Tag Archives: Madrid

Passing Thru Historic Tordesillas

Last year, we stayed the whole length of the Holy Week in Madrid. In my case, I resolved to be a recluse, to confine myself at home even if just for a few days, to no avail.  This, upon learning that most of the establishments in Puerta del Sol was open for business, and got me tempted into visiting this popular part of the city centre.

This time, however, everyone decided to spend Good Friday out of town in far off Valladolid, which is some two and a hours away from the city. One of the major towns outside Madrid and within the the community of Castilla y Leon, I got interested in seeing the place having learned about the varied religious processions held there during the Lenten season.

But first, our group had to pass thru Tordesillas, a small, quiet town some 25 kilometers on the Southwestern portion of the provincial capital.

The organizer of the group insisted that we see Tordesillas if only for the great history behind it, the town being the site of the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas between Spain and Portugal. The treaty was an agreement between them specifying how they would divide the ownership of the newly discovered Americas.

He mentioned the local event called the Toro de la Vega festival, which the town is known for. Year after year, the festival is being prevented by animal rights group from being held as it features a bull which was to slaughtered by toreros on horseback.

What to see in Tordesillas

Iglesia Museo de San Antolín de Tordesillas

2017_041617_2933_342The Museum of San Antolín was built during the first half of the 17th century under the helm of Gil de Reynaltos. Found within the old San Antolin church, it is known to house numerous valuable art pieces that originated from other Churches. Such collection of art workwas initiated by Ismael Rodríguez Paniagua. Most of the important art works are undergoing continuous restoration to ensure their preservation.

2017_041618_0000_275
2017_041617_2849_976Alley and outside stairway, rustic parts of the town leading to the Casa de Tratado
2017_041618_0028_838This particular road is lined with bare, lifeless-looking trees on its sides, with their  branches, totally without leaves, reaching out to touch and intertwine. 2017_041618_0000_275Not a soul in sight for most streets and alleys of Tordesillas last Holy Friday, like the one seen above
2017_041617_5943_688The Plaza Mayor of Tordesillas resembles most other Spanish square. It has four sides as its boundary and is surrounded by old houses, bars and other establishments. The upper floors of the edifices are supported by strong porticoes. While looking simple and rustic, it is considered by the town folks as their meeting place, with locals enjoying their afternoons and late nights having dinners and copas of vinos on the terraces of bars and restaurants found within.

Casas de Tratado de Tordesillas

2017_041617_2859_375 Relief that represents the historic treaty stands in front of the Cases de Tratado de Tordesillas. Houses of Treaty in English, these two edifices are actually merged palaces, and are said to be the site where the then world powers Spain and Portugal held vital negotiations. Here was also the place where the two countries signed the treaty that involved the New World.

Plaza Mayor

2017_041618_1158_191The plaza mayor opens its four doors, its gateways to the outside town particularly to the important neighborhoods, such as Santa Maria and San Pedro. Old-type homes of bricks or wood are noticeably dominant as you wander about the immediate areas — an indication that Tordesillas is one of those ancient Spanish towns.

How to go:

2017_041617_2944_634The Avanza bus in Estacion Sur at Mendez Alvaro is the easiest and most popular means to reach Tordesillas. Travel time is a little over 2 hours, with one way bus tickets costing around 13 euros.

Map:

Tapas, Tapas, and More Tapas at Mercado de San Miguel

2017_040119_5904_095In the heart of Plaza Mayor and a stone’s throw away from Puerta del Sol, is the famous Mercado de San Miguel. The edifice itself, unusual for a market since it is made of iron and glass, is a major attraction of the city.

You see the instance you enter the market and make a quick round how diverse the food offerings at San Miguel is. In fact, the mercado has long been recognized as one of Madrid’s center for great food and Spanish gastronomy.

2017_040912_3617_604Day after day, whether it is a week day or the end of the week, the establishment attracts huge throngs of tourists, both local and foreign, many raring to buy all kinds of food stuff – wet or dry. Others troop to the place to relish some delicious tapa, drink a chilled copa of beer or wine while enjoying some animated conversation in some corner with friends.

