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Top 10 Things to do in Madrid

Our Top Ten things to do in Madrid - Don't leave until you've experienced the best Madrid has to offer

Madrid is a fabulous classical city with so much to see and do. Scorching in summer and cool in winter it is a city for all seasons. Winter time is the best time for exploring whilst in the heat of summer you’ll see the capital at its most raw and evocative. Crammed with beautiful buildings and immense plazas you’ll be overawed by its vistas.
1 The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace
Madrid’s largest and most beautiful building looks out on the equally stunning Plaza de Oriente square. It’s also the largest palace in Western Europe and was built in the 18th century on the site of the old Moorish castle which was destroyed by fire.
Its great size is due to it being designed to house 3000 courtiers. Today it houses an art collection and museum and is one of the most visited attraction sin Madrid with nearly one million visitors last year. It’s open almost all year except when official functions take place at the palace.

2 Templo de Debod
Templo de Debod
It is somewhat surprising to see a second century BC Egyptian temple in the middle of Madrid but it is there because of the financial support Spain gave to Egypt when the Aswan Dam project to save antiquities was underway in the sixties. As a thank you, the Egyptian people gave the temple to Spain and it was dismantled and transported piece by piece by boat to Valencia then onwards by train to Madrid where it was reconstructed. The museum in the temple tells the remarkable story.

3 Watch Real Madrid Play
Watch Real Madrid Play
The world’s richest football team, not just in terms of money but also in skills and star quality. If you are lucky enough to get hold of a ticket you can watch footballing legends pit their skills against old enemies such as Barca. Many tickets include a guided tour of the Bernabeu stadium in with the price. For fans of the beautiful game this is a must!

4 Watch a Bullfight
 Watch a Bullfight
Madrid is home to Spanish bullfighting and the main bullring is Las Ventas, a huge red brick building decorated with thousands of ceramic tiles. Here you can see matadors pit their skills and risk their lives with El Toro. At other times the venue is used for pop concerts and political rallies. At the San Isidro the bullfighting festival in May and June has 20 nights of bullfights and is the FA Cup of bullfighting.

5 Chocolateria Con Churros
 Chocolateria Con Churros
Try these sweet Spanish delicacies in the various cafes around the city. Made of batter similar to that of doughnuts, the batter is drizzled into a swirling vat of hot oil and a spiral forms. It is then lifted out and cut into pieces which are served with rich, creamy hot chocolate for dipping. Many cafes stay open late for party goers to enjoy late night churros and a visit to Madrid isn’t complete without tasting some.

6 El Rastro
 El Rastro
Sunday mornings are just made for a leisurely stroll around el Rastro, Madrid’s famous flea market. It’s the largest in Europe with over 3,500 stalls and you’ll find absolutely everything you ever wanted here and many things you didn’t know you wanted. Named a little bizarrely after the trail of blood left by the dead animals being transported to the tanneries nearby, the market has been in existence since the Middle Ages.

7 The Prado
The Prado
The Prado was planned by a Spanish queen who had returned from Paris, bowled over by the beauty of the Louvre and wanted to better it in Madrid. It is now, Spain’s top cultural site and home to one of the most important art collections in the world. The collection is massive and contains works by all the Great Masters. The name comes from the Spanish for meadow as meadows surrounded the building when it first opened.

8 Reina Sofia
Reina Sofia
After the tasteful renovation and remodelling of Madrid’s 18th century hospital, the Reina Sofia became Spain’s premier art gallery for modern and contemporary art. Taking some of its collection from the Prado, the Reina Sofia’s gems are Picasso’s Guernica, depicting the horror and carnage of the attack on the city in the Spanish Civil War and Woman in Blue by the same artist. Guenica is widely acknowledged as the most famous and important painting of the 20th century and the huge piece of art will silence most who stand and stare.

9 Puerta de Alcala
Puerta de Alcala
This gate on Madrid’s main thoroughfare stands on the site of a previous much smaller gate. Originally built as a welcome to the new wife of King Felipe III, a century and a half later, Carlos III felt that it was not worthy of a royal appearance and commissioned a new one with this city gate, thinking it quite unsuitable for an important royal appearance. Little did he realise that the gate was on the main route that livestock were driven along on their way into the city so where he had stood, so had goats, cows and pigs!

10 Eat at Botin, The World’s Oldest Restaurant
Eat at Botin, The World’s Oldest Restaurant
Botin’s is thought to be the world’s oldest restaurant dating reliably from 1725. The artist Goya is rumoured to have worked here before becoming a painter. Ernest Hemingway was a regular visitor and named it as his favourite restaurant. Today whilst it is a tourist trap and mentioned in many guide books, the food is still excellent and it is frequented by many Spanish diners and their specialities are roast suckling pig and roast lamb.

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