The Christmas Market, held in the Plaza Mayor, will be officially inaugurated on the 5th December, though stalls will start selling from the 28th November. The market comprises many stalls that sell all sorts of Christmas goods, from tinsel and Christmas trees to wonderful nativity scenes. This year the market stalls will be placed along the 4 sides of the Plaza Mayor, the idea being to create a plaza within a plaza. Look out for the posters, designed by the artist Delia Piccirili, which will adorn the ends of the stalls and which depict “Christmas in Madrid”. This year there will be two large nativity scenes on display, one by the artist José Luis Mayo and the other given by the Comunidad de Murcia. The municipal organisations will try to make sure that all Christmas lighting is consistent all over the city and have enlisted the help of traders across the city.
Metro: Puerta del Sol
Madrid Opens Ice Rink for Christmas (2005)
Children the Central Focus of Christmas in Madrid (2005)
Christmas Lights Around Madrid (2005)
Christmas Nativity Scenes and Markets in Madrid (2005)
Retiro Ice Rink Opens for Christmas (2005)
For anyone visiting Madrid and looking for a worthwhile excursion, then Segovia should be be number 1 on your list. Having got married there, and had my son christened there, I have a great fondness for the place. Segovia is a wonderful mix of Roman Spain, Medieval and Renaissance Spain and Modern Spain all rolled up into one.
The city is around an hour’s journey from Madrid, and is in Spain’s Castilla Leon region. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has 3 very important sites, dotted around the city: the Roman Aqueduct, the Gothic Cathedral and the Alcázar, not to mention its multitude of churches and palaces.
The restaurant Botín is located just off Madrid’s Plaza Mayor in calle Cuchilleros (knife makers street). Botín is written of in Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’ and was one of his favourite restaurants, hence its popularity amongst tourists. The Guinness Book of records lists it as the oldest restaurant in the world (1725, the building dates from 1590) and it is said that the painter Goya actually worked as a dishwasher here. The restaurant is renowned for its suckling pig and roasted lamb and serves typical Castilian food. It has 4 floors and the woodfire oven is said to be the original from the 18th century. Prices are not cheap but it’s not every day that you eat at the oldest restaurant in the world.
Address: c/Cuchilleros, 17-19
Metro: Tirso de Molina or Puerta del Sol
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Casa Patas is a well-known and well established restaurant. It also shares the distinction of being a place where you can not only eat good quality, traditional Spanish food, ranging from lamp chops and steaks to salads and beans, but also listen and watch the very best Flamenco shows (its in a side room and you will have to pay for this). Its famous guests include Johnny Depp, Naomi Campbell, Antonio Canales and William Dafoe. Once when I was there, the famous Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucía was seated on the table next to mine – it made my year!
Address: c/ Cañizares, 10. Metro: Tirso de Molina or Antón Martín. A map can be found on their Web site along with a list of upcoming events and menus (all in English!)
Calle Serrano belongs to one of Madrid’s wealthiest barrios, Salamanca. It is here that you will find all the designer clothes stores, expensive jewellry shops and some of Madrid’s smartest buildings. It is an extremely long street but the part that most interests shoppers starts at Puerta de Alcalá and runs for around 8-10 blocks. On the left-hand side walking up you will pass the Archaelogical Museum and the Plaza de Colón (Columbus square), which has a statue of Columbus pointing westwards.
If you’re looking for shops, lets get started:
Jardin de Serrano – not actually on C/ Serrano but 2 or 3 doors up from it on c/Goya, 6-8
Looking to book a hotel in Madrid? Not sure where to go? Well, here are some ideas on different areas (‘barrios’) where you could stay..
Gran Vía – this is the main street that runs through the heart of Madrid, from Plaza de España up until near the Plaza de Cibeles. There are many hotels on this busy street and its central location means that it is relatively easy to get to most parts of Madrid.
At the Fundación Juan March there is an exhibition by the abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky, which runs until 25th January. The Fundación is located in c/ Castelló, 77, near Metro Nuñez de Balboa (lines 5 & 9).
