Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain

Visiting Madrid for the first time you have probably but a list together of things to see and not miss. One of the places that you will want on your list is Royal Palace of Madrid. Conveniently located close to many hotels and old town apartments Madrid, Royal Palace of Madrid makes for a perfect day outing.
Royal Palace of Madrid, SpainThe Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain or Palacio Real, was commissioned by King Philip V of Spain and completed in 1764, occupied by King Charles III. It is on the site of an older fortress that was occupied by the Moors, called Alcazar, which was destroyed by a Christmas Eve fire in 1734. Built of limestone and granite, the palace was designed to resemble the Palace of Versailles in Paris, France.

The palace is the largest in Western Europe and was the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. However, the last king to actually live in the palace, Alfonso XIII, vacated in 1931 when he left Spain and went into exile. Currently the royal family resides in a smaller palace outside of Madrid.

The architectural style of the Royal Palace is described as a mix of Baroque and neo-Classic. It was originally designed with Italian influence, and later modified in a French style. Today it holds 13th Century weaponry in the Royal Armoury, in addition to classic art, and historic furnishings. The Royal Library contains books, maps, medals, royal correspondence, and musical scores. The Royal Palace of Madrid is open to the public, except during state ceremonies. Only 50 of the more than 2,000 rooms in the palace are open for tours, including the china room, or Sala de Porcelana, and throne room, or Salon del Trono.

The outside grounds of the Royal Palace feature the Campo del Moro and Sabatini gardens, where fountains, French gardens, and statues of Spanish kings are displayed. The Sabatini Gardens replaced the royal stables at that location. The Plaza de la Armeria is an open square that sits between the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral. Once the location of medieval houses, the Plaza de Oriente now hosts small gardens and sculptures of forty kings. A central courtyard is accessed via the Puerta del Principe door.

The Royal Palace is in the heart of central Madrid on Calle de Bailen, in the area of the massive Casa de Campo park and old town apartments Madrid. Guided or audio tours are available and the palace is open all year, except for major holidays. The palace charges a fee for entry.


Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Madrid

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Madrid is Spain's premier museum of modern art. The museum opened in 1990, but today is spread out over four venues. The main collection is in the Sabatini Building, formerly an 18th century hospital. However, there are exhibits, libraries, and events also at the nearby Nouvel Building, and the Palacios de Cristal and de Velazquez in the Parque del Buen Retiro.

Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Madrid, SpainA single 6 € ticket gets you into both the Sabatini and Nouvel buildings. The palacios in the park have free admission. If you're only interested in one of the museum's temporary exhibits, you can buy a reduced price ticket for 3 €. Staying in a Madrid apartment or hotel, one could make this a one day event or several days of leisure viewing.

The museum is home to works from all the greatest 20th century Spanish artists. However, without question the masterpiece of the museum is Picasso's famed anti-war mural, "Guernica." You'll also see works from Salvador Dali, Joann Miro, Juan Gris, Antoni Tapies, Pablo Serrano, and Jorge Oteiza. There are some modern works by non-Spanish artists including Man Ray, Georges Braque, and Julian Schnabel.

The Reina Sofia groups its works into three main chronological collections covering the years from 1900-1945 (Collection 1), 1945- 1968 (Collection 2), and 1968-1982 (Collection 3). Within each collection, the rooms are organized either by artist, theme or medium. For example, Collection 1 has a room dedicated to "Juan Gris. Reconfiguring the Modern Gaze." In the Collection 2 area of the museum, you can visit a room called "Neo-Realism in Spanish Photography," and Collection 3 has a room called "The Feminist Revolution."

The types of works included in the collections are paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs. In addition to the organized collections, a number of sculptures are placed throughout the walkways and common areas of the buildings.

The museum also has a significant library in the Nouvel Building. Its reading room is open to the public. You can also go up to the museum's rooftop terrace to enjoy panoramic views of the city and Retiro Park. The museum also runs a variety of arts, social, and education events.

One of the joys of spending some time in Madrid and living like a local in one of the many hotels or apartments in Madrid is that you can spend as much time or as little in a given day visiting the museum.

The museum is open every day except Tuesday. It opens each morning at 10 a.m. and closes most nights at 9 p.m. On Sunday, the museum closes at 2:30 p.m. From October to March, the palacios in Retiro Park are open every day except Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From April to September, they're open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, keep in mind that the Palacio de Cristal may be closed if it's raining.


Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain is an experience that should not be missed when visiting Madrid. This privately owned museum is situated in the area of central Madrid known as the "Golden Triangle of Art." Conveniently located to Madrid apartments and Hotels makes this another relaxing and interesting stop for travelers getting to know the city.
Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain
The perfect companion to its neighboring galleries, the Reina Sofia Modern Art Museum and the Prado Museum, which features works from antiquity, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain features a wide variety of works that span several centuries. These include masterpieces from the German Renaissance, with both Impressionist and Expressionist styles, Russian Constructivism art and two halls dedicated to 19th century North American paintings, along with various temporary exhibits.

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza opened in 1992, with a private collection of works owned by Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. The Baron began collecting great works of art in the 1920s and his son, Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, inherited his father's love of art. The elder Baron's passion for art is evidenced in this exquisite collection of works by the old masters. He amassed 525 paintings from antiquity during his lifetime that are now on display at the Museum. His son, Hans Heinrich, continued to collect ancient pieces, but in the 1960s he began collecting works by modern artists as well, culminating in the Modern Masters' Collection.

Some of the great artists on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid include: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Carpaccio, Van Eyck and Klee, along with many other notable artists. A recent addition to the works on display is the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, belonging to the younger Baron's widow, Carmen. This fabulous collection has been on loan since 2004 to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and features several hundred paintings and other pieces of fine art. This collection features works by Monet, Boudin, Renoir, Rodin, Picasso and many others.

Works of art are displayed throughout the museum in a format showcasing them chronologically, from the 13th through 20th centuries. Local residents as well as travelers staying in hotels and apartments in Madrid will find the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum well worth the visit.

Hours of Operation

The permanent collection can be viewed Tuesday through Sunday – 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Closed Monday

Saturdays offer extended hours for viewing temporary exhibitions, staying open until 11:00 p.m.

The museum is closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25.

Ticket Prices

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection admission is 9,00 Euros general admission and 6,00 Euros reduced rate. Tickets can be purchased by phone, online and at the Museum ticket office.

Prices for temporary exhibitions vary by exhibit.

Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

In celebration of the museum's 20th anniversary, those born in 1992 will be admitted free during 2012.


Museo del Prado Madrid, Spain

You have seen all the major sites that Madrid has to offer, now it's time to take it slow and enjoy the history the city has to offer. One of the nice things about taking a apartments in Madrid is you find you are not rushed. A perfect way to learn the history of Madrid and Spain is to visit one of the many museums the city has to offer. Travelers will find Madrids most famous musem is Museo del Prado.

Madrid Museo del Prado with Velazquez statue, Madrid, SpainOther European museums may be better known, but Madrid's Museo del Prado has one of the most spectacular collections of European art anywhere in the world. The Prado displays nearly 1,300 works of its more than 20,000 pieces of art, which date between the 12th and 19th centuries.

The core of the museum's works is the royal collection built up by a number of Spanish monarchs. As one would expect, its collection of Spanish art is unparalleled. You can view nearly 50 paintings done by Velázquez, including "Las Meninas," his most recognizable and storied piece. There are more than 140 paintings by Goya, ranging from his royal commissions to his scenes of rebellion to his Black Paintings, painted directly on walls that have been transplanted to the Prado. You can also see his famous pair, "La Maja Desnuda" and "La Maja Vestida."

Madrid Museo del Prado, SpainThe Spanish collection is filled out with masterpieces from El Greco, Murillo, Fortuny, and Ribera. It also has a significant collection of Spanish drawings, spanning from the Medieval period through the Modern Age. Goya is also well-represented here in over 500 of his drawings.

Masters from other European countries are also on display. You'll find a large collection of Titian's works, as well as other Italians like Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, and Mantegna. Works of particular note are Fra Angelico's "The Annunciation" and Titian's "Venus and Adonis." Amid the many works presenting scenes from both the Old and New Testaments, are Flemish master Hieronymus Bosch's startling "Garden of Earthly Delights" and "Seven Deadly Sins." The considerably less ghoulish Flemish painter Rubens is also at the Prado with lovely pieces like "Three Graces" and "Garden of Love."

In addition to European paintings, the Prado is also home to a wide variety of sculpture from ancient Greece and Rome to 18th century Europe. The "Virgin of the Battles" is an enamel-on-copper piece from the Limoges workshop and made in the 13th century. There is also a collection of decorative arts that includes, among other types of decorative items, ceramics and porcelains from France, Spain, and China.

The museum is open every day of the week, opening at 10 a.m. Most days it closes at 8 p.m., except Sundays and holidays when it closes at 7 p.m. It's only closed three days a year, on Christmas, New Year's Day, and May 1. A general admission ticket is 12 €, and 19.50 € if you want an official guide. You can buy your tickets online.

Spend a relaxing day visiting Madrids most famous museum, then before heading back to you Madrid apartments continue the relaxing day with a nice dinner in one of the many outdoor reasturants the city has to offer.

