All posts by talkmadrid

Madrid’s Fascinating Buildings: Real Casa de Correos

imageReal Casa de Correos is considered as one of the most imposing and grandiose edifices in all of Madrid. It dwarfs all others within Puerta del Sol, one of the city’s most popular squares. Also the oldest building around, the Correos is a major landmark that easily attracts visitors in throngs and busloads from all over, it being located right in the midst of Spain’s most touristy area.

While countless impressive spots are nearby — such as Plaza Mayor, Gran Via, Palacio de CibelesPalacio Real, and Plaza de Oriente, Casa de Correos is a major attraction in its own right, one that you must definitely see if you’re touring Madrid.

Built when

The building was the masterful work of Jacques Marquet, who used the Neo-classical style, one of the common architectural designs during those times. Construction dates was from 1760 up to 1768.

Real Casa has always been a government building. It was said to have been a post office in the beginning, hence its Spanish name. Afterwards, it became home to the Ministry of the Interior. At present, it serves as the seat of the Presidency of Community of Madrid (sede de la presidencia dela Comunidad de Madrid).

Kilometer zero

The Kilometro Cero at sidewalk of Real Casa de Correos, Puerta del Sol, MadridAnother reason to visit the Real Casa is the Kilometro Cero. In front of the building’s entrance, embedded on the sidewalk is this historic metal-crafted plaque. This symbol indicates the point leading to the major places in Spain. Kilometer zero is also the starting point of the major streets of Spain. You always measure the distance from this point to any other place in the country. And indeed, you would notice people milling around it, taking photos of their feet as they step on the Kilometer Zero marker.

Christmas tradition

Its best feature is the central tower that bears a 19th Century turret clock, made by the popular Spanish watch creator Losada. The Casa’s tower has always been the central attention of revelers every New Year’s Eve. Everyone gathers at the square, milling in front of the Casa Real, each bearing 12 grapes. It is a tradition to eat a piece of grape for every peal of the bell, continuing until all 12 had been consumed. As the clock strikes 12, the New Year is met by an impressive fireworks display as well as a major revelry throughout the plaza and the whole of Spain. The striking of the clock during New Year’s Eve is televised all around Spain.

imageIt is a popular landmark, especially on December 31 of every year when all roads lead to Plaza del Sol, and the building and clock tower becomes the center of attraction as the countdown to the new year is celebrated.

Location of Real Casa de Correos:

Puerta del Sol 7
28013-Madrid

How to go:

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

 Autobus: Number 51 (from Plaza del Pero and Principe de Vergara), Linea 3 (passes thru Puerta del Sol via Bravo Murillo up to Puerta de Toledo, Bus no 150 (from Principe de Vergara and Santiago de Bernabeu), Line 5 (paradas located along Paseo de Castellana)

Mapa

Casa y Torre de Lujanes: Two of Madrid’s Oldest Edifices

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It is a delight to be in the one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city of Madrid – this is the Madrid de los Austrias. If you still don’t know, the Austrian district is where you’ll find some of the most famous and visited attractions this side of Madrid. On top of the list are Plaza Mayor, the Casa de las Sieta Chimeneas, Royal Convent of the Incarnation, and the Palacio de Santa Cruz.

Another must-see is the Casa and Torre of the Lujanes, also in the Austria District, Madrid. It faces an equally popular and historical building, the Casa de la Villa. The Lujanes edifices are known as two of the oldest buildings in of Madrid. It is said that quite a number of generations of the Lujan family had occupied these buildings as residence.

Staring at the edifices as I stand in the middle of the Plaza de la Villa had me greatly astonished, as I am aware that it is like staring at monuments that had been  witnesses to an invaluable history of Spain of centuries ago.

imageThe Tower of Lujanes, situated along Calle del Codo. It houses the organization called the Real Sociedad Economica Matritense de Amigos del Pais

While the lanky tower’s height is average, did you know that it was once one of Madrid’s tallest buildings. Gaze at its peak and you’ll notice its turret. The design of its door, on the other hand, is obviously Mudejar, which was common style during those days. In fact, both edifices exhibit strong Mudéjar design, an evidence that this Muslim architectural design had been in used during the 15 century and even earlier in Spain.

imageThe sign at the facade of the Casa says “Plaza de la Villa 2 Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Politicas” refering to the group that is currently its tenant

The Casa de los Lujanes, the house, which possesses a patio in its interior, was rendered a major renovation by Juan de Luján during the last part of the 1400´s.

