Ten Nearby Madrid Towns that are Bona Fide Day Trip Destinations

alcazar segoviaSo charming is Madrid, Spain that first-timers are likely tempted to stay within its confines and just revel in its beauty. True enough, every barrio of the city is unique and fascinating that you can’t help but 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.

Be amazed by everything within the city proper

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.

And I must say the city is a gastronomic paradise as well. 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 food joint that offers sumptuous Spanish comida in every street corner.

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

Exciting nearby Madrid towns, nonetheless

Still, did you know there’s so much to see and discover on the outskirts of the city? Not a few 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 had traveled, wandered, and explored quite a number of these pueblos. Referred to as day trip destinations, they are so near that you can visit, experience and relish these places, and be back in the city — 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 pueblos, 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 town, be sure to have a taste of its popular yema, a special, sweet delicacy, apart from its other traditional pastries.

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 San 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

imageSome might find Colmejar Viejo to be a bit of a sleep town, but it is definitely one of the Madrid towns that are easiest to go to — Colmenar is just some 30 kilometers from the city of Madrid. A major attraction is the tiny, historic hermitage calle 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 is Toledo,  not only because it is very near Madrid, but also because it is filled with many spectacular attractions. The alcazar is its most recognizable landmark, a magnificent site lying in the town’s highest peak. You can enjoy the best view of the edifice from the historic 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

image Aranjuez is bestowed the title, Spain’s Royal Town, and rightly so. The stately Palacio Real sprawls right in its midst in all its pomp and grandness. 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 town’s Royal Church, sits in one part of the plaza of the same name, and is considered as 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 town in the Castille La Mancha region is Cuenca, which 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

Madrid Parks: Parque El Capricho of Alameda de Osuna

2018_070217_5735_164Going to parks is a way of life for most Spaniards. And why not? The typical Spanish park is a place to relax, have fun, and enjoy meaningful bonding with families and friends. Best of all, it’s for free. No wonder, one can be found in every important barrio or neighborhood in the city of Madrid.

One park that’s small in area compared to the premier Parque El Buen Retiro, but you wouldn’t say it doesn’t hold a candle to the latter, is the El Capricho. Evidently, it must be one of the most charming Parques this side of Madrid.

And like Retiro, it has already been declared as a historical site, having been built under the helm of the Duchess of Osuna herself during the last part of the 1700’s up to 1839.  Meant to serve as the recreation area of the Osuna Dukes, its beautiful design was drawn by the famous artist from France, Jean-Baptiste Mulot.

Capricho is popular for a number of attractions that are scattered within 14 sprawling hectares of land, such as fountains, ponds, hermitage, gardens, labyrinth, and the Palace of the Rulers of Osuna. Part of the Alameda de Osuna neighborhood, the garden can be reached if you’re coming from the Airport, it being situated within the district of Barajas.

Accessible because of the nearby Madrid Metro Station of the same name, I still walked a few hundred meters, which had me drenched in sweat because of the searing afternoon sun. My advice is for everyone to visit at around 7 to 8 Pm during the remainder of the summertime when you can still enjoy daylight while the temperature has become cooler.

Parque El Capricho greets you with an imposing tall and wide gate, but not before you encounter its security personnel that will request you to go thru a metal turnstile entrance similar to that found in Metro.

Entrance to the park is free and so, you can stay there to your heart’s content, and while the time away. Perhaps, as a first-timer, you might want to immediately wander around and check out its impressive attractions, and even lie down for a bit on the grass beside the pond, and just commune with nature.

However, it is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays, and weekend, so better reserve your afternoon during any of these days and be ready to explore the beauty and uniqueness of The Capricho Park.

2018_070217_5808_732Gates to Parque El Capricho

2018_070217_5711_988Casa Vieja is one of the first attractions you will find inside the park. A lot of stories have been told about this old house, the most interesting of which is the one with the fairy tale slant, that an old witch lives here.

2018_070217_5703_163Benches, fountains, and colorful flowers in full bloom are found throughout the park

2018_070217_5650_621The Square of the Emperors and the Exedra (La Plaza de Los Emperadores y la Exedra)

2018_070217_5642_951You don’t have to explore much in order to find El Labirinto. Right in the midst of the park, you’ll encounter this wondrous, vast combination of tall hedges. My adventurous self wondered how intricate and difficult the labyrinth might be, but upon inquiring, I was told it was being renovated.

