10 Things of Interest in Madrid for Your Next Visit to Spain

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Below are ten suggestions and links to places in Madrid for your next visit, including other useful resources at the end of the post. Think: museums, festivals, food and drink, dancing, churches and religious sites, history, walks, bars and ice cream.

Flamenco & Festivals:

Flamenco purists are snobbish about the scene in Madrid, but even they are thrilled by the performances at Casa Patas (C/Cañizares 10, Lavapiés (91 369 04 96/www.casapatas.com). Star performers can also be seen at the Corral de la Pacheca (C/Juan Ramón, Jiménez 26, 91 353 01 00/www.corraldelapacheca.com). Cardamomo, a small flamenco club (Calle Echegaray, 15, 34-91-369-0757, www.cardamomo.es) attracts a younger crowd. At cool, bohemian El Juglar, Sunday nights are given over to flamenco, performed by students from the nearby Amor de Dios school.

To stamp and clap along to flamenco in party mode visit the city at festival time. The Festival de Flamenco Caja Madrid takes place in Teatro del Canal (www.madrid.org) and other venues around the city in February, and in May the San Isidro fiesta is the mother of all knees-ups.

See all festivals & events and flamenco venues in Madrid.

Eating and Drinking:

You can drink vermouth, from the tap, with tapas, at Bodegas Ricla, which has a great line in cured venison and garlicky boquerones (pickled fresh anchovies). La Taberna de Corps also does draught vermouth and a super surtido (mixed tapas plate). Bar El 2 De is a mellow place to sup vermouth in the afternoons, but it’s rowdy by night. If you’re after traditional, Casa Antonio (C/Latoneros 10, 91, 366 57 83) is one of the oldest vermut bars in Madrid.

See all restaurants & cafés in Madrid.

Art and Slaughterhouse 10:

A century-old neo-Mudéjar building that was once the heart of the city’s meat trade is now showing its sensitive side. Matadero Madrid, created from the old municipal slaughterhouse by Madrid’s City Council is a vast space consisting of ten different buildings. Only a few of them are being used for art exhibitions, theatre productions, lectures and creative happenings at present; this project is a work in progress until 2011, but it’s a fascinating new venue in the south of the city and the busy bar area is great for people watching.
Matadero Madrid Paseo de la Chopera, 14 (34-91-517-7309/www.mataderomadrid.com).

See all art spaces in Madrid.

Shopping and Shoes:

Madrid is a major producer of footwear, with the Valencia and Alicante areas dominated by shoe factories. For shoe shoppers, the street to tramp down is Augusto Figueroa, in the heart of Chueca, where you’ll find numerous outlets for factory samples. Otherwise, it’s to Salamanca for top-dollar leather goods from the elite Loewe brand, or Mallorcan gorgeousness fromFarrutx and Camper. If it’s espadrilles your weary feet crave, Antigua Casa Crespo has them in bucketloads in this perfectly preserved, old-fashioned store.

See all shops in Madrid.

Parks and Gardens:

Madrid’s luscious botanical gardens – Jardín Botanico – are right by the Prado museum, but once you’re inside, among more than 30,000 plants from around the world, you feel as if city life has been put on hold. The same is true of the less well-known but larger Parque del Buen Retiro (Plaza de Murillo, 2; 34-91-420-3017; www.rjb.csic.es), which does not demand that you treat it like a museum (Botanico does) and where you can cool off in the shade of a 200-year-old tree.

See all parks & gardens in Madrid.

Bars and Pubs:

It’s easy to go on a Hemingway bar crawl in this city, as there seem to be few places where the writer did not drink. He and other international press hacks, along with decorative drinkers Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner, all downed cocktails at the Museo Chicote, along with just about every Spanish writer, actor or artist of the last 60 years. Hemingway reserved Cervecería Alemana for his daily beer (his table is the one in the near right-hand corner). More recently Café del Real, with its red leather chairs and old opera posters, was the place for intellectuals and artists and actors in the 1980s. Today, café society has its quintessential point of reference in the elegant Café del Círculo de Bellas Artes, where the intelligentsia frown over coffee and El País. There may be no detecable intellectual vibe at the rowdy, oirish themed James Joyce pub, but there are ghosts: the pub sits on the site of the historic Café Lion, a haunt of post-Civil War literati.

See all bars & pubs in Madrid.

Churches and Religious Sites:

Many of the churches are wreathed in legend, and have statues’ feet to kiss and fonts to pray to if you need celestial help with your lovelife. The weirdest augury of great things, however, has to be the phial of blood, which purportedly belongs to the doctor saint Pantaleón, contained in theConvento de la Encarnación. This 17th century convent attracts lengthy queues of the faithful on the saint’s feast day, July 27, when the contents of the phial miraculously liquefy, bringing great things for all those who witness it.

See all religious sites & buildings in Madrid.

Markets and Museums:

around town the various branches of the Museo del Jamón are a sight to behold, with dozens of hams dangling from the ceiling. You can sample their wares at the bar or in their restaurants. While you’re on the look out for charcuterie, tour the noisy colourful markets – Mercado de la Paz in Salamanca is one of the more upmarket one; El Rastro is the city’s most famous, dating back nearly five centuries. Gourmands on the hunt for a classy picnic to enjoy in the park or foody gifts to take home should not miss Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero (olives, olive oil), La Moderna Apicultura(honey) and La Boulette (cheese).

See all markets in Madrid.

Ice Cream:

The Bruin is a wonderfully old-fashioned ice-cream parlour with a terrace, where some of the flavours are decidedly Heston Blumenthal…olive oil, tomato and cheese, anyone?

See all restaurants & cafés in Madrid.

Three Art Palaces:

There are three art palaces in the city: the Prado, theThyssen and the Reina Sofía. The combined treasures of these three are priceless, which is just as well, as the final cost of ambitious expansion plans, still in progress, will be more millions of euros than anyone dare guess.

See all art spaces in Madrid.

Suggestions taken from TimeOut. For their extensive piece on other things to do in its entirety and the rest of the list, click here. Also check out the About.com suggestions here.



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