Madrid – the Capital with the Second Highest Number of Trees in the World

According to data from Madrid’s City Council, the city has the second highest number of trees for a capital city in the world – Tokyo takes the lead. Madrid has 300,000 compared to Tokyo’s 400,000 – most of them (216,000) can be found lining Madrid’s pavements. Madrid’s Retiro Park accounts for around 15,000. If you were to take into account Madrid’s Casa de Campo (west of the city with 1,700 hectares), you could add another 500,0o0 trees – easily putting Tokyo in the shade.

Source: Consumer.es

Surviving Madrid in the Summer

I got an email yesterday from someone visiting this site (Martin Christensen) asking me for some tips on how to survive the hot weather in Madrid. Madrid in summer can be quite taxing, though if you start living like the Spanish it can be much more bearable. Here are some thoughts on how you can get the most out of Madrid in the summer.

Site seeing
I would probably make sure that you try and get around the city in the early hours of the morning  probably up until 12pm or 1pm. Always make sure that you walk on the side of the street that is in the shade. If you’re looking to walk around the city later, I would try and make sure you do it from around 6.30 p.m onwards. Don’t forget that the shops close around 8 p.m.

Museums
Personally, I would try and get around the museums during the hottest times of day – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. All of them will be air-conditioned and far more pleasant than walking around the city.

Eating Out
To be perfectly honest I would far prefer to eat indoors in this weather than sit out in the very hot daytime temperatures. Though, if that is what you’re looking for, you may want to try out eateries along the Paseo de Pintor Rosales – more expensive but next to Madrid’s huge park, the Casa de Campo.

Madrid’s Terrazas
Madrid’s outdoor terrace bars are really a must during the summer months and a wonderful way to spend the warm summer evenings. You may even see some of Madrid’s beautiful people – the Beckham’s, possibly? The most popular ones tend to run down the city’s Paseo de Castellana and Pintor Rosales. For the former, I would look to walk from Plaza de Cibeles up towards Plaza de Colón; the latter is one of the coolest places in the city (as mentioned above) and has loads of themed ‘terrazas’.

Most people tend to drink cubatas long glasses of rum, vodka, whiskey with coke or lemonade, as they are cheaper option to bottles of beer. Don’t forget that terrazas really kick in after 10.30 p.m. Another great place to enjoy a drink in the evening is Plaza Santa Ana – and probably cheaper. The Retiro Park can be a lovely place early in the evening and I would recommend that you try ‘horchata’ – a tiger nut/almond drink that is popular there.

There is also a very nice terraza on the Puente de Segovia bridge, which looks out towards the Almudena Cathedral and Royal Palace.

Casa de Campo – One of the coolest (temperature!) places to go is the Casa de Campo – the huge park on the east-side  west side of the city. Located around the lago (lake) you will find a number of terrace bars. Metro: Lago

Excursions
A large number of Madrileños head out of the city at weekends to their family homes in the country. Places like Segovia, Avila and El Escorial do tend to be cooler in summer but don’t forget you are in central Spain and it will still be hot. If you plan properly, there are a number of fiestas and summer fairs that go on outside the capital over these months.

Swimming Pools
There are quite a few public swimming pools around the capital – some of the details I included in an article last year – Open Air Swimming Pools in Madrid. You may also be interested in some of the Aqua Parks that are dotted around the centre:

Aquópolis San Fernando – open 12 pm-8 pm; Cost: 12.50-14 Euros (Adults), 9 Euros (Child)
Aquópolis Villanueva de la Cañada – open 12 pm-8 pm; Cost: 13-16.50 Euros (Adults), 9 Euros (Child)
Aquasur Aranjuez –  a 40-minute journey from Atocha train station to Aranjuez and a free bus ride from there to the water park. Cost: 5-15 Euros (Adults), 3-12 Euros (Child).

Veranos de la Villa – Every year the city council of Madrid puts on a huge number of events across the city, ranging from theatre and dance to classical music and puppetry for kids. Madrid’s parks, squares and streets will be taken over as culture goes out on to the streets. For more information visit the Madrid City Council site.

