My first day in the Spanish capital started with a visit to the Prado Museum. Maybe it’s because I recognized a lot of the works there—thank you, Grade 11 art class—but I happily spent a couple hours looking at all the paintings and listening to the audio guide. My favourite was definitely Goya’s “The Third of May” which I’ve always found to be quite powerful.
After spending that much time indoors, I headed to Retiro Park.
I was starting to get used to seeing clouds again after being spoiled by all the clear, sunny days down south in Andalucía. Plus, the Park was quite elegant.
Fun fact: The Crystal Palace was built as a greenhouse; this is also why it’s so humid inside.
After strolling in the Park, I decided to walk over to the Royal Palace.
Puerta de Alcalá.
Being in downtown, it was clear that Madrid was a busy city. The hustle and bustle of daily life and men in suits speed-walking from one place to another made me glad that I was on vacation. There was a sense of economic distress as well which was ironically, easy to forget in the south.
Palacio de Cibeles and the Cibeles fountain.
The Metropolis building was my favourite piece of architecture in Madrid. It’s simple and iconic!
Outside the Royal Palace.
The Palace was just closing by the time I reached it so I returned the next day with a couple friends from my hostel to see it from the inside. From the ceiling to the walls to the floors, I found every room decorated extravagantly to the point that it screamed money. In fact, I could barely gather my thoughts in Salon de Gaspirini so that I left with a new appreciation for the subtlety of the palaces of Andalucía.
The Almudena Cathedral across from the Palace.
Soon, we came to the Temple of Debod—one of the coolest sites around—which was given as a gift to Spain by Egypt in 1968.
Earlier that day, I also completed Madrid’s triangle of art by visiting the Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia museums. I enjoyed the latter more for its collection of works by Picasso and Dali as they’re always fun to look at.
The green wall of Madrid.
Wandering through the streets.
At Puerta del Sol.
In Plaza Mayor.
Although I liked Madrid, the main thing that I found difficult to get around was the city’s obsession with meats and jamón. Hence, if you have dietary restrictions, I recommend looking up some restaurants beforehand. Speaking of food, I would love some churros right now…