Monday, 26 November 2012

MADRID -SPAIN-SPANISH PASSION-ITINERARY FOR A LONG WEEK IN THE SPLENDID SPANISH CAPITAL.



Madrid is intense passion,sublime sensations,wonderful emotions and great vibrations when you want with all your efforts and enthusiasm to discover the capital of Spain,Madrid is a special city,vibrant,elegant,eclectic and old style at the same time,historic and modern you will love Madrid and Madrid will love you.
Located right in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula on a Meseta at over 600 meters of altitude,Madrid  is an outstanding capital city full of cultural attractions and one of Europe's most alluring cities.Madrid, originally called "Mayrit", was founded by the Emir Muhammad at the end of the IX century.Located on Manzanares river the name name of the city comes from the name of a fortress built on the Manzanares River under the Roman Empire this territory belonged to the Nishopric of Complutum and later occupied from Visigoth tribes.It was under the Arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, that the city gained importance, since initially the main city in the Spanish plain had been Toledo.

The History of Madrid has had several changes during the Reconquest of Spain by the Christians, Madrid passed from Muslim to Christian hands several times, it was the origin of the mixture of cultures which characterises the city still today.The present location of Madrid was established by the king Alfonso I in 1083. Under Christian control, all symbols of the Muslim world were removed from the city and part of the cultural heritage of Madrid was lost.During the following centuries the city developed reaching its current aspect.The 19th century was a sad time for Madrid with bloody historical events such as the rising of the city against French occupation in 1808.The city offers a lot of things to do, a wide offer for tourism, culture, business and for several activities with excellent facilities and services.You will find in the city a rich mixture of cultures, since besides the native "Madrileños" people from other Spanish areas and countries in particular from Latin America have made of Madrid their second hometown.Traffic in Madrid is heavy in Madrid and driving in the city can be an adventure for visitors. So ..Taking the "metro" (tube). Madrid offers a wide range of restaurants and "bar de tapas" the name tapas is from a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks or better mini-meals you can taste as lunch or dinner too.Nightlife in Madrid offers a lot of things to do, theatres, cinemas, discos in the districts of of Gran Via, Chueca,La Latina and Salamanca,Paseo de la Habana,Nuevos Ministerios and so on.. Enjoy Madrid, "bienvenido" welcome in Madrid.

1ST DAY - PUERTA DEL SOL- CALLE PRECIADOS - CALLE MAYOR-MONESTERIO DE LA ENCARNACION -PLAZA DE LA VILLA -PLAZA MAYOR (CENA AT SOBRINO DE BOTIN)

"Puerta del Sol" in the real centre  of the city..It is a symbol of the town and in the 15th century it was the main entrance to Madrid.Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) is also called kilometro cero o punto cero (km 0 ) the contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year.You can admire The House of the Post Office built in the 18th century by the french Architect Jacques Marquet, this building was also the headquarters of the Ministry of State Security during the Francisco Franco dictatorship period. In Plaza del Sol in front of the Post Office lies on the north side of the square "El Madroño "statue of a bear and a madrone tree ) it is also the heraldic symbol of the town, and The Mariblanca( Venus) marks the place of a former fountain in the middle of the square.Plaza del Sol is also a very recreative area where you can find bars, restaurants, shops in particular in Calle Preciados  where you can visit some boutiques and enjoy shopping in El Corte Ingles store. Passing through some narrow streets you arrive to the Descalzas Reales it is a complex of buildings and squares where you can admire Monasterio de la Encarnación, this monastery of 17th century, it is one of of the best example of Madrid's typical baroque style of course.

Founded by the Queen Margaret of Austria, actually is a convent of the order of Recolet Augustines, at the interior of the church you can admire frescoes by Francisco Bayeu in the main chapel.The monastery opened to the public in 1965 under the administration of the Patrimonio Nacional.Close to the Monastery is located Palacio de Uceda (Uceda Palace) it is a great example of a 17th century lordly house,built by the architect Gomez de Mora actually this building is used for military administration.Through Calle Mayor you will come to Plaza de la Villa,a beautiful square with historical buildings, such as Casa de la Villa,Originally projected in 1644 to be a prison, became Madrid's Town Hall around 1787 it was built by Gomez de Mora too. Interesting also Casa Cisneros a building in Plateresque style built by the architect Benito Jimenez, nephew of the Cardenal Cisneros. Do not miss a look to Casa and Torre de los Lujanes is among the oldest buildings in the city.The Tower dates from the early 15th century, while the house dates from the late 15th century.

