Madrid, practical information

Travellers who have visited Madrid and Spain often find themselves comparing these two cities. Barcelona, with its location by the sea, compact size, architecture, and atmosphere may receive more visitors than Madrid, but I will say the Capital is my favourite! First of all its old town: city’s most historical places are quite well preserved, the area from the big square Plaza Mayor until Atocha, with its narrow cobblestone streets, little squares, architecture, flamenco studios and tablaos,...

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Palacio Cristal, The Crystal Palace- Danh Vo's work

There is a crystal palace hidden inside Retiro Park. I have toured the park many times in the past but have never entered the palace. As I am approaching it, the colorful tiles covering the palaces’ walls are arousing my attention. The whole building is made of glass, including its roof. Although it is the middle of January, the trees dressed in autumn colors paint the palace in a red light through its windows. Two rectangles forming a cross. A palace of glass set in an iron framework,...

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Angeles Santos at the Museum of Arte Reina Sofia

For me it was a discovery. I was at one of the top floors of the Museum of Arte Reina sofia, famous with its collection, including Guernica. At one of the walls I see this painting where four women who look extremely real but also surreal at the same time, one of them is reading, another one smoking, one of them looks at us right in the eye, they look as if they are in a room or somewhere that can be anywhere, they look strong and lonely at the same time, the painting has something powerful...

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City walks Madrid, from Teatro Real to Plaza Mayor

One of the most pleasant ways to spend time in Madrid is to stroll through the streets of the old town. I take one of the side streets from Gran Via and go down to Plaza Puerta del Sol, the Sun Gate Square. I turn right and start my walk to the direction of the Imperial Palace. This street, Calle del Arenal, has been turned into a pedestrian street and it’s lined up with shops on both sides, as street ends I reach to another square which is the Opera Square, the Teatro Real stands there at...

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City walks: Madrid, part 2

I start again from Gran Via, walk down to Sol and cross the square, one of the streets, Calle de Carretas, I usually climb that one to reach to Atocha Street, because at the corner there’s a famous ‘churrascaría’, the hot fried pastry that you eat with hot chocolate. If you go right you will reach Plaza Mayor again, so this time I turn left and start walking towards the Atocha Railway station. This street has many hostels, budget but decent rooms for backpackers. One of the streets on the...

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City walks, part 3: From Chueca to Arte Reina Sofia Museum

Following our self-guided walks in Madrid’s old town which is called ‘casco antigua’ around Plaza Mayor and Plaza de Santa Ana, this time we are at the opposite side of Gran Via. Starting from the street in front of the Gran Via metro station, Calle Hortaleza, we go to the neighbourhood of Chueca. This was a bohemian neighbourhood known with its gay community once, but as the streets are turned into pedestrian shopping attractions it also lost a bit of its hippie atmosphere. It is always...

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‘The symbolic’ Madrid

The capital city of Madrid is symbolized with this square, every march would start at this point: The Cibeles Square, with its white marble statues draws a circle. We see the red and orange color Spanish flag. At one side of the square stands the Cibeles Palace, today the Communication Palace, also a public art space. If you enter the building and climb to the terrace you’ll have a wonderful view of the city. It’s nice to see the ‘Refugees Welcome’ poster at the top… The square is where the...

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Doris Salcedo, Palimpsesto: a silent mourning for refugees

A line of people in front of the Crystal Palace inside the Retiro Park in Madrid, they are waiting to see an installation signed by the Colombian contemporary artist Doris Salcedo ‘Palimpsesto’. As we are approaching the entrance we see people inside the Palace looking down on the ground and wonder what we are going to see, we put the shoe covers and go inside. A floor that look like sand, a yellowish colour with sand particles that have become harder to make a platform, letters that are made...

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Atocha Train Station and Retiro Park

When you leave the Arte Reina Sofia Museum behind and walk to the main avenue of Prado Passage, you will see right in from of you the entrance of Atocha Train Station. A nice brown building from the outside it has a tropical botanic garden inside and is one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. A tragic event occurred here on March 11, 2004, here, at this beautiful station, in the morning when many people were going to work, ten synchronized bombs exploded and 191 people died. It...

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Madrid’s ‘Museums Island’: Thyssen Bornemisza

Located at the ‘Prado Walk’ with the other two museums, Prado and Arte Reina Sofia, Thyssen Bornemisza Museum has a large collection from 13th century to the 20th century painting; a personal collection of Thyssen family. As you begin your visit you’ll see first the paintings with religious themes. Here we see the Evangelists one by one: San Mateo, San Marcos, San Lucas, San Juan… We are passing to the hall of Portraits, the two of them that we see in the pictures, one that calls our...

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An exhibition in Prado Museum: ‘Metapintura: a journey to the idea of art’

Where did art come from? Why does art exist? Prado Museum selects 137 art works in its collection and tells you a story so that you can think about these questions. Beginning from the Middle Ages and finalizing in 1819, the year when the museum was founded, you make a journey through certain themes: religion, mythology, portraits, art collectors… We start with the religious themes, El Greco’s painting named ‘the Veil of Veronica’, the face of Jesus on a cloth, an iconographic motif that...

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Love of Flamenco: Amor de Dios

What is the best place to learn flamenco? If you exit the Anton Martin subway station in the old town of Madrid, cross the street and enter the side alley, you find yourself in a place which looks like a marketplace. If you walk in the two-storey square building, you will see a group of green groceries, cheese shops, and fish shops where the smells of the food sold here hang in the air. One cannot imagine that people perform art on the second floor of this place. While climbing up the stairs,...

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Velazquez, Las Meninas in Prado Museum

Prado Museum’s first floor, room number twelve, section Spanish Painting, the walls of the circular room is lined with portraits, right in the middle of the room a painting that differs from others. We see a party of nine people inside a room with a high ceiling surrounded by paintings on the walls, a little girl in the middle and next to her two teenage girls who look like they are taking care of her. On the right a dwarf, next to him a little boy or another dwarf, a dog is lying in front of...

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