Immediately after my first visit of Mercado de San Miguel, I place it high on my radar for places to have quick paella (two other favorite joints are Museo de Jamon and that take-away resto that sells some mean “para lleva” paella for only 2,70 euros).

2017_040119_5917_682Hungry people walk through the main middle isle of the market. There must be more than a hundred of these kiosks, selling all kinds of tapa delicacies you can think of17474080_10155154154059605_1650055860_oThe wide pan in the foreground is almost empty of paella2017_040120_0019_347Seafood paella at San Miguel – this small yet filling plate got me going thru the rest of my night at Puerta del Sol2017_040305_5504_474A tapa of pescado fritos (squid) is generously portioned and placed in a paper cone, but at 14 euros, I passed up on buying one. Luckily, a friend bought an order and shared it with the group. Tastes great, especially after we sprinkled it with a bit of lemon2017_040120_0104_739Compared to the squid, chicharones sells much less at 5.50, yet the serving is generous. I decided to have it with my paella, and thought the two paired well2017_040120_0129_852This crab burger is such a fine delicacy, and best of all, it doesn’t cost much (3.50 euros apiece)2017_040120_0145_179One of the best tapas you must taste at Mercado de San Miguel – olives tapas, which you can easily pop in your mouth. At 1 euro a piece, you can have several of these delightful goodies.

More tapas to relish at Mercado de San Miguel

2017_040912_0643_748Bacalao (codfish) con tomate y verdura, 1 euro

2017_040912_0557_582Anchoas (salted anchovies) con pimientos, 1 euro

2017_040912_0613_113Brandada bacalao con caviar de lumpo, 1 euro2017_040912_0658_757Gambas y huevos con caviar lumpo, 2.50 euros2017_040912_0710_933Ensalada de pato (duck salad), 2.50 euros
2017_040120_0116_235After you’ve had your fill, you might want to wash everything down by heading to the nearest cerveceria to buy yourself a copa or two of chilled wine or ice cold beer2017_040120_0154_300A bit of advice: If you do fancy some delicious tapas and would love to try as many as possible, the best time is from 10AM to 12PM and 5 to 7 PM, or hours before lunch and dinner. These are the best hours to roam around conveniently and hop from one food kiosk to another.

Prices: Generally affordable in spite of its touristy location. Tapas cost as low as 1 to 1.50 euros.

Horarios: Open to customers starting 10 AM, closes at 12 on weekdays and as late as 2AM on weekends

Direccion:
Plaza de San Miguel Madrid 28005. Nearest landmarks are Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real de Madrid, and Catedral de Almudena.

Map:

Las Fallas, Valencia: Festival of Ninots and Fireworks

2017_032623_2915_626How do putrid gunpowder smell, fire, fumes, noise from almost incessant firecracker blasts, fireworks display, more fire, and crowded streets pedestrianized for the holidays appeal to you? Would you wade thru throngs of frenetic merrymakers as you wander around town for hours on end, until you find yourself trudging along on already wobbly knees yet determined to witness the midnight finale, which is the destruction by fire of beautiful papier mache works of art?

This is exactly what I did at Valencia’s Las Fallas, that time when the town becomes Spain’s biggest street party, and everyone was in deep festive madness. It was March 19, and I was feverish the moment we arrived, never wavering up until the day’s end.

Las Fallas, Valencia: What to See and Do

2017_032612_4942_711The celebration is a four-day long affair that started on the 15th of March, when locals take to the streets to assemble and display their ninots with pride. These are structures made of paper erected to reach a number of stories, and built to look like they are scaling up the skies. There are also minor ninots or the ninot infantile, smaller ones that I observed were burned hours before the finale.

The festival culminates on the 19th of March, when finally, most ninots are burned and subjected to a fiery destruction until only ashes remain, this amidst the cheering of the spectators and participants. The festival coincides with the Feast day of the patron saint of carpenters and builders — Saint Joseph.

What can you expect during Las Fallas?

Impressive Ninot Displays on strategic points of the town

2017_032812_2851_883image image imageimage2017_032820_4844_622imageThe best of Valencia’s sculptors and artists design and create impressive ninots, which were built with popular cartoon characters and nationalities as themes. Some neighborhoods boast of both huge and small ninots, with the latter being burned to ashes hours before the burning of the larger ones, as seen on the picture immediately above.