2018_070217_5634_345Tall trees, manicured hedges, and ponds are some of the important elements that make up the El Capricho Park

2018_070217_5612_849A fence with a sign that say the site is under renovation prevents visitors from entering the premises of the Palacio el capricio, or the Palace of the Duques de la Osuña.

2018_070217_5605_966Closer view of the Palacio el Capricio

2018_070217_5519_518The Temple of Bacchus (El Templete de Baco) was built by Ballina from 1786 to 1788 was said to be unique in that it is domeless, elliptical instead of round, and not dedicated to Venus.

2018_070217_5527_338Closer look at the Columns of the Templete de Baco

2018_070217_5450_557The Ruins and Fort (La Ruina y el Fortin) is meant to mimic an abandon building, and in effect, add to the landscape of the park. It signifies death, and so, its presence is meant to balance the overwhelming symbols of nature found in El Capricho.

2018_070217_5444_469The Hermitage (Ermita) was built by the dukes as an addition to the many features of the park.

2018_070217_5437_894Even this small pond in the midst of lush greenery is an attraction; such a scene tempts you to stay awhile and be one with nature.

2018_070217_5423_613Metro Station El Capricho belongs to Madrid Linea 5

Location:
Paseo de Alameda de Osuna
28042 Madrid

Entrance Fee: Free

Opening Hours:
October to March
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays: 9AM – 18:30PM

April to September
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays: 9AM – 21PM

Map:

6 Madrid Markets Worthy of Your Visit (If You Want to Enjoy Great-tasting Tapas, and Much More)

2018_071317_4455_570I must say mercados in Madrid are worth my time. It is sheer joy whenever i wander thru any of these city markets because I always get a great deal from every experience — and I am not talking about the usual produce and food items that you would love to fill your kitchen countertop with. When we talk about Madrid markets, it’s a given that the freshest bounties are on sale. Quality meats and poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices and grains of every shape and hue, every traditional goodie that you can think of — all are yours for the taking.

Needless to say, Madrid mercados offer more. On top of the list are delectable served-within-minutes and ready-to-eat Spanish comidas like bocadillos and tapas sold by food kiosks integrated within. Typically found on the establishments’ upper levels, the kiosks are often patronized by customers who decide to take a quick snack after a tiring hour or two of wandering around, scouring every nook and cranny of the market to buy their daily needs. It’s apparent that many prefer them over bars and cafes, owing to the former’s less formal setting.

Rich history — this is what city markets have accumulated, having been around for ages. An example is Mercado San Miguel, which was built in the early 1900’s.

Interesting architecture — others are popular to tourists mainly because of the uniquely-designed edifices that house them. If only for this reason, Madrid markets are easily considered as Madrid attractions.

Place for chat — food markets of Madrid have their food kiosks complete with tables and chairs, allowing for diners to spend half of their time dining, and the rest, engaging in some animated, seemingly endless conversation.

Here are six Madrid food markets where you can enjoy great tapas and comidas, apart from getting some great buys to fill your kitchen counter and fridge:

Mercado San Anton

imageimageThis mercado in hip Barrio Chueca is a favorite hangout among tapa lovers — there is a great number of kiosks from all three floors for everyone to choose from. Of course, you may opt for the usual Spanish tapas and bocadillos, but likewise, there are foods from European and Asian countries. On top of the establishment is a sit-down restaurant, La Cocino de San Anton, that features a terrace that affords diners with a spectacular view of the surrounding vicinity below. By the way, the hamburguesa (photo above) served by Asador La Manuela sells for 6 euros — a filling treat you must try at San Anton.

Location: 28004 Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24B
Business hours: Monday to Saturday: 10:00AM to 10:00PM (market area); Monday to Sunday: 10:00AM to 12:00MN (Tapas area, 2nd level)
Official Website: San Anton Market

Mercado de Maravillas

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This market lies the midst of the Cuatro Camino neighborhood, along the busy, boisterous Alvarado part of Bravo Murillo, where people come and go, passing through continuously, day in and day out.