Want to keep in touch whilst away? Feel the urge to add a new entry into your blog? Then, head off to one of the Internet cafés, which you’ll find dotted around Madrid. The one that I use most frequently is called Bbigg and is situated on c/Alcalá, just off the Puerta del Sol. It is a huge place with many, many machines and is very reasonably priced. It costs around 1.2 Euros for 40 minutes. Another good Internet "café" can be found at Gran Vía 30, more or less opposite Madrid Rock, and run by Telefónica – costs are 2 Euros/hour or 10 hours for 12 Euros. Just down the road from Telefónica, towards Plaza de España, the well-known Cafetería Zahara has an Internet area. One other place near Puerta del Sol is Portatil in Calle Tetuán, 3.
One alternative way of seeing Madrid, is by taking the cable car. From Madrid’s Pintor Rosales, in the Parque del Oeste, you will be able to catch the cable car (teleférico in Spanish) out to Madrid’s huge Casa de Campo, a massive park which goes on for kilometres, stretching out towards the east of the city. From the cable car, you will be able to see the Royal Palace, the famous ‘Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida‘, which Goya painted the ceilings for, the Egyptian Temple of Debod, the Air Ministry, the Almudena Cathedral and the church of San Francisco el Grande. Prices are around 3-4 Euros for a round trip.
Good tip: use map on the Metro station to find out how to get to the Teleférico.
Metro: Moncloa or Argüelles
Address: Paseo de Pintor Rosales
Yes, you did read the title correctly! You’d never think that in a city which experiences such hot summers (up to 40C+), that you’d be able to find a ski resort within an hour. Heading out to Navacerrada, north of Madrid, you will find ski stations which the king of Spain often frequents. You can get to Navacerrada by Cercanías trains. At weekends, and on public holidays, the roads and ski stations are full of Madrileños taking an opportunity to get out of the city to ski and breath fresh mountain air.
Called the Faro de Moncloa, and based in Madrid’s Moncloa district, this tower offers some of the finest views across Madrid. The tower is 92 metres and admission is only 1.2 Euros. You need to get the Metro to Moncloa reach the tower.
Just behind the Spanish parliament, and often frequented by politicians, is a German restaurant called Edelweiss, which has been open since 1939. The inside of the restauarant is very plain, yet the food certainly is not. Specialities include codillo (pig’s knuckle), served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. As a starter I would recommend the pickled herrings and to finish home made apple tart. As befits a good Spanish restaurant, they also offer a fine selection of wines. Should you wish to dine on your own, you can book one of their private rooms – as some politicians do. Prices are also very reasonable at this restaurant.
Address: Jovellanos, 7
Metro: Banco de España or Puerta del Sol
See also: Madrid Restaurants
The fountain of Cibeles is to be found on the stretch of Madrid commonly called the Paseo de Recoletos. It depicts the goddess Cibeles, the Greek goddess of fertility, who is seen sitting on a chariot and being pulled by two lions. On one side of the fountain of Cibeles, the Paseo de la Recoletos starts, heading north to join up with the Paseo de la Castellana. On the other side, the Paseo del Prado begins and heads off south, towards the fountain of Neptune, in the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo, and on until Atocha.
Madrid has a number of options for those looking to study Spanish in the capital, from university courses and Spanish language schools to your own private teacher. There is probably no better way to learn a language than going to that country. As the Spanish are not as willing to speak English as other Europeans, mainly because their level of English is very poor, Madrid offers an abundance of opportunities to speak and learn Spanish with everyone, from the taxi driver to the barman to people in shops.
This is a small establishment of the c/ Alcalá, near the Metro Manuel Becerra. The bar serves great food and jeréz (sherry) from Andaluía, in the south of Spain. However, the reason that I particularly like this place is that at 11 p.m. every night the lights are turned off, candles distributed and the whole bar starts singing to the Virgin, Rocio Chicó, of which they have a small statue on the wall of the bar. It is quite incredbile to see not just the bar but the pavement outside filled with people singing! Well worth a visit.