Biking Tours of Madrid from Bike Spain

Townhall

Whilst walking near the Palacio Real last week I came across a group of German tourists trying to making their way towards the Plaza de Oriente. This wasn’t the first organised group of cyclists I had seen in the City centre – it looks like there is an upward trend in tourists using bikes to get around the city either for a day or for a week. Bike Tours Spain is one of the organisations, along with the City Council of Madrid, that offers self-ride or guided tours of the city.

Having come across a leaflet for them in the Madrid Tourist Centre, I decided to fire off an eMail toRoyalpalace2 Pablo Muñoz to find out more. Bike Tours Spain are located near the Puerta del Sol and  “organize guided excursions in and around Madrid and bicycling tours around Spain.” In addition, they also “rent cycles to ride the city at price of 15 euros, giving a map and all necessary accessories like a lock, helmet and panniers with the information of how to ride by the city and where to go.”

A popular tour is The Madrid City Tour, which includes the historic and monumental Madrid.

An interesting tour that will guide you through the "Madrid de los Austrias", the "Templo de Debod", an Egyptian temple with incredible views of the forests around Madrid, the Royal Palace, the gardens of Plaza de Oriente and the Opera of Madrid, the Almudena (Madrid’s cathedral), and the remains of the Moorish walls which once protected Madrid. Then we will ride to the medieval quarter by some amazing narrow streets towards the "plaza de la Villa" or the town-hall, the famous "Plaza Mayor" (Main Square), where we could have a drink sitting in a terrace enjoying the sunshine. By the pedestrian street of Huertas we go down to the Prado Museum, the Botanic garden, and the Retiro Park, an incredible and very romantic park with some interesting buildings. By the "Puerta de Alcalá", and the Cibeles square we ride to the cenrte of the city "the Puerta del Sol", where we finish the tour. The city tour is offered twice a month, on Satrudays, at a cost of 9.10 Euros.

Bike Spain is also Madrid Tourism’s Council Official Partner for its city tours. For more information, visit the Bike Spain site or send Pablo an eMail.

City Council of Madrid Offers 37 Guided Tours

Th City Council of Madrid is offering visitors, and citizens, of Madrid 37 guided tours of the City. The tours cover all interests and needs. The tours are set to run from February to June and cost around 3.10 Euros on foot or 6 Euros by bus/car. Here are a selection of them from the website:

  • Madrid’s Barroque Churches
  • Madrid’s Convents
  • Panoramic Views of Madrid on Bike
  • Goya in Madrid
  • Legends of Old Madrid
  • Medieval Madrid
  • Classic Taverns of Madrid

However, all of the above information is in Spanish – I would assume that the tours will also be in Spanish. Should you wish, you can download an English version from the Descubre Madrid site.

Monumentalia – A Guide to Madrid’s (and Spain’s) Architectural Heritage

Plaza_de_la_villaMonumentalia is probably the definitive site if you’re looking for information on Madrid’s buildings, bridges and parks – in fact, the website covers pretty much the whole of Spain. It is ideal for student, traveller and Madrid inhabitant alike. They have a huge selection of images, in both jpeg or video format, and each image is accompanied with a very good commentary about the ‘monument’ you are looking at.

I must admit to using Monumentalia on a number of occasions to clarify some of the facts on Mad About Madrid. In order to view the site in its entirety, you will need to register first (it is FREE). Its only real drawback is that it is entirely in Spanish, though most English speakers should be able to muddle their way through registration and searching the database!

Here are some interesting suggestions:

These 4 buildings are actually situated on ‘corners’ of the Plaza de Cibeles:

Madrid Card offers Reduced Rates for Christmas

I saw in the online newspaper ABC that Madrid Card has just released a special Madrid Card Navidad (Christmas) that only costs 20 Euros. The Madrid Card offers, amongst other things:

● Entry to over 40 museums (like the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía)
Unlimited travel (Bus, Metro & Suburban Trains)
● Guided Tour of Hapsburg Madrid and
● Discounts in bars, restaurants and shows

These cards can either be bought online or at hotels and tourist offices. Here are the prices as displayed on the Madrid Card site:

The 1 day card: 28€.
The 2 day card: 42€ – 4€ discount when you buy it on the website.
The 3 day card: 55€. 5€ discount when you buy it on the website.

