Taking a long flight from Kuala Lumpur to Madrid was indeed exhausted. It was in the evening when I landed at Madrid-Barajas Airport. I passed a night in the city centre before heading for my final destination, Pontevedra. Before my next journey was about to set, I spent a couple of hours visiting some places in Madrid city.
At first I took metro to the station Puerta del Sol and several stops. What I realized then was those places are so close to each other that I can actually do it by foot. Furthermore, taking metro is not cheap in Madrid, so why not I stroll around? As time is really limited, not much places I visited.
1. Puerta del sol
The heart of Madrid, one of the busiest neighborhoods. There lies El Oso y el Madroño (a bear and a madrone tree), the heraldic symbol of Madrid. Why? Opinions vary, but I think the acceptable theory is that they represent possession and ownership of wood necessary for constructing buildings.
Also, a mounted statue of Charles III of Spain can be found in the square, commemorating the extensive public works program he set in motion.
2. Plaza Mayor
The most representative icons of Madrid and cannot be missed. It is one of the finest examples of Madrid Baroque built during King Philip III’s reign. During many years, the plaza was used as a market where all kind of groceries and aromatic spices were sold.
Walk on the cobbled street and enjoy the great buildings. Pay attention to the frescoes on the facade of Casa de la Panadería (Bakery House).
3. Mercado de San Miguel
A historic and monumental market where you can find a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas and other food.
4. Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace)
How can I miss this uninhabited but largest functioning palace in Europe? According to history, the palace was at first an old Muslims fortress, then the Christian conquest changed the structure. Later in the 18th century, the first Bourbons King Philip V decided to build this enormous palace as a symbol of his dynasty after a disastrous fire in 1734, the palace remained what we see today.
Overlooking the city from the palace.
King Philip IV Monument at the Plaza de Oriente in front of the palace.
5. Catedral de la Almudena
This one of the newer cathedrals in Europe is located opposite the royal palace. Although the construction begun in the late 19th century, but due to economic difficulties and beginning of the Civil War (1936-1939), the cathedral is only officially inaugurated in 1993.
The architectural style is amazing with a fusion of Neo-classical style, Neo-Baroque, Neo-Romanesque and Neo-Gothic style.
6. Plaza de España
A short walk from the royal palace and cathedral then brought me to this plaza featuring a monument of the Spanish novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The most prominent skyscrapers, the Torre de Madrid (Madrid Tower) and the España Building are here too!
7. Temple of Debod
This ancient Egyptian temple dates from the 4th century BC. The Egyptian state donated the temple to Spain as a sign of gratitude for the help in saving the temples of Abu Simbel. This place is also famous for its outstanding sunset view.