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Madrid Holiday Package
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain as well as the capital of the autonomous community of the same name communidad de Madrid, and is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage, a good example of which is the El Prado museum. Its architecture is beautiful and this city is an idea, a way of living for the moment that can be hard to resist! So, get on to this solitary `Madrid Holiday Package’!
The calling cards hera are many astonishing art galleries, relentless nightlife, the city’s transformation into Spain’s premier style region, an exceptional live music scene, a feast of fine restaurants and tapas bars, and a population that’s mastered the art of living the good life. It’s not that other cities don’t have some of these things; it’s just that Madrid has all of them in bucket-loads.
It would awesome to visit the Puerta del Sol, a plaza in the heart of the capital and one of the busiest places in the city, that is, a hub for the local transit system, a favourite meeting spot for residents, a visible area for festivals or political demonstrations, and an opportune location for tour guides and street performers, In the center of the plaza sits the Statue of King Charles III on horseback, facing the Royal Post Office (Real Casa de Correos), the red-and-white building adorned with a clock tower on the plaza's south side. Originally the building served as Madrid's first post office, then the police headquarters, before being transformed into its current use as the office of the President of Madrid, the head of the regional government. The clock tower is noteworthy for being the center focus of New Year's celebrations every year, which are broadcast across Spain and mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes (one for each ring of the bell) and the beginning of a New Year. In front of the building is Kilometer Zero (Kilómetro Cero), a plaque showing the point where the measuring of national highway system begins. On the east side of the plaza is the famous Bear and the Madroño Tree Statue, a bear climbing a madroño tree, which is the symbol of Madrid. Nearby the giant neon Tío Pepe sign sits above the plaza and is a famous fixture of this area.
The Plaza Mayor is perhaps the best known plaza in Madrid, and this impressive square is now one of the main stops on any tourist visit. Originally built outside the city walls, the enclosed square has played host to bullfights, markets, symphonies and tournaments. Today it is ringed with tourist shops, cafes and restaurants. The statue of Philip III sits in the middle across from the Casa de la Panadería, a beautifully painted building with two towers on the north side of the square (not to be confused with the other building with two towers on the opposite side) which once served as the headquarters of the bakers' guild and now houses a tourist information office. Access to the square is via one of the many arcades which connect to the surrounding pedestrian streets. Mercado de San Miguel, near Plaza Mayor is the indoor market, identifiable by its ornate iron posts. It is full of a wide range of high quality food. Even if you are not buying anything, it is worth entering for the sights and smells of dried ham, fine wine, freshly baked goods and other treats from the vendors inside. Plaza de la Villa is the main square from the Middle Age, as Calle Mayor (High Street) is the main street as well and it houses the former City Hall, the former Academy of Fine Arts and the Archbishopric.
The Palacio Real, or Royal Palace, though closed occasionally for official ceremonies is an enormous palace, one of the biggest in Europe, with scorching plains of concrete around it, and one of the most emblematic and stunning buildings as it is located on a bluff overlooking the river valley. It is renowned for the architecture and artistic treasure to be found in its rooms. A simple one-way tour of the palace takes you up the grand stairway and through the lavishly decorated state rooms with their elegant tapestries, frescoes, porcelain, carvings and added décor like china, silverware, farmacia, collection of medieval weapons and armour. Catedral de la Almudena is a massive cathedral facing the Palacio Real. Plaza de España is a prominent square adjacent to two of the tallest buildings in Madrid, the white and taller Torre de Madrid and the red and white Edificio Espana. The square contains a large fountain and a sculpture of Cervantes and his famous Donquixote and Sancho Panza characters. Gran Vía, literally "Great Way" (better translated as "Broadway"), is one of the busiest avenues in Madrid. Running from Plaza de España to Plaza de Cibeles, it is the location of the cinema district and a number of shopping malls and is lined with large billboards and lights, to keep the tourists spellbound!
