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Tips For A City Break In Madrid - Spain's Enchanting Capital

Mar 29, 2008
If you're looking for a culturally rich, luxury holiday in Spain but you don't have much time to spare, a city break in Madrid could be just the right kind of holiday. The Spanish capital is compact and easy to navigate on foot, so you won't waste precious time getting from place to place, and yet you'll be able to see some of the most prestigious museums and galleries in the world.

If you want to avoid steaming hot summers and bitterly cold winters then spring is the best time to explore the squares and alleyways on a weekend break in Madrid. Here are some of the best places to visit on your luxury holiday in Spain's capital city.

The Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle is an essential district to visit on any city break in Madrid. Holiday makers with an interest in art and culture will want to tackle the major museums here - the Prado, the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia.

One of the chief attractions on a Spanish holiday, the Prado is best known for its religious paintings and regal portraits by Goya, El Greco and Velázquez, as well as works by Hieronymus Bosch, Titian and Rubens.

The Thyssen has a variety of Western art and one of the largest private collections in the world, and the Reina Sofia is Spain's national gallery of modern art, devoted to 20th century Spanish art, with works by Miro, Dali and Picasso.

Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor is an elegant arcaded square where the greatest festivals and ceremonies of imperial Madrid were held, as well as bullfights and carnivals. These days the bullfights have shifted elsewhere and the square has become a great place to relax on a luxury holiday in Spain.

Madrid's holiday makers enjoy spending their time milling around Plaza Mayor's traditional shops, drinking coffee at the cafés on its delightful pavement terraces. There are market stalls on Sundays as well as lively dance bands during fiestas, which might coincide with your weekend break in Madrid.

Sol & Gran Vía

Sol is the most photographed square in Madrid. Holiday makers usually recognise its well-known bear and strawberry tree statue, and Avenue C/Alcala, near to the square, has some wonderful buildings and was once described as the 'grandest street in Europe'.

Huertas & Santa Ana

In the theatre district of Huertas & Santa Ana, Madrid's literary tradition lives on in cafés such as El Salón del Prado, an ideal place to stop off for a coffee on your city break. Madrid's resident author of the famous 'Don Quixote', Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, lived and was buried nearby.

Salamanca

Salamanca was where the richest families built their houses and palaces during the 19th and 20th centuries in Madrid. Holiday makers can visit the Museo de Esculturas al Aire Libre, an outdoor sculpture garden, with works by Joan Miró and Eduardo Chillida.

The Retiro

The Retiro is the place to promenade and on Sundays there are vendors hawking everything from wafers to etchings, tarot readers, football and elderly men playing a Spanish ball game called 'petanca'. Below the Prado is the botanical garden, 'Jardín Botánico', great for a wander on your Spanish holiday.

Plaza de Toros

The Plaza de Toros is Spain's largest bullring, where regular bullfights are still held. Sports fanatics who fancy something a little less bloodthirsty for their weekend break in Madrid can head there to watch Real Madrid or Atletico de Madrid, Spain's most famous football teams.
About the Author
Kieron Sellens is the marketing manager of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AiTO). For autumn 2008, AiTO are offering a selection of unique luxury holidays in Spain.
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