I must admit that for as tall as I am, today I felt incredibly small. This temple gives you an overwhelming sensation, one of insignificance in front of such a great masterpiece. This afternoon, we decided to enter after putting the visit off for 3 years since we noticed a few days ago that the constructions has progressed incredibly fast.
Entering this place is like crossing the frontier between real life and dreams. The combination of natural light from the windows and the artificial light of the lamps is impossible to describe. The shapes imitating nature, mother nature, the splendor of the land, incredible hidden symbolism. To be honest, impressive, unique, divine, timeless, are not enough to describe the reality of La Sagrada Familia. The best gift we can give is to keep silent, the building leaves us completely flabbergasted. You'll have a stiff next the next day, for all the time you spent looking up. This place ennobles us as human beings, a fine example the wonderful things we can build, and without God's help ;).
And suddenly, Haendel's Mesias invades the place. Really, it sent me shivers down my spine! No, I'm not going to talk about my all-time favorite Gaudí, nor about his work, I won't even give historical or architectural facts. My best advice: come, visit the Sagrada Familia and let the light, the magnificence, the warmth, the solemnity of the place invade you.
Warning: the entrance fee is 12€, not 8€ as I had seen in the information (but it's worth it).
: No matter where I travel, visiting the local parks is always one of my favorite activities. It’s in those places where you can discover the natural beauty and personality of the city and its people. My visit to Retiro Park was in the autumn so the weather was great. The park is located in the heart of the capital, only steps away from the famous Puerta de Alcalá, and is where thousands of locals and tourists go to relax. The immense park measures 118 hectares and traces its origins back to King Henry IV around the year 1640. As you stroll around the walkways, you’ll find gorgeous gardens, fountains, and monuments. You can admire the impressive King Alfonso XII monument across from the paddle-boat-filled lake. Snapping a few quick photos of the trees, ducks, and fountains will let you take home a little reminder of this legendary park in the Spanish capital. This is one place you absolutely cannot miss!
The Gran Vía of Madrid is definitely a must-see in the capital city of Spain. Until recently, Madrid was not a city of very high buildings or skyscrapers. Lately, this has been changing in the area of Paseo de la Castellana and Plaza de Castilla, but just recently, the highest buildings were on Gran Vía. And they have history. And a great beauty.
Walking on Gran Vía means looking up and down constantly. Because of the buildings and because of the people, and because of everything all around you. One can say Gran Vía is to Madrid what The West End is to London. Full of cinemas, theaters, people. Go for a walk on Gran Vía.
The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian royal temple in Madrid. It is over 2000 years old and is made of blocks of stone removed from Egypt. When, in the mid-20th century, the Egyptian government decided to build the Aswan Dam, they made an appeal to UNESCO to give this temple back to them, as otherwise they would sink into the waters of the Nile. Spain was one of the countries that responded to the call and in 1961 the temple was dismantled but not it wouldn't reach Madrid until 1970. When it was at its best, in addition to the main chapel (dedicated to the goddess Isis), it had two walls that surrounded it but currently only the pillars at the doors survive. Today it has become a symbol of the Spanish capital and is a magical place to watch sunsets. A visit is a must and if possible go inside so you can learn about its nature, use and history.
History radiates from all the corners of this market right in the old part of Madrid and at the same time it offers the most interesting innovations in terms of culinary art.
The walls made of glass invite the passersby to take part in what happens inside, encouraging them to go in and find out about a world of flavors and smells one cannot forget.
And it is not only that you can buy things and cook them at home, but you can also have tapas in different places, they have various types of food. You can eat directly at the counter or in the area made for this purpose.
Every corner of the market has a specialty: seafood, cold meat, croquettes, bread, candies, wine, etc. On the cod fish stand you can have different types of it for 1€ each snack, you get it on a small tray, and then you should go and get a drink to enjoy even more.
You can also have an oyster, a little bit of caviar, cheese, ham, gazpacho, shrimp, and many other delicious delicacies. Although some of them are quite expensive, most of the pinchos cost like 1,50€ or 2€. And don't think you will have to skip dessert: a stand of chocolate or cakes served in portions will leave you flabbergasted without knowing which one to choose.
Another interesting element is the opening hours, from Thursday to Saturday they open between 10 am and 2 am without interruption, so that at approximately 8 pm it starts getting busy, not only with locals but also with travelers from all over the world, coming to this market to give their palate a real "feast of flavors".
Puerta del Sol is one of the most emblematic places in Madrid. Because it is the historical center of the city and of the country, since it is indeed the "kilometer 0" of all national roads in Spain, and because it is a place with history, past and present.
It is one of the common meeting points for young people in Madrid, it is one of the best located places when you have to go shopping in the center and it is also known for the very famous New Year's Eve celebrations. Puerta del Sol is a must-see for all visitors of Madrid, despite the hustle and bustle, I highly recommend it.
In the last years, the authorities have tried, with relative success, to clear the area limiting traffic to most vehicles. From "Sol", as it is commonly known among the people of Madrid, it is easy to start a walking route in the old part of town: Preciados, Arenal, Carmen, Mayor, just next to Gran Vía, the Barrio de las Letras, Paseo de la Catellana, Plaza de las Cortes...
