Madrid Museums, Spain

Madrid, the capital and largest city in Spain is definitely one of the most popular cities to visit. Known for its fascinating history, Madrid boasts over 45 museums–many of them art museums–but all promise cultural experiences that should not be overlooked. When staying in a city for a extended period of time whether it be a hotel or an Apartment in Madrid, one gets to take in the city at a slower pace. One gets to enjoy all the city has to offer, from fine dining, the architecture to the history of the city and quite often this can be brought together in the many museums Madrid has to offer.

Madrid Museo del Prado with Velazquez statue, Madrid, SpainThe Golden Triangle of Art is made up of three museums including the Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Each one of these museums has its own appeal. The most famous art museum by far is the Prado. This museum, which opened almost 200 years ago is housed in an 18th century building and contains works by European masters such as Raphael, Velazquez, Rubens, Bosch, Goya and many more. With over 4,800 paintings by Spanish artists and large collections by the Italian and Flemish, and over 900 works of sculpture, it is easy to see why this museum is known the world over.

For contemporary art the Reina Sofia is the perfect choice. This museum, which is housed in an 18th century hospital, offers four floors of both permanent and temporary exhibits, with collections by Picasso, Miro, Dali Salano and other famous artists. A complement to the Prado and the Reina Sofia, the Thyssen-Bornemisza offers an important private art collection with everything from ancient to modern pop art.

The Museo de America exhibits archeological findings, textiles and clothing from North, South, and Central America. This impressive museum's 25,000 artifacts exhibit the myths, beliefs and ways of life of different societies, and languages of indigenous cultures. The most fascinating exhibits are the Aztec Tudela Codex from the 1500's, and a Paracas mummy from the first century BC.

For a trip back in time to Spain's golden age, the former home of the "Shakespeare of Spanish literature", now the Lope de Vega Museum, is a delightful experience. A two-story brick house, this museum offers rooms with furniture from the 17th century and a beautiful garden with fruit trees that were described in Lope de Vega's journal.

With 24 rooms of artifacts reflecting the history of the Spanish Navy, El Museo Naval is one of the most significant naval museums the world over. The rooms go in chronological order with exhibits from the 15th century to the cutting-edge technology of today. One of the most interesting exhibits is the Peral Submarine, invented in 1884, which many call the first U-boat.

There are a number of other important museums in Madrid such as the Archaeological Museum, the Caixa Forum, the Goya Museum and many more. For those who are planning a trip to Spain, visits to any of these museums offer rare experiences that will be remembered for a lifetime.

 Head back to your apartment in Madrid, take your time and soak up the city, enjoy a bottle of wine at your new favorite restaurant and plan your next visit to one of the many museums throughout Madrid.


A Day Trip to Burgos, Spain

 Although initially inhabited over 800,000 years ago, the city of Burgos was officially founded in 884 to serve as an outpost on the Christian-Moorish frontier. Burgos then rose to prominence as the capital of Castile. The city is the venue where the laws governing Spain’s treatment of Native Americans, the Leyes de Burgos, where first publicized in 1512. Burgos played a significant role in the conquest of Seville, the Peninsula War with Napoleon and as an operational base for Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Because of its many medieval landmarks, numerous parks and unique museums, this historic Spanish city makes a wonderful day trip from Madrid.

Cathedral Burgos,SpainVisitors who travel the 250-kilometers from Madrid to Burgos will be greeted by the medieval entrance to the city, the Arco de Santa Maria. The town center has medieval architecture and a statue honoring El Cid. You’ll be amazed by the ornate façade, balustrade turrets and statuary of the Gothic Burgos Cathedral. The church, built in 1221, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Guests can visit the monasteries of the Royal Retreats and the Miraflores Charterhouse. You will awestruck by the detail and design of the Retreats, the intricate woodwork and marble mausoleum of King John II and the alabaster angles of the Charterhouse. Tourists can stroll along the beautiful tree-lined Paseo del Espolón which is located on the banks of the Arlanzón River. Here you’ll find an endearing mix of shops, restaurants and cafes. If you are looking for an inner city retreat, you can visit Fuentes Blancas. This large city park offers numerous walking and biking trails, camping and many other outdoor recreational activities. You can explore one of the city’s ten museums, including the Museum of the Book, The Museum of Human Evolution and the Museum of Burgos that preserves and displays the history of the city.