This market is known for its fresh and cheaply priced chicken and seafood, which is why I prefer going there whenever I have the chance. Everytime I drop by Maravilla, I never fail to have my fill of two of my favorite Spanish comidas — empanadas and paellas. While there are a number of food stalls that sell empanadas, one particular kiosk at the back of the market really stands out because of its ultra-hot chilli-based sauce. Every time is a burning hot, tear-inducing and lip-numbing gastronomic experience even with just a piece of this meat filled empanada.

My craving for paella makes me pass by at Raypi, located near the entrance. More like a restaurant than a food kiosk since it has a dining area, Raypi boasts of really delectable paellas — never mind if they are served as tapas. Other popular food fare served at the restaurant are boquerones, orillas planchas, and many others.

Location: Calle de Bravo Murillo 122 Madrid 28020
Time Open:  Monday to Friday: 9:00–14:00, 17:30–20:30; Saturday: 9:00-3:00
Official Website: Mercado de Maravillas

Mercado de San Miguel

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Especially if you are a first-timer in Madrid, everyone’s advice must be for you to see Puerto del Sol, perhaps the most touristic spot of Madrid. Near this famous Spanish square is the Mercado de San Miguel, wnich is the perfect place to stave off your hunger. The market is well-known for its structure made of iron and glass; its spectacular facade always leave me to awe  whenever I set my eyes on it. Imagine being able to enjoy a plate of Paella for only 4 euros — this is one reason why I often pass by this market whenever I am at Sol or Plaza Mayor.

Location:Plaza de San Miguel 28005
Operational Hours: Sunday to Wednesday: 10AM to 12MN; Thursday to Saturday: 10AM to 2:00AM
Official Website: Mercado San Miguel

Mercado de San Ildefonso

imageimageYou will find San Ildefonso Mercado in the same league as San Miguel as far as popularity is concerned. This food market is the most visited among all other similar establishments within Madrid Centro, and probably the whole of the capital. Like San Miguel, you can find Spanish tapas and comidas of every kind, and what’s more, they are affordably priced. I visit this market from time to time if I want a fill of its paella tapa. Opens beyond 12 AM during weekends.

Location: Calle 57 Fuencarral 28004 Madrid
Hours Open: Sunday to Wednesday-12PM to 12AM; Thursday to Saturday-12:00PM to 1:00AM
Official Website: Mercado San Ildefonso

Mercado de la Cebada

2017_112621_4029_753A stone’s throw away to the La Latina Metro Station is the Mercado de la Cebada, one of Madrid’s largest street food markets. Cebada is popular not only because it is found within a boisterous, highly populated barrio, but also it is just beside Campo de la Cebada, where major activities of the neighborhood are held. While much of the space inside is occupied by sellers of raw food stuff like meats, poultry, and fish, it also offers a good number of options in food kiosks that sell great food, especially if you’re looking for a place to enjoy some affordable, quick eats on a weekend. My first time at the market found me in awe of its sheer size, which is a good thing because I enjoyed wandering through this labyrinth filled with stores offering goodies of every kind.

Location: Plaza de la Cebada 28005 Madrid
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 9:00AM-2:00PM, 5:00PM to 10:30PM; Saturdays: 9:00AM to 6:00PM; First Sunday of the Month: 11:00AM to 5:00PM
Official Website: Mercado Cebada

Mercado de San Fernando

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2017_112621_4901_527While San Fernando operates as a food market, it is more of a non-traditional one, since here you can stumble upon shops selling unique stuff other than food, like craftsman items, clothes, books, and vintage pieces. Of course, like the typical market in Madrid, it also has food kiosks selling Spanish comidas and tapas, as well as gastronomic delights from other countries. If you are a beer lover or want to have a taste of some quality brew, under its roof are brewery bars serving beers, great-tasting ones that give you all the reasons to keep coming back.

Its book shop by the way sells items that are priced according to its weight — the name is La Casquería.