The Madrid Holiday Package would also enchant you at the Plaza de Cibeles, a massive roundabout at the intersection of Calle de Alcala and Paseo del Prado, where the plaza houses one of Madrid's emblems, the Fountain of Cibeles, which portrays the Roman goddess of fertility sitting upon a chariot pulled by two lions. On the southeast corner dominating the Plaza is one of the world's most beautiful city halls, the Palacio de Cibeles (formerly the Palacio de las Comunicaciones), an impressive structure with a jaw-droppingly spectacular facade. Inside, the building holds a cultural center with changing art exhibits and information on Madrid, and you can climb to the upper floors for some excellent views out of the window. On the southwest corner of the square sits the imposing Bank of Spain building, while the northeast corner is home to the Palacio de Linares, which holds the Casa de América, a cultural center with an art gallery of Latin American works. Plaza de Castilla, is on the north side of the city and bisected by Paseo de la Castellana, located in the center of Madrid's skyscraper district. A tall obelisk sits in the center of the plaza while the Gate of Europe towers, two slanted towers which frame the boulevard, are situated on the north side of the plaza. Taking a bus or a drive you could pass several Madrid highrises. North of the Plaza is the Four Towers (Cuatro Torres), four sleek new skyscrapers which are the tallest in Spain.
Madrid's museum district,is named for the three major art museums clustered along Paseo del Prado east of the old city: the Museo del Prado, one of the finest art museums in the world carrying the best collection of classical art. Some highlights not to miss at the Prado are the `Bosch masterpiece’ The Garden of Earthly Delights, the famous `Velázquez piece’ Las Meninas, and the `Black Paintings’. The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum holds a baron's collection of classical art, and contains a large collection including masterpieces by Monet, Goya, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Bacon and Lichtenstein. The Reina Sofia museum contains modern art housing the best collection and showcasing many of Pablo Picasso's most revered works including the renowned Guernica. However, a couple of smaller museums also occupy the neighbourhood which are well worth a visit!
Try to squeeze in the Caixa Forum, a private museum of contemporary art and culture that is particularly well-known for the "vertical garden" by Patrick Blanc installed on a wall in front of it, as well as the quite special architecture of the building itself. The Naval Museum is beautiful with vast interesting collections about Spanish sailing. Museo Sorolla, was the impressionist painter's house and features fine furniture and porcelain as well as his paintings. Museo de Lazaro Galdiano, houses the stunning collection of Spanish entrepreneur José Lázaro Galdiano and is considered to be one of the best private collections in the country. Not only will you find works by Goya, Velázquez, El Greco and others, but it is also filled with jewellery, furniture, sculpture and ceramics. Museo de América houses thousands of artifacts from the Americas. The exhibit displays objects from many native cultures and tourists should not miss the Tesoro (Treasure) de los Químbayas, a collection of gold objects that was given as a gift by the Colombian government. The National Archaeology Museum is well designed with an incredible collection of archaeological finds from across the peninsula. It leaves the visitor with a sense of the chronology of civilization in Spain (Iberian, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Visagoth, Arab, and into the modern age). The famous Dama de Elche, an Iberian (pre-Roman) fertility goddess statue, is in this museum. There are also a few pieces from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The Madrid Holiday Package would also orient travellers to some interesting Parks! The El Retiro is the main Park of Madrid, and the perfect place to take a rest during a sunny day, or to take part in the drum circles around the statue of Alphonso XII on summer evenings. There is a large boating lake where one can hire a rowing boat, great fun for the children and adults! Sunday afternoons in summer are a treat in the park, where young groups play bongos and dance. Take a short view of the Royal Botanical Garden which was used as a base for the plant species being collected across the globe.. Move on to the Parque beautiful parks which has a strong Romanticism influence. Declared as a Historic Garden, its lakes with swans and ducks, labyrinths, palaces, squares and fountains make it an eclectic place. Templo de Debod is an Egyptian temple, located in one of Madrid′s most beautiful park and a great place to watch the sunset. La Casa de Campo is peaceful and home to a fairground, the Madrid Zoo, an amusement park, the Parque de Atracciones de Madrid, and an outdoor municipal pool. To enjoy a bird's eye view of the park and city take a cable car trip above the tree tops the oak is the dominant tree species in the area and, although many of them are over 100 years old and reach a great height, they are also present in the form of chaparral and bushes. From Moncloa you can take a teleferico across into the park. At the Aquarium Madrid watch the Dolphin show and enjoy the Bird show. The Circulo de Bellas Artes is a non-profit cultural centre offering up a wide variety of events and shows including film, music, art displays, dance and theatre.
