A City Chockful Of Plazas, Gorgeous Architecture, Stunning Parks & World-Class Museums
Plaza de Toros, Las Ventas, Madrid, Spain. June 15, 2014
I ’ve been kept busy of of late looking around the Spanish capital of Madrid, somewhere I last visited way back in 1992.
The last three days have been up early, late to bed & with lots of traipsing & sightseeing in between kind of days. In the June heat it has been exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable at the same time. Madrid is a beautiful city, one chockful of world-class museums, gorgeous parks, plazas galore & beautiful architecture, the latter being the definitive standout memory not to mention highlight of the city for me.
Madrid is a big city. With limited time in big cities one needs to be selective about where to go & what to see. One needs to be informed. One needs a to-do list. Shortly after arriving in the city off the bus from Granada I was sitting in a cafe informing myself & producing a to-do list for the three days I had at my disposal. I’m not very good at being selective so what I ended up with was a long, wholly overambitious list. But I gave it go. I delved into the city and crammed a lot into the last three days, striking off most of what I had jotted down in the corner of my free (& now very worn & tattered) foldout esmadrid.com map while sitting in that cafe three days ago now.
I didn’t have time to look at my Madrid images over the last few days never mind post any. I’m en route to Barcelona now, my last stop in Spain & last stop on this European leg of my 2014 travels. But before I get there here’s an 18-picture pictorial look at my time in the city, a figure that should go someway to proving what I’ve already stated – that Madrid is a beautiful city & that I’m not very good at being selective. Nope, not very good at all.
Plazas || Madrid Hangouts
– Lonely Planet Madrid
Parks & Gardens || Madrid’s Lungs
Museums || Madrid’s Past
Madrid has some world-class museums & some of the finest art galleries in the world with two in particular, only a short walk apart, grabbing all the headlines (& most of the crowds) – the Museo del Prado & the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. I’m not much of an art gallery kind of tourist but I paid a quick visit to both of the aforementioned gallery heavy hitters, visiting both in the evening when for a few designated hours entry is free.
Madrid Sundays ||| Flea Market & Bull Fighting
El Rastro Flea Market
As I discovered, Sunday is a great day to be in Madrid, especially during the summer months. If you happen to be around on a summer Sunday you can, as I did, visit Europe’s largest flea market & take in some bullfighting.
Plaza de Toros || Ole!
Being in Madrid on a Sunday between mid-May & October means you can pay a visit to the city’s Plaza de Toros bullring, the stage upon which every Matador worth their tight tights & sequence dreams of prancing about while swinging their cape in a bid to tire out & eventually kill bulls for the appeasement of certain sections of the crowd who seem to think the spectacle is fun – it’s far from fun for the hapless bull.
— davidMbyrne.com (@ByrneDavidM) June 15, 2014
Seeing a bullfight, a Spanish tradition par excellence, was/is an eyeopener. I can’t say I enjoyed the spectacle – the buildup is repetitive & largely theatrical & the outcome barbarically obvious – but I was at least informed as to the rituals, the participants (beyond the Matador & bull), & general goings-on thanks to the audio guide included in the admission price of €15 (tickets can be had for a low as €7).
I left after the 3rd of 6 scheduled & repetitive bouts, by which time I had taken a few pictures, drank my €8.50 beer (it was a large one), & had seen enough of the prancing, impeccability turned out Matador – in his €4000 ‘Suit of Lights’ outfit – toying with the uniquely-breed-for-the-occasion fighting bull, one with the odds severely stacked against him. And I mean severely – since the Las Ventas bullring opened in 1931 only one bull has ever been pardoned (seemingly because of a good performance) and left the ring alive, this oh-so unique event happening way back in June of 1982.
A final few random pictures from my time in Madrid.