Location: 41 Calle de Embajadores 28012
Time Open to the Public: Monday: 9:00AM to 2:00PM, 5:00PM to 9:00PM; Tuesday to Thursday: 9:00AM to 9:00PM; Friday to Saturday: 9:00AM to 11:00PM; Sunday: 11:00AM to 5:00PM
Website: San Fernando Market

5 Amazing Edifices of Epoch Habsburg’s Madrid de los Austrias

Old Madrid of the 1600’s experienced a major political upheaval when the city was occupied by Europe´s Imperial court of Habsburg. The Spanish Kings who reigned during this glorious epoch, likewise known as the House of Austria, were Kings Felipe II and Felipe III, with the latter tirelessly working to develop the urban aspect of the new center of Habsburg.

Fortunately, the legacy of this empire is very much visible today to one and all and everyone; the remnants of such glorious era are found in the midst of the capital. Which part of the city did the Casa de Austria occupy? This so-called ancient center of Madrid is situated along a significant portion of Calle Mayor, running towards the southern part.

And indeed, as I visited this particular stretch of the street, everything that represents the Madrid de los Austrias, is very much intact, what with the beautiful edifices built during those times well-preserved and in use. You hop from one splendid building to another, and you realized how grand the contribution of the Habsburg Empire is to the development of Madrid.

One only has to tread Calle Mayor, the end of which reaches Catedral de Almudena, and he will have a good glimpse of these Hadsburg edifices. Especially if you find yourself within Puerta del Sol and Plaza Opera, you are sure to have yourself immersed within the glorious Habsburg Era.

Here are 5 of Madrid de los Austrias must-see beautiful edifices:

1. Casa de la Villa

2018_012121_5902_531A must-see edifice of the Madrid Austria District is the Casa de la Villa. Day in and day out, locals and tourists alike troop to one of Madrid’s oldest squares, Plaza de la Villa, to wander around this historical area and appreciate the former town hall of the city. Constructed under the helm of Spanish builder Juan Gomez de Mora, Casa de la Villa did serve as the headquarters of Madrid’s city administration – but did you know that it once served as a prison to the incarcerated?

Direccion: Plaza de la Villa 5, Madrid 28005

Nearest Metro Stations: Vodafone Sol (Lines 1 to 3); Opera (Line 2, Line 5)

Nearest attractions: Mercado San Miguel

2. Casa de la Panaderia

2018_012121_5844_425What houses Madrid City Administration’s tourism office is the Casa de la Panaderia, standing in the middle of Plaza Mayor´s northern part. With porticoes in front and its two sides capped by towers, it advises tourists on which Madrid sights and attractions to visit. Damaged by the 1672 fire, this historical edifice underwent major repair and renovation. Take notice of how a marked portion of its facade is painted by semi-nude, somewhat mythical figures — they are said that to have been painted in order to compliment the rich history of of the city.

Nearest attractions: Casa de la Carniceria (also inside Plaza Mayor), bocadillo restaurants, Chocolateria San Gines

3. Real Casa de Correos

2018_012121_5938_277One of the most popular representatives of the Madrid de los Austrias is the Real Casa de Correos, an imposing building with an open tower, within which hangs a bell. Come midnight of December 31, revelers gather to witness the pealing of the bell 12 times, signaling the start of the New Year.

Direccion: Puerta del Sol

Metro Station: Sol (nearest station), Opera, Sevilla (all three belong to Metro Line 2), Callao (at Plaza de Callao, Metro line 3)

Nearby attractions: Plaza Callao

4. Casa y Torre de los Lujanes

2018_012121_5831_370These edifices have the distinction of being two of the oldest buildings in Madrid. Both are integral parts of the ancient Spanish square found along Casa Mayor called the Plaza de la Villa. The Torre de Lujanes is known to be the former prison of King Francis I, who was captured upon his defeat during the Battle of Pavia of 1525. And indeed, while the place is currently dominated by modern buildings and establishments, the square itself somewhat brings you back to centuries ago when it exudes power and authority.

Location: Within Plaza de la Villa of Austria District, Madrid

Nearest Metro Station: Sol, Opera

Nearby sights and attractions: Plaza de Santa Isabel II, Palacio Real

5. Palacio de Santa Cruz

imageThe old but beautiful edifice of the Austrian dynasty is the Palace of Santa Cruz. Formerly known as the ¨La Carcel de Madrid,¨ it did act as a former prison of the city, with convicted prisoners sent to the Plaza Mayor to be executed. Later on, it was turned into a palace to become a residence of Rey Felipe IV. Palacio de Santa Cruz is currently the home to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.