You must sample the wonderful local cuisine made famous because of its Queso de Burgos white cheese, Jamon Serrano cured ham and the Morcilla de Burgos pig blood’s sausage. Guests can also enjoy one of the many festivals that are held throughout the year. The city’s inland location and elevation create a continental Mediterranean climate of warm summers and cool snowy winters.

If you are spending time in Madrid, the three hour trip to experience the historical, architectural and cultural opportunities of Burgos is well worth the journey.



Spend a Magnificent Day in Valladolid, Spain

Located at the confluence of two rivers and within three distinct wine growing regions is Valladolid, Spain. This delightful city is a wonderful day trip from Madrid. Valladolid and the surrounding countryside grew in population and importance after the Christians re-conquered the area from the Moors in the 10th century. Valladolid was the residence for the Castilian kings and until 1561 it was the capital city for the kingdom of Spain. It was in this city that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were married and Christopher Columbus passed away.

Visitors who travel the 200-kilometers from Madrid might want to leave their hotel or Madrid apartments early for the 3 hour drive to Valladoild. Travelers will find the early get up well worth the trip, for they will find a delicious local cuisine that includes fish, cheese, bread, pastries and the area’s famous lechazo or baby lamb. Here you will find Spain’s best lamb’s cheese and pastry shops that produce the popular and well known St. Mary’s rings and St. Claire sponge cakes. Guests can sample the Cigales, Rueda and Ribera del Duero wines.

Square of Zorrilla, Valladolid, SpainIf you prefer to sightsee, you can visit the parks along the river or the Plaza Mayor that was used as a template for the main plaza in Madrid. You will also find many fine examples of 15th and 16th century Gothic churches. You can visit the unfinished Cathedral that was commissioned by King Phillip II, the Benedictine Church of San Benito and the Dominican Church of San Pablo. These religious sites display intricate Baroque facades, Romanesque reredos and Gothic statuary.

You can see the home where the novelist Cervantes finished writing Don Quixote and the final home of Columbus, which is now a museum featuring the discovery of the New World. You can experience the artworks on display at the National Sculpture Museum or explore the exhibits of the Science Museum. Guests can visit the Royal Palace that was the birth place of King Phillip II and home to Napoleon during the Peninsula War. Valladolid also has archeological remnants of a Roman camp and palisade walls.

The continental Mediterranean climate generates cold winters and dry hot summers. In general, the average temperatures in the city enable tourists to comfortably visit year round. Whether your interest is history or architecture, culture or cuisine, Valladolid is a magnificent adventure located just three hours from Madrid. If staying in one of the many hotels or apartments in Madrid for any length of time, one might make this a 2 day or weekend getaway from the city.


A Side Trip From Madird To Toledo, Spain

If you are planning a trip to Spain you will definitely want to take a side trip to Toledo. Toledo is about 40 miles away from the capital of Spain. If you take the high speed train from Madrid, you can get there in 30 minutes. At one time, Toledo was the capital of Spain and it still has many of the qualities that characterize many European capitals. This charming city, surrounded by the Tagus River, offers much in the way of historical landmarks and cultural experiences making it a popular site for tourism.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Toledo was a mix of many cultures, including Christians, Jews and Moors and there are remnants still today which show the toleration of the different religions during that period. Many ancient churches, synagogues and mosques that date back to that time are still standing. The Puerta Bisagra is the main entrance to the old city of Toledo and is a magnificent gate built by the Moors during the 6th and 7th centuries.

A Panoramic view of Toledo SpainIt is easy to find enough things to see in Toledo to spend a few days there, but if you only have one day, there are a few things to choose from that are must-see attractions. The Alcazar of Toledo is a stone castle once used as a Roman palace. Later, during the Spanish Civil War it became a symbol for Spanish Nationalists because of events that transpired there. This castle is now a war museum like none you’ve ever seen, with fascinating exhibits such as Cortez’s flag and letters written by Napoleon. Three significant religious sites are the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, which is considered to be the epitome of the Gothic style in Spain; the Synagogue of El Transito, the oldest and most ornate synagogue in Toledo, now a museum of Jewish history; and the Mosque of Christ of the Light–in Moorish days known as Bab-al-Mardum, the only mosque that is still standing but has been converted to a Catholic church. Located in Toledo’s Jewish quarter is the Museum El Greco, which contains many works by the exceptional painter of the same name, as well as other 17th century Spanish paintings. Furniture and ceramics from this time period are also on display.

