City Breaks: Madrid, Spain during Winter
Madrid is one of the most common stops for flights from Europe to South America. So, instead of waiting 5 hours at the airport for your next flight, choose longer break between your flights and visit the city. We made our Madrid stop during February on the way back from Buenos Aires. If you compare the February temperatures in central Europe (the highest probably around -10 °C) and in the capital of Spain probably +7°C, you would find Madrid a very pleasant place for a winter walk. But, we land in Spain after 3 weeks of sun and ultimate callor summer in Argentina, so for us it was frickin freezing. Still, Madrid was the best place to get used to Europe again. People still speak Spanish here, so you still feel a little bit like in South America. However, the weather outside reminds you that you are not in the tropical forest anymore.
Plaza de la Puerta del Sol
To get to the city center from Madrid airport we used the Metro de Madrid. It’s a very convenient and quick way to reach many of tourist attractions in the capital of Spain. We took the subway to the station Sol and started our city sightseeing from Plaza de la Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun), which is the official center point of Spain. We arrived at the square of Gate of the Sun early in the morning; it was empty and cold, but still charming. It was nice to observe how Madrid slowly wakes up during winter and more and more people get out from their warm homes to fill in the city. There are two statues on Plaza de la Puerta del Sol: Carlos III equestrian statue and the statue of a bear (the official symbol of the city).
Plaza Mayor is the central square of Madrid. It was built in 17th century and since then has witnessed bullfights, celebrations of royal weddings and births, the ritual condemnations of heretics during the Spanish Inquisition, and even executions. To keep it short, there has been always something happening on the square and it’s never gone unnoticed.
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena and Palacio Real
We continue our walk from Plaza Mayor to Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena and Palacio Real. The inferior of this Spanish cathedral seems to be not that spectacular as for example Notre Dame in Paris, still in combination with Palacio Real its exterior is worth noticing. On the other hand, Palacio Real is a real Madrid’s pearl. Nowadays, it is only seldom used for royal ceremonies. There is an official tour, during which you can see 50 rooms of the palace. However, as we stayed in Madrid only for a few hours, we could only admire the exterior of the palace.
There are many gardens and green spaces around the palace so it’s a perfect opportunity to make a brake during your walk.
Ok, I hope New York will not be mad at me (I assure you’ll stay my city sweetheart forever 😉 ), but when you get to Gran Via, it somehow will bring back the memories of Manhattan to you. Maybe because our everyday life is surrounded by pitiful Munich’s max three storey buildings, Gran Via with its marvelous buildings had an easy way to our hearts. Although, Gran Via – the grand boulevard- was not built till 1910, it’s hard to imagine Madrid without it.
During your walk along Grand Via you will notice many eye-catching buildings, among them: Edificio Carrión, Telefónica building, and Edificio Metrópolis
The Plaza de Cibeles and Museo del Prado
We finished our walk at the Plaza de Cibeles and Cybele Palace. The square was built in neo-classical style and became a symbol of Madrid. In the neighborhood there is the Museo del Prado, one of the finest galleries around the world. Therefore, if you are staying in Madrid for some time, visiting this museum is simply obligatory. When it comes to us, we’ll have to do it next time we are in Madrid.
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