Plaza Provincia Madrid 28012

Nearby attractions: Parroquia de Santa Cruz, Museo de Jamon

How to go

Metro Stations: Sol (Lines 1,2,3); Tirso de Molina (Line 1); Lavapies (Line 3); Opera (Lines 2,5); Sevilla (Line 2). All stations are a 5 to 15 minute walk to Calle Atocha.

7 Museums Really Worth Seeing When in Madrid

Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Antoni Gaudi, Joan Miro — the list of great artists of Spain seems endless. This must be why there are countless museums in the country, enough to house all the precious works of art of these magnificent Spanish men of art.

In fact, many museums and art institutions are found right within the City of Madrid. Hence, if you’re bound for the Spanish capital as a first-timer, planning to roam around and tour the place, keep in mind that in order to complete your Madrid adventure, you have to check out and explore some of the city’s museums.

When in Madrid, never miss on museum hopping, as the city is acknowledged for its unique and exciting museums, each of which boasts of countless valuable items on display that you can ever lay your eyes on. In fact, Madrid museums are home of millions of art collections such as sculptures, paintings, and artifacts; these are not just the creation of Spanish maestros, but also artists from all over the world. Irreplaceable historical articles and archaeological finds are likewise on display, with many of them from the country itself, while others are from Asia and other European countries.

I’ve visited and explored the following 7 Madrid museums, and needless to say, I was so much impressed that this prompted me to write an article that will make readers become more aware of them and even be enticed to pay them as well. Admission to some are free all days of the week, while others offer free entrance on certain days, and still others have free admissions on specific hours of the day. What’s true for all is that they are exciting ones that you must see and explore.

1. Museo del Romanticismo

2017_091022_0739_493A hundred meters or so away from the busy Metro Station of Tribunal, in downtown Madrid, is the Museum of Romanticism, its accessibility of which makes it one of the most visited museums in the city. The museo occupies an 18th century edifice that’s a stone-throw away from the tourist-magnet stretch of Calle Fuencarral. The floors feature different rooms of a house or Spanish casa that’s typical of the olden days.

Direccion: Calle San Mateo 13 28004 Madrid

Admission is free on Saturdays, starting at 2PM

Regular admssion price is 3 euros

2. Museo de Historia de Madrid

History of Madrid MuseumAlso within the hip Chueca neighborhood is the popular Museum of the History of Madrid, housed within the former San Fernando Hospice building. And as its name implies, the museo boasts of valuable paintings and historical items that represent the  strata of society, ways of living, types of clothing, and means of livelihood of Madrileños from different eras. Visit the Museum and appreciate numerous artifacts from as early as the middle of the 1500’s up to the modern times.

Address: C/ Fuencarral 78 28004 Madrid

Admission: Free all days of the week

3. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

2017_072317_5046_898Part of the three-member art promenade group, also known as the Triangle of Art, Thyssen’s permanent collection is mainly the history of painting coming from different European countries from the Middle Ages up the modern 20th century. Italian, Russian, German and American works of art are among the important displays with the museum.

Free Entry: Every Monday, limited to the Museum’s Permanent Collection between 12Noon and 4PM

Direccion: 8 Paseo del Prado 28014 Madrid

Regular Admission: 12 euros, covers at exhibits, both permanent and temporary

4. Museo de America

imageMoncloa is famous for the Victory Arch of Madrid, or the Moncloa Gate, and also the Spanish Air Force, or the Ejercito del Aire.  Likewise a crowd-drawer is the Museum of the Americas, considered to be one of the city’s major centres of culture and the art. Here  you will find numerous historical and archaeological items on display every day of the year. Many are not only from Spain and the US, but also from the Latin countries as well.

Direccion: Avenida Reyes Católicos 6 28040 Madrid

Admission: Free during Sundays. The rest of the days of the week: €3

5. Museo de los Caños del Perral

imageThe metro station of Opera does not only serve as an integral component of the city’s efficient transport system, but it is also home to a below-the-ground archeological museum — the Museo de los caÑos del Perral. Virtually a museum located underground, it displays valuable archaeological remains that provides efficient plumbing for fountains of the city, during the 1500 and 1600’s.