If you plan to do some shopping, Toledo has a variety of souvenir shops. The most popular items are conquistador swords, glazed hand-painted ceramics and damascene, gold and black enamel work used to make small decorative plates and beautiful jewelry.

If you are planning a trip to Madrid, be sure to set aside a day or two to see the beautiful city of Toledo. Whether admiring the fascinating architecture, enjoying the religious history and culture, or shopping for souvenirs, it will be an experience you won’t soon forget!


Travel from Madrid for a Day of Sightseeing in Segovia, Spain

Visitors lucky to have an extended stay in Spain’s capital city of Madrid will eventually ask “what is worth seeing outside of the city limits?” If you are one of the fortunate ones to have rented one of the many Madrid apartments available throughout the city you are offered many choices on day trips from Madrid. One such choice might be Segovia, Spain.

Alcazar Castle, Segovia, SpainSegovia is a well-known historical city just north of Madrid, Spain. There are three main ways to travel to Segovia from Madrid to enjoy a day of sightseeing in Segovia, Spain. The quickest way is using the AVE high speed train which takes about a half an hour. Another way is taking a train from the Chamartin train station. It takes approximately two hours by train. The last way is by bus. On average, it takes between an hour and an hour and a half to make the journey by bus.

Segovia has many extraordinary historical sites to explore.
The Aqueduct of Segovia is the most popular monument in the city. It is over 2,000 years old, and is still in excellent condition. The aqueduct is located in the Plaza del Azoguejo. While in the plaza, enjoy a taste of roasted suckling pig.

The Calle Real is a pathway between the Plaza of Azoguejo and the Plaza Mayor. There are many fascinating historical monuments to visit along the path. Some of the monuments include: the Palace of del Rio, the Palace of Torreagero, the home of the Picos, the Palace of Conde de Alpuente, and the Juan Bravo Plaza. Once in the Plaza Mayor, visitors can see the stunning masterpiece known as the “Lady of Cathedrals”, the Segovia Cathedral. It is a Basque-Castilean Gothic, and the last one built in Spain.

The Alcazar Castle is located near the Segovia Cathedral. It is an exquisite, royal palace built on top of the rock between the Eresma and the Clamores Rivers. The Alcazar Castle has two towers and two lovely courtyards.

The medieval palace of Henry IV is the home of the Museo de Arte Contempraneo Esteban Vicente. The museum has a large collection of masterpieces on display. In addition, visitors can see the carved Hispano- Moorish wooden ceiling of the Renaissance chapel, and the beautiful garden located along the palace.

After a day of exploring Segovia, you most likely will want to grab something to eat before you head back to your apartments in Madrid. Visitors will find many fine choices when it comes to meal time.

The Meson de Candido is located in the Plaza del Azoguejo. The restaurant offers both Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. A couple of its famous dishes include roasted baby lamb and roasted suckling pig.

The Casa Duque is located along Calle Cervantes 12. The restaurant has a large variety of foods to offer. Some of the delicious dishes it offers include roasted lamb, roasted suckling pig, cream of crabmeat soup, and grilled lamb, chicken, pork and beef plates.

The Jose Maria is an elegant restaurant offering a wide variety of foods including roasted lamb and suckling pig as well as some delicious desserts. It is located in the Plaza Mayor.

The Limon y Menta can be found near the Plaza Mayor. It offers mouth-watering desserts.

By train or bus, Segovia makes for a great and easy day trip from Madrid.


Day Trip To Cordoba From Seville Spain

Cordoba, the Andalusia city in southern Spain, has the distinction of being designated as a World Heritage Site. The city is a blend of varied societies as it was both the capital during the Roman period and an Islamic caliphate in the Middle Ages. Cordoba was a city of merit during the 10th and 11th century as the city with the largest population in the world and as the academic heart of Europe.

