Tag Archives: Spain

Plaza Mayor’s Casa de la Panaderia

There is so much that can be seen at Plaza Mayor — and definitely one of them is Casa de la Panaderia. But first, let it be known that the building, apart from boasting of great historical value because of its location, it is also highly significant since it houses the tourism office supervised by the Madrid City Council, perhaps the largest in all of Spain. Here, you may obtain all the important information such as sights and attractions anywhere in Spain, but especially in Madrid.

You will find the Casa de la Panaderia on the northern part of Plaza Mayor, right in the center of the edifice. This portion of the building was modified by renowned Spanish architect, Juan Gómez de Mora, to become what is known as one of the most visited parts of Plaza Mayor.

In the foreground are kiosks set up in front of the Casa de la Panaderia and in the middle of the plaza itself in time for the Christmas 2018 celebration

Before Plaza Mayor (and Casa de la Panaderia) was the original square, the old Plaza Arrabal, which underwent reconstruction for 3 years, from 1617 up to 1619. Work as under the helm of Gómez de Mora, on commission by Felipe III. The present plaza, with its wide, rectangular shaped, and totally enclosed space, and tenants of all varieties, is indeed appreciated for its simple yet impressive beauty.

Location: Plaza Mayor, 27, 28012 Madrid

Hours open: Monday to Sunday, from 9:30AM to 8:30PM

Entrance is free

How to go:

EMT Autobus: 51, 5, 17, 18, 15, 23, 20, 31, 52, 53, 150, 65

Metro Madrid: Sol Station, Lines 1, 2, 3; Opera, Lines 5

Map:

El Oso y El Madroño (The Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree)

Puerta del Sol, the premier plaza in the heart of the city, is filled with important and fascinating landmarks, and one of them is The Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, or in Spanish, El Oso y el Madroño. People will find it easy to recognize because it is a main representatuon of Madrid‘s coat of arms. In other words, it is Madrid and even Spain’s most important symbol.

The statue is located in the eastern portion of the square, near Carretera de San Jeronimo and Calle Alcala, with the modern Apple building right accross it. Autobus EMT 51 is the perfect ride to take, as its last stop is a stone’s throw away from the monument.

The sculpture is not imposing in size, but nonetheless, it commands a strong presence in the square. El Oso y El Madroño is stately in its own right, and from it effuses a radiating, classic beauty that’s appreciated by everyone who sees it. This is why people are drawn to it at all times of the day, every visitor to the Rey Carlos III and his horse, standing proudly in the center of the plaza. Actually, the Bear and the Strawberry Tree is a heavy 22 tons — this is because it is built in bronze and stone. At 4 meters in height, it lords over everything else in the plaza while securely mounted upon a granite pedestal.

Tourists, local and from outside the country, are aware of the historic significance of the statue, which is why it is one of the most visited spots in Puerta del Sol.

Puerta del Sol lies within the Central District, where sights nd attractions are plentiful, and there must be a thick and endless movement of human (apart from vehicular) traffic going about in a dizzying pace. Aside from The Bear and Strawberry Tree, worth visiting are the Kilometro Cero marker, Palacio de Correos, Plaza Mayor, and Mercado de San Miguel, to name a few.

Location: 1 Puerta del Sol 28013 Madrid

How to go:

Auto Bus EMT: 50, 51, 3, N26, N16, M1

Metro train: Sol Station (Lines 1, 2, 3)

Map

Madrid Theaters: Teatro Español

If there is an establishment that you can see everywhere in Madrid, it is the theater, whether it is meant for plays, cinemas, or musicales. Spaniards must be so in love with their theaters that it is common for quite a number to be found within a single barrio, or lining up a street, one after the other.

There are Spanish plazas that are hightlighted by at least one – and it is treated as an important, integral element. Get the chance to visit Plaza de Isabel II along Calle Arenal and near the Palacio Real de Madrid, and there you will find the iconic Teatro Real.

Teatro Español

Then, of course, there is the Plaza Santa Ana, home to Teatro Español. Previously known as Teatro del Principe, it ìs beautifully designed using neo-classic architecture, and is meant primarily for the performing arts.

