Madrid lies geographically in the centre of Spain and from Puerto Del Sol – the Gate of the Sun – you can stand on the spot where all Spanish roads lead off from the radial point of 0km. And, even though this was my third visit to Spain’s vibrant and contemporary capital city – I’m ashamed to say it’s the first time I actually discovered this interesting and dare I say, well-known fact.
Spending a weekend in Madrid
When people ask me which of the largest Spanish cities I prefer, Barcelona or Madrid, without a shadow of a doubt I will always reply: ‘Madrid’. Sure, enchanting Barcelona has glorious sandy beaches, stunning Gaudi architecture and first-class dining which celebrates Catalan cuisine, but Madrid takes the edge in my humble opinion. And here are other reasons why you should spend a weekend in Madrid.
Madrid’s Art Scene
It’s colourful, lively – for what seems like 24-hours a day, and bursting at the seams with inhabitants that are only too happy to welcome you into the fold. Madrid also has a resplendent art scene – some of the best in Europe with masterpieces by Picasso, Dalí and Miró adorning the walls of the city’s world-class galleries, including the Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Madrid’s contemporary architecture
Once you’ve been bowled over by the extensive and exquisite art collections, you only have to wander the streets to marvel at the impressive contemporary architecture that adorns every street – from the belle epoque buildings to the apartment blocks and their ornate shutters and balconies. And it may not have one defining monument that makes it stand out as ‘Madrid’, but medieval mansion houses and grand palaces more than compensates – and quite simply, the city is beautiful.
Madrid’s open spaces
Madrid may not have golden sands and sea breezes but there are still several areas to relax in green open spaces and enjoy the lapping waters of the lakes at El Retiro Park. Meanwhile, strolling around El Capricho’s 18th-Century landscaped gardens and water features will give you a feeling of calm, away from the urban jungle.
Madrid’s amazing food and drink
If you only have a very short space of time, you may only skim the surface of Madrid, but believe you me, it will leave you wanting to return again and again. Best thing to do? Just go for it, immerse yourself in this welcoming city – and let it lead you by the hand.
It has been said that there is no other city on earth that is alive as Madrid – the energy pulsating through the Spanish metropolis is not only electrifying but infectious – you’ll end up feeling the same.