The Cathedral Mosque Alminar in Cordoba, SpainCordoba’s historic district is comprised of a striking complex of tiny streets, town squares and courtyards centered about the city’s Mosque-Cathedral. The city is known for its art and culture because of the events that occur.

Thinking of staying in one of the many apartments in Seville or just passing through from Madrid, travelers will find Cordoba is a contemporary city linked to other cities in Andalusia and the rest of Spain. Cities such as Seville and Madrid can be reached by AVE or high-speed train system. AVE trains run on the hour from Madrid, with the trip taking just under 2 hours, and trips from Malaga and Seville running under one hour. AVE has two daily trains to Barcelona, and there is an inexpensive sleeper train from Cordoba to Barcelona and to other cities.

Bus service leaves from Madrid to Cordoba six times a day. Regular bus service departs from the central bus station in Cordoba to most Andalusia towns. After flying into Madrid, Malaga, or Seville, take a train or bus to Cordoba.

Most of Cordoba’s sites are found in the Old city and are easily reached by walking. This includes the bus and train station, stores, attractions, restaurants. and lodging. Traveler’s maps from the tourist offices show the town’s point of references as being the river, the Passeo de la Victoria, and the Plaza de las Tendillas. Most of the attractions encircle the area around the Mezquita-Cathedral. For a more traditional view, go east of the Mezquita-Cathedral to observe the procession after the Catholic Mass. Just beware of beggars who work the area.

Most of Cordoba’s attractions are historical. La Mezquita began as a Mosque and encloses a cathedral inside. Many of the other attractions are located near la Mezquita. Calleja de la Flores, near the tower, is a slender lane with flowers and a square. Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos was a fort of the Christian rulers and is famous for its gardens. Puerto del Christo de los Faroles, one of many squares, is the most imposing. Medina Azahara, the relics of the caliphate in the west, was constructed beginning in the 900s. It is found 5 km west of the city. La Sinagoga is one of the only three synagogues still in Spain.

Cordoba is a city of festivals with May being the most favored month. Feria de Cordoba is a fair of celebration with drink, dance and food. Cata de Viino-Montilla Moriles is the festival of wine-tasting. During the Festival de Patios, the people who live in the old city let the public view their courtyards. The festivals continue throughout the year.

Visitors to town can tour Cordoba by driving an electric car, which is supplied with GPS and audio tours in several languages, by a Segway tour, which covers sites not always found by visitors, and by a walking tour of the old city.

Cordoba has a range of restaurants to chose from, La Albaida is in a renovated castle in the Cordoba sierra and serves typical Cordoban food. Many serve traditional food of Cordoba. Many more restaurants remain to be explored. Make sure you stop and visit one of the many Cordoba’s bars and cafes the city has to offer. Plaza de la Corredera is a ideal place to sit in a sidewalk cafe and watch the world go by while taking in all the history Cordoba has to offer.

So if you are staying in one of the many Seville apartments available and looking for a convenient day trip or just passing through as you explore southern Spain, you will find that a stop in Cordoba will be worthwhile and interesting


Madrid, Local Cuisine and Restaurants

With a population exceeding three million, Madrid is the third-largest city in Europe, and a global leader in politics, education, science, entertainment, fashion and the arts. Madrid’s culinary arts are also world-renowned, with a wide variety of restaurants catering to every imaginable nationality and palate. Of course, most visitors to Madrid want to experience the local cuisine and restaurants, of which there is also a vast variety.

Outdoor Cafe, Plaza Mayor, Madrid, SpainSo you have settled into you Madrid apartments or hotel and now want to experience the various local cuisines the city has to offer. With so many restaurants to choose from where does one start? Well to be honest, where ever you start you will not be disappointed.

A good starting point may be the Botin Restaurant, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world. In business since 1725, Botin counts as former clientele such notables as the artist Goya and Ernest Hemingway. Among Botin’s specialties are roast suckling pig and roast lamb. The history alone is worth the visit, and the experience is one not soon to be forgotten.