Though I’m not sure how ABC do their maths, it might be worth doing yours beforehand to see if it is worth the expense.
*Update* – El Mundo newspaper points out that the 20 Euro rate is for a 2-day pass.

December Photos of Madrid

Last Saturday I got an email from an ERASMUS student, Juraj, who is spending the year studying in Madrid. The email included a selection of photos that he took last Friday and Saturday and was in response to an article I wrote asking for people to send in some photos to me. I liked the photos so much, as they really captured Madrid at Christmas, that I have created a photo album of them. Please take a look at them by clicking on the link in the left-hand side bar (photo album) or clicking below.

Almudena_1

The Royal Palace (Palacio Real)

Picture of Royal Palace, Madrid (Courtesy of madridvirtual.com

The palace was built between 1738 and 1764. It has a central interior courtyard, whilst another courtyard – the Plaza de Armas on the south side – acts as the principal entrance to the palace. This courtyard looks out on to the Almudena Cathedral. The Palace occupies 13 hectares, has 870 windows, 240 balconies and 44 staircases.

Madrid’s Royal Palace of  is considered by many to be one of the finest palaces in Europe. It is not the official residence of the King of Spain, that is the Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid, though official banquets and other important state events do take place here. As Napoleon remarked to his brother who he made king of Spain, “You will be better lodged here than I am myself”.

The Royal Palace, is built on the site of the old Alcázar which was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve 1734. King Felipe V decided to build a palace for his Borbon dynasty. The Italian Filippo Juvara was selected to design the new palace and his plans were to create a grand palace along the lines of France’s Versailles, though at a different location in Madrid. Felipe V rejected this and on the death of Juvara his pupil, Juan Bautista Sachetti, took on the scaled down project at the location of the original Alcázar.

Read more

Madrid’s Mayor Switches on Christmas Lights

Plaza_mayor_lights_2 A couple of days ago the Mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, switched on the Christmas lights around the centre of MAdrid, starting with the Plaza de Colón, then c/ Alcalá and Mayor, before finishing in the Plaza Mayor. This year a number of artists have been invited to come up with their own designs for the different barrios of Madrid, which has resulted in 80 streets and squares being lit up with over 2 million lightbulbs! The lights will continue until 6th January.

360° Virtual Tours of Madrid

Palacio Real, from Madrid virtual.com

I came across a pretty cool website today, which offers visitors 360° virtual tours of some of Madrid’s most famous landmarks. Madrid Virtual have taken images of landmarks as famous as Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, Teatro Real, Plaza de Callao, the Almudena Cathedral and Puerto de Sol many more. You simply select the location you want and pan around or zoom in/out of an image.

The website was set up by 2 architects/photograhers/technofiles who share a passion for Madrid and who, long term, intend to take 360° tours of 171 locations that they have idenitifed. Their website can be viewed in both Spanish and English and it is possible to buy stunning images of the city in both CD-Rom or poster form.

Help Wanted! I’m looking for Daily Pictures of Madrid

Templo_debod_small_1 Within the next few weeks I am going to try and add a new element to this site – Daily Pictures of Madrid. I intend to publish 1 picture of Madrid per day, from the selection of pictures that I hope people will send them through to me. What I want is to get many different images of the city from different people’s perspectives – they could be of buildings, parks, bars, nightlife, musicians, the weather, people at work, anything.

Casa_labra_small_2 Each picture will be added into the photo album at the end of month with the chosen caption of the photographer. So, whether you’re Spanish and living in Madrid, a foreigner living in Madrid or just planning to visit, send an email to Mad About Madrid to let me know if you’d be interested.

Walking tours around Madrid

The Madrid Chamber of Commerce website has an interesting section, called Rutas por Madrid, on their site dedicated to tours around Madrid. They give you route maps, brief overview of what you are likely to see and recommended places to eat, drink and shop. They include Literario (Literary), Medieval, Romántico (Romantic), Moderno (Modern), Austrias, Borbones (Bourbons), Gran Vía-Princesa, Arte (Art).

