Art, History, and Crowds, Crowds, Crowds!

Madrid Travel Blog

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Crowds were continuously in front of this animatronic toy display at the department store.

I set the alarm for 09:30 but, I didn’t get up until around 10:30 and Rob even after that. We were exhausted from the previous night’s events.

Opening the curtains, I could tell that the sky was sunny. The forecast was for a high of 60 degrees but, if felt cooler.

We eventually pulled ourselves together and dragged our tired selves our into the Madridleno sun. It seemed that the whole Spanish world was out in force.

The large department store that was near to our hotel was packed with people filling the pedestrian area in front and along the street for many blocks. They had a very large Christmas display above their front door that was playing music and the characters that were in motion. The children were excited and jumping around.

We pushed our way though as that was all that we could do.

The many masks for sale at the market near Plaza Mayor
It was miserable.

We made our way to Puerta del Sol, which was close by. The plaza had a very tall metal sculpture Christmas tree.

We crossed the plaza and headed in the direction of the Plaza Mayor, the city’s heart. There were many booths set up selling strange mask, hats, and boas. Many of them looked appropriate for Halloween. There were skeletons, super heroes, and even Mickey Mouse.

Within the Plaza Mayor, another market had been set up and crowds of people enjoying the sunny day. I focused on an art shop that sells only arts and crafts made in Spain. I've been there before and know the special artists that they showcase. I bought a metal sculpture of a Bourbon era woman with elements from Picasso's "Guernica" on her skirt. It's an amazing melding of history and art.

From there, we walked through the alley like streets around Mayor and found the Chocoloteria where Samatha Brown had her hot chocolate and churros.

Christmas market on the Plaza Mayor
We would have to come back but, I was so happy that we found it.

We continued through the old streets to the old city hall and then continued to make our way to the Palacio Real.

The Palacio, with an area of 135000  meters2,  is the largest palce in Europe and has more thean 2800 rooms.

The site of the palace dates from a 10th-century fortress, called mayrit, constructed as an outpost by Mohammed I, Emir of CĂłrdoba and inherited after 1036 by the independent Moorish Kingdom of Toledo. After Madrid fell to Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085, the site was only rarely used by the kings of Castile. In 1329, King Alfonso XI of Castile convoked the cortes of Madrid for the first time. Philip II moved his court to Madrid in 1561.

Building detail near the Palacio Real

 

The Antiguo Alcazar ("Old Castle") was built on the location in the 16th century. It burned on December 24, 1734; King Philip V ordered a new palace built on the same location. Construction spanned the years 1738 to 1755 and followed a Berniniesque design. The new palace, directly facing the cathedral across the Plaza de Armas, was occupied by Carlos III in 1764.

After seeing many, many fantastic palaces across Europe, this one is still one of the most oppulent. The Rococo decorations and frescoed ceilings are magnificents examples rivaling all others.

No pictures were allowed, inside. We did buy a book showcasing all of he interior elements in great detail.

As we were leaving, we saw a dome in the distance with colorful majorica tiles, quite a sight.

We walked the passageways just off the Grand Via towards Puerta Del Sol to our destination of the Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Front gates of the Palacio Real

Originally a private collection before being taken over by the state, Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza's collection comprises over 800 paintings. Here we can find exhibits from the 13th century to the present day, and thus follow the most important trends and movements in art over the last few hundred years.

On the way we stopped for a nice view of Plaze de Cibeles and it's fantiastic neo-classical architecture.

The museum was a bit of a disappointment. It's not that it's not a nice collection but, compared to the Prado and the Reina Sophia, it pales in comparison.

Upon leaving, the sun had set and all of the Christmas lights were on and WOW! The Paseo del Prado had a series of colorful circular lights suspended above the parkway. There is a little park that runs the length of the Paseo, as well. There is a large lit christmas tree sculpture taking centerstage in the park.

From there is was a short walk to the Puerta de Alcala. In 1774, king Carlos III commissioned Francesco Sabatini to construct a monumental gate in the city wall through which an expanded road to the city of Alcalá was to pass, replacing an older, smaller, gate which stood nearby. It was inaugurated in 1778. It definitely has a Spanish feel to an otherwise potentially plain neo-classical gate.

Rob in front of Catedral de la Almudena

We take the metro back to Puerta Del Sol and rejoin the ocean of people! There are so many people. The tree at Del Sol is lit in green and red. The tree is massive. The square is the symbolic center of Spain. The square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the twelve grapes and the beginning of a new year.