Everyone participates at the Festival

2017_032807_5624_620This couple is off to join their neighborhood’s street party
imageBefore this smile, the princess sobs as the ninot burns, as if to express grief from its destruction
imageChildren hold hands to form a circle, dancing and chanting in front of the ninot infantile, a small-sized ninot found in many neighborhoods
2017_032700_0211_169Beautiful child princess, together with other children of the neighborhood, look over the burning of the ninot
imageYoung musicians playing a lively piece celebrating the burning
2017_032700_0230_401I wore the white and blue scarf associated with the Las Fallas known as the Pannulo de Hierbas
2017_032812_2832_906Having the time of our lives in Valencia

Impressive Firework Displays

imageAs if the blinding, spellbinding bursts of fire and light created from the burning of the ninots are not enough, Valencia further brightens its night skies by igniting beautiful fireworks, sending them up high to create colorful, dancing incendiary displays. The fireworks are an integral and indispensable part of Las Fallas. One of the best places to witness the fireworks is at the Carrer L’arquebisbe Mayoral.

Bullfight games throughout the festival

imageThe best bullfights events happen at the festival, and so afficionados of the sport can expect a truly exciting spectacle. Bullfighting has been part and parcel of the celebration of the Las Fallas.

Las Fallas / Valencian Food Delicacies

image
imageThese are bunuelos, local pastry likened to a donut. Made of pumpkin paste, it is one of the traditional foods at Las Fallas. To make for a truly delicious snack, have a hot choco drink where you can dunk your bunuelos in. Half a dozen sells at 2.50 euros

  • imageAlthough I love senyoret, or the sea food paella, I ordered valenciana instead. The one on the photo is just right for two persons, and approximately costs 29 euros, or 14.50 euros per head. Tastes great! My friend with whom I shared it, however, didn’t want no rabbit meat, and so, I have all of it for myself.
    imageChurros, like bunuelos, are also sold aplenty during las Fallas. Eaten best when dunked in a thick chocolate syrup

    Burning of the Ninots

    The efforts of the artists were hardly futile as the best ninots are identified, and awards and recognitions are handed to the artists and their winning creations. Well, for the rest, the fact that their works of art were chosen to participate and was admired by everyone was still a great recognition. In the end, at the finale, hundreds of huge and minor ninots will be sent burning into flames.
    2017_032610_3700_510This Sino-themed ninot, with all the vital Chinese elements, a towering, colorful papier-mache masterpiece…2017_032610_4149_553…met its fiery fate at around 12 midnight, to the shouts and cheering of spectators. Immediately after the structure was engulfed by strong flames, steady water was doused from the firefighters’ hoses to control the fire.

    The Las Fallas, undoubtedly, is one of the must-see festivals of Spain. All roads lead to Valencia at this time of the year.

    One word of advice, though; if you’re not used to loud firecrackers, its best to come to Valencia on the first day of the event. This way, you’ll get used to the booming noise by the time Las Fallas culminates on the 19th, and the fireworks are at their strongest and loudest. I must say everything about the Las Fallas is spectacular (do watch the fireworks video below), and strongly recommend that everybody attends the event next year.

Suffice it to say that it was total excitement throughout the last day of the fiesta. By the time we boarded the bus en route back to Madrid, I was dog-tired, but happy nonetheless to have gone thru the experience, and confirm what every one else is saying about it, that Las Fallas is Spain’s best of the best.

Ten Nearby Madrid Towns that are Bona Fide Day Trip Destinations

So charming is Madrid, Spain that first-timers are likely tempted to stay within its confines and wallow in its beauty. Every barrio of the city is unique and fascinating that it is pure fun to hop from one place to another, walk thru paseos, loiter around the plazas and calles, and soak up on what it can offer. Trust me, I did all this a countless number of times — and every time, it’s just insane fun.

