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Ole! Madrid

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Nalynn Dolan Caine |
Bear madroneIt is the second city in the world by trees, both in parks and on the streets, and the only European city not situated on a river. It is Madrid, the capital of Spain and a home of the kilómetro cero, a symbolic centre of Spain.

Madrid is an elegant metropolis dating back to the 16th century which lives 24/7, rich Retiro parkwith museums (more than 40 of them just in the centre), the home of the fine food and goods. One of the nicest and largest cities in Spain is actually one large park that you will adore. There are more than 40 parks within the urban limits and the Retiro park is considered as creme de la creme among them.

Start to explore the city from its heart, Puerta del Sol, and see the square's most recognizable landmarkPuerta del Sol, former Post Office built in the 18th century with famous clock at the top which leads Madrilenos in a new year. On regular days the building is just what it is, the office of the President of Madrid. A statue of a bear and a madrone tree, the heraldic symbol of Madrid is situated there as well as the famous Kilometre 0, a symbolic centre of Spain where all Spain's national highways start.

Plaza Mayor, old square of a great history was market place once, a place where citizens witnessed coronations and festivals but also some sanguine evePlaza Mayornts like bullfighting and public executions during the Spanish Inquisition. Today it is the most ornate, colourful and vibrant square with tables from nearby cafes and shops to step in. Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world dating back to the 16th century is situated just a short walk from Plaza Mayor.

Madrid has more than 200 churches and if you like to feel a breath of the old times the city will not disappoint you although it got the cathedral not so long agoSan Francisco el Grande, in 1993. Basilica de San Francisco el Grande with its dome which is considered as one of the biggest in Europe will return you to the ancient times. Diplodocus, a bar in the same district which serves drinks in huge 15-liters glasses and plays heavy metal, will bring you back in balance. Madrid's famous market El Rastro which takes place every Sunday is somewhere in between, modern yet with a charm of the old times.

Everybody who likes museums will enjoy Madrid. The Museo del Prado is considered as one of the most important art museums in Europe and among the best in the world. Palacio Real de MadridThere are special rooms for masters like Goya, Tizian, Velazquez, El Greco and others as well as representatives of the Flemish school. One of the most visited museums is The Palacio Real de Madrid, the official residence of the King of Spain but open to visitors. Try not to miss Museo del Jamon, a museum of ham where you can literally order a ham sandwich.

For a more stylish lunch choose Paseo de la Gastronomia, a strip of high-class restaurants housed in traditional and historical buildings. If shopping is on your list then visit ABC Serrano, a three floor shopping mall where footballers’ wives go shopping.

Las VentasHowever, there is one art reserved only for the most resistant ones. It is bullfighting and it can be seen at Las Ventas, the most famous bullring in Madrid situated in the district of Salamanca, one of the wealthiest and expensive areas in Madrid. If a reason of your visiting Madrid is business, have in mind that in Span business cards are more appreciated than anywhere else in the world. So, take them a lot and - Ole!, do a good job.

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