Address: Within Opera Metro, Plaza Reina Isabel II

Admission: Free if you are a Metro train rider, 1.50 euros if you´re visiting from outside the Metro facility

The museum is open to the public on on weekends, Fridays to Sunday. Time open: 11AM to 1PM, 5PM to 7PM.

6. Chamberi Ghost Museum

imageWe have featured one metro station that’s permanent home to an underground museum. Still, there is another that doesn’t function anymore as a train station, but was converted into an actual museum- this is the Chamberi train station. For some reason, this station got closed down by the Metro administation. Eventually, it was turned into a museum, displaying artifacts that tell about the Metro’s early days.

Direccion: Plaza de Chamberi, Madrid

Admission is Free, but open only on Friday, 11AM – 1PM and 5PM – 7PM; and Saturday and Sunday, 10AM – 2PM

7. Prado Museum

imageStrategically located along the Paseo del Prado is probably Spain’s most famous museum bearing the same name. It is a must-visit if you are a museum-phile as it contains a great number of art and painting work from and the whole of Europe. What was originally a museum intended for Spain’s Royal family, if only because of its rare collections, visitors will be enthralled to see some of the best Spanish art paintings and pieces like Goya, Rembrandt, Titian, and Velasquez.

Operational hours: 9AM to 8PM. Closed on Sundays.

Regular Admission fee: 6 euros

Free Admission: From 6PM to 8PM, Tuesday to Saturday; 5PM to 8PM, Sunday

Mercado de la Cebada of La Latina, Madrid

2018_062020_0809_354Visiting yet another important Madrid market, sprawled on a lot within the barrio of La Latina, is Mercado de Cebada. I went on a Wednesday, the middle of the week, and based on what I saw — what with the numerous kiosks in every corner of the mercado, although perhaps only a third is open to sell all sorts of food and non-food wares, and the rest is closed — it must be one of the biggest markets in the whole of the Madrid Centro District.

While its imposing facade is sure to catch one’s attention, you can tell from the inside that the market is antiquated. Its interior is behind compared to that of the other modern markets like San Ildefonso and San Miguel. Still, the people behind Cebada can say that it is a no-frills market, one devoid of the 2018_062020_0824_354unwanted decorative clutters, and offers the necessities of the homemakers first and formost. Like any other market in Madrid, morning is the hustle-and-bustle part of the day, where a common sight everywhere are lively interchanges between stall owners and their clients.

2018_062020_0710_799Upon entering, you are greeted by staircases that lead to two floors, both of which are filled with food stores selling meats (carniceria), fruits and vegetables (fruteria), fish (pescaderia), poultry — everything you might need to stock up your kitchen. Non-food wares are also sold here, such as cosmetics, optic wear, furniture, flowers.

2018_062020_0719_200There are also wine and beer sellers, and aside from the traditional fruits and vegetables, the organic type is also offered here.

2018_062020_0652_146It is no wonder that the market is brimming with locals and even from those outside the barrio to do their weekly purchases. Come Friday, and onto the weekend, Cebada transforms itself into a huge roofed, gathering place for friends who want to have a few hours of good time chatting, while at the same time drinking beer on one of those Latino bars, or eat some cheese or Spanish tapa from a local food shop.

Direccion: Plaza de la Cebada 17, Distrito Centro La Latina

How to go:

2018_062020_0816_349Via Metro — It is easy to reach Mercado de Cebada, since it is situated right within the City Centro. You have to take Madrid Metro Line 5, and get off at La Latina Metro Station, which is directly in front of the market.

Via Autobus — Buses that pass through are 17, 18, 35, 23, and M1.

Horarios (Business hours):

Cebada Market is open Monday-Friday, 9AM to 2PM, 5PM to 8:30PM. On Saturdays, it is open starting 9AM and closes shop at around 3PM

Official Website:

http://www.mercadodelacebada.com/

Map:

Real Fábrica de Tapices de Santa Bárbara

2018_052609_0312_057Want to see how things are done inside Spain’s premier tapestry and weaving factory? The site is right here in Madrid, and is known as the Royal Tapestry Factory, or in Spanish, La Real Fábrica de Tapices de Santa Bárbara. And like the name says, it is a factory cum workshop that churns out tapestries, rugs and carpets that are not just beautiful, but also has tell rich stories to tell, mainly because the factory has been in operation since 1720.

