Tag Archives: Spain

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

Madrid during the 1600’s experienced a major shift of power when the city was occupied by Europe´s Imperial court of Habsburg. The Spanish Kings involved in its development during this glorious epoch, which was also 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 still very much visible today, and everyone has easy access to it since it is found in the midst of the capital. Where in 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, it is evident that the Madrid de los Austrias, as how it is also called, is very much intact, with the beautiful edifices built during those times still preserved. You hop from one splendid building to another, and you realized how grand the contribution of the Habsburg Empire to the development of Madrid, and even the whole of Spain, really was.

One only has to pass through 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 the the midst of areas such as Plaza del Sol and Plaza Opera, and you are sure to have a thrilling taste of 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, if not the oldest, 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 also, 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 Hall’s tourism office now 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, tourists gain easy access to numerous sites and attractions found in Madrid. Damaged by the 1672 fire, this historical edifice underwent major design and renovation. Check out how a great 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, inside of which hangs a bell. At 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 at the Battle of Pavia of 1525. And indeed, while the place is now surrounded by modern buildings and establishments, the square itself somewhat brings you back to centuries ago when the place 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

2018_012121_5902_531The 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.

Madrid Churches: Real Iglesia Parroquial de San Ginés de Arlés

imageThis year’s first ever mass saw me skipping Parroquia San Fernando at Calle Alcocer, where I regularly attend Sunday service, and instead heard mass in one of the oldest existing churches of Madrid — the Real Iglesia Parroquial de San Ginés de Arlés. While another famous church, the Catedral de la Almudena is just a few blocks away, I opted for the smaller and more personal San Gines, located just along Arenal, the street that connects Puerto del Sol to Plazas de Isabel II and Oriente.

It must be one of the most accessible churches in the city since both the Sol and Opera Metro stations are a mere hundred meters away. Hence, it is not surprising that Sn Gines is among the most attended churches this side of Madrid.

Actually, it was much older than the sprawling Almudena Church, having been built in the middle of the 17th century; and until the latter was constructed, San Gines was considered the main church where all the major religious activities in Madrid was held. And like the nearby Parroquia Sta Cruz of Calle Atocha, San Gines Church is known to cradle the venerated image of St. Jude Thaddeus.

Nearby Madrid Attractions

imageDisplaying a simple facade, it was built using the Baroque and neo-classical designs, one of the prevailing architectural styles for edifices during those days

Eats: Beside the church is a narrow passageway that leads to the Chocolatería San Ginés, a popular churros shop serving the thickest and sweetest chocolate syrup there is. Always, I finish a cup of its special saccharine concoction with gusto, together with four piping hot churros or porras. The chocolateria, which opened in 1894, boasts of serving the best churros con chocolate in town. Just a stone’s throw away is the Mercado de San Miguel, if you decide that you want tapas, wine, bocadillos, and more tapas. Along Calle Mayor is the touristy Museo del Jamon, which is the perfect place if you want to grab a quick bite from its bar, or experience dining in its spacious comedor at the second floor, savoring all sorts of popular Spanish cocido.

Plazas: Puerta del Sol is one shouldn’t miss if you’re a first-timer in Madrid. There is also the Plaza Mayor, which is nearer to San Gines. What was once a bull-ring and execution area for criminals is now a popular tourist spot, where the city’s tourism office is found, as well as a host of bocadillo and Spanish comida restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Shops: El Corte Ingles is found in many parts of Madrid, but the one located in Calle Preciado is probably the busiest. In nearby Calle de Carretas are found popular boutiques such as Zara and Celio, among others.

Location

Calle del Arenal 13 Madrid 28001

When Open

On Sundays, the church is open for mass service at 9AM, albeit I always go to hear mass scheduled at either 6PM or 8:30PM

imageA Nativity Scene, composing of the Holy Family and the Three Kings, is on display on the left front side of the Church

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Madrid Palaces: Palacio de Santa Cruz

imageThere must be tons of buildings in Madrid — and the whole of Spain even – that are called Palacios. One of the most famous of these magnificent structures is the Real Palacio de Madrid, the official residence of the King of Spain. There is yet another one also situated within the center of the city, at the Madrid de los Austrias; it was really built to serve as a palace but now it houses a government office.

Known as the Palacio de Santa Cruz, it stands along Calle de Atocha, near popular attractions like Iglesia Santa Cruz and Plaza Mayor. Construction was from 1629 to 1643 under the supervision of Italian baroque painter and architect Juan Bautista Crescendi. The latter partly worked on the Pantheon of El Escorial.

The palace is of a few levels high, enough to overlook with pride the plaza of the same name that’s within striking distance. Its facade were mainly of bricks that are painted copper red, while found on its two sides are pointed towers, features that are commonly found many stately Spanish edifices.

Needless to say, the Sta Cruz Palace is one of the major building achievements of the Habsburg dynasty. The latter, also known as the House of Austria, was considered the most influential and outstanding European royal house of its times. It was able to produces great kings and leaders for countries from all over Europe, including Spain.

Former prison

Did you know that the Santa Cruz Palace was once a prison? The “La Carcel de Madrid” acted as one until such time when it was converted as a palace during the reign of King Philip IV.  Finally, it became the headquarters of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

It is interesting to note how the palace incurred an infamous past since it was once the seat of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition. It was here where the verdicts of the dreaded justice institution of Spain were drawn and meted to supposed criminals. Those who were sent to their deaths were executed at the nearby Plaza Mayor.

A beautiful edifice

The Palacio de Sta Cruz is considered as one of the most beautiful palaces ever built in Madrid. It is very near the Plaza Mayor. In fact, one of the entrances to the famous square is just a short distance away from the palace. Two other rather small squares are also nearby — the Plaza de Sta Cruz and Plaza de la Provincia. Within the latter’s ground you can find the Fountain of Orfeo.

imageEntrances to the Plaza Mayor nearest the Palace de Sta Cruz, located in Calle de Gerona

imageThe famous Fountain Orfeo, also known as the Fountain de Santa Cruz and Fountain of the Carcel del Corte

imageEntrance of the Palacio de Sta Cruz. The palace is a perfect example of a Habsburg designed building during Madrid’s early days

imageA carousel has been put up just recently in Plaza de Sta Cruz in front of the Ministry building – a sign that Christmas nears

imageNew ambassadors of countries travel from the Santa Cruz Palace (specifically in front of the Palace’s main door) to the Palacio Real to receive their Letters of Credence from the Spanish government. In the photo above (courtesy of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid Facebook page), the Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, His Excellency Philippe Jones Lhuillier is brought by a royal carriage en route to the Royal Palace to present his credentials to His Majesty King Felipe VI

Direccion

Plaza Provincia Madrid 28012

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.

Autobuses: 3, 17, 18, 51, 50, 23, 26, 31, 32, M1

Map

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.