During its time, the Lujanes Tower was considered the tallest in the city. Its height proved to be helpful as the tower was utilized as a telegraphic station between the capital and nearby town Aranjuez.

imageDirectly in front of the two edifices is the Casa dela Villa, the Old Ayuntamiento of Madrid

The Torre de Los Lujanes acted as headquarters to a number of groups such as the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences; the Royal Academy of Natural and Physical Sciences and the Matritense Economic Society of Friends of Spain.

There were interesting stories behind the Tower and Casa, the most popular is that the tower acted as a prison to French King Francis I after he was defeated and captured during the 1525 Battle of Pavia.

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

Nearest Metro Station: Sol, Opera

How to find: Finding the Lujanes Tower and House is easy. With the Real Casa de Correos in front of the Puerta del Sol as your starting point, walk along Calle Mayor to its left, passing by Plaza Sn Miguel and Mercado San Miguel, until you reach the buildings along the square’s Calle del Codo.

Entrance: Not open to the general public

Map:

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

I always say mercados in Madrid are worth my time; I love visiting any of these city markets if only because somes of them deliver interesting sights and experiences I hardly expect at all. The bountiful variety of fresh produce on sale is a given — quality meats and poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices and grains of all shapes and colors, all the traditional goodies you can think of.

Madrid mercados offer much more, in the form of delicious food stuffs such as tapas, bocadillos, and tons of Spanisn comidas sold by food kiosks integrated within. Located on the establishments’ upper levels, these kiosks are often patronized by customers who opt to take a quick snack after a tiresome hour or two of wandering around and buying their daily needs. Many others prefer them over bars and cafes, owing to the former’s less formal setting.

Many city markets have accumulated a great amount of historical value, having been around for ages. An example is Mercado San Miguel, built in the early 1900’s. A number are popular to tourists simply because of the uniquely-designed edifices that house them.

Such are the very reasons why these city mercados easily are major Madrid attractions.

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 just a great number of kiosks from all three floors for everyone to choose from. Of course, you may for the usual Spanish tapas and bocadillos, but also, there are kiosks that offer 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 in the midst of the Cuatro Camino neighborhood is known for its fresh and cheaply priced chicken and seafood, which is why I prefer going there whenever I have the chance (I regularly go to Tetuan Market, since it is a lot nearer my place. During those times that I visit Maravilla, I never fail to stop by my two favorite kiosks that sell empanadas and paellas. While there are quite a number of food stalls dthat sell empanadas, one really stands out if only for its ultra-hot chilli-based sauce. If I fancy paella, I make a quick stop at Raypi, located near the entrance. More like a restaurant than a food kiosk since it has a dining area, Raypi serve great-tasting paellas (even if they are served as tapas), 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 one who has been in the city for the first time, your first day would see you dropping by Puerto del Sol, one of the major touristy areas of Madrid. Near this spot is the famous Mercado de San Miguel, the perfect place to stave off your hunger. The market is well-known for its structure made of mainly iron and glass; its spectacular facade easily makes it one of the major attractions of Madrid. 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 level as San Miguel as far as popularity is concerned. This food market is well-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 likewise, 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_753In front of the entrance to the La Latina Metro Station is the Mercado de la Cebada, one of the largest street food markets in Madrid. It is certainly popular, because it is within a popular barrio, near the Metro, and beside Campo de la Cebada, where major barrio activities are held. Its sheer size can While much of the space inside is occupied by sellers of raw food stuff like meats, poultry, and fish, you also have a good number of options of food kiosks that offers 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 acts as a food market, I find it to be more of a non-traditional mercado, since you can find shops selling unique stuff other then food, such as craftsman items, clothes, books, and vintage items. Of course, it doesn’t lack food kiosks selling Spanish comidas and tapas, and also gastronomic delights from other countries. If you are a beer lover or want to have a taste of some quality brew, San Fernando houses brewery bars offering good tasting beers. These give you all the reasons to keep coming back.

