As cliché as it sounds, Madrid, a leading European center of arts and culture, really does have it all. But even beyond the cuisine, art, nightlife and outdoor pursuits, Spain’s capital and largest city is the political and economic hub of the country, with a population of 3.3 million. The seat of government and the residence of the monarch, Madrid is the perfect place to get a taste of art, take a stroll in Retiro Park, see an Egyptian temple, sample tapas, shop and more. Sightsee all day and dance the night away on your next visit to Madrid.
Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) is a 40-minute ride from city center. Bus, metro or taxi service is easily accessible. The Airport Express Bus runs 24 hours, every 15 minutes during the day and every 35 minutes at night, for around $7. Metro Line 8 departs the airport about every 5 minutes from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., also for around $7. A cab will cost about $40.
Madrid Metro has been operational for more than 90 years, and it is an easy-to-use, convenient and attractive option for navigating Madrid. Trains arrive every three to five minutes during the day and every 10 to 15 at night. A one-way trip is about $2; multiple-day passes are available. The bus system’s 150 routes crisscross the city and surrounding suburbs in special bus lanes. For the same price as the metro, service runs every 15 to 20 minutes daily and every 30 minutes nightly. Madrid taxis are black and white with red and the insignia of Madrid — a bear reaching for the fruit of the madroño tree. A green light on top means the cab is available. Meters start at around $2.30 and are about $1.75 for every two-thirds of a mile.
Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid
Built in the 16th century by Philip II to repent for shelling the church of San Lorenzo, the area is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. The site stands in homage to St. Lawrence, with its unique design resembling the instrument of his martyrdom. At the time, the style of architecture was quite different for the city but ended up being rather influential.
Rastro is the most popular open-air flea market in Madrid. Open Sundays and holidays, shoppers flock to the market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Buyers will love the paintings, drawings, art supplies and rare books available for purchase. Fashionistas can find trendy and funky clothing and accessories here.
Triangle of Art
The triumverate of art is centrally located in Madrid, with The Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum nearby one another. The Prado features pre-20th-century art, and the Reina Sofia houses 20th-century modern art. The Thyssen- Bornemisza is a private museum, displaying both historical and contemporary art.
EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
Every February, this contemporary art fair brings art from more than 200 galleries across 25 countries to Madrid. Paintings, installations and statues from more than 3,000 artists are on display.
Fiesta de San Isidro
Each May 8–15, the city celebrates its patron saint, San Isidro, with concerts, fairs, dances and bullfights. San Isidro was also the patron of peasants and laborers.
The month-long celebration honors the tradition of flamenco. Each year from May to June, flamenco singing, dancing and guitar playing are celebrated at numerous venues across the city by some of the biggest names.
For more information, visit esmadrid.com
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