On our first outing during our time in Madrid we headed to the Royal Palace. Its front facade is shown in the picture at the top of this page. The Palace surrounds the gigantic Plaza de la Armeria, with the similarly imposing Catedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena church nearby.
This video might help give a better sense of the plaza’s scale:
There was a special exhibition of the artwork from the royal convents on when we visited, but no photographs were allowed in the show gallery or in most of the rest of the palace. So, unfortunately we can’t share pictures of the eye-popping royal chapel, dining room, or especially the throne room. (You should definitely look them up on-line.) Here are some interior shots from the areas where photos were allowed:
Some additional exterior shots:
Much of our time in Madrid (when we weren’t eating and drinking!) was spent in museums. We went to the Prado with a Viking tour, and on our own to the Thyssen-Bornemisza and to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia Museum). Our Prado tour was a brief, “greatest hits” stroll through the main galleries and in retrospect we should have stayed there much longer than we did. (Maybe next time in Madrid?) The Sofia was wonderful, especially the gallery where Picasso’s famous Guernica painting is housed. Our favorite museum, though, had to be the Thyssen with its wide-ranging collection of modern art.
The Prado doesn’t allow any photography, and the Sofia also forbids it in the Guernica gallery, but here are some samples from the Thyssen (plus a Dali from the Sofia):
Madrid is a big city, but also has its green spots. Even in the December cold, El Retiro Park was beautiful:
Next to the Royal Botanical Garden, it was cool to see the tiny bookshops that bring to mind the bouquinistes along the Seine in Paris:
Madrid has a rich, varied architecture, ranging from Islamic-influenced churches to banks topped with chariots to Art Noveau. Here are just a few of the buildings that caught my eye during our visit:
Finally, I have to point out that Madrid really seems to be into statues. You’ve seen a few in the pictures above, but here are more from my collection of statue photos that include a bear eating from a strawberry tree (symbol of Madrid), the Catholic King and Queen, Ferdinand and Isabella, some horse-riding luminaries, and a carved tree – not to mention a swimmer made of stone next to a tourist:
Up next on our trip – a day in Toledo.