Travels in Madrid – Part 1

At the beginning of June, I spent four days in Madrid, visiting a Spanish friend who is living there and studying for her Master’s degree. I am already longing to go back. The city is beautiful, filled with gorgeous architecture, elegant parks and expansive boulevards.

On the first day of my visit, we went on a three-hour walking tour around the city. I chose to go on the Spanish-language tour, but it is available in English too. We began in Plaza Mayor. Like many Spanish cities, Madrid is a city filled with plazas (squares), but Plaza Mayor is the main square — popular with locals (madrileños) and tourists alike.

Plaza Mayor Madrid

The largest and most central square in Madrid, Plaza Mayor is lined with tapas bars and restaurants.

Our tour guide pointed out the difference between the shape of the roofs: Plaza Mayor was built during the reign of the Habsburg Dynasty (also known as los Austrias or Casa de Austria). Instead of the flat roofs found in other parts of Madrid and much of the rest of Spain, the Habsburg roofs were built following the Austrian style of architecture: sloping roofs so that the snow could easily slide off.

Philip III Plaza Mayor Madrid

A bronze statue of El Rey Felipe III (King Philip III), who was King of Spain and Portugal. Born into the House of Habsburg in 1578, he reigned from 1598 until his death in 1621.

A few steps from Plaza Mayor is Restaurante Botín on Calle Cuchilleros (which translates as Knifemakers’ Street). Founded in 1725, it is the oldest restaurant continuously operating in the world, and it has the Guinness World Records certificate to prove it!

Restaurante Botin Madrid

The front of the restaurant displays a complete replica of its interior in miniature, dolls-house proportions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a very good photo of it as I was taking a photo through the window and you can see the reflection of the other side of the street.

Restaurante Botin

Restaurante Botin in miniature

During the tour, we passed La Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena (known as Almudena for short). Construction of Almudena began in 1879, but the project was abandoned during the Spanish Civil War and it wasn’t until 1950 that plans for the cathedral were restarted. It was finally completed in 1993, so it’s a modern cathedral compared to the centuries-old churches elsewhere in the city.


La Almudena, facing El Palacio Real

The cathedral is directly opposite El Palacio Real — the official residence of the Spanish royal family in Madrid. On the day of our tour, the palace was closed to visitors as the king, Felipe VI, was visiting.

Palacio Real

El Palacio Real

Guardsmen on beautiful horses paraded around the street in front of the palace. The temperature that day was 97°F (36°C), so they must have been sweltering hot in their thick cloth uniforms.

Guards on horseback

Palace guards on horseback

This wonderful city has so much to offer, and I packed a lot of sight-seeing into my brief visit! I’ll share more photos and stories from my travels in Madrid soon, including a day trip to the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city of Toledo.

Have you visited Spain before? Would you like to visit Madrid?

17 thoughts on “Travels in Madrid – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Travels in Madrid – Part 1 — Cultural Life – Welcome to the World of Ekasringa Avatar!

  2. Funny enough, Spain was never specifically on my list of places to visit but your photos have definitely changed my mind. Glad you had a great time and I’m looking forward to reading more about your trip! I’m still in the process of organizing my photos but hopefully I can get to my own travel posts soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it’s such a great country! And as a Spanish-speaker, I enjoy going somewhere where I can speak the language. It certainly helped me when I was out on my own one day in Madrid and needed to ask directions.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I was planning to write part 2 this weekend, but it’s already Sunday afternoon and I don’t feel very inspired. So that will have to wait! I’m looking forward to reading your travel posts. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Travels in Spain: Part 2 – Adventures in Toledo | Cultural Life

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