Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 209 - A Walk Around Madrid

Took the first full day in Madrid just walking around to get a bearing on the city layout. The hostel receptionist told me that most of the sights are walking distance around the city center, so I made my way around the western side of the city.

I first stopped at the arcaded Plaza Mayor, which was built in the 17th century. In the center was a statue of Felipe III (I have no idea who he is...) There was a Christmas crafts village in the middle of the plaza where vendors sold random festive ornaments. I can't even believe that Christmas is less than 10 days away. I have looked over so many holidays while traveling since dates are less important when I don't have specific things to do each day.

Afterwards, I headed to the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Almudena (what a mouthful), which was one of the more modern churches I've visited. I particularly liked the stained art pieces, where sort of had an art nouveau style to them. My lonely planet guide says the city isn't too fond of this church compared to others in the city, but I think it's definitely worth a visit. Next to the church was the Palacio Real, which was Madrid's 18th century Royal Palace. I took pictures outside the gates, but you had to pay to get inside.

The weather was windy and chilly by the afternoon, definitely a lot colder than last night. It reminded me of the cold last days in Prague. I stopped by the Jardines de Sabatini, which are gardens close to the Royal Palace, before heading to the Templo de Debod, which was an Egyptian Temple that was transported to Spain. It was a gift from Egypt because of Spain's help in protecting the country's monuments from rising waters from the Aswan Dam. Each brick was transported from Egypt and made its way to Madrid!

The last stop for the day was the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida, which was a little farther away from the city center than the other sites. In the chapel lies the grave of Francisco Goya and contains some of the art he painted on the walls and dome. Pictures weren't allowed, but I snapped a quick one when no one was in the room.

That's it for sightseeing for the day. I spent the rest of the night browsing the shops in Madrid. The prices were surprisingly cheap for Euro and European standards. I might just have to get a thing or two, maybe for NYE...

Catedral de la Almudena

Royal Palace

Francisco Goya's Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida

 Templo de Debod

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