Located in central Spain in the heart of the central Meseta plateau at about 650 meters above sea level, Madrid is the highest capital in Europe and occupies an area of about 610 sq km. Spring and autumn are the recommended periods to visit the famous city of Madrid for travel and holidays, when the climate is particularly pleasant. In winter the temperatures fluctuate between 2° degrees above zero and 10° degrees below freezing, while in summer the heat is suffocating and the temperatures exceed 30° Celsius.
The official language is Castilian and the currency currently in use is the Euro. To make telephone calls from Italy, dial the area code 0034, followed by the subscriber's nine-digit telephone number. Madrid is an open and hospitable city, with streets full of people and traffic. The historic center is a labyrinth of small harmonious streets, surrounded by beautiful palaces, parks, avenues and squares, indisputable signs of a modern city.
Madrid Barajas Airport is located 13 km northeast of the city and is an international airport, the connections of the Spanish capital with the main European cities and the major world centers are daily. Those arriving in Madrid by plane can easily reach the center by underground or by bus; in the case of the underground network it is sufficient to take line 8 to Mar de Cristal and then continue with line 4, if instead you use public road transport you get to the very central terminus of Plaza de Colon with bus 89.
Monuments and Museums
There are numerous museums and monuments to visit in Madrid, such as the Prado Museum, one of the main art galleries of the world, the old quarters around the Puerta del Sol where they were measured all distances of Spain, the Palacio Real, the Parque del Buen Retiro the most beautiful public park in the city and the Municipal Museum and others.
Madrid is also known for its intense nightlife in restaurants bars, discos and nightclubs. During the month of May the patron saint is celebrated with numerous demonstrations called "Fiestas de San Isidro".
To move around the city, we recommend using the Madrid Transport Consortium metro, which runs from 6:00 to 1:30, alternatively you can use the city buses, which run from 6:00 to 24:00: 00. For reasons of economy in transport in madrid, it is convenient to purchase a 10-journey pass valid for both for the metro and for buses, on sale at newsagents, tobacconists and in the EMT public transport kiosks. A network of 11 operational Metro lines run daily from 6am to 1.30am, they represent in Madrid the most comfortable and fastest way to move from one part of Madrid to another. The underground network reaches virtually everywhere and offers connections to around ten stations the urban railway network, Treno de Cercanias, which reaches the suburbs of the capital.
Madrid has three main railway stations, South Atocha in Glorieta Emperador Carlos V; to the north Chamartin in avenida Pio XII; to the west Principe Pio, in carretera de Castilla. The main hub for national and international departures and arrivals is considered to be the main bus station, called "Estacion del Sur", in calle Méndez Alvaro, tel. 0034 914684200 website www.estaciondebuses.com. All the companies that use it are present with at least one counter open for tourists.
Among the main tourist attractions to see in Madrid we mention,
The Palacio Real, the 2,000-room "giant" that in the eighteenth century King Philip IV commissioned some Italian architects to build on the site of the first "alcazar", the Arab fortress. Born as a royal residence, the Palace was such until the deposition of Alfonso XIII; in fact, his successor and current ruler Juan Carlos resides outside the city and the Palace is used only for official occasions. Among the places open to the public, the enormous Banquet Hall, the Porcelain Room with decorated walls and ceiling, the Throne Room with the royal seats and the Gasparini Rooms deserve a visit. Outside, admire the Plaza de l'Armeria which precedes the entrance to the Palace and where the changing of the guard takes place.
Adjacent to the Palace is the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Almudena, begun over a century ago and only consecrated in the 1990s; the church, which houses relics of San Isidro, was chosen by the heir to the Spanish crown for the 2004 "wedding event".
The Monastery of the Encarnacíon built in the seventeenth century as an Augustinian Convent at the behest of Philip III, the interior of the building, in Madrid Baroque style, includes a Hall of Relics, where the blood of San Pantaleo is found.
The Monastery of las Descalzas, founded by Joanna of Austria in the Palace that had seen her birth, welcomed among the nuns the women of the Royal House and of noble families who arrived here with the works of art they owned; at the moment the art collection amassed in the convent is truly remarkable.