A few more tantalising entertainment venues would be a really beatific experience and you could taste some flamenco shows on this spectacular trip. Corral de la Moreria is one of the most famous flamenco tablaos in the world held right in the heart of the city, and can be enjoyed with a full-fledged Spanish meal as performances by renowned international flamenco music and dance artists take on or you could go to Las Tablas, a very popular tablao located near the Plaza España metro station, where the package consisting of a Flamenco show with a candle-lit dinner and a glass of Sangria wine is truly a treat. Visit Sala Heineken National for touring acts of rock and pop music. La Riviera, is another large venue for touring rock and pop bands. Gruta 77, hosts concerts everyday of pop, rock and punk. Spanish National Orchestra at the Auditorio Nacional is also the main concert venue for the symphonic concerts of the Community of Madrid Orchestra and the Madrid Symphony Orchestra besides being the main venue for touring classical artists and orchestras. Teatro de la Zarzuela is the location where the Spanish version of the Operetta (Zarzuela) is performed.
The Madrid Holiday Package would tempt you with a few acclaimed locations! The Alcalá de Henares is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world's first planned University City. It was the original model for the Civitas Dei (City of God), the ideal urban community. This city has a lot of interesting places to visit like its university which became famous as a centre of learning during the Renaissance. One of the most important features is that this is the city where the famous writer of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, was born and you can visit his natal house. Aranjuez is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and is an excellent day trip away from Madrid. Highlights include the Palacio Real, the summer home for the Bourbons and the lavishly designed Casa Del Labrador near the Tagus River. There are some excellent restaurants serving the local speciality, artichokes. .Ávila is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Chinchon is a typical Spanish town that retains its character from the 1700s. El Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is mountainous retreat home to Spain's largest Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Segovia is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a Medieval city home to a famous Roman aqueduct and the Spanish Mint. Toledo, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, another Medieval walled city and former capital of Spain, with plenty of art (del Greco) and architecture (one of the best cathedrals in Europe), hence very worthy of a day trip but more worthy of a night stay. However, it is in the late spring and the early summer nights that it reaches its beauty peak, simply breathtaking, so do not miss it. El Pardo is a little village near Madrid and close to the Palacio de la Zarzuela (residence of the King of Spain), surrounded by mountains and the location of the Palacio de El Pardo, Franco′s residence and a former residence of the Kings of Spain. Sierra de Guadarrama, a mountainous area north-east of Madrid offers glorious scenery through various areas to Los Cotos, which is only yards from an entrance to the Peñalara Nature Park.
The neighbourhood of Malasana as well as Anton Martin and Lavapies hosts several bohemian cafes and galleries. These cafes are typified with period or retro furniture or furniture found on the street, resting with a colourful non traditional atmosphere inside, and usually art displayed each month by a new artist, often for sale. Cafes include the retro cafe "Lolina" and bohemian cafes "La Ida", "La Paca" and "Cafe de la Luz" in Malasaña, "La Piola" in Huertas and "Cafe Olmo" and "Aguardiente" in Lavapies.