Its almost 3 centuries of existence make it a living museum, where everyone who wants to learn more about how Spanish weaves and tapestries where made and evolved thru the ages. Real Fabrica de Tapìces gives guests the opportunity to see and observe how the factory’s craftsmen create and repair tapestries, and go about their tasks as commissioned by companies, organizations, and private individuals.

It was a project by then King Philip V that’s meant to produce these luxurious tapestries and carpet items within the Spanish capital. It was intended to replace the Gobelins Factory of France, in order to meet the supply requirements of the different Spanish courts.

Did you know that once involved in the Royal Factory was the young Francisco Goya? He was asked to create beautiful tapestry designs for items that were used to decorate two popular Madrid royal palaces, the El Pardo and El Escorial palaces. Such designs are known as cartoons, and a great number of them are found today at the Prado Museum.

2018_053018_5351_273Workers busy weaving and creating beautiful tapestries for various clients

2018_052609_0238_191Looms are an indispensable component, but there are a variety of tools as well, that are necessary in the creation of a intricately woven tapestry

Philippine Tapestry Exhibit at Real Fabrica de Tapices

I was a guest at a recent event on Real Fabrica that was in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy in Madrid. I witness the launching of the launching of the Piña-Seda, a series of exhibition that featured Philippine Weaving and Embroidery. It was realized thru the efforts of the Philippine National Museum, a number of Philippine local governments, namely Kalibo, Aklan, and Lumban, Laguna.

2018_060314_0838_071Philippine Ambassador to Spain Philippe Jones Lhuillier was proud of the untiring and continuing works of the Filipino embroiders and weavers that ensured the preservation of the piña-seda.

The ambassador expressed his gratitude to the Real Fabrica de Tapices for working with the Embassy to ensure the realization of a Philippine tapestry and weaving exhibit. He acknowledged that the event will place more attention and appreciation of people from this part of the world to Philippine textiles.

2018_052609_0229_087Visitors intently watch a Filipino weaver create beautiful fabrics, obviously appreciative of the highly artistic skills the textile artisan displays right in front of them

2018_052609_0248_373Typical Philippine weave instruments on display during the exhibit

2018_052609_0208_513An array of traditional Filipino shirts called the Barong Tagalog, intricately embroidered and woven by hands

Location

Calle Fuenterrabia 2 Madrid 28014

Nearest Metro: Menendez Pelayo

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday, 10AM – 2PM
You may join guided tours scheduled every hour. Tours at 12PM are conducted in English.

Admission Price

5 euros

Map

Madrid Park: Parque María Eva Duarte Peron

2018_052023_1826_070People might brand it as one of the lesser parks of Madrid, and in a way, because of its miniscule size compared to other parks, all of 3 hectares in area, there is an aorta of truth to it.  Still, I thought that the Parque María Eva Duarte Peron is a park of great significance, if only it boasts of a variety of physical exercise machines primarily for use by older individuals living within and around the park, and of course, by everyone who decides to visit the place.

The Eva Duarte Peron Park is dedicated to and named after the wife of ex-President Juan Peron, and this fact makes it a popular destination to the fans and admirers of the comely yet feisty South American lady. Affectionately called Evita, Peron is perhaps the most popular First Lady of Argentina because of her work with the Argentine women’s suffrage.

A major landmark at Manuel Becerra Park, you will find it along the busy Dr. Gomez Ulla, near Calle Alcala.

Did you know that its current location was a former farmland owned by Francisco Noguera of the Nogueras Estate — it was called the Quinta de los Leones. In 1951, it was converted by the Madrid City Council into a garden/park/recreational area. You’d see people – young and old — visiting the place, day in and day out, enjoying an afternoon stroll, playing with their dogs, letting their kids spend some lull time in the playground, picnicking, playing cards, and using its games and recreational facilities for sports such as basketball and soccer.