Everywhere in Madrid are breathtaking sites and attractions — world-class museums like Prado and Reina Sofia, among many others; towering basilicas and cathedrals such as San Gines and Almudena; and gargantuan parks and gardens like Retiro and Sabatini, respectively.

The city is a gastronomic paradise.  Restaurants and cafes of different shapes, sizes, and culinary delights are scattered all over — there’s Museo del Jamon, Bar Santurce, Botin, Cafe Melo’s Bar, to name a few of my favorites. I swear there must be a joint offering sumptious Spanish comida in every street corner.

Madrid is where you blend easily with the crowd at evening street parties and gatherings — events commonplace in the city, on any day of the week. Here is also where you can witness solemn processions that venerate the Lady and various saints, and participate, to your heart’s delight, in thunderous festivals held all throughout the year.

Still, did you know there’s so much to see and discover on the outskirts of the city? So many towns are situated very near the capital, and needless to say, all are a must-visit as they boast of tons of attractions as well.

I myself had traveled, wandered, and explored quite a number of these pueblos. Referred to as day trip destinations, they are so near that you can go there, experience and relish these places, and be back in Madrid — all within the day.

Here are my top 10 beautiful and exciting towns near Madrid:

1. Avila

Bright yellow walls of AvilaOne of Spain’s major Castilian towns, Avila is famous for its perfectly preserved Murallas or Town Walls. The haunting Catedral de Avila is touted as one of the first Gothic churches built in the country. And if you happen to be in Avila, make sure you have a taste of its popular yema, a sweet delicacy, among many other traditional pastries offered by the town.

How far from Madrid: 2 Hours
Recommended Mode of Travel: Autobus – Avanza Bus (at Estacion Sur)
Cost of Fare: More or less 14 euros (lda y vuelta)

2. Alcala de Henares

imageThe town is known for being the birthplace of famous Spanish Writer, Miguel de Cervantes. In front of his home are the bronze figures of Don Quixote and Sancho Pancho, the main characters of the Cervantes’ novel, the Don Quixote de la Mancha. The prestigious Colegio Mayor de Sn Ildefonso or the University of Alcala is the reason this pueblo within the Community of Madrid is called the University Town.

Number of hours from Madrid: 50 minutes
Best Travel Option: Cercanias trains. Get your ride at Nuevos Ministerios, or other select Metro stations such as Chamartin and Atocha.

3. Colmenar Viejo

imageThis town is proud of its tiny, historic hermitage called the Ermita de Santa Ana, and the Basílica dela Asuncion de Nuestra Senora.

Distance from Madrid: 37 kms. (less than an hour)
Best Travel Option: Autobus 721 at Plaza Castilla
Cost of Fare: 7.20 euros round trip

4. Manzanares el Real

Manzanares el Real Castle is also called Castillo de los MendozaA town made famous by its two castles, the New Castle of Manzanares and the Castillo Viejo. The former is also a fortress and said to be the most preserved castle within the Communidad de Madrid. If you love to hike, the nearby Pedriza Mountain can be reached by walking in just under an hour. Continue further up the hill beside the mount and you will encounter the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Peña Sacra.

How far from Madrid: 50 kms. (less than an hour)
Enjoy going there via: Autobus 724 at Plaza Castilla
Cost of Fare: 8.40 euros Ida y Vuelta

5. Town of Chinchon

imageSome 40 minutes or so away from Madrid is the quaint and tranquil pueblo of Chinchon. Its plaza mayor is a bit peculiar because it is shaped like a bullring. The fact is that the square is used actively for the sport; because of this, Chinchon is recognized as one of Spain’s bullfight towns. Must-eat are Teta de Novicia and Pelotas de Fraile, delightful, traditional breads sold in pastelerias within the town’s plaza mayor.

How far from the capital: 45 kms. (55 minutes)
Recommended travel option: Veloz Autobus 337 at Avenida de Mediterraneo
Fare Cost: 4.20 euros one way

6. Segovia

The Roman Acqueduct at Segovia, SpainIf only for its historic Romano Acueducto and breathtaking Alcazar or fortress, I’d take the bus or train trip to Segovia in a heartbeat. I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of seeing these wondrous Segovian landmarks. The aqueduct, for one, is the main symbol of the town. Did you know that this ancient structure still works, and is capable of transporting water throughout the city? The Alcazar, on the other hand, is compared to the castle of Disney — both are charming and enthralling. The whole town itself enjoys the fine distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. By the way, don’t leave without having a taste of its savory and mouth-watering delicacy – the Cuchinillo or suckling pig.