Its book shop by the way sells books 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

Park Güell Barcelona — Antoni Gaudi’s Jewel

imageFrom the terrace of the park, you are afforded a breathtaking view of Barcelona, the ocean, and its port

Who visits Barcelona and doesn’t see Park Güell? I am guilty of this, having been to this Catalan city twice, and in both times, was only able to see the surroundings of the park because I failed to secure an entrance ticket.

Lady luck is definitely on my side, however, as just last month, I was able to travel again to Barcelona.

And this time, I opted for RENFE, which meant I reached Barcelona in no time at all. Indeed, it was a fast travel for me. While before, it took me some 7 to 8 hours to reach the city by car from Madrid, I was there via train within 3 hours.

By 8 am, I was up and about, ready to head to the park. It was a weekend, so I presumed Guell would have more visitors. In a hurried pace, panting and all, I climbed up the Montanya from the Metro Lesseps to arrive at the entrance gates at around 9AM. There was hardly any visitor at the entrance booth, and so we easily got our tickets and rushed to enter Guell.

imagePerhaps one of the most popular parks in Barcelona, if not the most popular, Güell is found within another natural park, sitting on top of the Carmel Hill. For me, it is more like a huge, attractive garden where one can roam around to his heart’s desire. What makes it unique from the other Spanish park is that it is filled with spectacular works of art by Antoni Gaudi, Spain´s premier artist. Needless to say, Guell is a true testament of Gaudi’s artistic genius.

Original plan for Park Güell

Eusebi, aware of the brilliance of Gaudi, commissioned him to head the park’s construction that started in the early 20th century. They planned it as a residence park for at least 50 families. When the plan fizzled, Gaudi continued his work on the park, utilizing and playing with numerous colors and designs that are found everywhere within Guell.

My impression of the park? When in Barcelona, Park Guell is one place you mustn’t miss to see. In fact, as soon as the group entered and started to gaze around, every spot, and every nook and corner of Guell is breaktaking. All of us are one in saying that the park is one that will never fail to astound.

What to see inside Park Guell

2017_111118_1653_474Marvel at these structures along the hill of the park — rough, arcaded walkways tourists can leisurely promenade through as they wander and examine the park.

2017_111111_0939_015There is beautiful, randomly pieced tilework in the park, full of life and color, on the creatures living there and on the grand sinuous benches surrounded a large open square

2017_111523_3831_818The best entrance to access to the park was the one situated in Carrer d’Olot, in front of the beautiful stairway where the lizard can be found, and the Hypostyle Room.

2017_111111_0930_727Its roof forms a vast terrace with a view of the city. It’s surrounded by an undulating continuous bench, the back of which forms a balustrade, its entire surface encrusted with ceramic shards of all colours, some randomly arranged, some in patterns.

imageThe beautiful edifice, another great masterpiece of Guadi, is the Hypostyle Room, where found are around 86 Doric designed columns serving as support to the roof.
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How to reach the park

By Car–

From La Rambla, it is more or less half an hour drive from Placa de Catalunya. Go past the Tivoli Theatre by turning right, and continue to ride straight ahead until you reach the Tetuan Plaza. From here, you will have to turn left and then go straight until you pass through the Travessera de Gracia. A couple of meters more and you’ll find yourself within the vicinity of Park Güell.

By Metro–

Take Linea 3. Here you get off at Vallarca, and walk some 15 minutes, including the use of the Baixada de la Glòria escalators, until you reach the Avinguda del Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya. Walk further up to the end portion of  Carrer d’Ot, where located is one of the entrances to the park.

You may get also off at the Lesseps station (also on Line 3), then head to the Sant Josep de la Muntanya passage by foot, which is also equipped with escalators.

Admission Ticket Prices

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General price: 7 euros

Kids 6 years old and below: Free

Kids 7 to 12 years old: 4.90 euros

Adults 65 years and over, persons with disability: 4.90 euros (subsidized ticket price)

 

Trivia about the park:

2017_111111_0956_6691. Inside the park are two houses, one of which served as the residence of Gaudi himself. This is what was created out of the original plan of building some 60 residences inside the park — but apparently, only a few were interested.

