Faremax Top Logo
Faremax Side Logo

Madrid – Parties and Paintings

Madrid, Spain

Additional Research, Images

Madrid seems to be one of those love-it or loathe-it cities - it’s an artificial capital created on the whim of the Austrian kings who used to rule Spain. It has great museums, spacious boulevards and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. On the other hand is decidedly uncomfortable, and the architecture isn’t the greatest you’ll find in a European capital. You should visit Madrid for two basic reasons: art and fun.

Art in Madrid starts with the Golden Triangle – three superb museums within strolling distance of once another, linked by the leafy Paseo del Prado. The Museum del Prado contains a horde of Spanish masterpieces, a large collection of renaissance Flemish paintings a some of the big names in Italian art. Check out the El Grecos, and join the throngs of locals round the works of Velazquez. This is the largest collection of his works, containing most of his most famous pieces. Decide if his brilliant use of color and light and the moving dignity that he gives his subjects can convince you of his claim to be Spain’s greatest artist. The Goya collection is also a must-see. Goya was a court painter, but the portraits of his patrons are so unflattering it’s a miracle he held down the job. The Pinturas Negras (‘black paintings’) are another real treasure trove – images of dark fantasy and terror that contrast starkly with Goya’s earlier, sunnier works. Seek out the Executions on Principe Pio Hill, which depicts the impassioned faces of Spanish faces trapped in a lantern’s glare facing a grim-faced, almost robotic French firing squad – this is haunting and creepy stuff. See this, and then head over to see Picasso’s Guernica.

This is the place to come if you’re a fan of modern art. There’s more Picasso, portraits and sculpture by Miro and room devoted to the weird and surreal art of Salvador Dali. You can even view some of the films that the mustachio’d maestro of the weird made with Spanish director Buñuel.

The new kid on the block as far as art galleries is concerned is the Museo de Arte Thyssen-Bornemisza, a brilliant collection of European and American art spanning eight centuries – come here from Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism and some Pop Art by the likes of New Yorker Andy Warhol.

Rest your eyes after your adventures in art in the Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid’s greatest park. Renting canoes or paddle boats on the central lagoon is a favorite pastime of city dwellers.

If it’s still too early for tapas, you might like to stroll around glamorous Salamanca, Madrid’s trendiest district. Serious dressers need to know about the Calle de Serrano. This is by far and away the coolest street in town – you’d better look pretty hot if you’re going to join the trendy shoppers in this exclusive quarter. Should Salamanca prove just a little too intimidating for you head to Madrid’s best-known flea market, El Rastro, where you can pick up antiques, jewelry, bags and a wide range of fashions. Household goods and other bric a brac are also readily available. Market shoppers take note, Madrilenos do queue – they just don’t stand in line to do it. When you join the throng round the stall you have to work out your place in the order!

Bullfighting still defines this nation – is it brutal, or is it beautiful? Make up your mind at the Ventas bullring, but bear in mind that unless you’re seeing a Matador with a good reputation the whole show can be rather an anti-climax. For an alternative take on Spanish culture, take in some flamenco at a dinner theater or cabaret show. There’s no point in being a purist about this – it’s not just a tourist attraction, and you’ll find plenty of locals enjoying the show too.

Madrid is definitely a city that knows how to party: there’s one bar for every ninety-six inhabitants. You might be surprised how late Madrilenos stay out – having had their lunch in the mid afternoon they’ll head to a café or tavern after work for a light snack (‘tapas’) then move on to bars and restaurants for their evening meal as the night progresses. When you realize that the dancing doesn’t get going until one in the morning you’ll understand why they don’t eat until nearly midnight! Most bars play a wide range of music and few – apart from in snobbish Salamanca – have a dress code, so settle on an area and wander from bar to bar until you’re too tired to walk any more! End your revelries with a hot chocolate and donuts before taking your sore feet to bed.

Madrilenos claim that their home town stays up later than any other European city, so if you can take the pace you can do high culture during the day and wild partying at night!

© 2001-2012 Faremax, Inc.  All rights reserved.
faremax.com and its contents are trademarks and/or service marks of Faremax, Inc.
Use of this Website constitutes acceptance of the User Agreement and Privacy Policy