Madrid is the capital and largest city in Spain with a population of 3.5 million. Architecturally there is a fusion of modern stylized steel and glass buildings with old medieval buildings dating back to the early 15th century, and this can be seen when no sooner than you have arrived at the stylish modernist Barajas Airport designed by Richard Rogers you will be passing the grandiose if not slightly somber Baroque 17th century Royal Palace in the city centre 30 minutes away. This intriguing mix of architecture defines Madrid as not only the seat of government and commerce but also as a vibrant cosmopolitan historical capital city. The city streets bustle with tourists and Madrilenos making their way to and from work, plazas are filled with market traders, restaurants and tapas bars, while the elegant landscaped gardens and parks are perfect to cool down in the summer which is typically very hot and dry.
Perhaps no trip to Madrid would be complete without a visit to one or two of the galleries and museums. The top three ‘must sees’ are The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza with its staggering private collection of European Art, Museo El Prado not only the largest gallery in Europe but also with the largest collection of Spanish painters such as Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya and El Greco and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia with its important collection of modernist and surrealist Spanish art including an excellent collection from two of Spain’s greatest 20th century masters Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
There is a wide variety of restaurant to choose from, with meandering cobbled side streets packed with small bars offering typical Spanish Tapas through to top class restaurants in the glamorous district of Salamanca servicing a mix of Spanish and International cuisine or if you are looking to experience the passion of Flamenco then Madrid offers some of the best shows in Spain with top international artists performing in restaurants in the old medieval quarter.
Madrid offers the visitor an exhaustive ‘to do list’ whether its fine eating, wonderful art galleries, exploring the historical old quarter with its remarkable architecture, Flamenco, or chilling out on one of the plaza with a few tapas then Madrid is the perfect city for you.