The AVE train delivers Las Chicas before noon on our first day in Madrid. Anxious to maximize the 1.5 days we have before Lisa begins work, we download and attempt to follow a walking tour we find online from National Geographic, with a few alterations and additions.
We visit these locations (not in order) : 1) Puerta del Sol, (2) Mallorquina, 3) Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, 4) Plaza Mayor, (11) Catedral de la Almudena, (12) Palacio Real, (13) Plaza Oriente, and include Temple of Debod (inside the Parque del Oeste).
Our first site is the Real Academia de Bellas Artes, where Dali and Picasso studied; Goya was once the Director of the Academia. We forego a visit inside and continue on.
Real Academia de Bellas Artes
Our next stops include Puerta del Sol (Gateway to the Sun), Mallorquina, a historic bakery on the edge of the plaza and the fan store. Puerta del Sol is often described as the heart of Madrid. We enter the plaza by the bronze statue of a bear eating berries from an Arbutus (Madrona) tree, the symbol of Madrid. Bears are long gone from Madrid, Madrona trees remain.
Mary, the map lover, barges through the crowd to take a photo of Kilometer Zero, the point from which all roads in Spain are measured (at least the ones that go through Madrid).
We enjoy palmeras (not pictured) from Mallorquina Bakery.
Casa de Diego, fan and umbrella (paraguas) store, founded in 1858
We make our way to Plaza Mayor, constructed in 1619, originally known as Plaza de Arrabal, meaning “outskirts”. Through the years it has served many purposes: market, open-air theatre, bull ring.
Now it’s mostly a tourist attraction surrounded by city government buildings.
Hungry and ready for a rest, we make our way to the Mercado de San Miguel to join the throngs of visitors for lunch.
After a first course of paella (Lisa) and pizza (Mary) we make our way to a second stop for something resembling ceviche, but cooked.
Sea urchins anyone?
Following lunch we pass by Convento del Corpus Christi, home to an order of cloistered nuns and visit instead the Plaza de la Villa, with its variety of styles and eras of architecture.
Torre de los Lujanes
Facing Casa de Cisneros, built in 1537 in plateresque style.
On the right Casa de la Villa, a 17th-century example of classic Hapsburg or baroque architecture.
Another example of the mixture of architecture styles
We take a short excursion by the Cathedral de la Almudena, the Palace and Plaza Oriente, but reserve our visit for another day. (See our post, “A Special Holiday in Madrid“.)
We visit the Egyptian Temple of Debod in Parque del Oeste next, only to find it closed for siesta. The temple was a gift from the Egyptian government and dates back to 2nd century BC. And even though we make a second trip on another day, we still find the temple closed, this time for a wedding. So Las Chicas only get to enjoy the facade.
Water surrounding Temple of Debod
On our way back to the hotel, we enjoy a few other sights of Madrid.
© 2014 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved.