by Jamie of Crashed Culture
Madrid, Spain is a beautiful city. Because of its history, nightlife, and people, there’s something for everybody!
Chocolatería San Ginés
You don’t have to understand Spanish to figure out what this you’ll be buying here: chocolate! The Chocolatería San Ginés is a must-do for a few reasons, first of which is being the fact that if you’re walking around on a Friday night and you see a line going into the street, you know it’s gotta be good! This place is famous for its chocolate con churros, a rather famous meal in Spain. You get a piping hot mug of chocolate and a giant plate of churros for a couple euros – it’s a great deal!
And for all you history buffs out there, get a load of the building. The place has been open since 1894, which can’t compete with the antiquity of the rest of Madrid, but it’s been feeding tourists for over a century!
El Parque del Buen Retiro
Retiro Park is a popular favorite among tourists and locals alike. Originally a royal garden, the park extends for 350 acres, and likely provides everything you’re looking for at any given time. Want to relax? Take a stroll, run, bike, or sit anywhere from the long pathways to right in the middle of the grass. Need something to do? There is always some sort of class or club going on – I once took a Flamenco class! You can find food, recreation, alone time, social time, and always beauty in this park. My favorite tip: stop by the Monument to Alfonso XII. It’s a giant lake with elaborate statues and rowboats that you can actually row the in the lake in!
If you learn anything about Spain, you’ll learn that there is a Plaza Mayor in every city. There are even Plaza Mayors outside of Spain, usually where a city has been under Spanish rule for a time! Historically, Spaniards have used Plaza Mayor as a meeting ground, especially back when living situations weren’t as central as they are today. The Plaza Mayor in Madrid is a particularly notable exception due to its history. Throughout the century, Madrid’s Plaza Mayor has been through a lot: bullfights, theSpanish Inquisition, markets, parties, and more. Today, it’s a great place to meet up with friends, people watch, find a souvenir, or grab a bite to eat.
Origen de las Carreteras Radiales
This is something that’s often overlooked by travelers – mostly because even if you did happen to see it among the busy sidewalk in the middle of the busiest plaza in Madrid, you likely wouldn’t even know what it is! If you go to Plaza del Sol, which is like Plaza Mayor in that it’s a massively popular meeting ground (especially at night), watch your feet for this sign. Stand on this little plot of sidewalk and you’ll be smack dab in the center of the country. Cool, right? Travelers who do know about this like to take pictures of this sign, so there may be a little bit of a wait for you to snap your own shot, but it’s a nice tidbit of information that is largely overlooked by travel guides.
If you like going to the flea markets back home, Madrid has something for you, too! Every Sunday morning, El Rastro is the place to find all sorts of artistry, tools, clothes, toys, and almost everything else. El Rastro attracts both locals and travelers, and sells most anything you could think of. My favorite purchase, for example, is my handmade leather wallet. It’s a hotspot for your cliché Madrid souvenirs, of course, like graphic tees and Flamenco fans, but you’ve also got your Hindu pillows, clothes, notebooks, maps…absolutely anything in the world. It’s the perfect place to check out the handmade market!
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