While small in size compared to the major parques like the Retiro, it still offers ample areas filled with lush shrubs, tall trees, and all other forms of greeneries, well-maintained dirt pathways, tables and benches, and even fountains. There is even a church nearby. In one of the entrances you can see a stone bust bearing the likeness of Eva de Peron.

Needless to say, if you live near Alcala, and are a nature-loving person looking for a place to spend the day enjoying a bit of fresh air and sunshine, the Parque Eva Duarte Peron is the place to go.
2018_052118_5723_491The water fountain, one of the favorite features found in the middle of the park
2018_052118_5757_393I tried out one of the exercise equipment installed in the midst of the park
2018_052118_5820_865Having a hard time pedaling, until I realized it’s intended for use by the elderly2018_052118_5848_997People playing card games is a common sight inside Eva Peron Parque2018_052118_5833_954Children and toddlers may claim their special spot inside the Eva Peron Park, where they can play to their heart’s content while their parents or guardians watch over them2018_052118_5902_654Dirt roads radiate from the middle of the park onto surrounding major streets2018_052118_5925_331A smaller fountain can be seen near the main gate by the Covadonga Church2018_052118_5938_353Dogs lovers love to bring their pets in the park for an hour or two of canine recreation2018_052118_5948_098Drinking fountain also located near the Church of Covadonga2018_052119_0103_787Took a picture of one of the machines — it is meant to exercise one’s hands, perhaps to maintain the dexterity of the fingers

2018_052119_2127_124Parroquia Covadonga de Madrid

Location:

Dr. Gomez Ulla 9
Barrio Guindalera, Salamanca

How to go:

Metro Station – Manuel Becerra

Map:

Instituto Cervantes: Prime Promoter of the Spanish Language

2018_050917_5320_801Walk along Calle de Alcala in Centro Madrid, and you’d be amazed how it is lined with so many beautiful buildings scattered along its length. Quite a number of them are concentrate near the start of this history-rich road, which is at the Puerta del Sol. Green and contemporary, art deco, Grecian, Neo-classical, Neo-mudejar — here is where you could find structures built using all sorts of major designs.  The most popular edifices that are sure to capture one’s imagination are the Palacio de Cibeles, Banco de Espana, and Edificio Metropolis.

2018_050917_5253_599Still, another captivating building, standing in the corner of Alcala and Calle Barqillo, is the Instituto Cervantes, or the Cervantes Institute in English. Named after Spain’s foremost literary man, Miguel de Cervantes, the writer of Don Quixote, the Alcala-based institution was built using the caryatids or pillars of stones carved to represent a female figure, with the design done by prominent Spanish architects Antonio Palacios and Joaquin Otamendi. Previously, it was used as the office of the Central bank of Spain.

2018_050917_5238_153It is an organization created for the public by the Spanish government to foster the love and usage of the Spanish language. It started its operation in 1991, and since then it has continued its goal of promoting and disseminating the language of Spain as well as Spanish and Latin American art and culture.

received_1318114028290630The Instituto at Alcala Street is one of the two central headquarters, with the other one located at the nearby Madrid town of Alcalá de Henares. Instituto Cervantes also has branches all over the world. For instance, there is one in my own hometown, in Central Manila. I am proud that the branch in the Philippines is considered a Centro Cervantes, or a full-fledged Centre. The smaller schools are known as Aulas Cervantes, Centros Acreditos, and Centros Asociados.

2018_050917_5303_965Are you serious about learning the Spanish language the right way? The best choice is the Cervantes since it offers diplomas and certificates in behalf the Ministry of Education of Spain, ones meant for non-natives that are officially recognised by the country.

While the institution is focused on a clear mission which is to propagate the use of the Spanish language, it is also engaged in a wide variety of cultural activities for general public such as exhibits and workshops for both adult and children.

Location: Calle de Alcalá 49 28014

Entrance: Free

Official website; Email address: informa@cervantes.es

How to reach:

Autobus- M2, 1, 5, 9, 14, 15, 27, 34, 45, 46, 51, 52, 74, 146, 150

Metro Train: Banco de España (Nearest), Sol, Sevilla

Library is from from Monday to Friday, 9AM to 3PM

For various activities and events, please consult its website.

Map

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.