2. Park Guell was declared by UNESCO as one of the important World Heritage Sites in 1984.

3. Paying for the entrance fee, you simply gain access to 5 percent of the park and its most important portion — the terrace. All the rest, the 95 percent of the park, is free to see.

Sa Caleta beach — Ibiza’s Es Bol Nou

imageOne doesn’t fly to Ibiza and not experience its beaches. I, for one, am from faraway Madrid, and made sure I’d be able to visit one — Sa Caleta Beach.

Earlier, I was told this was one of the lesser known beaches of Ibiza, but I had to admit my disbelief when I arrived there.  Needless to say, Caleta is one of the most awesome sights I have ever seen.

The beach is nothing sprawling, but instead stretches only so far. Its smallness makes it easy for a few number of tall reddish and rustic cliffs to enclose it. Parts of the shore are dotted with dark-colored rock formations that further enhance the beauty  of the surroundings. Sa Caleta is obviously frequented, but this spectacular natural wonder seems hardly untouched.

The waters are bluish, and upon close checking, you would discover that they are crystal clear. From afar, the sea is serene, almost still, except for the repititous action of the water racing to the seashore as small, gentle waves.

We decided to see the place at 1PM, thinking that it was an early time. However, upon arriving at the site,  the beach is already filled with swimmers and sunbathers enjoying the day’s excellent weather condition.

Sa Caleta, I learned, is one of the handout beaches of many locals and tourists — they consider the beach as a favorite among all beaches in Ibiza simply because of its amazing natural setting.

How to get to Sa Caleta beach

From Madrid: Flight is more or less an hour. I rode the Iberia, which cost me 150 euros.

From the Town or Ibiza Airport: Car ride to the beach is some 15 to 20 minutes traveling the San Jose road towards Cala Jondal.

Autobus: Ride Bus number 26, which takes the Ibiza/San Jose/Cala Vadella route. You alight at Sa Caleta stop; the beach is 10 minutes away

Bit of trivia: Did you know that the Sa Caleta is the site where the Phoenicians first settled in Ibiza, during 654 BC. Because of this, it was included in the list of World Heritage sites in 1999.

imageThink twice about going to the beach late during weekends as it fills up early with local swimmers and beach lovers. The beach is the perfect place to lazily lull around, read a book or sunbath.

imageRock formations line up this part of the beach. I wish Madrid also has a beach as beautiful as this to speak of. Ibiza boasts of the most breathtaking beaches — it is a must that you see as many as possible.

imageThis reddish brown rock wall serves as a protection of the beach against strong winds. Such formation greatly adds to the already picture perfect setting, making Sa Caleta one of the standout beaches for locals and tourists alike.

imageDon’t be surprised if you would encounter habitues lying down or promenading by the shore without anything on. Apart from the cool waters, golden to white sands, blue and almost clear skies, nudists are also what you can expect at Sa Caleta

imageThe beach has shallow waters, hence, making it ideal for a number of water activities and safe for kids to swim in

imageRestaurant La Sacade is the popular beachfront restaurant with a terrace that affords the diners with an excellent view of the beach and Mediterranean Sea

imageI sat on this very table and took advantage of the best view of the beach.  The restaurant is open to serve beach goers all year round

Map

Madrid’s Mercado San Ildefonso — Food Market at the Heart of Malasaña

2017_101017_1354_744Whenever I am bound for Gran Via or Puerta del Sol, I always insist on using the Calle Fuencarral route, as I enjoy walking through one of the most touristy streets of Centro Madrid. In the middle of this road by the corner of Calle Santa Barbara, with boutiques of famous clothing and shoe brands dominating its length, is the food market called the Mercado San Ildefonso.

Where numerous food stalls are found under one roof, San Idefonso is in the same league as the Mercado San Miguel of Plaza Mayor and Mercado San Anton of Chueca. Here you can find and enjoy a wide variety of foods, not only Spanish but all types of cuisine — American, Mediterranean, Latin American, and even Asian (mainly Chines and Japanese).

