Everybody who knows me know that I love Spain. I really love everything there – the locals who always smile, tasty food, incredible weather, fantastic architecture, unique atmosphere… I can write and write but it will be never enough. I was born in Poland, live in Germany, my family live in the UK… Still, a big part of me is always in the sweet Spain. Today, I would like to invite you for a small trip to the elegant Madrid.
So far, I have visited the capital of Spain twice – once in autumn and once in summer. Both trips were really nice and unforgettable. I must say that Madrid is one of those cities that never lose their charm. The parks, buildings, monuments, streets always look great, regardless of the season or weather. I do not know why but Madrid always reminds me of an elegant, older lady. You know – one that wears a flowery dress and walks gracefully among the trees and flowers of the Buen Retiro Park. This is how I imagine Madrid… a combination of style, grace, dignity, manners and lots and lots of history. It is old and modern at the same time, slow and hectic, quiet and busy… I am really in love with it.
What to see in Madrid.
My favourite place in Madrid is, naturally, the famous park Buen Retiro, which means – Park or the Pleasant Retreat. Is this not a beautiful name? I know that locals also call it El Retiro. I could write so much about it but it is simply impossible. The place is simply captivating with the many, many sculptures, fountains and amazing landscape. It is very romantic, too, and you can hear the lovely, quiet sound of water flowing while you lose yourself among the trees, in their shade and escape the noise of the city.
In the heart of the park you will find a large complex with a pond where you can rent a small boat and sail a bit. I must say it looks really nice and relaxing to watch the little boats move on the water. We spent quite some time just sitting on the grass and looking at them.
What I also enjoyed were the beautiful sculptures of mermaids surrounded by fish and water animals. So magical… They looked like guardians of that quiet pond. And do not get me wrong – they are armed with harpoons! 😊
At the top of the pond you will see the majestic monument of King Alfonso XII, surrounded by a semi-circular colonnade decorated with lion sculptures. The whole scene looks impressive and so powerful. I perfectly understand why so many events and shows take place in this location.
El Retiro is popular and quite large (nearly 1.5km2), and you can say it is the green heart of the capital. It used to be part of the royal gardens and had a palace but they did not, unfortunately, survive until today. Still, this Italian-style park is bursting with flowers and cute shrubs that flood the endless alleys and surround tiny ponds. I think it is the most beautiful park I have ever seen.
Another amazing gem of Madrid is the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal) – also located in El Retiro. It was designed by the famous Spanish architect, Ricardo Velazquez Boso and built in 1887. The name is 100% correct – the palace is made with lots and lots of glass and metal sitting on decorated stone foundations. And it is not small either! Over 22 metres tall and overlooking a pond with a gorgeous fountain. It also really looks as if it was taken out of a fairy tale… I saw it in autumn when it was surrounded by thousands of colourful leaves – just amazing!
The Palace was created to display the power of the Spanish Kingdom at the time. Unfortunately, it fell victim to time and got a bit damaged. At the beginning of 1990s it was reconstructed again and a couple years later, some new rooms were added. It is a tourist attraction and a popular art exhibition area. And it is free to visit! Which made us very happy.
What we found interesting was that before we could go in, we got slippers to wear to protect the floor. And the floor is a piece of history as well – it is covered with inscriptions and markings made with water. Incredible! Also, during our visit there was an art exhibition as well, so – double win.
And then, a couple streets away, there is the famous Mercado de San Miguel. This huge market gathers local sellers and cafes. This is where you get fresh quality fruit and vegetables, and take great photos in between snacks. And do not forget about the fish stalls, or those with seafood or meat from the local butcheries. OMG, the spice shops only add to it all! Imagine you are there – just sitting, enjoying the ambience, sipping a drink, snacking on something (probably some incredible tapas), just chilling in the shade of a tree on a beautiful sunny day… Is this not a dream?
And now, let us move away from the market. Let me ask you a question – Do you think a railway station can be interesting at all? I say – If in Madrid, YES! I am talking about the Madrid Puerta de Atocha or Estación de Madrid Atocha, aka Madrid Main Train Station. It is the largest one since XIX century and the very first in Madrid. And, OMG, how huge it is with its many connections! However, what caught my attention was how it works! How do you usually wait for a train? Easy! You check your timetable, you find a bench, you wait and die of boredom. Hah! Not here! You find your bench and it is by a palm tree. There are birds flying everywhere. Exotic plants surround you. Look! There are turtles in a pond nearby! Want more trees? We have a jungle for you! Nice? Welcome to Madrid where the city decided to make everyone’s life a little better . And, yeah, you can still get your coffee – there are loads of cafes and restaurants here…. Seriously, what else do you need?
Just like I said in the beginning, Spain is a treat. It is an adventure and you can try to write about it but there is just so so much… The wonderful lifestyle and history are everywhere. They are in the small corners, romantic alleys, cute cafes and shops, quiet parks and at the same time – the monumental buildings, statues, palaces… There is so much, every single time.Madrid is and always will be a part of me. And there will be MORE about it so stay tuned, I will be back