Madrid Journals

Madrid: Spain's True Heart

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An April 2005 trip to Madrid by Owen Lipsett

Puerta del Sol Photo, Madrid, Spain More Photos
Quote: As the youngest of Europe’s great capitals, Madrid is bereft of ancient monuments but enjoys an incomparably vibrant present. More representative of its country than most of its international counterparts, Madrid is where Spain’s seemingly non-stop nightlife, passion for football, varied cuisine, and artistic tradition find their greatest expression.

Madrid: Spain's True Heart

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Overview

Puerta del Sol Photo, Madrid, Spain
Quote:
In 1561, King Phillip II chose Madrid, then a provincial market town that had sprung up around a Moorish fortress overlooking the River Manzanares, as Spain’s permanent capital. This decision was occasioned by his desire to centralize Spain’s government, both literally and figuratively. Despite its poor weather and lack of a port, Madrid is located almost exactly at the center of the country and lacked powerful local interests to challenge his policies. Ever since, Madrid’s history, art, and architecture have directly reflected Spain’s national development more than any of its other major cities – a unique phenomenon on a continent where capital cities more frequently strive for cosmopolitanism....Read More

Hostal Numancia

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Hotel

Hostal Numancia Photo, Madrid, Spain
Quote:
Every city should be blessed with accomodation as central, friendly, clean, and inexpensive as Hostal Numancia – which epitomizes the Spanish concept of hostales, apartments whose extra rooms are converted into a boarding house of sorts maintained by live-in proprietors. Madrid is amply furnished with such accommodation, but I’m certain that none is as welcoming or well-kept as this one, run by Lola Gil (a translator from Burgos) and her Bulgarian husband Ludmil (Emilio). Both speak excellent English and are equally happy to assist guests in improving their conversational Spanish. Location:The hostal is on the fifth floor (reached by elevator) of Calle Magdalena 8, a major thorou...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 30, 2005

Hostal Numancia
Calle Magdalena 8, 5º Izquierda
Madrid, Spain
+ 34 91 4686876

Prado Museum/Museo del Prado

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Attraction | "Museo del Prado"

Prado Museum/Museo del Prado Photo, Madrid, Spain
Quote:
The oldest point on Madrid’s "Art Triangle," the neo-classical edifice containing the Museo del Prado has displayed the Spanish royal family’s art collection to the public ever since it opened in 1819. It’s crucial to understand that the works on display reflect the taste of Spain’s sixteenth to eighteenth century monarchs, rather than those of academic curators, as this explains why the bulk of the paintings come from territories under Spanish rule or influence, the extensive representation of court artists, and the dearth of pre-Renaissance works. That said, it’s still one of the world’s greatest art collections. Simultaneously grandiose and austere, the Prado’s interior remains just as impr...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 30, 2005

Prado Museum/Museo del Prado
Calle Ruiz De Alarcón 23
Madrid, Spain 28014
+34 91 3302800

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

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Attraction

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Photo, Madrid, Spain
Quote:
Not only is the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza the world’s most complete collection of Western art, it’s also the most thoughtfully displayed, gracing three floors of the Palacio de Villahermosa with everything from medieval altar paintings to Pop Art. Originally the personal collection of Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, it’s been housed here since 1992, originally under a loan agreement, and since the Baron’s death in 2002 as the property of the Spanish state. A pair of adjoining buildings have just been opened to house the less carefully selected personal collections of his Spanish fourth wife, Tita Cervera, making a visit worthwhile even if you’ve been here before. Although critics claim ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 30, 2005

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Paseo Del Prado, 8
Madrid, Spain
+1 34 91 3690151

Madrid's Parks: The Other

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Story/Tip

Parque de Buen Retiro Photo, Madrid, Spain
Quote:
Conveniently located near the art museums and architectural highlights that make Madrid such a visual delight are three fine parks. Whether you’re biding your time before a meal, recovering from an overdose of food or art, or simply seeking some solace from the capital’s boisterousness, the following "art triangle" is a pleasure in every sense.Parque del Buen Retiro: Located just beyond the Paseo del Prado and the "Big Three" art museums, the "Retiro" was once a royal pleasure garden but today is Madrid’s answer to London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park. Paths named after Spain’s former colonies lead you to the Estanque a vast artificial lake which you c...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 30, 2005