72hrs in Madrid
De Madrid al cielo (from Madrid to heaven) is a popular proverb we have heard time and again outside of Madrid, Spain. It means that after having seen Madrid, the next nice thing one will see is heaven! We wouldn't want to live by that quote but we do fall head over heels for the capital every time!
There are classic cultural celebrations about the city that do not make the travel guides. As a local you can sometimes overlook the singularities of your surroundings but for those visiting, some of these local points are what distinguishes your trip:
Las ovejas de la Casa de Campo (Sheeps of the House in the country) is the largest urban park in Europe, maintaining its own flock of sheep. The sheep are traditionally used to keep the ground clean of chaff to avoid possible fires in the outskirts of the city. The herd of little whites are happy to be photographed all while you keep a little distance. Also, as in most big cities, you can view broad screens on the street Preciados. As the major TV networks have their headquarters in Madrid, street Preciados has an inexhaustible amount of images portrayed with cameras focusing on everyone on the walk ways. Be careful as your face may be on the backgrounds of national news for any reasons given to news broadcasters discussing polls, results of studies, etc. The Matadero Contemporary Art Center is the greatest freely accessible activity you can do on any day of the week. Most of the exhibitions and activities take place in the evening and on weekends, however the Calle (street) Matadero is open to pedestrians everyday from 9am to 10pm. This hotspot is specifically aimed to give artists from Madrid or living in the city to show their creations.
La Puerta de Sol is the most famous square known in Madrid, if not all of Spain for its entertaining aspects and historical features. There is a spot in this square that is called the Kilometre Zero (Kilómetro Cero), marking the centre of Spain's roads (despite experts saying it isn't really the centre of the peninsula). From this point you can count your mileage as ¨0¨ and start counting the distance as you walk away from the square. La Puerta de Sol is very representative as well for having the symbolic televised clock that is watched as the TV presenters bring in the new year. Also in the square is the famous bear and tree which symbolises the community of Madrid.
We especially loved our walks through the neighbourhood of Chueca, which is a trendy spot that combines both originality and the avant-garde. On the streets closest to Fuencarral and Hortaleza streets is the answers to all your shopping prayers. The Fuencarral market for instance is the alternative to your average department store. The interiors are colourful and psychodelic, and the shops form narrow corridors. The market accommodates special skilled craftsmen and women, designers and small traders from all over Spain, with such original products that you are not allowed to photograph. Take for instance the Borough Market area of London, or the Borne neighbourhood of Barcelona, you will easily get drawn into the hipster scene with loud music playing from top DJs and the buzzing atmosphere pervading the market acts. We had our best bites for dinner at Taberna La Carmencita, the second oldest tavern in Madrid.
Our favourite strolls were around Malasaña, as we delved head first into the San Ildefonso Market, which is a street food initiative that has been working really well in the local neighbourhood as more curious people are making their way into new cuisine to adore. Neat nooks and crannies seem to come up at every street of Malasaña, like little hand-made products from Olula, or coffee haven HanSo Café. Basing ourselves in Dear Hotel, we had no excuse as to not pass the backstreets every day.
Madrid is well known for having some of the best museums in the country. If we had to pick any three to visit on a weekend it would go something like this 1) Museo Nacional del Prado (Has the largest and most important collection of Spanish painting in the world) 2) Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sofia (Be sure to gaze at Picasso's Guernica - one of the most celebrated antiwar painting) 3) Museo de Arte Thyssen-Bornemisza (With over 1,600 paintings the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection was once the second largest private collection in the world after the British Royal Collection).
Scroll your cursor over the images to read more about our 72 hours itinerary in Madrid. Click on hashtag #TandLMadrid for our Instagram feeds in the capital.