Tag Archives: Las Ventas

Great Attractions to Marvel at in Calle de Alcala of Madrid

2018_050219_5203_936Calle de Alcalá of Madrid is known as the longest street in Spain, and if only for this distinction, I had always been fascinated by it, what with all the shops, establishments, cafes and others dotting it, especially around the Goya area. In fact, I already walked a good portion of Alcala a number of times, from as far as Retiro down to my place in El Carmen. Every time, it was a thrill doing so.

Needless to say, this stretch of road, historically important as it is, is filled with some of the most fascinating and breathtaking sights and attractions you can find. You won’t just find shops, but a lot more. There are magnificent edifices, an imposing arch, a church, a huge park, a theater, and even a bull ring stadium.

1. Puerta de Alcala

imageThe Puerta de Alcalá is one of the most important Madrid monuments, and is  often compared to other major European arch structures such as the Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and the Arc de Triomphe of Paris, France. The city under the reign of Phillip IV was said to have been guarded and secured by this gate. The arch is so-called because it served as a gate to the road that extended all the way to Alcala de Henares. As in other Spanish puertas, the Puerta de Alcala exhibits strong Neo-classical design. Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find the Retiro Park.

Location: Plaza de la Independencia

2. Palacio de Cibeles

imageCibeles Palace, that grayish-white coated building standing in the corner of Calle de Alcalá and Paseo del Prado. It houses the Centro Centro, the Center for the Culture and the Arts of Madrid. It has a public observation deck that, after paying 2 euros for entry, affords you a breathtaking view of the city, especially the nearby neighborhoods like Sol, Colon, and Atocha.

Direccion: Plaza de Cibeles 1

3.Edificio Metropolis

2018_050219_5223_036A Spanish edifice of immense beauty, it is no wonder that the Metropolis building is a much photographed building in Madrid. And like the Grassy Building (one with the famous Rolex clock in its topmost portion), it is one of the most iconic edifices within the Alcala and Gran Via areas.

Direccion: Calle Alcala 39

4. Instituto de Cervantes

received_1312324972202869Another impressive building along Alcala is the headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes, a Spanish-government cultural institution known for fostering the learning of the Spanish language and culture. The institute was named after Miguel Cervantes, one of the greatest literary minds of Spain.
Official Website

5. Nuevo Teatro Alcalá

2018_042921_4830_598Also known as the Alcala Palace and Pardiñas Coliseum, this performance center is a watering hole for avid theater goers in Madrid. The Nuevo Teatro Alcala is a huge favorite, attracting musical show and play lovers, night after night, in droves. Currently being shown is Billy Elliot. I wonder when the Los Miserables musicale will be featured here next.

Where to buy your theatre tickets

6. Casa Arabe

2018_042921_4853_903
If you want to learn anything about the Arab world, its culture, arts, and way of life, the place to visit is the Casa Arabe. The building was formerly used by the Aguirre schools of Don Lucas Aguirre y Juarez until it was turned over to the Arabic institution to be used as its headquarters. Open to the public since 2008, the center maintains its goal of strengthening friendship between Spain and the Arab countries.

Dirrection: Calle de Alcala 62
Website: Casa Arabe

7. Iglesia de San Manuel y San Benito

2018_042921_4902_204Churches abound in Madrid, and so, it isn’t surprising that you can also find them in Alcala Street, like the Church of San Manuel and San Benito, a work of art by Tremanti and Fernando Arbós.

8. Banco de España

2018_042921_4925_105Formerly called the Banco Nacional de San Carlos, it was constructed in 1782 under the reign of Carlos III as the latter’s solution of attaining 18th-century Spain’s financial stabilization. Today, it operates as the country’s Central Bank. This magnificent edifice is a veritable landmark, and together with the Palacio de Cibeles, is a crowd drawer not only because of its outstanding beauty in design but because of its rich history.

9. Plaza de Toros de las Ventas

2018_050214_0105_873The Alcala Street also has the distinction of being the site of the most famous Spanish bullring, the site where Spaniards enjoy their favorite traditional past-time. Las Ventas, for short, is famous for its Neo Mudejar or Moorish design meticulously done by Spanish architect Jose Espeliu. A gargantuan structure, it can accommodate thousands, and activities other than bullfights were held here. It was regularly used as a concert venue, where major artists such as the Beatles and Diana Ross performed. It was also used as a tennis game venue, with the bullfight arena transformed into a clay court so everyone could witness the games of Spain and the US in 2008. The Spanish team led by Rafael Nadal prevailed over their opponents.
Information about the ticket prices

10. Parque del Buen Retiro

2018_050122_3858_518The Park of the Good Retreat, in English, the Retiro Park sprawls in the heart of the city of Madrid, and the Street of Alcala happens to pass by it. It was actually a royal park in the beginning, being a property of the king. Eventually, it was converted into a park for use by Spanish commoners during the 19th century. Filled with varied attractions, a thousand varieties of flora and fauna, rose gardens, palaces, exhibit halls, jogging lanes, fountains, sculptures, and a man-made park lake — you’ll love to roam around and be lost, and stay awhile in Retiro as there is so much to see.

Location: 7 Plaza de la Independencia
Time Open: April to September: 6am to 12am; October to March: 6am to 10PM

11. Puerta del Sol

2018_050122_5841_790The Street of Alcala starts on this busy and boisterous square, one of the most visited in Madrid. Known to be the gate to the old city, the square is so-called because it faces the East, and hence, the rising sun. I intend to walk the length of the street starting at Sol square, at the store facing it which is the Apple store, up to the Plaza Norte at Ciudad Lineal. A mere 6.8 kilometers spans these two points,  and so, estimate I’d be able to do the task in under 1 and a half hours.

