Madrid is one of the world's most vibrant and seductive cities. It is a city with a charming and infectious atmosphere that the visitor can immediately sense, feel a part of and most of all, enjoy. A city that takes unabashed pleasure in its past traditions, it is proud to display a wealth of cultural treasures and architectural glories.
Having just emerged from a long and expensive restoration process, the Plaza de Oriente and the adjoining Palace Gardens are a delight. Overlooked by the recently reopened Opera House this pedestrian area is impressive and elegant. The Palace itself is enormous, dominating the skyline over the western part of city. Inside are some 2800 rooms but fortunately the tours only include around 50.
Equally as majestic is the Plaza Mayor, perfectly preserved and extremely beautiful. Historically a venue for state ceremonies, bullfights, ritual condemnations of heretics and executions, it is an excellent place to people watch. Take a break in one of the numerous cafés that line the square, all of which serve up a range of tapas and wines.
Passing through the Puerta del Sol and the geographical heart of Spain, you can stop at the Plaza de Cibeles, at the heart of which rides Cybele on a chariot drawn by lions. A little further on and a lovely spot to unwind after the sights or galleries is the Parque de Retiro, home to Madrid's loveliest gardens. A favourite weekend destination for families, the park's performers and puppet shows keep children (and adults) amused for hours.
Along the Paseo del Prado, dubbed the 'Avenue of Art' are three of the world's leading art galleries. The Prado, the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia have turned Madrid in the 1990s into a haven for all art lovers. The Prado, with its massive concentration of masterpieces has long been recognised as one of Spain's greatest attractions, housing the very finest of Spanish art.
Housed in the nearby Palacio de Villahermosa, the world's most important private collection is displayed in the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum. The presentation of the paintings, dating from the 13th century through to modern day, allows a unique chance to appreciate the history and development of western art.
Making up the ' Golden Triangle' is the national museum of modern art and one of the world's largest art galleries, the Reina Sofía. Place of honour has been accorded to Picasso's famous Guernica, a condemnation of war and, more precisely, the German mass bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
Madrid offers the best of gastronomical traditions from all over Spain and eating out is fun. If you want to ' tapear ' you can wander in and out of seemingly endless stretches of tapas bars. Mussels, oysters, tortilla, serrano ham are just some of the favourites, washed down with a vino tinto, a bowl of Galician Ribiero white wine or a glass of fino.
As with tapas bars, many of the top restaurants specialise in fresh seafood and meat dishes. However greater discrepancy is required when dining out, simply because there are so many places to choose from. We can help by making recommendations and reservations for all your tastes.