Recommended mode of travel: RENFE train (Chamartin)
Time of travel by train: Less than 30 minutes

7. San Lorenzo El Escorial

imageI recommend this place if you are looking for a fine and quiet respite, away from the noise, and the hustle and bustle of Madrid. Be sure to check out the interior of the fabled Monastery, which once served as a royal palace of the King. Visitors will be mesmerized by the grandeur of its library, while the mighty courtyard of the Old Testament kings is something to marvel at. You must also see the Pantheon, where the remains of many royalties are kept.

How far from Madrid: 45 kilometers
Best Travel Option: Catch the autobus 661 at Moncloa, if you want to go the Galapagar route. Take 664 if you want to pass by the Valley of the Fallen gates.
Fare Price: 4.20 euros one way

8. Toledo

imageOne of the most visited towns within the Community of Madrid, not only because Toledo is very near the capital, but also because it is filled with many spectacular attractions. Its alcazar is its most recognizable landmark, a magnificent site lying in the town’s highest peak. The best view of the edifice can be had from the Tagus River. Other interesting sites to see in Toledo are the Museo de Separdi, the Toledo Cathedral, the Ancient Walls and Towers, and the Transito Synagogue.

Distance between Madrid and Toledo: 45 minutes
Recommended Bus: ALSA autobus, at Plaza Eliptica.
Price of autobus ticket: 5.39 euros single trip; 9.70 euros for ida y vuelta tickets.

9. Aranjuez

imageIt is bestowed the title, Spain’s Royal Town. The stately Palacio Real will not be missed, since its grandness conspicuously sprawls right in the midst of Aranjuez. The palace, the beauty of which rivals Madrid’s own Palacio Real, is accentuated by gardens of manicured hedges and multi-hued flowers dedicated to both the King and Queen. It is surrounded by gushing waterways — natural and man-made. The Iglesia de San Antonio, the Royal Church, is found in one part of the plaza of the same name, and one of the Aranjuez’ major attractions.

How to go: Via 423 autobus at Estacion Sur bus station, Mendez Alvaro.
Fare cost: 4.20 euros, one way

10. Cuenca

imageAnother quiet, enchanting pueblo within the Castille La Mancha region. Cuenca is a little over two hours away from Madrid, making it as one of the farthest nearby towns. Still, you’d realize the rather long trip is well-compensated after seeing the breathtaking Casas Colgadas, or Hanging Houses. Another must-see is the mesmerizing Cuenca Cathedral, looming on one end of the Plaza Mayor, opposite the arch gates.

Hours from the capital: 2 hours
Best travel option: Via autobus Avanza, at Estacion Sur
Price of bus fare: 25 euros for round-trip tickets

Pueblo de Cuenca: Amazing Madrid Day Trip (Be There in Two Hours)

imageNo doubt about it, Madrid Spain has tons of amazing places to offer that you’d be at a loss on which to visit first. In case you’re in the city for a few days and would love to see exciting towns that are a stone’s throw away from the capital, I suggest that you include Cuenca in your itinerary.

It is one of those beautiful pueblos situated right within the Castille La Mancha region of Spain you have to visit — a quiet and charming one, I have to say. What’s true is that the town reeks in so many sites and attractions – museums, churches, monastery, winding streets and alleys, cafes — and of course, its famous ancient houses called the Casas Colgadas. The latter appear to be clinging precariously on the cliff that looks over the narrow, shallow river called Hueca. This body of water moves along an area nestled beside the collosal Cuenca Mountain range.

If only for these breathtaking casas, or the Hanging Houses in Spanish, a visit to the town is all worth it — even if for just a day. However, for anyone with a fear of heights, it might be a herculean feat to get to the site since you need to cross a bridge that spans the gorge, which is a few hundred feet below.