You will find style of Madrid’s restaurants range from traditional to bistro, flamenco to modern all the way to gourmet. Along with Botin, other notable traditional Madrid eateries include Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas, Cafe de Oriente and Restaurante El Rocio. For those wishing for a casual experience featuring music and a relaxed atmosphere, La Mariachita (featuring Mexican cuisine), Café Oliver (Mediterranean dishes), and the Italian-flavored Marcellino Pasta e Vino may suit the mood. For flamenco lovers, as well as aficionados of authentic Spanish cuisine, El Corral de la Pacheca is for you. For those preferring a more contemporary adventure, modern Madrid eateries such as El Rancho Asador Argentino, Sushiwakka Serrano, Picanha (Brazilian) and the Scandinavian-themed Olsen are certain to satisfy the most demanding of appetite. For gourmet dining, Goizeko Kabi Madrid, featuring Basque cuisine, is a local favorite, and for an international flavor, don’t miss Horcher, which offers fine dining amid a luxurious mansion and is widely acclaimed for its’ game dishes (venison, wild boar, wild duck).

Jamon, Spanish Market, Madrid, SpainGallinejas, or fried sheep entrails, might appeal to the more daring diner. Other local favorite dishes which the adventurous diner may wish to sample include Bocadillo de calamares, or fried squid rings. Another
Madrid “delicacy” is Callos a la madrileña, which consists of calf or lamb’s tripe, blood sausage, and the snout and hoof of a cow.

One of the nice things about staying for a while in one of the many hotels or apartments in Madrid that are available, is getting to know the ins and outs of the city, with so much to do throughout the day you will have plenty of opportunities to try the local cuisine and restaurants Madrid has to offer.


Madrid, Historical and Modern Fun

Madrid, one of the top fashion destinations in Europe, is sure to give you the best of both historical attractions and modern fun. This cosmopolitan city is famous for high-end fashion boutiques, world class restaurants, many art galleries and a host of other attractions.

If you love art, your first stop should be the Prado Museum, which has a very wide collection of traditional and modern pieces from around the world. You can also stop by the Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza galleries that host a large collection of European and American masterpieces.Prado Museum Madrid Spain

The Puerta del Sol is the hub of the city where people meet, shop and live. Numerous choices of hotels and Madrid apartments will place travelers in the center of city. It gives easy access to Plaza Mayor, the Opera and the Royal Palace, the Spanish Parliament and Plaza Santa Ana. The statue of el Oso y el Madrono is a bear eating from an evergreen tree and is the main meeting place for Madrid’s youth.

History comes alive in Madrid through a number of magnificent historical monuments. One of the most popular one is the Temple of Debod. This is an ancient Egyptian temple that was initially built alongside the River Nile and dedicated to Isis, an Egyptian goddess. The temple was donated by Egypt to Spain in 1968 and was renovated in Madrid. Get into the ancient Egyptian world right at the heart of Europe in Madrid!

Estanque Grande Parque del Buen Retiro Madrid, SpainFor those who would like some seaside fun, the Parque del Buen Retiro is the place to be. This is a scenic oasis park that is located right at the heart of Madrid. The park has a lake and you can hire a rowing boat to experience some water adventure. If you have kids, enjoy a puppet show at the park.

Football fans should not miss the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium- the home of one of the best football clubs in the world – Real Madrid. If you are lucky, you can catch a game of this top European team over the weekend.

Plaza Santa Ana, Madrid SpainAfter a long day of sightseeing and visiting different monuments, relax at one of the many parks in Madrid. The Plaza Mayor, Plaza Santa Ana and Plaza de Cibeles are great places to stroll or just relax as the day fades away. The night life is also unequaled in the world. The evening meal will never be before 9:30, and Madrid has one of the highest concentrations of restaurants and bars per capita in the world. The city is just as busy at 4:00am as it is at 10:00am. Huertas street and the streets nearby have many small restaurants and bars with a variety of Spanish and international music along with flamenco.

La Latina is an area south of the Plaza Mayor where there are Madrid’s most famous restaurants and tapas bars. Botin is the oldest restaurant in the world where Hemmingway sat for long hours and included in his novels. Along with all of this are cinemas, theaters, ballet, flamenco, nightclubs and opera.

A visit to Madrid is one that you will never forget. Hard press to see the city in one day, one should plan on several days to truly enjoy this magnificent city. Travelers will find the choices of accommodation in Madrid plentiful, with a wide price range that will meet everyone's budget.

For more information on Madrid and Spain, checkout Beachcomber Pete Travel Guides.

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