Needless to say, Teatro Español is a prominent landmark within the Barrio de las Letras. It is not surprising that there is a great number of visitors and tourists going to the Teatro, either to watch what’s currently shown or just to marvel at the impressive edifice. It helps that it is found within striking distance to other major tourist attractions, such as Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Palacio de Cibeles, and Retiro. Evidently, the building that houses the theater is in excellent condition, as it has been placed under the jurisdiction of the city government.

A historic theater within an equally historic square

Plaza de Santa Ana might be smaller than Puerta del Sol or even Plaza Mayor, but in no way is it less significant. For one thing, it serves as the address of the Melia Hotel, one of the best there is if you looking for the finest accommodation in Spain. The square is steeped in rich history, no doubt, it was here where once lived some of the most illustrious Spanish men, writers and artists, such as Federico Garcia Lorca and Calderon de la Barca. In fact, these two have proven their great importance to the place that monuments have been built in their honor, standing proudly in the plaza.

A bit of history

Today, the Teatro Español is recognized as one of principal theaters that offer only the best productions and performances this side of Spain. However, did you know that it is proud of its humble beginnings, starting out as a small space during its start in the 16th century.

Unfortunately, the start of the 19th century saw a fire consuming much of the building, leaving only its facade still standing. Since then, a series of reconstruction was done to transform it back as a functioning theater, complete with better technical equipment.

Present-day Plaza de Santa Ana, together with a flashy hotel, and a number of modern boutiques and restaurants and cafes embracing it, still boasts of being a seat of arts and culture of the city, made clear by the theater’s imposing presence. Teatro Español, directly facing the Melia, is such a sight to behold at night. One has got to see the theater in the evening, when lighting is in full blast, and the entire face is beautifully lit.

Location: Plaza Santa Ana, Calle del Principe 25

How to go:

Metro train: Sol station, Lines 1, 2, and 3; Antón Martín station, Line 1; Sevilla station, Line 2

Autobús EMT: 3, 6, 9, 15, 26, 20, 32, 52, 51, 53, 65, 57, 150, M1

Teatro Calderon

Just in front of Plaza de Jacinto Benavente, as if lording over this noisy, busy square, is the famous and iconic theatre hall called the Teatro Calderon de Madrid, also known as the Teatro Caser Calderon. Its impressive baroque-designed building stands right in the corner of Calle de Atocha and Calle del Dr. Cortezo, and one of the major landmarks in the area. Simply called Teatro Calderon, it is recognized as one of the premier theaters of the City of Madrid, and was home to some of the most engaging musical productions, such as Carmen, We will Rock You of the Queen, and the West Side Story.

What theatre efficionados love about the teatre is the creative and often attention-drawing designs displayed in its facade from time to time, depending on the season or the current production being staged. Once, it featured two giant, rubber or plastic-made legs protuding out of the top of the theater; this was done as a promotion of the highly successful musical prodution, Hole zero. The latter was dubbed then as the Party of the Year. In 2017, the theater featured yet another interesting figure, that of a giant spider dangling in its front. Such a surprising display (that is short of being shocking), it was meant obviously to serve as a promotion during the run of the popular musical, The Adams family. This musicale featured the actress from Barcelona Carmen Conesa as lead character Morticia Addams, and Xavi Mira as Mortica’s husband, Gómez Addams.


Teatro Calderon was actually named after one of the most prolific writers and artists of Spain. And ever since it opened in the late 1920’s, it was an instant favorite of musical and theater lovers, and quickly became a musical hotspot of the Zarzuela era.

Just recently, Calderon enjoyed complete renovation to the delight of theatre-going fans. In August of 2015, management and administration was turned over to SOM Produce, the leadership of which continue Calderon’s commitment to giving the best musicales and shows to the public. One popularity of the theatre was due to the spaciousness of its hall, having a capacity of more than 1,000 viewers. It also offers amphitheatres and similar spaces that are available for use for all types of functions.