Hence, if you happen to drop by at Malasaña, satisfy your hunger by dining at Mercado San Ildefonso. It is the perfect place to have some quick (and often necessary) chow that will energize you for your day-long shopping at Fuencarral or surrounding areas, or chat with friends while enjoying some rounds of drinks.

2017_101007_5529_388The place boasts of three levels, although the 2nd floor is where you can find the most number of food stalls. The picture above reveals a vinos bar on the top floorreceived_1142983672470334The specialty of this stall are savory paellas and other arroz-based dishes. They are served as tapas, which I thought is rare as paella is available in restaurants as raciones (bigger servings) to ensure the quality of the dish)2017_101017_1319_552This plate of paella of sticky rice of saffron and shrimps sells for 4 euros, one of the dishes I always try whenever I visit San Ildefonso. I’m just surprised that they serve it with a slice pan2017_101017_1306_410Madrid is known to be home to delicious tapas — they’re everywhere, especially in Mercado San Ildefonso. No doubt the chorizo tapa with pan above is inviting. You will certainly have a good fill to last for a day with this tapa. 3.50 euros a platereceived_1142983732470328San Ildefonso will never run out of jamon tapas. Jamon dishes costs from 3 to 15 euros, depending on the type of jamon, and quantity of your order (tapa or racion).

What to expect at San Ildefonso:

Venue: The market has three floors, with the second floor hosting most of the food stalls

What to Eat: All varieties, paella, bocadillos, all types of jamon, seafoods, brochetas, even crepe

Wine: There are bars to be found on every floor of the mercado, perfect for those who want to while their time away with family and friends.

Horario: From Sunday to Wednesday, the establishment is open for business at around 10AM and closes past 12AM. The rest of the week, it stays open until 1AM.

How to go: Take Autobus number 149 and get off at the last stop, Tribunal Station. Proceed to the nearby Calle de Fuencarral and take the portion going towards Gran Via until you reach Santa Barbara.

Map:

See Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Fly from Madrid in less than 3 Hours)

2017_100518_5831_954Spain is sunny almost all year around. You can bask in the sun in Madrid, Segovia, Santiago de Compostela, or just about everywhere. Needless to say, you will never run out of days when you can revel and enjoy the amazingly warm Spanish climate. Still, if you want to go to where people say is the best place to head to during summer, pack your bag and  take the next flight to Tenerife. The largest of the Canary Islands, and the most populous one, it is one of Spain’s most important tourist destinations.

Let’s focus on Sta Cruz de Tenerife, the island’s port city, where you are like being transported to a tropical paradise, which is an amazing fact as the place is warmly nestled within the European continent.

And a tourist paradise indeed it is, as travelers go there to maximize their free time by relaxing, roaming around, dining, and enjoying the amazingly fine weather. Suffice it to say that if you are on a vacation and have chosen Tenerife for your destination, you will experience the best summer holiday ever.

What to see in Tenerife

Do you love the port, museums, plazas, boutiques and malls, water sports, and most especially the beach? These are some of the features that you can expect to enjoy when in Sta Cruz de Tenerife. This charming port has so much to offer that you’ll see yourself away from your hotel room all day. Vacation time here means imbibing its unique nature — the beach, the ocean, the volcanoes and mountains, and ancient towns. You will never want to leave this island the minute that you experience it.

The city boasts of an excellent transit system, offering efficient buses available in every nook and cranny of the city. But, there is no doubt that walking around the city is the best way to truly enjoy a taste of the capital. This is true especially if you are pressed for time to see as many tourist spots as possible.

Check out some of what Santa Cruz de Tenerife has to offer.

2017_100518_5843_944Tenerife offers great beaches where you can stay all day long to enjoy the warmth of the island’s summery climate. As soon as winter approaches the country, the city port is sure to start packing with avid beach lovers. Take a long lull at the beach or enjoy some exciting water activities at Tenerife.

