Saturday, 27 September 2014

3 days in Madrid - Galleries, Museums & Palaces

Hello my lovely, lovely followers :)

To start off, I just want to say I am SO sorry for the huge break I’ve taken from blogging. My life has been a little, for lack of better words, “bat shit crazy“ lately.

For those of you who don’t know, I have moved to London. It was a difficult decision to leave Spain and my adored host family, but I had another au pairing opportunity here in London that was simply too good to resist.
So here I am, and I absolutely love it! Anyway, more to come on that subject another day.

My fantastic travel companions/star-crossed lovers ;)
In between leaving Granada and arriving in London, I had a short three-day holiday in Madrid with my mum and her partner, Chris.
Madrid is an incredible city full of art, style and beautiful architecture. I didn’t know much about the city - other than that it is the capital of Spain - before I went so I was in for a treat! I think it’s always best to not expect much when visiting a new place – that way you’re pleasantly surprised (most of the time).

This post will be about sights and art galleries we went to. There will be another post coming soon focusing on the foodie side of things :)

 Mum and Chris' crazy aquarium-themed hotel room.
Ummm this happened.. I present: the shower cave.
 The "vertical garden" at our hotel.
Rooftop pool-turned-bar at our hotel with the best mojitos.
The hotel we stayed in was called Mercure Santo Domingo. It was a great, super-central location that had a lovely rooftop swimming pool/bar and vertical garden. I stayed in a standard room by myself, while mum and Chris had this hilariously tacky themed “corner” room. Apparently each corner room (one on each floor) had a different theme – theirs was aquarium themed. As you can see in the pictures above, they certainly took the décor seriously. It was even complete with some lights that shone onto the wall, making patterns that looked like you were underwater!

 The council chambers at night.

On our first evening in Madrid, we went on a 45-minute bus tour of the city. I would highly recommend this in ANY new city, as it gives you an opportunity to get orientated quickly, as well as a really good idea of what there is to see and do.

 The Prado museum from the outside.
 Two of my favourite paintings in the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum.
 A church near the Prado museum.
Sculpture outside the Reina Sofía museum.
We spent a fair bit of our time in Madrid looking at art in three different galleries, Prado Museum (Museo del Prado), the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza), and the Reina Sofía museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía). These house some of the most incredible, world-renowned paintings. My favourite examples of these were “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch in the Prado museum, “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening” by Salvador Dali in the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum and “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso.

 Me and mum outside the Royal Palace.
 Inside the Royal Palace.
On our last day, we visited the Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid), whose construction began all the way back in 1738. It is the official residence of the Spanish royal family in Madrid, but is now only used for state ceremonies. I found it very interesting as you can walk through many of the rooms, which are made to look they would have been when they were being used for living. The collections of gold, silver, Stradivarius string instruments and works of art are really quite breathtaking – a definite must-see if you’re in Madrid!

 The cathedral from the outside.
 The "Neo-Gothic" decor was gorgeous.
Pop-art style glass windows made the cathedral very unique and funky.
Almudena Cathedral (Santa María la Real de La Almudena) is Madrid’s stunning Catholic cathedral dating back to 1561, located right beside the Royal Palace. Personally, it is one of my all time favourite cathedrals/churches I have been into. The vibrant colours of the “Neo-Gothic” décor breathe energy and life into this historic building. The stained glass windows incorporate a “pop-art” feeling, completely contrasting to the outside of the cathedral.

Too many picturesque buildings to count.
Some opera singers busking on our first evening.

I think the best times you can have in a foreign city is when you just explore, without maps or plans. That way, you really get to experience the city for all it is, rather than having your head down focusing on a map, not really seeing the beauty it offers.

As I mentioned earlier, we did a lot of eating/drinking (as you do on all good holidays!), so I will be posting a separate blog post later this week on that.

Gran Vía, one of Madrid's busiest streets.
Thanks so much for reading,

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