For the schedules, time, and ticket availability of current and future productions, patrons may obtain such information from its official website, at teatrocalderon.es

Address:

Calle Atocha 18 Madrid 28012

How to go:

Autobus: 32, 6, 51, 26, 65, M1, N17

Madrid àMetro: Tirso de Molina (Line 1), Antón Martín Station (Line 1), Sol Station (Lines 1, 2, and 3)

Nearby sights and attractions: Plaza Mayor de Madrid, Sol, Plaza de Santa Ana, Mercado de San Miguel

Map:

Edificio Metrópolis of Gran Via

This impressive building in the corner of one of the busiest city roads might not be a top city museum or a stately palace that’s fit for a duke or king, but still, the Edificio Metrópolis (or the Metropolis Building in English) is one of the most visited edifices this part of Madrid. There’s no doubt about it. Its great fame is brought about by its location — the Metropolis belongs to both the touristic Madrid streets of Calle de Alcalá and Gran Via, apart from its uniquely captivating beauty, of course. In fact, the streets both claim to be the location of the edifice, albeit many agree that Gran Via is the appropriate address.

The amazing design was the work of prominent French architects Jules and Raymond Fevrier; the father and son design team was commissioned by the city administration to create an office building for use by La Unión y el Fénix insurance company. Finally, the building was open to the public in 1911.

Its current owner, Metrópolis Seguros, made sure no stone was left unturned during its rehabilitation process to ensure a complete restoration befitting what is to become one of the city’s major landmarks.

What makes the building a major attraction along the street of Gran Via is its Renassance-styled facade complete with a row of Corinthian columns. Definitely, the most photographed part of the edifice is the slate dome and the winged Victory statue. The latter was formerly a Phoenix to represent the earlier owners of the building.

Needless to say, Gran Via is not what it is – the most vibrant and exciting avenue of Madrid – without the iconic Edificio Metropolis. In fact, thousands of visitors every year who want to have a taste of what the stretch of Gran Via has to offer, starts their tour with the Metropolis. Nobody who visits Madrid’s own great white way goes thru it without having a good glimpse and shot of this beautiful building. The best, picture-perfect shots can be had in the evening when the night illuminations enhance it even further.

Location: Calle de Alcala 42 Madrid 28014

Nearest sights and attractions:

Plaza Mayor – Madrid’s premier square

Puerta del Sol – busiest Madrid plaza and one of the city’s tourist destinations

Palacio Cibeles – site of CentroCento, city center for the culture and arts

Gran Via and Calle de Alcala – the capital’s top touristic streets

How to go:

Metro station: Sevilla, Line 2; Gran Via, Lines 1 and 5; Sol, Lines 1,2, and 3; Banco de España, Line 2

Autobus (EMT): 1, 2, 5, 3, 9, 51, 52, 46, 53, 146, 74, 150, M1 and M2, N16, N18 and N19, N20 and N21, N26

Map:

Faro de Moncloa, Madrid

You will find the Faro de Moncloa along the busy avenue of Arco de la Memoria, a tall 110-meter edifice recognized as one of the more important landmarks of the Moncloa-Aravaca neighborhood. Also known as the Moncloa’s Lighthouse, it was built just recently in 1992, with its beautiful design created by the Spanish architect Salvador Pérez Arroyo. His other important works include the restoration of the Casa de Panaderia, in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor.

Visit this university area of Madrid, at the district of Moncloa and Aravaca, and you are sure to encounter such a magnificent structure. If you are in the city’s northwestern portion, you will enjoy quite a glimpse of the lighthouse.

Why visit the Faro?

It is definitely worth climbing up the structure, that is, if you yearn to check up out various spots of the city from the sky. Of course, you don’t have to climb up the structure literally — available is the panoramic elevator that will take you to the highest possible spot of the faro where you’ll enjoy amazing views of Madrid.

Location: Avda Arco dela Memoria 28040, Madrid

Hours open to the public: Visitors are welcome to climb up the light house from 9:30AM to 8PM, Tuesday to Sunday. Normally, it is closed on Mondays except for a number of holidays, like Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. Check on its website to make sure it is open on the day you intend to tour the place. Last entry to the lighthouse is at 7:30PM. Conditions: Visit to the lighthouse will also be affected in case of inclement weather. In such case, the viewing deck will be closed to the public.ç

Entry fee:

1. Normal price is 3 euros
2. Half price will be availed by visitors between the age of 7 and 14, adults over 65, unemployed, and persons with disability and their companions.