The buildings probably were constructed in the Mudéjar style, which is a strongly Muslim-influenced style of architecture,The tower may have been home to King Francis I of France,He was imprisoned by Carlos V of Spain during the Pavia battle in Pavia - Northern Italy in 1525.Just behind this complex of buildings it is localted one of the best-known and most impressive squares of Madrid, Plaza Mayor,a symbol, a Madrid landmark.Built by Philip III (Felipe Tercero) between 1617 and 1619,the buildings are mostly Renaissance style, in the center lies a statue of the king by Juan de Bolonia and Pietro Tacca two important italian sculptors working inn Madrid in that period.In 1790 the Plaza Mayor was almost completely destroyed by a fire, but rebuilt later.The original project about this beautiful square wasa plan to remodel the busy and chaotic area of the old Plaza del Arrabal.(Ancient name of Plaza Mayor), the King Philip III called before Juan de Herrera the Architect who designed the first project in 1560 anbd later Juan Gomez de Mora to continue with the project, finishing the porticoes in 1619.The most important building of the square is absolutely Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House)very beautiful house with remarkable wall-paintings by Claudio Coelho and Jose Jimenez Donoso,the building is four stories high, the ground floor comprising elegant porticoes and the top floor in the form of an attic, with its angular towers on the sides.


During 17th century this square was the scenery of theatre performances and bullfights and other folklorist events. Take your time in this beautiful scenery having lunch in the Restaurant Los Galayos.Restaurant was founded in 1894, you can taste a large variety of tapas the classical Spanish Omelette (tortilla), Cocido" The Classic Stewed from Madrid,Croquettes filled with Iberic Ham and Manchego Cheese, very good the mixed salad and chunks of fried Iberian Pig....Enjoy !! After your lunch visit Iglesia Colegiata de San Isidro, it isa baroque church originally belonged to the monastery Antiguo Colegio Imperial de la Compañía de Jesús.It was designed in 1620 by the architect Pedro Sánchez,completed later in 1664 by Francisco Bautista and Melchor de Bueras.In the late afternoon relax yourself with a good "cafelito" (coffee and milk) and Buñuelos rellenos. A type of stuffed fritter.dinner in Madrid ? Tonight dinner in Sobrino de Botin Restaurant (Former Casa Botin)this is the oldest restaurant in the world, dating from 1725.Hemingway was a frequent visitor and pronounced it one of his favourite restaurants, mentioned in a book (Jacinta y Fortunata) by the Spanish writer Benito Perez Galdos.The restaurant was founded by Frenchman Jean Botin and his spouse,the restaurant has 4 floors and is located in Cuchilleros street, a short walk from Plaza Mayor.The local speciality is roast suckling pig with roast potatoes,excellent cordero asado (roast lamb) and grilled fillet mignon with mushrooms, Botín style.A good choice of wines from Rioja to Ribera or Valdepeñas, enjoy your dinner and Madrid by night.

2ND DAY - GRAN VIA - PLAZA DE ESPAÑA - PALACIO REAL -CATEDRAL DE  LA ALMUDENA -PLAZA DE ORIENTE - TEATRO REAL

After your breakfast starting your visit from Gran Via, it is Gran Via Avenue,the construction of the Gran Vía started in 1910,the project and the creation of this street was to build a connection of the new middle class district of Argüelles with the historical centrum, and access to the modern town. Gran Via divides the city in districts: on its north side to the west are Malasaña to the and Chueca at east. Gran Vía ends to the west in Plaza de España and to the east at the intersection with Calle de Alcalá.The Gran Via has the nickname "Madrid’s Broadway "Madrid has ranked third in the world in the number of musical shows,make the stories of Victor Hugo and his Misérables and the songs of Lloyd Weber universal.Gran Via is a great mix of buildings styles, next to Plaza Callao is characterised by monumental buildings influenced by a modernist style and based on classicism and neo-Mudejar,The Metropolis Building is one of the most representative constructions..The Telefónica building is another important construction. When it was inaugurated in 1929 it became Madrid's first skyscraper with its 81 m.