No need to fret, still, as you have another option, a less exciting one at that. There is a street on the side of the cliff that goes up to the location of the hanging houses and into the ancient city.

My suggestion is that you take the bridge and just avoid looking below, and you’d be perfectly fine. In the first place, you would want to cross it especially if you must take the best photos of the houses.

Did you know that much of the cliff was once lined with many of these houses on its side. Over time, however, only a few proudly exists; the remaining ones now serve as historical remnants of such once glorious past of the Cuenca town.

Here are some truly amazing Cuenca, Madrid attractions that you must see:

1. Catedral de Sta María y San Julian de Cuenca
imageThe Cuenca Cathedral, or the Basilica of Our Lady of Grace, is constructed using a strong Gothic architecture. It has features that resemble other world-famous churches such as the Soissons Cathedral and Notre Dame de Paris. Like a number of Spanish churches, visitors are prohibited to take pictures. The cathedral has been mentioned by Notradamus in one of his predictions, identifying it as the sole bastion of Salvation during the End of days. In another legend, Rodrigo de Luz mentioned the church as the place where the Holy Grail is kept and preserved. The presence of the Holy Grail will save the church from destruction during the Final Hour.

2. Plaza Mayor (Town Square)imageTourists have a number of cafe and restaurant choices at the Plaza Mayor of the town. The Cuenca Cathedral is located within the square.

3. Casas ColgadasimageThe few remaining hanging houses in Cuenca. The edifice emits a yellowish glow from the incandescent lights that are turned on as the day moves into nighttime. Known as the Casas Colgadas in Spanish, they are found in the eastern side of the old town, just overlooking the Rio Huécar. Only three are existing, unfortunately, and it is the most popular and photographed house of the group. Every night, indeed, the house becomes a spectacular sight; but for me, it is more like a haunting image from afar.

4. Hanging Houses at NightimageThe Casas Colgadas become a enthralling sight as they illiminate because of the yellow incandescent light that glow from the interior. While in the beginning, the cliff was lined with these houses, but now, only a few remain.

5. Puente de San Pablo (Steel Bridge)imageThey say the St. Paul Bridge is the best location from which to take photos of the Casas Colgadas. And indeed, it is, albeit the cold wind and dizzying heights rendered taking pictures of the Hanging houses a difficult task. I actually crossed the steel bridge twice. The first time, I crossed it to reach the ancient time, while the second was at nightfall, in order to take night pictures of the houses.

7. Parador de CuencaimageFrom the Steel bridge of Cuenca, you may also enjoy a grand view of the Parador de Cuenca. A wondrous sight during night time, the parador is recognized as a treasure of the town, the Parador is actually a convent converted into a beautiful hotel for tourists who would love to have a breathtaking look of the town, the hanging casas, and the Hoz del Huécar.

8. Iglesia de San AndresimageOne of the more popular churches in Cuenca is the San Andres church, a 16th century church designed by master architect Pedro de Alviz. Numerous renovations were done to the church because of the ravages brought about over time.

8. Cuenca Arched GatesimageThe wide arched gates is the entrance to the plaza mayor and into the town. Also known as Los Arcos, it is part of a building that serves as the City Hall or Ayuntamiento building. The square is not totally pedestrianized — you would encounter light vehicles passing by the narrow plaza mayor and thru the arch gates.

 9. Ruins of Iglesia de San Pantaleonimage

In Calle San Pedro, just after the town’s Plaza Mayor is the remnant of what is known as the Iglesia de San Pantaleon. It is said to be the oldest church in the whole town, and is known to possess an ogival arch from the 1200’s that’s supported by columns. It also has a flat-shaped apse, which suggests that it was of Templar origin. The church ruins is closely associated with Spanish Federico Muelas, a major poet of the town.

How to go:

imageYou may take a autobus trip to the town via the Avanza bus service, which is stationed at Estacion Sur de Madrid. One of the city’s largest bus stations, you  can reach it via Madrid Metro Linea 6 Circular, at Mendez Alvaro. Ida y Vuelta ticket fares are at 25.00 euros. Duration of bus travel is more or less two hours.

Map:

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.
<

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.

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:

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

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