There are a great number of H&M, Zara, Mango, and Blanco stores all over Madrid, with high fashion clothes and accessories at a low price. The Sol-Salamanca district has the most convenient area for tourists around Calle de Preciados, home to the El Corte Inglés department store, high-street names like Zara, Gran Vía 32, H&M, Sephora and Pimkie. Top designer names like Chanel, Versace, Hermès, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Dolce e Gabbana and Hugo Boss, including the fluid fabrics and elegant cuts of Spanish designer Adolfo Domínguez, are located on Calle Ortega y Gasset. The Chueca and Fuencarral Street Area is a part of the city which has quickly turned into the most avant-garde avenue exemplifying modernity and a paradise for entertainment where everything is possible. The streets are filled with restaurants, alternative cafés and shops, as a good example is the Market of Fuencarral (Mercado de Fuencarral, in Spanish) a novel shopping centre concept. El Rastro. Only opens on Sunday mornings and is Madrid's largest flea market, featuring rows upon rows of private vendors selling a variety of homemade goodies with a plethora of live entertainment. Cuesta de Moyano, is a quaint outdoor book market. El Corte Inglés, has several locations, and is Spain's largest department store, with multiple buildings and several floors. You can find anything in a wide range and stocks as it has almost everything, from fine dining to pneumatics. Las Rozas Village Chic Outlet Shopping is a fantastic outlet in the suburbs of Madrid with villa-like shops. It is part of the Chic Outlet Shopping Villages in Europe and offers heavy discounts in luxury brands and you can also find some coffee places like Starbucks and a few bars, resulting in a fantastic experience for a warm Sunday afternoon.
Dishes popular throughout Spain are also widely served in Madrid. In addition, the city has a number of "typical" dishes”, Gallinejas and Entresijos, portions from different parts of lamb fried in its fat is considered very traditional and typical from the Madrid city. Callos a la Madrileña, is a hot pot of spicy meat tripe similar to those found in Turkey and the Balkans. Cocido Madrileño, chickpea stew with meat and vegetables which are served together and eaten separately. Oreja de Cerdo, is ham fried in garlic and is widely eaten throughout central Spain. Sopa de Ajo is a garlic soup, rich and oily which generally includes paprika, grated Spanish ham, fried bread and a poached egg. A variation of this soup is known as Sopa Castellana.
Chocolatería San Ginés, specializes in chocolate con churros, as this Madrid fixture is open twenty-four hours a day and is the perfect place to top off a night on the town also offers the usual assortment of coffees and teas. Cocina Mex-Mex, is a small, usually crowded, friendly Mexican restaurant with good food and drinks at reasonable prices. Sample some of their tacos and super-cheesy chilaquiles. La Zapateria Tapas Bar, at Calle de Victoria offers great potato dishes that come mixed with chorizo or other ingredients. Also try the pincho moruno (pork skewers) or something else displayed on ice in the front window. Cafe Circulo de Bellas Artes, is a soaring hall on the ground floor of Madrid´s art center and combines atmosphere, excellent food and good coffee at reasonable prices. A wonderful place for lunch not far from Madrid´s shopping or museums. Cafe Commercial, is the oldest cafe and there is a modern internet cafe upstairs, but the downstairs remains traditional. Stepping up a level in quality and style, tabernas and cafes throughout the city offer tasty, inexpensive meals. Tapas and snacks are available throughout the day for the fast food addict; local chains such as Rodilla, Museo de Jamon and Pans & Co. can put tasty sandwiches or salads on a plate in a matter of minutes. Also popular are the growing number of doner kebab stands. Major American chains such as McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, and Starbucks are present throughout the city. Indian restaurants prevalent in the city are Mumbai Masala, Diwali Indian Restaurant and the Taj, serving north Indian tandoori and south Indian curries, as a full range. Butter chicken is popular with the non-vegetarian crowd!
The Madrid region features a Continental Mediterranean climate with cold winters due to altitude above sea level, including sporadic snowfalls and minimum temperatures often below freezing. Summer tends to be hot and humid.
It is often said that this is the most Spanish of Spain’s cities and indeed the most passionate city writ large. Very few Madrileños come from here originally, possibly making this place the most open and welcoming capital in Europe. If it can be summed up in a single phrase, it’s the oft-heard, ‘If you’re in Madrid, you’re from Madrid’!
So, return back with a growling appetite wanting more and more of this cheerful and historical panorama as you catch your flight back home on the unforgettable `Madrid Holiday Package’!