We were hungry and now were in search of food. I got us to the wonderful restaurant that I ate at on my last trip only to find that they didn't open for dinner servive for another 45 minutes. We couldn't wait. We had to have a snack.

 He headed down the Calle de las Huertas, hoping that the vegetarian take out place that I had eaten at last time was still open. 

 

On the way we had to stop for a shop that had creepy skeleton art; paintings and statues.

Festive lights of Plaza de Cibeles
It's apart of the culture's religious lore. The pieces were really great.

 

After a 15 minute walk and almost giving up, there it was. We went in and looked over the buffet. There were amazing choices. We chose a cauliflower gratin, a eggplant lasagna, chickpea salad, grilled carrots, rice w/veggies, mushroom falafel, and Cheese falafel. For dessert we chose, a moist delicious chocolate cake with rich chocolate icing, apple cake, and a spice cake.....mmmmmm good!!! 

We were so hungry and the hotel was too far so, we walked to the square at Santa Cruz and sat on the stone lip of an elevator to the parking, below.

Puerta Alcala
People starred at us as they walked by but, we didn't care. We were hungry and the food was wonderful.

Feeling satisfied after such a great meal. We walked around the market at Santa Cruz. In the center was a fantastic futuristic chandelier like light.

From there, we took a stroll through the Plaza Mayor but, there were so many people that it was a bit hard to enjoy. There some interesting floating circles of lights that reminded me of Medieval designs that I had seen in Toledo.

Skeletal art on the Calle de las Huertas

Feeling tired and just tired of all of the people we pushed our way out of the Plaza Mayor and across the Puerta Del Sol. The crowd in front of the department store seemed to have grown even larger, if that is possible. We took a detour and worked our way behind and around the back side of the store to reach the hotel.

It was crazy!!!

Safe in our room, we vegged and finally fell asleep, hopefully a better sleep than the night before. At least we had a room on the courtyard and not the front!!!

lauro says:
i just love madrid so much and you know that! lol
Posted on: Dec 21, 2009
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Crowds were continuously in front …
Crowds were continuously in front…
The many masks for sale at the mar…
The many masks for sale at the ma…
Christmas market on the Plaza Mayor
Christmas market on the Plaza Mayor
Building detail near the Palacio R…
Building detail near the Palacio …
Front gates of the Palacio Real
Front gates of the Palacio Real
Rob in front of Catedral de la Alm…
Rob in front of Catedral de la Al…
Festive lights of Plaza de Cibeles
Festive lights of Plaza de Cibeles
Puerta Alcala
Puerta Alcala
Skeletal art on the Calle de las H…
Skeletal art on the Calle de las …
So many people!!!
So many people!!!
Festive!
Festive!
Puerta Del Sol dressed up for Chri…
Puerta Del Sol dressed up for Chr…
Tree in the center of Puerta Del S…
Tree in the center of Puerta Del …
Hmmm....scary masks for Christmas,…
Hmmm....scary masks for Christmas…
Unusual CHristmas market
Unusual CHristmas market
Town Hall
Town Hall
Trees in the park across form the …
Trees in the park across form the…
Fantastic details
Fantastic details
The Cathedral at Palacio Real
The Cathedral at Palacio Real
Palacio Real
Palacio Real
Entrance to Palacio Real
Entrance to Palacio Real
Cathedral across from Palacio Real
Cathedral across from Palacio Real
View of city park from Palacio Real
View of city park from Palacio Real
Tiled dome
Tiled dome
Tiled dome close-up
Tiled dome close-up
Grand Via
Grand Via
Christmas lights of Madrid
Christmas lights of Madrid
Hovering lights about the parkway
Hovering lights about the parkway
Fountain and lit tree in the park.
Fountain and lit tree in the park.
Close-up of lit design on tree
Close-up of lit design on tree
Me in front of the lit tree
Me in front of the lit tree
lit design in one of the arches of…
lit design in one of the arches o…
Festive lighting across the street
Festive lighting across the street
Puerta Del Sol at night!
Puerta Del Sol at night!
Hungry???
Hungry???
Pepe!!!
Pepe!!!
Ahhh....two young lovers daydreami…
Ahhh....two young lovers daydream…
Cool design and well lit!
Cool design and well lit!
Close up!
Close up!
Cool and creepy!
Cool and creepy!
Market at Plaza Santa Cruz
Market at Plaza Santa Cruz
Cool lighting at Plaza Santa Cruz
Cool lighting at Plaza Santa Cruz
Moorish design even in the festive…
Moorish design even in the festiv…
At night on the Plaza Mayor
At night on the Plaza Mayor
Madrid
photo by: vulindlela