You can also download the details in pdf format. The only potential disadvantage for some people is that the details are in Spanish. However, there is a section within this website called Madrid Routes which gives a cut-down version of the Spanish section – no downloadable pdf’s, sorry.

Related Article
Guided Tours of Madrid
Virtual Tours of Madrid

Casa de la Moneda (Spanish Royal Mint)

Last pesetas, Casa de Moneda, Madrid

For all those with an interest in coin and stamp collecting, it is worth visiting Madrid’s Casa de la Moneda. It is recognised that the museum has one of the finest numismatic collections in the world. You will find Greek, Roman, Medieval and contemporary coins here along with collections of medals, postage stamps, banknotes, lottery tickets, official stamped paper, and continuing with models, dies, plates, machinery and tools used in minting. Incidentally, my wife and I actually bought the coins (or arras) which Spanish couples exchange on their wedding day from the Casa de Moneda. If you’re interested in coins and stamps, then it is also well worth paying a visit to the Plaza Mayor on Sunday mornings. Many coin and stamp shops can be found in the streets around the square.

Timetable and Entrance
Tues- Fri: 10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Sat, Sun and holidays from 10:00 to 14:00. Mondays closed.
Aug 1 – Aug 31: 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Entry: Free

Location:C/ Doctor Esquerdo nº 36
Tel: +34 91 566 65 44
Buses: lines 2, 28, 30, 56, 71, 143 and the Circular line
Metro: O’Donnell (line 6) or Goya (lines 2 or 4)

>> More on Barrios, Building & Parks | Go to Home

Summer activities in Retiro Park and the Casa de Campo (and free!)

The City Council of Madrid has organised a series of free activities for the summer in both the Retiro Park and the Casa de Campo. The events are organised for both adults and children under the ages of 8 and mainly take the form of strolls around certain areas of both parks; though one activity includes a trip to a bird and butterfly centre. For more information, download this pdf Itinerarios Verdes from the Madrid City Council website or call them on 91 639 7969 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Guided Tours of Madrid

madrid_guide2

As we are now into Summer, the City Council of Madrid in collaboration with the Fundación Caja Madrid, are putting on a series of guided tours. These guided tours of Madrid are conducted by professional guides with the aim of giving people the opportunity to discover more of the city. Tickets cost around 3-4 Euros and can be bought from the Madrid City Council’s Tourist Board (Patronato de Turismo de Madrid) (c/ Mayor, 69);Departure Point – Municipal de Información Turística (Plaza Mayor, 3. Tel. 915 881 636). A full list of the tours can be found on a pdf entitled:

Madrid Guided Tours

Two of the tours are actually held all year round: City Hall and Madrid: Setting of the Court. Please be aware that some companies in Madrid do charge between extremely high prices for some of their tours. I came across one the other day which was charging around £120 per person for a 4-hour walking tour!! Captain Alatriste is a character created by the author Arturo Pérez-Reverte and the "Duel of verse and swords: another view of the Golden Age" tour offers people the chance to see "dramatizations that aim to recreate scenes from the life of 17th century Madrid."

City Hall
La casa de la villa
Mondays 5 p.m.

Legends of Old Madrid
Leyendas del viejo Madrid
Wednesdays 9.30 p.m.

Duel of verse and swords: another view of the Golden Age
Duelo de versos y espadas:Otra visión del siglo de oro
Thursdays 9 p.m.

Traditional taverns and shops of Madrid
Tabernas y comercios tradicionales de Madrid
Fridays 11 a.m.

New adventures in Captain Alatriste’s Madrid
Nuevas aventuras – En el Madrid del capitán Alatriste
Fridays and Saturdays 9.30 p.m.

Madrid, setting of the Court
Madrid, escenario de la corte
Saturdays 10 a.am

Walk through the Madrid of the Bourbons
Paseo por el Madrid de los borbones
Sundays 11.00 a.m.

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Virtual Tours Around Madrid

Books of interest from Amazon

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Lonely Planet Madrid Top 10 Madrid Lonely Planet
Madrid City Map


**Update**

Please note that the information above has been modified and the links sould take you to the Madrid Tourist Board site (www.esmadrid.es). For some reason the Madrid Council has decided to take this page down – it happens a lot with sites in Madrid!!