The American Architect Weeks designed an American-style building with a metallic concrete structure, later it was completed by the Spanish architect Ignacio de Cárdenas, who gave the finishing touches in typical Baroque style. The Carrión Building known as the Capitol, is also an emblematic building built by the architects Luis Martinez Feduchi and Vicente Eced. The influence is typically modern American architecture,creating a  multi-purpose structure to house a large amphitheatre that would act as concert hall and varieties hall, a commercial area with cafés,restaurants and offices.The last sector of Gran Via is influenced by Chicago school and German Bauhaus transmitting rationalism and functionalism. At the end of Gran Via you can admire Plaza de España.It is one of the biggest squares in the city. Designed by José Otamendi, it was commissioned to this spanish architect by General Francisco Franco in 1950.Plaza de España's large central statue pays homage to Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes, seated, is accompanied by statues of his beloved characters, Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.It is flanked by Madrid's first skyscrapers,


Torre de Madrid and Edificio España built both in 1950. 10 minutes walking from Plaza de España on Cuesta de San Vicente street you will come to Palacio Real (Royal Palace).Madrid's Royal Palace is an impressive example of classisistic italian baroque style. Construction was begun under Philip V by the architects Juvara, Sabatini and Sachetti. Charles III was, in 1714, the first king to have his residence here. In the interior of the palace we find numerous precious rooms, specially remarkable is the Throne Hall. Worth visiting are as well the beautiful Italian gardens, Jardines de Sabatini and Campo del Moro.The Palace is the official residence of the King of Spain in the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies and special events.Interior of the palace is rich of paintings by Caravaggio, Velazquez, Goya, frescoes by italian school Tiepolo and there are other collections with artistic importance like the rooms of Porcelaine, Silverware, Watches and the Royal Armoury.Anyway specially remarkable is the Throne Hall.The main facade of the Palace was built on a base pad, with a series of big Tuscan pillars,adorned with a series of statues of saints and kings,and the gates have a typical classicist touch all that with a strong Italian influence style.

Next to the Royal Palace, The Catedral of Almudena,probably built on the site of a medieval mosque that was destroyed in 1085 when Alfonso VI conquered Madrid.The interior is Neo Gothic with elements as statues and interior if chapels of contemporary artists, the Crypt of the Virgen of Almudena is in Neo Romanesque style, dated, 16th century.The facade and the exterior is in Baroque style although the first project was a Gothic revival style.Walking across Jardines de Sabatini (Sabatini gardens) you will admire Plaza de Oriente in front of the Royal Palace and Teatro Real. Plaza de Oriente is a rectangular square built in 1844 after the demolition of medieval houses to give a direct access from Royal Palace to Royal Theatre (Teatro Real ) .

The Theatre inaugurated on 19 November 1850 with the Italian Opera "La Favorite" by Gaetano Donizetti, the second great event was in 1863 when Giuseppe Verdi visited Madrid in honour of the Spanish premiere with "La Forza del destino"later come other important artists like the Russian composer Igor Stravinskij permormed Russian Ballets.It is time for your lunch..coming back to Gran Via crossing Plaza de España you can enjoy your lunch in the restaurant "Museo del Jamon" Museo del Jamon is basically a place where you can taste all kinds of Spanish Ham, and of course not only Hams, you will also find salads, tortillas, chorizos (spicy sausages) it is not expensive but you can choose to eat tapas (mini -meals) or menu del dia (daily menu) . After your lunch relax yourself coming back to the hotel or enjoy a cold drink in Plaza Callao next to Gran Via.Preparing your night in Madrid..The spanish capital offers you a large range of things to do ..Santa Ana and Huertas between Puerta del Sol and Plaza de Santa Ana, specially in a street called Calle Huertas, you will meet a lot of folks. This area not so far from Plaza Mayor is ideal to find many pubs, taverns, theatre-cafes and fashionable bars here are pretty close one to each other, a wide choice, ..I can also suggest you the Restaurant Paella Real not so far from The Real Theatre, excellent paella,a wide variety of tapas and grilled fish.Have a great dinner in Madrid.

