destination? If so, then make Granada your next conquest.

Remember however that traveling is not all pleasure, but also involves a lot of planning, preparation and sorts. Just follow the usual common steps to easy and sensible traveling and you’re bound for the adventure of a lifetime.

From my part, I’d like to impart a few tips – hopefully they will be of help in any way. Most are the usual travel tips, they just serve to remind. In a way, I drew them from my own experience in Granada.

imageSpectacular view of the town from Palacios Nazaries

1. If you plan to visit during the summer season, remember to bring along two or three bottles of water, or what you can conveniently place inside your bag. I didn’t bring any, and so, I bought a number through the course of the day. Pretty expensive since I bought them within the complex.

2. Wear visors or sunglasses that protect the eyes from the glare of the sun. The complex has lots of wide and open spaces, which means the possibility of too much sun exposure. Use sun screen for skin protection.

3. Bring food if you can – you can eat them in the public gardens or at picnic grounds. There must be only two restaurantes within the complex (an estimate) as well as a few alimentaciones (small convenience stores). Believe me when I say these restaurants are expensive. Albeit meals for the day (Menu del dia) at Alberto Restaurant are available at 17 euros, which is friendlier to the budget than if you opt for the multi-course meals.

4. Since Alhambra tours tickets are in demand during summer, it’s best to buy them in advance. They’re available at La Caixa Banks, Corral del Carbon, or online. The time and day of access to the palace is indicated on the ticket. Be there on time, otherwise, you forfeit your chance of entering the palace.

5. If you’re going to the site itself to buy your ticket there, entry will be on the same day. You cannot buy for an advanced date. For groups, one individual can buy tickets for a maximum of ten people. So, if you’re 30, assign 3 persons to buy the necessary number of tickets. Lines are long if you’re buying in person, this is aside from the fact that tickets sold for the same day are limited. Hence, see to it that you will arrive early at the Alhambra ticketing office.

6. While traveling on your own or with buddies might possibly double the excitement, it’s also possible that you will miss seeing important sites and attractions. The complex covers a very wide area where sites are scattered, and so, it can be very confusing. If you insist on traveling alone, know more about your destination by researching beforehand — like which sites are a must-see, and what are the best routes to take for easy roaming around once you’re there.

Still, I thought the best way to see Alhambra is by joining a guided tour — it’s an assurance that you will visit all there is in your destination. Some tour packages cover only the Nazrid Palaces and the Generalife Gardens, others include a tour of the historic Granada districts of Albayzin and Sacromonte. Go for the one that offers the flamenco show, which is certainly an delightful treat.

Other interesting facts:

imageViewing deck and pool at Palacios Nazaries

1. Days open: Every day except Christmas and New Year’s Day

2. Is it a city or a town: Neither. It is a cluster of monuments [palaces and fortress]

3. Distance between Madrid and the Alhambra, Granada: Almost 430 Kilometers

4. Travel time from Madrid: From 4 to 5 hours, depending of the mode of transportation (bus or train).

5. Weather in the fortress: During summer, Alhambra is summery hot, has clear skies and little to no wind. During winter, the weather is cold, especially in the months of January and February.

6. It is declared, together with the Generalife Gardens, as a World Heritage Site in 1984.

Plaza Mayor: Where All Roads Lead to (Photos)

Plaza Mayor of Madrid,a major plaza  in the middle part of the city, is like a beautiful Spanish  enclave where all roads from outside seemingly lead to it. Once the center of recreation of this premier Spanish capital being a former bullfight stadium, the Plaza Mayor is now one of Spain’s leading tourist sites. You go to the plaza, and you’re like entranced by its enchanting beauty with the ancient buildings encircling the square.  You look around, and be treated to a number of street performers, producing soap bubbles or hurling cheap contraptions into the air – to the amazement of the kids and tourists. You can smell the calamares and jamon that are served by various restaurants scattered all around. Many tourist souvenir stores are also open to serve the needs of tourists, whether they post cards, Madrid shirts, and even medieval swords and headgears. Needless to say, Plaza Mayor is the place to be whether you’re a first time vistor to  Madrid, or someone who has been staying for some time and want to enjoy the noisy yet exciting ambiance that the plaza has to offer. imageimageimageimageimage


Snow in Madrid

There are times, albeit so rarely, when it’s perfectly fine to be roused from your sleep at one in the morning. One of them is when it snows in Madrid. The banging knock and loud commotion got me scrambling out of my bed and rushing straight to the front apartment window, jostling with everyone else just to get a good peek.

What do you know? It was snowing indeed. A light one, but heck, it’s still snow. And they say it doesn’t in Madrid.

Getting some good shots with my mobile phone camera wasn’t easy, especially if you’re trying to brave the icy wind and snowy flake bits forcing their way in. With hands I can’t stop from quivering, I asked someone else with a steadier grip to make the shots and video instead, lest I wind up with inferior results.

I’ve always imagined snow to be flakes descending floatingly, in a drifting manner, until it settles to the ground. But that night I realized that it actually fell straight and hurriedly. Nonetheless, it was an amazing sight; a dreamy, almost surreal experience.

Not content with somewhat dreary pictures, I went down the apartment with my phone hoping to take shots worth saving for posterity, which I did.

My first taste of Madrid snow
My first taste of Madrid snow. Principe de Vergara

Finally, I went back to bed, totally dazed from sleepiness, and eyes almost shut. Still, I managed to hope for the snowfall to continue as the city sleeps.

For while in most probability, everything will have melted away after hours later, it must be awesome to wake up to a morning where everything is snow-covered, and Madrid is transformed into its own glimmery white, winter wonderland.