The capital of Spain is situated in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, right in the centre of the Castilian plain 646 metres above sea level and has a population of over 3 million. Madrid is characterized by intense cultural and artistic activity and a very lively nightlife. Cosmopolitan city, Madrid is also the centre of business, headquarters for Public Administration, Spanish Parliament, the home of the Spanish Royal Family and also plays a major role in both the banking and industrial sectors. The majority of its industry is located in the Southern fringe of the city with an important cluster of textile, food and metal working factories.
Madrid is a museum-goers paradise with 15 important museums, including the Royal Palace, dozens of galleries and several private collections. The Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia museums are the most famous. It is easy to spend more than one day just seeing Madrid’s museums. Actually, days could be spent in the halls of the Prado alone.
If you get tired of all the museums in Madrid, sit down at a terraza (outdoor café) and watch the world go by or visit one of the many beautiful parks and lakes in the city. One of the nicest parks you’ll find anywhere is Retiro Park near the Prado. Visit the Victorian greenhouse and the Crystal Palace with its small lake and swans lazily swimming about. Then rent a rowboat and enjoy the relaxed festive mood that fills the park. For a panoramic view of Madrid go to the Edificio de España, take the elevator to the bar on the 26h floor and enjoy the outlook over the Plaza de España.
Madrid is a city that seems to never close down with bars and restaurant open till very late and in particular the city’s Santa Ana district is always buzzing. Dinner doesn’t usually begin until after 10pm, followed by revellers heading off to their favourite disco sow, jazz club or late-night bar to party until dawn. For great late-night activity head to Huertas Street after midnight and you’ll be sure to find something to match your tastes. Hemingway fans should check out the Museo Chicote bar described in many of his Spanish Civil War stories and a very trendy place to have a drink. Those who love the traditional performing arts will love the Teatro Real where they will find Spanish light opera known as zarzuela. If good flamenco shows is what you are after, you will find several nightclubs in Madrid including the Café Chinitas.
If you’re in Madrid in May, be sure to join the Madrileños celebrating the Feria de San Isidro with music, opera, concerts, bull-fighting, dancing and all-night entertainment. In August you can enjoy the city celebrations Verbena de la Paloma.
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