How to go:

Metro: Lines 3 and 6 (Moncloa Station)
Autobus (EMT): 1, 16, 12, 44, 46, 82, 83, 61, 132, 133, 160, 161, 138, 162, C1, C2

Nearby sights and attractions:

Museo de America – a popular national Museum located along Avda de los Reyes Catholicos

Ejercito del Aire – the Air Force Ministry of Spain, situated along Calle Romero Robledo

Map:

Centro Cultural Conde Duque

Like the Matadero, that popular, sprawling cultural hot spot situated within the stretch of in between the Legaspi and Principe Pio Stations, another must-see is the Centro Cultural, where there are just so many art, performances, and cultural ativities that you can do, marvel at, and enjoy. The place is well-known for being one of the City of Madrid‘s premier center for the arts and culture.

The city administration decided to convert this former military headquarters into a hotspot where major modern arts and cultural events are to be held. The single most popular building within the premises is the Conde Duque barracks of baroque design. Its imposing stance is more than enough to represent its original military purpose. Upon its creation by the famous and prolific Spanish architect Pedro de Ribera in the early 18th Century, it immediately claims that right to be included in the list of one of the grandest edifices of the city during that time. Situated along the street of the same name, it is within short distance to other popular establishments such as the ABC Museum and the Liria Palace.

Suffice it to say that the Centro Cultural Conde Duque has become quite known for its distinct pink-hue edifice and walls. It is easily an indoor space that’s meant to host to various exhibits, symposiums, workshops, and similar events, international fairs, and even outdoor plays and concerts, particularly during the summer season. In fact, here is where the yearly Veranos de la Villa event is held, an occasion that showcases performances and shows of premier artists.

Conde Duque is also known to be the headquarters of a number of Madrid’s major institutions. Do check its official website for its calendar of cultural activities – entertaining events that are scheduled throughout the year.

Location: Calle Conde Duque 11 28015 Madrid

How to go: Nearest Metro Stations are Plaza de España, Noviciado, Ventura Rodríguez, and San Bernardo

Autobus EMTs are 133, 1, 2, 74 and 749

Nearby sights and attractions: Templo de Debod, Plaza de Espana, Gran Via, Plaza del Callao

Map:

Teatro Valle-Inclán

Another must-visit for theatre lovers is the Teatro Valle-Inclán, which is housed at the edifice where the Olimpia Theater use to operate. The latter is a moviehouse that was open to the public way back in 1926. It was in the year 1974 when the building eventually functioned as a theater, and was called the National Drama Center.

Before the end of 1999, the Madrid City Council and the Ministry of Education and Culture (INAEM) both decided that the building was old, and in a decrepit state; this meant the dire need of a major renovation and rehabilitation work. An agreement between the two was forged, resulting in the replacement of the old edifice by a new and modern one.

I can only imagine the utter exhilation that the neighborhood of Lavapies in the heart of Madrid feels, for having such as a prestigious institution within its midst. Today, it is known as the Valle-Inclan Teatro, a modern arts and theatre facility available to the public since 2006.

It was in this same year that the play called the Divinas palabras (The Divine Words) was shown, a masterpiece of revered Spanish novelist and dramatict Ramón María del Valle-Inclán.

The Salas of the theater, with their corresponding capacity, are the following: Sala Valle- Inclán, which can accommodate 450 persons, Sala Francisco Nieva, which can hold 150 guests, and Sala El Mirlo Blanco, which can fit in about 50 viewers.

For current and future theatre and dance events and showing, check them at its official website: Valle-Inclan. The theatre is open throughout the year, ready to welcome and satiate the public with its uniquely beautiful shows, events and performances.

Location: Plaza
de Ana Diosdado, Madrid 28012

How to go:

It is easy to visit the theatre — just take the 27 EMT bus, which I usually do if I start my trip from the Plaza de Castilla Intercambiador. Here is where the start of the bus line starts. The trip ends at the termina parada in Embajadores. From here you can start walking to the site for a few hundred meters. You can also take the Metro Lavapies station, the gate of which is a stone’s throw away from the theater.

Other bus lines that will take you to Valle-Inclan are buses 34, 36, 78, 119, 78, C1 and C2, and M1. Next nearest Metro station is Embajadores.