The Prado Museum in Madrid, born as a Cabinet of Natural History, became an art gallery in 1819, inside the more than 100 rooms of this neoclassical building there have been since then authentic masterpieces of European painting.
Behind the museum is the Cason del Buen Retiro, which at the end of the renovation will resume its functions as an exhibition space to display part of the works still closed in the Prado warehouses.
The Thyssen Bornemisza Museum Inaugurated in the 1990s in the premises of the neoclassical Palacio di Villahermosa, it offers the public over 800 works, including paintings and sculptures, which belonged to the rich collection that the homonymous baron wanted to donate to the city. The rooms tell the story of Western art passing from the Italian Primitives to the German Renaissance, from Impressionism to Russian Constructivism to finish with Abstractionism and Pop Art.
The Museo Arquelogico Nacional located near the Puerta de Alcalà in Madrid, the museum is certainly the most complete at the national level; divided into almost forty rooms, it represents an ideal journey to discover the civilizations that have inhabited the Iberian peninsula.
The heritage of the Museo Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando is represented by canvases by great Spanish painters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - including Francisco Goya - paintings by Italians, Flemish and French. In the same building on Calle Alcalà, the Calcografia Nacional can be visited, with thousands of drawings and engravings.
Set up on the three floors of the prestigious residence of the Marquis of Cerralbo, the Cerralbo Museum in Madrid includes the rich and varied collection donated by the nobleman to the State; to see porcelain and tapestries, armor and antique furniture, as well as an interesting series of Spanish paintings.
Also worth seeing is the splendid Plaza Mayor which welcomes locals and tourists every day at the tables of the many cafés under its arcades and often offers free and festive performances by street artists. Indispensable destination for strolling in the city, the square also excites for the unique frescoes of the main building, the Casa de la Panadéria.
The ancient eastern entrance to the city, the Puerta del Sol is among the most significant places in Madrid Madrid, this represents the "zero kilometer" from which distances throughout the country are calculated and it is in this square that the emblem statue of the city, a bear biting into a "madroño" (strawberry tree) plant. The square, very busy in itself, becomes even more chaotic on the last day of the year; in fact, at the top of the "Casa del Correos" there is the most important clock in the city, the one that the people of Madrid follow with the 12 auspicious grapes for the first chimes of the new year.
Plaza de España is the lively starting point of the Gran Via, Madrid's busiest road artery, its perimeter is full of city symbols. In the center is the statue of one of the most famous Spaniards in world literature: it is Cervantes who precedes the protagonists of his saga, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. On either side, both over 100 meters tall, the España Building and the Madrid Tower stand out, architectural marvels from the 1950s.
As far as Madrid souvenirs are concerned, we remember the castanets, the fans and the colorful bullfighting posters that can be found in the many shops that crowd the streets around the Plaza Mayor and the Puerta del Sol, in the same area as well as in the rest of the city you can shop of all kinds in the department stores of the "El Corte Ingles" chain.
To save on museum admission, it is advisable to obtain some subscriptions with low-cost offers. The PASEO DEL ARTE subscription allows entry to the Prado, the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia at an advantageous price, while the MADRID CARD provides a series of discounts such as free entry to forty of the city's main museums and some theme parks ; free ticket for guided tours of Madrid, free use of the 'Madrid Vision' Tourist Bus, free Banabéu Tour. It can be valid for one, two or three days and can be purchased at the Tourist Information Offices - or at some travel agencies and also online on the official Madrid Card website. For information on hotels and related reservations, it is preferable to contact the Madrid Card Offices directly. Tourism of Madrid or on website Booking where you can also find low cost flights departing from Malpensa airport . To rent apartments, you can directly contact "Room Madrid" calle Conde Duque 7 tel. 0034 915480335. The campsites closest to the city can be found at http://hoteleshoy.paginasamarillas.es/. For travel and holidays, we also recommend consulting the websites www.madrid.org, and that of the City of Madrid www.munimadrid.es.
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