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Go Mad for Madrid – Spain


Madrid is yet another glorious and exciting European capital to explore.  It may not glisten like Barcelona or be as popular as Seville, but it possesses its own poetic allure. Madrid is the home to Spanish Kings and Queens and it is worth exploring the great medieval centre.  You will also find that boasts some of the greatest museums in the world and the streets offer plenty of tapas bars and nightclubs.

Puerto del Sol Madrid -

Let's begin in Puerto del Sol. This is one of Madrid's most significant squares and is an outstanding central place to start out from. In fact it 's the point in Spain from which all distances are measured. There are large numbers of hotels in the neighbourhood and you can grab the underground here or just walk to the main sights. Puerto del Sol is centrally situated between the Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace one way and the museums in the other direction. 
First start by heading for the Plaza Mayor, the original and actual town square, and is a wonderful place to begin checking out the old town of Madrid. It's seemingly enveloped by five story burgundy architecture. Be aware that the restaurants and tapas bars that run along the lower story as they will charge you tourist prices, but you may feel that it is deserving of your hard earned money as you can take in the ambience of the Plaza Mayor while enjoying your tapas.
Carry on down the Calle Mayor, and take a tour of the Royal Palace. Many of the brochures pay little attention to the Royal Palace, but it's a fantastic place to go.  It takes approximately 60 minutes or so to stroll through the the beautiful and lavishly decorated rooms.  The Royal Palace is officially the residence of the King of Spain, although the royal household tend to stay in a smaller palace on the fringes of the city. But be  advised… if there is a "state occasion", the Royal Palace could open later than usual or may even be closed.  
The Almudena Cathedral can be found opposite the Royal Palace. And on the east side of the Royal Palace, you will find the Plaza de Oriente where you could find a suitable restaurant for a spot of lunch. You can also use the nearby subway for a quick trip to the museums.
There are three museums to visit of which the Prado is the most famous exhibiting some of the greatest paintings in the world. In the Reina Sofia Museum you will find impressionist and modern art… most notably Picasso's Guernica.  And you should most definitely visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza which has a breathtaking collection of 13th century of art.  You should also think about a “museum card” which will get you into all three for a discounted price.

Tapas in Madrid

We would also recommend a quite hour or two in Retiro Park which is near to the museums.  And if you enjoy a spot of “people watching” Then the park has a large artificial lake with outdoor snack bars where you can enjoy tapas size plate of Seranno Ham, a beer or a glass of wine.
Tapas bars are an integral part of Madrid's nightlife, especially with a glass of wine. "Raciones" are larger portions, tapas are smaller snacks.  Look out for the sample of five items on a tapas which is ideal to try and share. It wont allow you to blend in as a seasoned tapas eating local, but it will certainly allow you to sample the Madrid life. 
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