2017_100519_5110_086The Plaza de España of Tenerife is one of the must-visit places in the island. Here you can see the Monument of the Fallen, a tower in the shape of a cross. Evidently, it boasts of designs influenced by Fascist architecture

2017_100518_5815_248After visting the Plaza de Españá, you will want to see another square just nearby, the Plaza de la Candelaria, the second most important plaza of the island. Here is where you can find historical sites such as the Casino of Tenerife and the baroque-designed Palace of Carta

received_1495893243811946Experience the beauty of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the island. The serene mountains can be seen from the hotel where we stayed.

Cheapest time to book a flight

When it comes to the weather, there is never really a bad time to fly out and visit Tenerife, as it’s warm all year round. Less visitors are around, hence, you can enjoy a much more serene stay.

As one who maintains a small budget whenever I travel, I make it a point to maximize my savings when buying fare tickets to my chosen destination. In the case of Sta Cruz de Tenerife, travelers who want to avail of lower plane fares must know that the Off season for flights to the islands are March to April, and November.These are the months when plane tickets are cheaper. Flying to Tenerife from Madrid? Flight time is a little under three hours.

Buitrago del Lozoya: Reach this Beautiful Spanish Town in Under Two Hours

2017_092318_0552_939My weekends in Madrid have always been monotonous — and I must say that they have turned doubly so, now that I have taken a new job. In fact, the latter has taken much of my time because workdays almost always include the weekends.  So whenever I am free on a Saturday, I find myself confronted with the dilemma of whether to just use such precious time to rest, or do what I really like, which is to travel outside Madrid.

Traveling outside Madrid meant choosing nearby towns that are preferably 50 kilometers away or even nearer.

This is why I am hesitant in visiting Buitrago del Lozoya, one of the smaller towns within the Community of Madrid, nestled in the Lozoya Valley near the Sierra de Guadarrama — and some 74 kilometers away from the capital.

Such a distance meant more or less 2 hours of travel, causing me to have some second thoughts . But then I realized that my previous trips such as Cuenca and Salamanca were also distant. And I was only too happy to have gone through such travels as these two are veritable goldmines as far as tourist attractions are concerned.

What to see in Buitrago de Lozoya:

2017_092318_0517_604The Arrabal Bridge, or El Fuente Viejo, as it is popularly called, is a strong structure that spans the Lozoya River. It serves as a link between the Andarrio neighborhood and the walled city of Buitrago. From the bridge, you are afforded a beautiful view of the river as well as the walls.
2017_092318_0536_853Fly-fishing days at Buitrago are weekends, like how I observed when I wander by the vicinity of the river last Saturday. I presume the river bank is littered with avid anglers any day of the week
2017_092318_0742_611The Rio Lozoya is the natural geographical feature that gives the town its name. This river almost embraces the town on all parts, which makes it an effective means of defense against enemies.
2017_092318_0454_840Another famous landmark of Buitrago is its Clock Tower, found in one of the walls of the city
2017_092318_0437_527Popular recreational activity in Buitrago is canoeing. with the river turning into a major natural water facility as families troop to the site with their own or rented canoes to enjoy paddling through the waters all day long
2017_092318_0352_901The small town of Buitrago is surrounded by thick, good-conditioned walls built as early as the 11th century. It is said that walls surrounding Spanish towns and cities during the Medieval Ages are commonplace; they are meant to protect  the towns and their people from invaders.
2017_092318_0342_911The crenels on the top edge of the castle walls have seen better days, yet they are obviously an integral part of what once were majestic majestic town walls meant to drive away prospective invaders during the Olden days
2017_092318_0327_958One of the major entrances of the Arab Walls, in front of the Sta Maria Iglesia
2017_092318_0314_199One of the minor gates of the Arab Walls, this one facing the River Lozoya
2017_092318_0305_728Peering through the main entrance to he walled town, you will be greeted by the Iglesia de Santa Maria del Castillo, a church that’s small in size but otherwise impressive in its interior.  Santa Maria Church definitely adds character to the already charming town.

Visitors of the town will also be treated to the works of Spain´s foremost writer as Buitrago maintains a Cervantes Museum, located right in its midst.

