By Colleen Campanella
Ah, Madrid the birth of TAPAS. Tapas ~ small Spanish savory dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar. You cannot go to Madrid without sampling Tapas. Spanish cuisine is where Madrid’s reputation for culinary excellence is most accessible.
My accommodations for my short 3 night stay were at the Hotel Ritz. Located in the heart of Madrid’s ‘Golden Triangle’. The hotel is within walking distance of the city’s major cultural, business, shopping and dining venues. The hotel not only caters to royalty but also has a number of amenities for their younger guest. Children’s bathrobes and toiletries, Cartoon DVD library, PlayStation, Cribs, bottle warmers and changing mats as well Babysitting on request. Make sure you have the Hotel Ritz signature cocktail the DalíTini. Named after Salvador Dali, he tasted his first-ever cocktail here in 1926.
This beautiful city and I mean clean and beautiful has a number of venues for all ages. I would recommend first signing up for a city tour. This is the best way to cover a lot of ground and map out your days.
Calle Mayor and Plaza Mayor, the oldest section of the city packed with the most historical attractions. Plaza Mayor was originally utilized as an outdoor produce market in the Middle Ages. It has also catered bullfights, and royal ceremonies.
Next on the list of top attractions is the Palacio Real or Royal Palace, it is the largest and certainly one of the most impressive palaces in Europe. It has more than 2000 luxuriously decorated rooms, 50 of which can be visited. It is located on the eastside of Madrid's historic center, within walking distance of the Plaza de España.
If shopping is on your list while in Madrid make sure you visit Gran Via. The lively street is one of the city's most important shopping areas. You can also find hotels and movie theatres in this beautiful area.
Soon after King Philips II made Madrid the capital of Spain he insisted on building a Cathedral for his people. The Cathedral de la Almudena, took more than 100 years to complete. It was finally consecrated by Pope John-Paul II in 1993.
Madrid is known as the city of museums and I was only able to visit two of them. The first was the Thyseen-Bornemisza. The collection was started in the 1920s by Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. The collection is considered to be one of the most important private collections in the world. The Museum contains mostly paintings, but there are also some sculptures and decorative objects.
Charles III of Spain, believed that Madrid should boast the same amenities as Europe's other fine capitals. So, he went about building wonderful museums and other attractions, attempting to make this Castilian town equal to cities like Rome, Paris, and London. The Prado Museum was one of those attractions. The Prado Museum is one of the most-visited attractions in Madrid. The Prado houses the world's finest collection of Spanish art.
You cannot leave Madrid without taking in Corral de la Morería flamenco show. It's located in the center of Madrid - next to the Royal Palace, in the main historic quarters of the city. Considered as the "Cathedral of flamenco art" of Spain, this establishment is frequently visited by well-known celebrities visiting Madrid, therefore don't be surprised should you find yourself seated by the King of Spain, Government Presidents or famous international artists.
TAPAS ~ “Don’t mind if I do” I ventured into several local eateries. Casa Lucas, is known for their high quality Tapas and wines from all around Spain. Bodega de la Ardosa , more than 110 years old and oozes local tradition. Botin Restaurant, according to the Guinness Book of Records is the oldest restaurant in the world, dating from 1725. Hemingway was a frequent visitor and pronounced it one of his favorite restaurants.