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday: 12PM to 7PM

Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays: 2:30PM to 7PM

Map:

Chocolateria San Gines Offers the Perfect Sweet Treat

When I arrived in Madrid, Spain way back in 2015, Chocolateria San Gines was one of the establishments that I tried, being aware of the immense popularity of this joint even when I was still in Manila. Easily, San Gines is the most popular of the chocolate shops in Madrid, if not in all of Spain. Needless to say, when in Madrid, it is a must that you try and savor this classic postre pair, that is, a cup of hot and rich chocolate and churros.

But instead of the traditional order of churros, I mistakenly ordered porras. For most diners, six pieces of churros is already quite a plateful — it can be difficult to consume. And so, you can only imagine the look on my face when they delivered porras at my table. In my lonesome, I tried to finish up 4 crispy, really thick batter sticks, to no avail. This, even with the delicious choco that went with it. Everything was just too much for me to “conquer.” At least now, I am aware of my limitations, and since then, have ordered the more manageable churros.

Happy to have accompanied Francois Versele, a good friend from France, on an afternoon treat at the chcolateria. He has been regularly visiting Spain since 2015, doesn’t get tired of roaming around Puerta del Sol and the Palacio Real de Madrid. However, it is his first time to try San Gines, which he said will not miss this time around.

This popular churros and hot choco restaurant is not just a popular eatery in Madrid – it is an institution that goes way back in 1894. Right from the start, it has been patronized by Madrileños mainly for its delicious treat. Whenever I am within the Puerto del Sol or Plaza Mayor, and had lunch or dinner within these areas, I always pass by San Gines to enjoy the perfect postre.

Now, I observed that customers form a line by the counter to pay for their order before getting served. Make sure that you get ready with your receipt — a server will come over to check it and have everything delivered in a jiffy.

And by the way, as you join the queue to make an order, you will surely not miss the numerous photos posted on the walls of popular Spanish and international celebrities who were once or regular customers of the Chocolateria.

Horarios:
Did you know that the Chocolateria San Gines is one of the few establishments that are open 24 hours, 7 days a week? I’m sure the place is packed even in the wee hours of the morning.

Direccion:
5 Pasadizo de San Ginés Madrid 28013

Nearby attractions:
Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real de Madrid, Jardines de Sabatini

Let’s Partake Some Fish: Bar Santurce and Its Grilled Sardines

Did you know that sardines is at the bottom of the food chain of the marine kingdom? It is always the hapless prey, in other words. No wonder sad and lowly is how some describe this particular fish, a kilo of which couldn’t even fetch more than a few euros at popular Madrid mercados like Tetuan and Maravillas.

Just nonsense! Sardines is not sad and lowly, many would certainly retort. The fact is that if you grill it right (assuming you want to do it yourself), you will quite a tasty meal. This is what Bar Santurce at El Rastro has been doing all this time – serving deliciously grilled sardines to the sheer delight of its diners.

image

It’s ironic that I am an avowed fish lover, but I have yet to make an effort to know any restaurant in Madrid that serves fish as tapas or platos prinicipales. No doubt, there are tons in the city but I haven’t done any serious rounds. So far, the restaurants I tried mostly specialize in meat dishes.

So, dining at Bar Santurce last Sunday was something new.

Actually, I learned about the place by accident last year, when I visited El Rastro’s flea market and wandered off to General Vara del Rey. It’s nothing fancy, which must be why prices are inexpensive. Still, it is hugely popular because of its reputation for serving some of the tastiest sea foods in the neighborhood

 

 

. I thought I must have a taste of what it offers.

(Why the love for sardines? For one thing, it tastes great, maybe because of all the fats that it has, a quality of the herring species. Sardines somehow doesn’t leave any nasty aftertaste unlike others, or at least the typical fishy flavor that makes people shun fish in the first place. Another reason is its massive nutritional value. Go for sardines, and you get the necessary quantity of omega 3 and oils that are good for the heart. Thirdly, pair it with baguette and this combination becomes a delectable non-meat meal anyone can enjoy.)

It was a Sunday and so as expected, the place was full. Tourists, locals, out-of-towners – all were dining, drinking, and chit-chatting. The floor was littered with paper napkins, and bottles were everywhere.