How to go to Buitrago:

Take the ALSA autobus 191 stationed at Plaza Castilla Station. The buses park and pick up passengers at Darsena 36. Tickets cost 5.10 euros one way. From Madrid, you will have arrived at the town in approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Map:

Museo del Romanticismo: The Romantic Museum of Madrid

2017_091022_0739_493Another museum that’s worth visiting in Madrid, Spain is the Museo del Romanticismo, also known as the Museum of Romanticism in English. Initially it was called the Romantic Museum, and right from its inception in 1924, it served as another art institution that many wanted to visit and see.

Located right within the heart of the city, its accessibility made it one of the most visited Madrid Museums. The museum occupies an 18th century edifice located near the popular and crowded Calle Fuencarral, within the Justicia neighborhood that also bear an equally popular Museo, the Museum of the history of Madrid.

As early as 1962, it has been cited as a Bien de Interés Cultural. The museum exhibits portions of a dwelling typical during the early Spanish days, the time when houses expressed love and romanticism. Some items are property of romantic personalities such as the writer Mariano José de Larra.

received_1125714104197291See the dining room above that’s typical during the olden Spanish days of the 19th century, bright, intricate and opulent.  The former Romantic Museum experienced a number of changes until it is able to fully expressed the romanticism of the 1800s.

2017_091623_5416_004The concept of a romantic museum started in 1921, as a donation to Madrid by the Marquis de la Vega-Inclán. He entrusted a great number of his art property such as paintings, sculpture and similar art items to the state. They were placed within an 18th century old edifice meant to be developed as a museum. As the years passed, more and more valuable art items were contributed to the collection of the museo such as that of De Larra and Marquis de Cerralbo.

2017_091022_0820_007The museum also features a billiards room, complete with beautiful portrait paintings, elegant chairs, and decors of the times.

Rules when visiting the Museo del Romanticismo:

1. Photographs

What attracts me to the museo is that they allow photos taken, although flash-type camera is not allowed.

2. Bags and stuff

If you must bring bags along, you will have to keep them in lockers available at the reception area.

3. Roaming the museum

The museums must have more or less 20 rooms, each of which is unique and assigned a specific purpose. The museum curator will provide you with a pamphlet complete with descriptions of the rooms. See to it that you have the correct description of the room that you enter.

Visit the Museum

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Location:

13 Calle de San Mateo, Madrid Centro

Hours

During Summer: Monday-Sunday 9:30AM-20.30PM
Winter time: Monday-Sunday 9.30AM-6.30PM
Closed on the following Dates: Jan 1 and 6, May 1, Dec 31

Entrance Fee:

3 euros

Free entry: Every Saturday starting 2PM, 18 May, 12 October, 16 November, and 6 December

Map

Sevilla and its Spectacular Plaza de España (and Royal Alcazar Palace and Garden)

2017_090323_0544_262Andalucia is one of the regions in Spain that display significant Moorish influence. It is likewise known for having a beautiful capital, Sevilla. And indeed, the latter is known for its grandiose and immense beauty. Luckily, we had the chance to see Sevilla, even if just to stop by at its two most important landmarks — the Plaza de España and Royal Alcazar. No doubt about it, if you’re flying to this city for a short time or you’re a first timer, it is imperative that you see the world-famous square and alcazar (castle or even military fort) In the case of Seville’s Alcazar, there’s no denying that it is one of the most beautiful in all of Spain, and comparable, if not more breathtaking, than the other famous alcazars of the country, including that of Toledo and Segovia. Despite the ending summer season, the sun decided to be searing, and the heat of the day is almost unbearable. Still, we decided see as much as we can. Time and again, it has been utilized as a location for films and TV series, which is understandable as it is just so beautiful. The first movie to feature it was the Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. The more recent one as a film location was the Attack of the Clones of the Star Wars saga. Some scenes of the 2012 movie, the Dictator, were also shot at the Plaza de España. The building exhibits mixed designs of Mudejar and new Mudejar as well as Art Deco, the result of which is the edifice’s total uniqueness.  It was built by Spanish designer Anabal Gonzales, right at the edge of Maria Luisa Park, and was initially intended to be the location where the exhibits of the country would be held. A bird’s eye view of the complex will reveal the place to be a huge half circle in shape on which the central building runs on the edge and over a river. It is accessible mainly by bridges that are said to be representative of the old Spanish kingdoms.  On the walls of the building are tiled alcoves; they are meant to represent the country’s provinces.

