Saturday, August 25, 2012

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10 Best Places to See in Madrid

Spain has always been an amazing destination to visit and will most certainly be on many travelers’ lists. The heart of Spain resides in none other than its capital city which is Madrid. Madrid has known the world over for its amazing culture, mouth-watering scrumptious and overall simply delicious food, great hospitality and extremely friendly people; and of course the world-famous football team – Real Madrid. There are a plethora of things in Madrid to see and do.

Unfortunately, most travelers may be on a tight schedule. In order to have a great trip and get your fill of Madrid, here is a list of the top 10 things that are a “must-see” -

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1. Madrid's Royal Palace

When most people think of Europe in the 18th century what will come to mind is Spanish royalty, decadent palaces, and adorned with masterful pieces of art. Such expectations can be easily fulfilled at the Royal Palace in Madrid. It is a major attraction itself as it proudly holds the title of being the largest palace in Western Europe. Open to the public on all days of the year except on days with special ceremonies this palace doubles as an art gallery as it houses amazing artistic furniture and painting done by famous artists of the time.

2. La Puerta Del Sol 

Do you want to have a warm memory to hold on to for the rest of your life? Then get yourself and a few friends to the central square of Madrid for the New Years' Eve celebrations. It is at a walkable distance from the Plaza Mayor. On New Year’s Eve, the grand clock at the square is the most important aspect of the square. Thousands gather and on each of the twelve chimes at midnight on New Years' Eve individuals at the square knock back a glass of wine. The combination of great lighting, architecture, jolly people, a safe environment, and the blistering cold will ensure that this is one memory that will be engraved in your mind.

3. The Debod Temple

Among all the Spanish culture and architecture sometimes it is very refreshing to have a contrasting experience, yet new altogether. The perfect contrast to the bustling city of Madrid would be the ancient Egyptian temple called the Debod temple. The temple had to be shifted from its original location in Egypt in order to avoid submersion due to the construction of the Aswan dam. The Egyptian government gifted this temple of Amon and Isis built in 2BC to the Spanish people in 1968. Above all this heavy historical significance the Dopod temple in Madrid rests on grounds that were host to incidents of the civil war in Spain in the year 1936.

4. The Prado Museum in Madrid

The Prado Museum is the most beautiful host to some of the greatest works of art in the world. At the point in history when the museum was yet to be constructed, the Louvre in Paris had many masterpieces on display which drew in art enthusiasts with tremendous vigor. In those days when art was a dominating factor in a region’s intrinsic worth; in order to rival the Louvre in Paris, the queen of Spain decided to boast a grand collection of marvelous paintings by the likes of Rubens, Bosch, and Raphael along with many others.

5. Retiro Park

If you can comprehend the immense importance of Central Park to the people of New York City, only then can you understand the relationship of Retiro Park with the rest of Madrid. This is a great hangout place for several of the locals in Madrid as well as a great place to meet new people and fellow travelers. Located near the Prado Museum, the park has a splendid lake where people enjoy peaceful boating sessions.

6. La Gran Vía

If you have seen Hollywood movies where metropolitan areas of Spain are shown then you probably have seen the Gran Via. Originally made to solve a traffic problem in the same area it is now known as the single most trendy and famous street in Madrid it is host to buildings with spectacular architecture.

7. The Rastro Flea Market

As a traveler or when you are on a trip with a budget, you will have to have a strong sense of bargaining. To get great buys and watch bargaining transcend into an art form it is must visit the Rastro, Flea Market. Every Sunday morning from nine in the morning to three in the afternoon, you can get great items for sale at marvelous prices. Originally started in the middle ages, this is now the largest Flea market in Europe with more than 3500 stalls weaving through various neighborhoods.

8. Plaza de Cibeles

For football (soccer) fans the world over who want a chance to see the Real Madrid football team in the flesh, you may want to visit this fountain after a major tournament or match as the team visit often here when they win. The fountain’s statue is the Greek god of fertility known as Cibeles and this is also the icon for Real Madrid.

9. The Basilica of San Francisco el Grande 

No one goes to Spain and misses out on the beautiful churches which have withstood the challenges of time. In close proximity to the Royal Palace, this Basilica is of Our Lady of the Angles. It hosts the very intimidating third largest dome in Europe. Within it are 3 different chapels, each of which has beautiful artwork done inside by brilliant artists of that era.

10. Fountain of Neptune 

The royal Spanish navy is known very well throughout history as being the best of sailors. This cannot be symbolized more than the fountain of Neptune in Madrid – The God of the Seas. This statue and the Cibeles originally faced each other

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