3RD DAY - PRADO MUSEUM - THYSSEN MUSEUM -MUSEO ARTE REINA SOFIA
PUERTA DE ALCALÁ - PARQUE DEL RETIRO

After your breakfast visiting today the major museums in Madrid. you can start with the Prado Museum the most important of course.It features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. The collection currently comprises around 7,600 paintings The best known work and one of the icon of this museum is Las Meninas by Velázquez.Very rich the spanish collection with masterpieces by , El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Murillo, Alonzo Cano, Velázquez, Goya and many others, also of fantastic interest the italian collection with Raffaello,Veronese, Tintoretto,Fra Angelico, Mantegna and Botticelli,and Flemish with other masterpieces by Rubens,Van Dyck Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jordaens. All the rooms are separated for periods, beautiful the sculptures rooms, greek and roman.El Prado is one of the most visited sites in the world, and it is considered to be among the greatest museums of art,enjoy a pleasant walk in the art today.After the Prado Museum if you are fond about art you have not to miss Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, this Gallery is the collection by the Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon, a rich private collection containing masterpiecesby Titian,Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, Murillo, Rembrandt and a rich collection collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by artists like Monet, Renoir, Degas and Vincent Van Gogh, besides masterpieces of 20th centuries with notables artists such as Picasso, Mondrian and many others.Excellent the Flemish and Dutch painters rooms with Jan Van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, and Holbein.

After this art full immersion have your lunch at The Cuatro Fuentes restaurant is located off the Paseo del Prado between the Prado and the Reina Sofia Museum, very good pork chops and salads, fried fish, a wide choices of salads and desserts. Optionally after your lunch you can visit the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía next to Atocha Station,The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art with excellent collections by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Salvador Dali, the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso's painting Guernica some years before this painting was in the Prado Museum.In the case you want to have relax enjoy a walk in the elegant Paseo del Prado til Plaza de Cibeles a square with a Neo-Classical complex of marble sculptures with fountains that has become an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid.The fountain was built in the reign of Charles III and designed by Ventura Rodríguez,representing Ceres , Roman goddess of nature and continue til Puerta de Alcalá a Neo-classical monument in the Plaza de la Independencia one of the main entrance gates of the town.Next to the Puerta de Alcalá come in the Retiro Park.This Park was originally built for the Spanish king Phillip IV and was opened to the general public in the 1800's.The central focus of the park is the large lake where you can go boating.The park has a number of 'terrazas' (open air bars), many interesting buildings among them the most important is he 'Crystal Palace', which is made entirely of glass.Enjoy in a bar a typical 'horchata' (a cold drink made from tiger nuts or almonds).

Coming back to your Hotel in the late afternoon if you want to do shopping The most luxurious boutiques are found in streets such as Serrano, Castelló, Goya, Velázquez, Jorge Juan, Príncipe de Vergara and Ortega y Gasset, in the Salamanca District There you can enjoy the shops of the most important designers like Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Lacoste, Donna Karan, Channel, Gianni Versace, Gucci and more in alternative The most convenient area for tourists is around Calle de Preciados, between Sol and Gran Vía, home to El Corte Inglés department store.You are in Spain ..in Madrid ..I can suggest you to enjoy a great night "madrileña" a very good local..El Corral de la Moreria.Corral de la Morería Restaurant & TablaoFlamenco founded by Manuel del Rey in 1956,one of the most famous flamenco show in the world..It is near Plaza de Oriente and Teatro Real.There are different kind of menus and you can assist to a very good flamenco show.

Madrid is a city to love,discover and enjoy metre by metre,love it and it will love toy,Madrid is this kind of City,it will embrace you and it will give you sensations,vibrations,emotions and passion,Madrid is that and more.

Francesco Mari


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