Madrid’s calling cards are many: astonishing art galleries, relentless nightlife, its transformation into Spain’s premier style city, an exceptional live music scene, a feast of fine restaurants and tapas bars, and a population that’s mastered the art of living the good life. It’s not that other cities don’t have some of these things. It’s just that Madrid has all of them in bucketloads.
It’s often said that this is the most Spanish of Spain’s cities and it is indeed Europe’s most passionate city writ large. Very few Madrileños come from here originally, possibly making this Europe’s most open and welcoming capital. If this can be summed up in a single phrase, it’s the oft-heard, ‘If you’re in Madrid, you’re from Madrid’. It’s not that they’ll knock you over with the warmth of their welcome. Rather, you’ll find yourself in a bar or lost somewhere and in need of directions, and you’ll suddenly be made to feel like one of their own. Just as quickly, without knowing when it happened, you’ll realise that you never want to leave.
Madrid, Spain’s central capital, is a city of elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks such as the Buen Retiro. It’s renowned for its rich repositories of European art, including the Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velázquez and other Spanish masters. The heart of old Hapsburg Madrid is the portico-lined Plaza Mayor, and nearby is the baroque Royal Palace and Armory, displaying historic weaponry.
Gibraltar – Top of the World Arctic Circle © Monika Newbound