To understand Madrid, we have to have a little perspective on Spain. As the first global empire, Under Hapsburg, the Spanish Empire included territories in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands. Madrid is the capital of Spain. Along with all the things you think of in a Capital such as majestic buildings, grand museums, etc... Madrid is known for it's thriving night life.
With 6 million people from over 170 different nationalities, Madrid is a dynamic and cosmopolitan city. If you follow international sports, you will understand that Soccer, Basketball, in fact all kinds of sports are a passion for the Spaniard. As a result, you will find generous green areas and parks, and a large variety of sporting installations. Food is another passion and in Madrid, you will find a wide variety of Spanish and International cuisine. The midday meal, "la comida" as it is called in Spain is the largest meal of the day. It is definitely a large meal, usually with multiple courses. Traditionally, Spaniards have a 2-3 hour break from work or school in order to enjoy la comida and take a nap or siesta and the entire country closes up shop from about 2:00 pm to 4:30 or 5:00pm.
ArtIf you want to discover Spain's contribution to the arts, you must visit the Golden Triangle, formed by the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen Bornemisza museums. These museums are free at certain hours. The Retiro Park, just to the east, is a great place to relax between museums. There visitors will find a pond where row boats can be rented. The park hosts many cultural events, and its Crystal Palace has been transformed into an art gallery.
City CenterThe center of the city is where most landmarks and hotels in Madrid are located. One of the city’s main arteries is the Gran Vía, a street filled with traditional bars, shops and theaters. A short walk away visitors will find the Cibeles and Neptuno statues, where the Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid teams celebrate their victories. Near them stands one of the city’s most photographed structures, the Palacio de las Comunicaciones.
The Palacio Real, Royal Palace, provides a historicial view of Spanish governance. There you can arrange tours, take self guided walks in the Gardens, and attend lectures in multiple languages.
Serrano and Velazquez marks one of the most exclusive areas of Madrid. Here, you will find chic boutiques, relaxing coffee shops and posh restaurants. Madrid’s trendy area is Malasaña. There you can shop at designer boutiques during the day and savor the wide variety of cañas and tapas before dancing the night away at one of the many nearby clubs.
Getting aroundGetting around is easy. Madrid has a modern transportation system with subways, buses, taxi and person drivers.
So, pack your bags and head for Spain.