Marvel at the beauty of Plaza de Espana:

2017_090323_0638_255From afar, you may marvel at the magnificence of the main bricked-and-tiled building of the square. It is a premier Spanish attraction, and a must-see site by anyone touring  the country 2017_090323_0620_373Surrounding the Plaza Espana building is a wide canal, which is some 515 meters long.

The bridges

2017_090819_2042_038The bridges are not without important history behind its construction; they represent the four ancient Spanish kingdoms — these are Navarra, Leon, Castile, and Aragon.

Towers

2017_090322_3243_216Two tall towers, the south and the north towers, accentuate both ends by a pillared gallery. In front of these impressive edifice, positioned right in the middle of the promenade, is a large fountain.

Columns

2017_090323_0554_617The long facade of the square has tiled semi arcs supported by white columns, exhibiting styles from the Moorish and the Renaissance period. In front is a wide expanse of promenade where people enjoys a close view of the plaza

Royal Alcazar Palace

Another worth seeing in Seville if only for its heavy Moorish influence is the Alcazar Real Palace, which was the official residence of the Moor rulers during the start of the second half of the twentieth century. The alcazar has become all the more famous because it was used in some scenes in the Game of Thrones. 2017_090322_5633_282The gate to the Real Alcazar de Sevilla. Notice the tile with the depiction of the lion 2017_090322_2700_883The pond in front of the Alcazar lends an air of calm and romanticism to the place 2017_090322_5840_557The exterior of the Alcazar is the garden filled with trees, bushes and flowers. Also enhancing the garden are its pools 2017_090322_5831_309The high ceiling, the gigantic carpets plastered on the walls, and the tiled floors will greet you as you enter the Royal Alcazar.

Movies and TV series where Sevilla has been featured:

Plaza de España can only be described as both spectacular and breathtaking. It is no wonder that the place was the site of some of the major US movies such as Star Wars and The Dictator by Sasha Baron Cohen. Real Alcazar Palace, on the other hand, is where you’ll find some of the important scenes in the latest Game of Thrones season. 2017_090322_3336_729Starwars scene with the Plaza de Espana as backdrop 2017_090322_3319_270In the above photo, you can see walking through the promenade are Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, with the robot R2 D2 behind them. 2017_090322_3310_841Skywalker and Amidala at the Garden of Real Alcazar Palace

Let’s tour Plaza de Espana

Originally, Plaza de España was constructed for use in the 1989 Ibero-American Exhibition or the Expo 29. If you happen to visit Seville, you can still see the many pavilions and kiosks meant for the exhibition, particularly in the area of Parque Maria Luisa. Now, the square is touted as one of the best attractions of the province of Seville, together with its equally impressive cathedral. Tourists will love the means of touring the plaza, and these are carriage ride and boat ride.

Horse-drawn carriage tour

2017_090819_1541_961One of the best ways of seeing the Plaza is via a carriage. It’s spacious enough to accommodate around 4 people, albeit if you are in for a romantic experience, you can ride them with your spouse or partner to tour all around the plaza, and even beyond, to the landmarks and important points of interests of Seville. Hiring the carriage for an hour costs around 36 euros. It has a retractable roof for those who are avoiding the blazing rays of the summer sun.

Boat ride

2017_090819_1553_140Plaza España is surrounded by body of water wherein you can rent and ride a boat. The cost of a rowing boat ride is 5 euros for around 45 minutes. A maximum of 4 people can ride the boat — this is a fun and exciting way of seeing the square. If you want a much faster water ride, you can hire the motor boat, or the Enriqueta — this costs some 9 euros.

How to go:

2017_090819_1952_639The popular and fast way to get to Sevilla from Madrid is by train; travel time is from 2 hours and 20 minutes to 2 hours and a half. Go to the Train station in Atocha along Avenida de Barcelona, and you can catch the first ride at 7AM. Departures are every hour, thereafter. The last schedule of train ride to Seville is at 10PM.

Map