WhenInManila goes to Spain! When In Europe, you get an adventure of a lifetime and being in Madrid, Spain is like the spark of a wondrous journey to discovering gastronomical celebrations and a wealth of culture and history that makes your visit well worth it.
Spain hits close to home for many Filipinos. Being colonized for over 300 years does leave its mark in our everyday lives and visiting this country was a little bit of looking into a history that has shaped us.
Madrid is the capital in Spain that resonates vibrancy and old world charm at the same time. There is an expansive list of experiences for your taking, and here is a countdown of the the top things to do when in Madrid.
10. El Botin
This is the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. Founded in 1725, it has successfully preserved the old spanish traditional cooking and is the benchmark of authentic Spanish cuisine.
It has several floors of charming space for dining and is a good way to start soaking in Madrid.
But my favourite would be the basement which is like dining in a cozy cave. Makes you get a feel of what it would be like dining back in the 1700s – it just has air-conditioning.
Their specialty is the roasted lamb and suckling pig which definitely was a fine pleasure to indulge in. Mix it with wine and you’ve got a sumptuous lunch set out for you. Lunch in Spain starts at 2pm and will usually last till around 4pm. I like that idea of a two-hour or more lunch break :)
9. Royal Palace
Considered one of the finest palaces in Europe, the Royal Palace which was built in the eighteenth & nineteenth century by King Philip V, boasts of rich materials and different art styles by leading artists like Corrado Giaquinto, Juan de Flandes, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Anton Raphael Mengs.
In the main lobby, upon walking in, you are surrounded by impeccable artwork. And that sense of awe would extend further as you visit each royal room/banquet hall open for tour. There are a total of 3,418 rooms in this palace.
The Palacio Real, as it is called in Spanish replaced the Alcázar which burnt in 1794. It boasts of lavish interiors and does exude an impeccable taste for various arts in its time.
Although it is the official residence of the royal family, it is only used nowadays for state ceremonies.
8. Plaza de Oriente Square
Just to the east of the Royal Palace is Plaza Oriente. It is a landscaped haven of peace started by King Joseph Bonaparte (Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother) in 1808 and finished by Queen Isabela II in 1844. Its a nice place to relax after visiting the Royal Palace with trees and manicured brushes surrounding the statue of King Philip IV.
This specific monument of King Philip IV was the first successful try to making a prancing horse statue, designed by sculptor Pietro Tacca with suggestions by non other than Galileo – no wonder it doesn’t fall over – its because the rear is made of solid bronze and the rest hollow.
Right near this handsome garden are cafes and charming apartments where you can have your fill after a walk and just watch people pass by.
7. Plaza Mayor
Every town has a main square and for Madrid, its the bustling Plaza Mayor. This square, rectangular in shape is surrounded by residential buildings. It would be exciting to live in one of those apartments and just go out your balcony to see all the happenings downstairs. With 237 balconies facing the plaza, that would be one heck of an audience with a view specially if the events were footballs games, bullfights, markets or during the Spanish Inquisition, public executions.
6. Almudena Cathedral
Still nearby and within the Austrias neighborhood (old quarters of Madrid) is another key site which is the Almudena Cathedral. It was put up in the first place when the capital of Spain was moved from Toledo to Madrid. The construction was done in Gothic revival style and the bright interiors exude Neo-Gothic style.
Inside is the Neo-Romaneque Crypt which houses a 16th century image of the Almudena Virgin and a museum which explains the history of the church and the archdiocese of Madrid.
So far, from the Royal Palace, all of these are of walking distance. So be prepared to walk a lot in Madrid.
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