Hidden Gems of Madrid
- On July 19, 2023
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Casa de Campo
Imagine New York’s Central Park – now imagine it fives times bigger. At an impressive 4,257 acres, Casa de Campo claims the title of Madrid’s largest public greenspace. Originally owned by the royal family as a private hunting ground, it was not until Phillip II expanded the area that it became recognizable as the infamous Casa de Campo visitors experience today. In 1930, a little under 400 years later, the park was opened to the public. From rollercoasters to cocktails, this massive attraction now provides engaging activities for visitors of any age or interest.
Whether you’re interested in absorbing the historical impact of Casa de Campo while walking through the west of Madrid or you’re just in the market for a new running trail, this expansive park offers both adventure-goers and expert relaxers a unique outdoor experience.
Seeing flamenco in Spain is something many tourists debate– but I’m here to tell you that I think it is an absolute must, especially in Madrid!
Although Flamenco was created in Andalucía, Madrid features some of the best “tablaos”, places dedicated to the performance of Flamenco, in Spain. Flamenco is a fine art that combines music and dance styles from Andalucía with a personal touch of the Romani people in Spain.
3. Located just south of central Madrid and only a stone’s throw from the top sites of the city lies effortlessly cool, multicultural Lavapiés — one of the hippest neighborhoods in the city. Colourful murals and art pieces decorate the walls, lively tapas bars spill out onto the sidewalks, and the energy and heart of Madrid’s international community is hard to escape.
Therefore, if you’re looking to see a different side of Madrid that is a world apart from the Royal sites, there are lots of cool things to do in Lavapiés and it’s worth spending some time of your trip to the Spanish capital to explore this cool barrio.
Cecilio Rodriguez Gardens
Peacocks in Madrid? That probably sounds impossible, but it’s true! If you visit Cecilio Rodriguez Gardens in Retiro, you will see colorful peacocks wandering around. I don’t recommend feeding the birds, but it is an interesting and fun site to see while in Madrid. The gardens themselves are spectacular, so any trip to Retiro will be an lovely experience..
Located in the central district of Chamberí -Metro Alonso Cano (L7) / Ríos Rosas (L1)-, Ponzano is the trendy food street in Madrid. It is so frequented at any time of the day (aperitif, evening and night) that its regulars are called ponzaners, and it has a #ponzaning label and its own website (www.ponzaning.es) as if they were members of a select club.
This urban road has become a magnet for the most suggestive gastronomic proposals. Furthermore, many addicts of the area combine the culinary and cultural offers, because the Teatros del Canal, the Canal de Isabel II Exhibition Hall, the
Geomineral Museum or the Santander Park are just a stone’s throw away.
Plaza de Cibeles is a square in Madrid’s city center at the intersection of the Paseo del Prado and Calle Alcalá, and has become one of the most emblematic symbols of Spain’s capital city.
The fountain of Cybele was designed by the architect Ventura Rodríguez in 1782. It represents Cybele, the Greek goddess who is depicted sitting on a lion-drawn carriage. In the beginning, the fountain supplied water to the citizens of Madrid and in 1895, it was moved to the centre of Plaza de Cibeles and became a decorative element.
Andén Cero (Platform Zero) is an interpretation centre for Madrid’s Metro, opened in 2006, of which the main part is in the Chamberi station which was closed in 1966 because it was impossible to extend its platforms when train lengths were increased. Chamberi station was one of eight on the first line of the Metro and opened in 1919. Visitors access the centre by a modern spiral staircase and a glass elevator. They see a 20-minute film on the history of the Metro system in the entrance hall from which passengers once came into the station from the street. The film and displays show how the Metro transformed Madrid from the early years of the twentieth century, its civil and mechanical engineering, the ways in which it was marketed and its uses for advertising. The ticket office has been restored to the condition in which it operated in the 1920s. The station, designed by Antonio Palacios (1874-1945) is remarkable for the use of ceramic tiles lining the arch above the platforms and in advertisements. Metro trains continue to pass through the station between glass barriers along the platform edges.
Andén Cero also includes the Nave de Motores de Pacifico, the power station for the Metro in which there are three large diesel engines, driving generators, together with the associated alternators. The power station could also contribute power to the city network. It was run down from the 1950s and finally closed in 1976. Like the Chamberi station it was designed by Antonio Palacios.
Casa Museo Lope de Vega
The Lope de Vega House Museum, on Calle Cervantes, was built in the sixteenth century and purchased by the great writer of the Spanish Golden Age in 1610. He lived in it until he died, in 1635. In 1935, marking three hundred years since the death of Lope de Vega, the building was declared a monument and opened as a museum.
From Lope de Vega’s death to the nineteenth century, the house had a number of owners, who refurbished and renovated the building more than once. In fact, the original structure was no longer visible. When the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language bought the house in the 1930s, the building recovered the rooms that the famed writer used back in the seventeenth century. Currently, visitors can walk into the studio, the oratory he had built before he was ordained, and the back garden – ‘mi güertecillo,’ as Lope used to call it.
Some of the pieces of furniture and paintings in the house museum belonged to the writer. They were donated to a convent by one of Lope de Vega’s daughters. In addition, the house contains works of art, furniture, kitchenware and books on the former owner and his age.
The rooms and the theatre plays performed in the house in the summer recreate the spirit of Lope de Vega’s time and the ways of living in the Golden Age of Spanish art and literature.
Important: Although the garden and temporary exhibition can be visited without prior booking, the museum can only be seen on a 35-minute guided tour which must be booked in advance. It is conducted every half an hour in Spanish, English, Italian or French.
Museo del Prado
The Museo del Prado opened to the public on 19 November 1819 as a Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture. In 2019, we celebrated our Bicentenary, a commemoration that will reveal the path covered since 1819 until today. On this special occasion, we wanted to reflect on the future and the forthcoming challenges for this and the other great Museums of ancient painting: the need to attract social groups that traditionally are not attracted by the collections, to encourage gender and minority research studies or the challenges caused by overcrowding. Furthermore, for the following years the finalization of the Prado Campus is expected, adding the last building, the Hall of Realms, the old Buen Retiro Palace, an incorporation that will imply a rethinking of the current display of the collections. The activity plan for the bicentenary reinforces the usual programme of the Museo del Prado, insisting on the above mentioned aspects.
Cerro de Tío Pío
Located in the area of Puente de Vallecas, this park, known popularly as the ‘park of the seven boobs’ owing to the shape of its hills, is said to offer the best views of Madrid.
Spread over different heights and gradients, its vast swathes of grass and tree-lined walkways make this one of the most popular green areas in the south of the city, offering sporting equipment, a cycle path, a kiosk, and a viewing point in the higher area.
Presiding over the lookout point is the Illusory Ornamental Rectangle, an ornamental element created in line with the project by the architects, Manuel Paredes Grosso, José Manuel Palao and Julián Franco with the engineers, Arturo Soto and José Luis Orgaz, which was built between 1985 and 1987. The sculpture is the work of the sculptor from Cadiz, Enriquez de Salamanca.