Thursday, 21 June 2007

Holidays in Madrid, capital of Spain

Madrid is the capital of Spain, and is located almost exactly in the centre of the country. The provinces Avila, Segovia, Guadalajara, Cuenca and Toledo border Madrid, and with an elevation of over 2 thousand feet, it is also the highest capital in Europe and home to over 3 million people. Madrid is also home to the royal family, Spanish parliament, banking, and is the administration hub of Spain.

Madrid is a lively, cosmopolitan city full of culture and artistic activity and has an endless supply of bars, which are busy well into the early hours. One of the best ways to get around the city is on the efficient Metro System. There are 11 numbered and colour-coded lines that are easy to follow and extend to most of the holiday attractions Madrid has to offer. Madrid Plaza Mayor The main centrepiece in Madrid is the Plaza Mayor. This vast traffic-free cobbled rectangle is completely surrounded by 17th Century architectural buildings, the most prominent being the Casa de la Panaderia (Bakers' Guild), which is covered with modern allegorical murals. Another fantastic building is the Casa de la Carniceria (Butchers' Guild) whose facade is also covered with vibrant paintings. There are nine gateway entrances leading into Plaza Mayor and in the centre stands the 17th century triumphant statue of King Filipe III. The spectacular scenery and ambiance is best appreciated from the many bars within the square and outdoor seating that sprawls out onto the cobbles.

Holiday visits to El Rastro:

El Rastro is Madrid's famous Sunday flea market, which can be found on Plaza de Cascorro and Calle Ribera de Curtidores. It is an excellent way to spend the day, and an experience in itself to join the thousands of people all squeezed into the tiny streets. The variety of goods on sale is amazing with everything from clothes, books and leather goods to plants, tools and anything you could care to imagine. The best time to visit the market is early morning when the stalls are just setting up. By mid-afternoon it will be hard to move either into or out of the market what with the thousands of people who visit every week.

Madrid Palacio Real Palacio Real is located just north of Plaza Mayor in Calle Bailén and can be reached on the Metro underground at Opera, Plaza de España. It is a formidable Palace that overlooks the huge square Plaza de Armas. Construction of the Palace took 26 years to complete and it was occupied from the late 18th century until 1931 when King Alfonso XIII was forced to abdicate. Nowadays the palace is only used for formal occasions as King Juan Carlos I lives elsewhere. The Palace can be enjoyed at your leisure, or you could join an organised tour, which will take in the most interesting rooms. Off the main entrance is the Botica Real, rooms used as a pharmacy containing jars of medicines and herbs. Other highlights include the Thrown Room used for royal receptions, the Gasparini Rooms named after their Neapolitan Designer and the Royal Armoury with its suits of armour and weapons.

Madrid is about as far away from any coast of Spain as you could get, but come August and some of the hottest temperatures to be found anywhere in Spain, the city becomes deserted as many Spanish leave the city for surrounding towns and cooler coastal resorts. The many motorways that leave the city start their life at the bustling Puerta del Sol where 10 streets converge to a point known as 'Kilometre 0’, which is where all distances in Spain are measured from. The spot is identified by a small plaque on the south side of the square, which is under the clock that Spaniards tune in to at midnight on New Year's Eve, eating one grape for good luck with each strike of the bell. The Puerta del Sol buzzes with life and one of the best ways to enjoy it is from one of the many fine street bars and restaurants.

Steve Greenwood

http://www.idealrentals4u.com/

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