Madrid, many cities in one

Madrid is said to be- and is- tolerant; open and proto cultural; mischievous and merciful; cosmopolitan; and of course, genuine. The city hosts a pure and authentic spirit, which still thrives in neighbourhoods like Lavapiés and Tetuán; and in festivities such as the street parties of La Paloma or the bullfighting celebration of ‘San Isidro’. Spain is country that should be on your bucket list, if it isn’t add it now.

]This is Madrid, the city that has evolved from houses with interior neighbourhood courtyards called ‘corralas’, to winning international acclaim for the siesta, tapas bars, and fashion runways. This is Madrid, where they breakfast on churros at the ‘San Gines’ and they don’t forgive over a little game of mus (a card game) in a corner bar.

  • De la Paloma

It’s true that in Madrid there are many cities, all touching, but simultaneously arranged so you can cross straight through them, consequently maintaining their independence. This is the Madrid of Almodóvar: between the neighbourhood of Malasaña, the Retiro park and the ‘Ciudad Lineal’, he lives here with another, located between the streets of Almirante and Augusto Figueroa, in the heart of Chueca. Here, people looking for shoes flock to the outlets, where you can find a pair of good designer branded shoes at a good price… but from last season. Of course, in order to find the nerve centre of the city, with executive briefcases in hand and fast-food to fill your heart’s content, you have to walk through the ‘Castellana’ walk in the north direction. This walk will take you to the Northern outskirts of Azca, with its skyscrapers. A little further to the north, there are even more skyscrapers, taller and more modern. These skyscrapers once hosted the ‘Sports City’ of Real Madrid football team.

And the Madrid cultural scene of the 70s and 80s, that never slept? Well it’s still there, in the bars of Malasaña (such as in ‘La Catrina’, ‘In Dreams Cafe’, or ‘Ojala’), Lavapiés, Cava Baja ( you simply can’t miss the Berlin Cabaret show) or Serrano. Each area has its own atmosphere. Each area has its own style.

Palacio Real

  • Palacio Real Building

Anyway, one thing is certain, which is that- as I have title this post- Madrid offers many cities in one. Whilst it doesn’t have a Chinatown like San Francisco or New York, it does have an abundance of Oriental restaurants; a neighbourhood with gay flags like Castro in San Francisco; and concrete parks which recall- regardless of the distance- those frequented by the brokers of the Big Apple. The designer shops of Serrano refer to London, there is something of the Parisian Latin district in Lavapiés, and a reflection of the life of the Lisbon Alfama in Vallecas.

Metro Lavapiés

Another little bit of Madrid is that of La Habana, and the Arabic shops adjacent to the Toledo street, which effortlessly transport you to the north of Africa. Not too far away from there is Puerta del Sol (or ‘Sol’, as the Madrilenos call it); the place in which the whole spirit of the city begins and ends.

  • Metro Lavapies

Still the epicentre of Madrid today, Sol is swarming with people at all hours of the day and night; as this is the place where the most monumental events and histories of the capital are celebrated. The Zero Kilometre of the state has been the stage of Madrilenian life from 1808 with the protests against Murat and the courageous proclamation against the French invasion. This long tradition has continued to the present day with the 15-M campout.

Museo Nacional del Prado

Amongst the many faces of Madrid, we are certainly not lacking those who talk of art and culture; or those with a passion for shopping. From the beginning, the Madrid of the Austrians or the Bourbons in the area of Plaza Mayor of the Royal Palace offer delightful routes, such as gastronomic parades including the likes of the restaurant La Bola.

  • The Prado Museum

The same praise can be given for the unmissable visits to the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía museums… not to mention the lesser known ones, like the Sorolla, Románico and Fundación Lázaro Galdiano. And the shopping? Well, as is usually the case in Madrid, there is something for all tastes and budgets. Here you have the choice to opt to shop in the ethnic and intriguing shops of the multicultural and colourful neighbourhood of Lavapiés (not too far from the populous Rastro).

  • The streets of Lavapies


Madrid Río

Ah… and for those who want to take in the famous blue, white and indigo skies of Madrid as painted by Goya and Velásquez, no one should miss the chance to pass through the revived river banks of Manzanares(baptised as Madrid Rio).

  • The Manzanares

At the end of the day (especially a spring or summer day), you can’t beat sitting in in the Café del Río restaurant. The restaurant, which offers a menu of both modern and traditional exquisite homemade dishes, is located next to the boulevard of the Avenida de Portugal; an unbeatable location when it comes to taking in the breathtaking views over the Palacio de Oriente and the Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena and San Francisco.

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