Kind of chaotic, I thought, as I was half-amused, half-stupefied by the scene. The smallness of the place only magnifies it further. I proceeded to the bar. Eager to see how the fish was cooked, I took the empty space nearest the griddle.

“Una racion de sardinas,”I gave my order to the cook, who nodded as he continued to lay the fish neatly on the hot metal plate. Within minutes, the fish changed their color from glimmering whitish silver to something of a darker hue, a signal that they are ready to be served. All the cooking created white smoke, which I thought smelled strong but not offensive. What’s certain was that it only made me hungrier.

Finally, the cook put my sardines on my plate, sprinkled some sea salt, and uttered a rushed “Buen Provecho” as he handed it to me. My bocadillo de calamares came shortly afterwards.

imageSardinas, grilled and sprinkled with liberal amounts of salt (sea salt I suppose)

Darn, it was a beautiful row that almost covered the plate. Excitedly, I finished a piece in seconds, then another, and then another, stopping only to lick my fingers or use the napkin to wipe off the oil from my hands. I continued to gobble on my meal, eating it like how you eat a corn on a cob. The other pieces, I just picked the fish meat from the bones as the latter stayed on the plate.

All this while I “dealt” with my squid sandwich at the same time. I ate until everything was gone.

While was famished when I came, minutes later I was so full I felt like I was ready for a year-long hibernation.

I’m done! Hasta la proxima, Bar Santurce!

Well, this “next time” happened to be last Tuesday.

I thought last Sunday was enough, and it satisfied my craving for fish. I thought that was the end of that, and that I couldn’t eat no more. But just a few hours later, I was wishing I had some more. This prompted me to plan another visit.

So I was back two days later, only to be surprised that the bar had no diners. Somehow, I was expecting it because I came at around 3:30PM, and the place was about to close. When I asked the cook about it, he said weekdays are slack days for most restaurants in the area as few people would visit or even pass through El Rastro.

Anyway, that Tuesday was better since I had some gambas and green peppers.  Media racion of sardinas, gambas and peppers – these are some of Santurce’s great stuff. Instead of bocadillo, I settled for a trozo of baguette. All this for a little over 10 euro – it’s such a delicious, healthy meal at an affordable price. Omega and calcium from sardines and gambas, fibre and Vitamin C from green peppers – who would protest that it isn’t?

imageI asked for just a half-order of deep-fried Gambas, and discovered they are great with bread

imagePicante? No. Delicioso? Absolutamente! Coma pimientos de padron con las sardinas. The bar recommends fried green peppers with sardines to make for a more delectable meal

image

Here’s a few tips I want to share if you plan to dine at Santurce:

1. If you’re happy dining with crowds, go on a Sunday when there is a constant flow of customers during most of its business hours (9am to 4PM). Otherwise, skip the weekend riot by choosing any other day of the week instead, including Saturday. The bar is closed on Mondays.

2. Fish are served on white plates – and with nothing else. And so, diners are expected to dig in with their bare hands. For those who wouldn’t dare have their “dainty, little fingers” all oiled and dirtied, cutlery is available upon request.

3. Sardines holds its own as far as taste is concerned. I don’t know about other grilled fish lovers but for me, sardines when grilled is just everything that I could ever want – and then some. Whether it is grilled plain or sprinkled with lemon – it is just pure heaven. Like they say – small in size, big in taste.

Now having said that, remember that sea foods commonly cause allergy. Never compromise health. Before you indulge or even have your first bite, be sure to know your allergies.

4. Blatant taking of pictures is frowned upon by the staff. They will not be shy to call your attention especially if you’re taking shots of other diners. Albeit, if you train your digital camera or cam phone on your own food or the menu on the wall, this is fine by them. Just ask for permission, and hope for a positive response.

5.Dishes are inexpensive, and what’s more, you can order media racion, meaning half an order. The best thing to do is to dine in groups and share everything that’s on the menu.

imageBar Santurce on a Tuesday! Had it all for myself that afternoon 

Where: Plaza Gen. Vara del Rey, 28005, Madrid (at El Rastro)

Hours: 9Am to 4PM (Sundays) 12Noon to 4PM (Saturdays and Weekdays except Mondays) Its website says they’re also open Thursday to Saturday evenings, from 7.30PM to 10.30PM. 

Call them before you visit, at 646238303.