6 months in Madrid: best places to visit

January 1, 1970

by Ilaria Geminiani

When I arrived at Aeroporto Barajas, one of the biggest airport and crossing point in Europe, I was 20 years old.
I had just two big luggage for which I had to pay an additional charge.
I have never been able to respect the baggage allowance as I’m used to taking all my stuff with me – the mirror image of my fear of leaving home something or someone that I really love-.
Passing the gate, looking back to my mum’s face full of tears, made me feel completely lost. But at the same time, I was aware of the enthusiasm I had to start a new adventure.
I knew that my house near Puerta del Sol was waiting for me.

When I finally got to my new flat a group of international people opened the door: four French girls, one among them of Arabian origins, two friends coming from Ireland, a Dutch worker, a sweet Swedish girl and a Spanish boy.
It sounded like a joke but I really felt to be in “Una casa de locos”, the French and Spanish film about the life of students coming from different part of the world living in a flatshare located in Barcelona.
On the top of that, they were really “locos”, a crazy bunch of people spending their time together.

Parque del Retiro

During the first period, I spent my time visiting and exploring my new city.
As one of my flatmates loves running, one day I put my sneakers on and a comfortable outfit and I decided to go out with her.
I discovered one of the most beautiful green areas of Madrid: the so-called “Parque del Retiro”.
It is a quiet and calm place where you can go to have a moment of peace and to stay away from the chaos of the city center.

During the weekends, “Buen Retiro Park” has a particular vibe.
In fact, if it is a sunny day it is completely full of people: you can find children playing together, people playing guitar or reading a book and friends that go out together for a walk. It can also be a romantic place: you can see sweet couples renting little boats in the artificial lake.
There are also a lot of sculptures and monuments but the most relevant place from an artistic point of view is Palacio de Cristal, an entire building made of glass.
Basically, it’s empty inside and you can walk around and enjoy the nature which surrounds the palace but there are often some contemporary art exhibitions.

Templo de Debod

One of my favorite places, when I wanted to have a walk on my own, is for sure “El Templo de Debod”.
The Debod Temple is an authentic Egyptian temple and its singularity is the space that surrounds it.
In fact, it is located in a park near the city center of the capital but far away from the noise of the city. it is a quiet and peaceful place with a great view of the city.
If you enjoy take a break and spent a bit of time relaxed surrounded by nature, this is definitely the spot for that.
Of the sun when it goes down are reflected in the water that is around the monument.
This natural effect creates a romantic and peaceful atmosphere.

Gran Via

If you love shopping and you want to fell for a day like if you where in New York, walking on the “5th avenue”, Madrid also offers a place for that.
The shopping street is called “Gran Via” and is one of the largest roads of Madrid. You can find restaurants, bars and the most famous multinational shops such as Primark, Zara and so on.
The first time I was there, I felt really small for being in this huge street always full of tourists and characterized by enormous buildings.
Not experiencing the flow of this street would amount to missing a vital piece of Madrid: the energy that Gran Via transmits could not be found in other corners of the city.

La Latina and its markets

If you are thinking about planning a weekend, a must-see is “La Latina”, a neighborhood that on Sunday morning attracts a lot of people thanks to “El Rastro”.
It is an open-air streets market full of stalls selling shoes, t-shirts, souvenirs, antiques and much other stuff.
For lunch the market of “La Cebalda” could be a good choice; it is a nice experience to eat, drink and socialize with local people and fell the real soul of Spain.
If you are looking for a more touristic and up- to – date market the one of “San Miguel” is just 15 minutes walking from La Latina.

Getting out from the “Mercado of San Miguel”, a hidden square could not be ignored.
“Plaza Mayor” is one of the most beautiful places of the capital.
The red architecture that characterized the square perfectly reflects the warm and cozy atmosphere you can perceive there. When I was there, during the month of may in Madrid there is the traditional festivity of San Isidro and many open-air concerts and shows of various artist have been taken place in the square.  I had the chance many artists such as Manu Chao.
I recommend visiting Madrid in this period because of concerts and other more activities, including dancing, typical food, and locals that wear traditional costume.

Círculo de Bellas Artes

To say goodbye to this amazing city I suggest to spend 4 euro for one of the most stunning views.
“El Circulo de Bellas Artes” offers the possibility to watch the city from a rooftop, drink and eat something and thinking about your stay in the city.
The day before my departure I remember, I was sitting on the top and I was thinking about all my 6 months.
With my heart full of happiness and gratitude for all the magic moment I spend the only thing I could say was “Thank you Madrid… Hasta pronto!”

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