Avila, Spain

Known as the village of pebbles and saints, Avila, Spain is an ancient city known for medieval walls and Romanesque architecture. Avila’s location on top of a rocky summit makes it the highest elevated provincial capital in Spain. It is tucked in between massive boulders and towering mountains, and is situated just a short distance from Madrid, making it an excellent day trip.

Avila’s history dates back to around the 5th century B.C. when the Vettones, a Celtic Roman group from the Iberian Peninsula, inhabited the area and called it Obila, which means high mountain. Avila was a thriving city for quite some time, especially under Catholic Monarch rule in the early 16th century, but the population declined rapidly in the 18th century as the city decayed.Cathedral of Salvador, Avila, SpainAvila holds high cultural significance for historians. The older part of the city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cathedral of Avila, Basilica de San Vincente, and Iglesia de San Pedro are three architectural masterpieces in the city, all highlighting Romanesque or Gothic styles. The walls of Avila are considered the city’s main monument and were started in 1090. The walls are about one and half miles long with ninety towers and nine entrance gates and are still in very good condition. Historians consider the walls in Avila to be the longest and best preserved city walls in the world. Visitors can walk along the top of the walls for panoramic views of the city, and the city has many vantage points of the walls from across the river.

Modern day Avila is very much alive. The city is home to two universities and three colleges. There are several museums in Avila including Museum of Santa Teresa, Museum of the Cathedral, and Museum Caprotti. The food in Avila and the surrounding region is well known throughout Spain. Yemas de Avila are trademark sweet pastries of the city, made with egg yolks and sugar. Nuns from the local monastery make a delicious variety of cakes and chocolates which are sold in many of the city’s shops. For tourists who love to shop, there is a large shopping center on the edge of the city. Travelers will find many hotel options in the area and an array of gourmet restaurants and tapas bars are found within the city.

Avila is a must-see location in Spain. The city’s preserved history, architecture, and culture make the city a fascinating place to explore the past. Summer visitors will enjoy the break from the sweltering heat of Madrid, or larger Spanish cities, and find the more relaxed pace of Avila restful and rewarding. Whether visiting Avila for a day or a week, visitors will find plenty of adventures in this historic city.


Segovia, Spain

Segovia, Spain is known for its many Roman style churches, ancient architecture, winding pedestrian-only streets, and charming sidewalk cafes. All of this is completely enclosed by a medieval wall, with one of the largest and most well-preserved ancient aqueducts in the world, leading into the city. This beautiful historical town of 50,000 residents is located thirty minutes–and a world away–from Spain’s bustling Capital, Madrid.

Segovia’s Romanesque architecture tells us this city was, at one time, populated by the Romans. Then in the 5th century the Visigoths came in, and a few hundred years later the Moors invaded. Strangely enough, neither the Visigoths nor the Moors left their mark on the city’s architecture. The 14th century was a time of great prosperity for Segovia but that prosperity ended with the unsuccessful uprising of the Comuneros against King Charles V in 1521. After this the economic center moved toward Seville, which accounts for the fact that Segovia has not only kept its small town heritage, but its historical landmarks have been remarkably preserved.

Segovia Cathedral, Segovia, SpainThere is much to do in Segovia and its rich history makes it the perfect place for sightseeing. Segovia has the most churches per capita in all of Europe. The Gothic style Cathedral of Segovia started construction in 1525 and was finished in 1768. This huge cathedral contains paintings, tapestries and books dating back to the 15th century. Near the Cathedral sits the beautiful Alcazar Castle which was an inspiration for the Cinderella Castle in Disneyland and is the place where Isabel was crowned queen of Castile. The Museum of Segovia is not to be missed, with Roman tools, weapons, Visagoth jewelry and other relics of the past. It also offers animations of how the Roman aqueduct carried water through the city. The Segovia Mint is the oldest manufacturing plant in the world and the oldest industrial building in all of Spain.

Along with its excellent sightseeing opportunities, Segovia has many events and festivals throughout the year. The Titirimundi festival in May features puppet theater to entertain people of all ages. There is a folk music festival at the end of June, and the International Festival of Segovia offers music and dance performances–also in July.

Segovia has a Mediterranean Continental climate. Because of its high altitude, temperatures can drop to below freezing, with a minimum temperature of about 5 degrees F in the winter. The summers are warm, with temperatures sometimes rising to over 90 degrees F. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Segovia when the countryside is at its most beautiful. Whether touring the world famous ancient aqueduct, viewing the tremendous architecture, or simply enjoying the natural beauty and majestic mountains, Segovia, Spain offers an experience you will never forget.