Photo of the Week: My Spanish Torera

imageI really thought the taxi driver had finally faced his worst nightmare

imageAlas! This is not a scene at the bullring of Las Ventas or El Pueblo de Chinchon, but a photoshoot in the corner of Carrera de San Jeronimo and Calle de Sevilla

imageLet’s give it to our “torera” who played the part to a T, albeit she still struck me as comely and every inch a lady

How often do you come across a Spanish torera in the middle of a busy street of Madrid, garbed in the traditional bullfighter outfit and on a defensive stance? Not too often, right?

Luckily, I chanced on one yesterday, she with her one hand with a firm grip on a sword raised high, seemingly ready to be thrusted onto a charging bull, and the other on a bright red cape.

Obviously she wasn’t Cristina Sanchez de Pablos, and neither did I secure a ticket to a Las Ventas bullfight event. Nonetheless, our subject was an absolute charmer while she did all those poses, which I assure you was a lot (upon much prodding by a “relentless” cameraman, I supposed).

Anyway, these pictures are such a great way to start my blogging week they even had me adding a new category: Photo/s of the Week. More pics like this to come, hopefully.

Plaza De Toros De Las Ventas: Must-see in Madrid

2018_041707_2147_910It can’t claim to be the largest in the world, being only third to Mexico City’s Plaza del Toro and Plaza de Toro Monumental of Venezuela (first and second, respectively), but Plaza de Toros de las Ventas in Madrid, Barrio Salamanca, is easily the most famous bullring stadium of them all. Many afficionados even consider it to be Madrid, Spain’s and even the world’s seat of bullfighting.

I am indifferent to bullfighting. I’m neither for nor against it. I am aware, however, that debates on the subject are always heated ones. Many label it as a blood sport and a clear act of cruelty to animals. Many others insist that it is a beautiful form of art.

2018_041707_1540_022In recent times, many Latin countries, including those with a rich history of bullfighting, had ceased to play the sport. Even in Spain, notably Catalona’s Barcelona, the game has been banned. Madrid, however, insist that such a tradition must be preserved.

I have yet to see the interior of a bullring, much less watch an actual bullfight. All I have is a recollection of a 1970’s film of a popular Filipino comedian, whose character in the movie went to Spain to search for her lady love, and was mistaken by locals to be a Matador.

When told that Las Ventas (as it is affectionately called) is a must-see Madrid site, and to stand on its grounds is thrilling enough, I was convinced that a visit is in order.

Starting at Columbia Metro Station, I rode line 9 and got off at Nunez de Balboa, after which I transferred to Line 5 en route to Ventas.

Imagine my surprise as I got out of the station and,  Voila! The tall and mighty Plaza de Toros de las Ventas of red-brown shade stands in front of me. It is such a massive structure that I thought it truly deserves to be the home of bullfighting.

It sprawls in a vast land fronting Calle de Alcala, and is surrounded by various displays of bullfighting sculptures in its grounds.

To the right-side area of the site are a few scuptures. his one is a Matador statue seemingly honoring the plaque of ...a
A Matador honoring Dr. Alexander Fleming
Premier Matador ....
Premier Matador making a proud bullfighter stance

My curiosity was immediately piqued upon seeing the edifice’s reddish-hued entirety, made bolder that day since it is set against a sordid background of gray skies. That moment, I developed a great interest in watching a bullfight, even if only a single one, for the sheer experience of it if not for the enjoyment (I hate the thought of seeing a bull possibly getting hurt).

Matodor and bull sculpture in front of the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas

I was advised, however, to wait for the San Isidro Fiesta, which happens in the months of May and June, and so I’m looking forward to the event next year. The fiesta is when Madrid bullfighting is at its best because all the finest fighters in the country (los matadores) and the finest bulls (los toros) will see action.

I plan to tour Las Ventas in my next visit, around April perhaps; to help me learn more about the bullring stadium and gain a better understanding of bullfighting.

2018_041708_3549_575And art piece displayed in front of the bullfight stadium named “El Toreo, El Arte de las Artes” by Enrique Ponce

I’m also excited about the coming San Isidro Fiesta, as I hope to become a spectator to a game. Will my indifference to the sport of bullfighting turn to disgust or appreciation after finally witnessing a bullfight? I will know by then.

Nearby restaurant, also along Calle de Alcala, is matador-themed Los Timbales
Get refreshments after witnessing an exciting bullfight action at matador-themed Los Timbales, just a street from Las Ventas and along Calle de Alcala

Direccion

237 Calle de Alcalá 28028 Madrid

Tour of Plaza de Toros Las Ventas with Audio Guide

Schedule:
Monday to Sunday, 10AM to 5PM

Ticket Cost:

Adult: 12 euros
Child: 7 euros

How to go

1. From Puerta del Sol – Take Vodafone Sol Metro at Line 2. Arrive at Ventas after 7 stations.

2. From Plaza de Castilla – Take Line 9 and alight at Nunez de Balboa station. Tranfer to Line 5 and reach Ventas Station after 2 stops.

3. From San Blas – Take Line 7 and get off at Pueblo Nuevo. Transfer to Line 5 and reach Ventas after 3 stations.

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Map