Güell Park is a great garden with grand architectural elements located in Barcelona. It was designed by Antonio Gaudí, an important Catalan architect and one of the greatest exponents of modernism. Along the whole park, Gaudí's style is displayed. Everywhere you find incredible color mosaics or columns of incredible shapes, all perfectly in line with the gardens around.
Walking in the park is really incredible, and it is a great place to have the perfect panoramic view of Barcelona. The only drawback is that to get there I recommend taking a taxi, because the walk there is quite harsh due to the steep hills.
There isn't much I can add to all that has been said about this magnum opus of Muslim rule in Spain. It's one of those places that you just have to visit at least once in your lifetime. I've been lucky enough to visit it three times and I'm still waiting to go back for a fourth and snap some more photos. I tried going last August, but it's almost impossible to go in the high season if you don't reserve tickets well ahead of time. And anyways, the summertime heat and groups of tourists make me prefer to visit in the spring or fall.
The Plaza Mayor of Madrid might be the most emblematic place in the capital, justifiably. Most of the old Spanish cities have a Plaza Mayor, but the one in Madrid is especially beautiful. Dominated by an equestrian statue and the hundreds of tourists accumulating next to it, the colors, the beauty and the constant movement year after year, give a special value to the square.It is the ideal place to go have tapas or a beer, as well as one of the traditional "bocadillos de calamares" (fried octopus sandwich). I highly recommend this place that you can't miss out on if you visit Madrid.
Heading around the corner from Mayor Street toward Bailén Street and walking in the direction of Plaza de Espana, we pass the Almudena Cathedral on our left. Further ahead is the Royal Palace of Madrid, also known as the Palacio de Oriente. To the right are the Palace are its gardens and the statue of Felipe IV.
I sincerely believe this to be one of the most beautiful buildings here in Spain, as well as the most beautiful palace in all of Europe, and possibly the world! Here’s a little information from the 16th century. The Muslim kings from Toledo built a defensive fortress that was later occupied by the Christian kings until the 16th century, when they constructed a palace. The Spanish monarchs lived there until the 18th century when, on Christmas Eve of 1734, it was destroyed by a fire.
Felipe V ordered Filippo Juvara to construct the Royal Palace of Madrid that currently stands over the ruins of the previously destroyed palace. The construction was continued by Juan Bautista Sachetti and later finished by Francesco Sabatini. For 17 years Carlos III was the palace’s first occupant. Its interior decoration is magnificent. It emphasizes the most famous artists of its age: Tiepolo, Mengs, Bayeu, Maella, etc. The gardens will move you. To the west is the Campo del Moro (Moorish Gardens), to the north the Sabatini gardens, to the east the plaza del Cabo Noval, the Plaza de Oriente and the massively impressive Lepanto gardens, the stately trademark of the Palace. The palace’s interior is majestic, but it’s the Salon del Trono (Throne Chamber) and the Royals Arms Collection that truly stand out.
Leaving the palace and crossing the plaza de Oriente you’ll find the Teatro Royal (Royal Theater) right in front of you. To the left is the Real Monasterio de la Encarnacion (Royal Monastery). If you continue forward towards Bola Street, you’ll find a tavern with the same name, Taberna La Bola. They have a good cocido (Madrilenian stew) and a great atmosphere. It’s been there serving food since 1870.
The current Mercado de la Boquería has lived through many phases. We will hereby try to give a faithful description of the facts. The initial origin of this market is not very clear. What we know for sure is that it started as an itinerant market, located in the Rambla de Barcelona, ideal place of the commercialization of goods. It was not the first time it was used as such for there had been some stands of meat and other goods since the beginning of the 12th century.
La Rambla gained more importance as a walk; the Market was not convenient and many times they tried to take it off. Remembering that villages and cities in Catalunya have been founded around the markets, we found that it was originally an open air one in front of one of the gates of the old wall (Pla de la Boqueria), where the peddlers and peasants of other villages and farms would settle in order to sell their products.
Currently it is of great importance in the culture of Barcelona. It is a meeting point with the goods from other countries like fish, meat, fruit or vegetables... for its cuisine which gives a great mix of gastronomical cultures. One easily gets to eat a lot inside the market during the stops and in the bars. You can't miss it.
This beach is located in Dehesa, a little town that is part of Ribadeo and 12 km from the city.
It is a spectacular beach when the tide is low. You can enjoy a wonderful walk between the arches that the sea has created through time.
You can also find multiple caves that are quite deep. It is one of the clearest examples I have seen of the power of nature, when you are there you feel insignificant.
Even if the tide is high, you can have a walk on the edge of the cliff or have a beer with fantastic views from the restaurant Las Catedrales. The prices are high, but it is worth it.
The beach has two spacious parking lots, but it is complicated to find a spot on the summertime. If you decide to have a picnic, there is an area with tables and benches.
If you like camping, it also has a few campings with different characteristics so that you can enjoy nature at its fullest.
It is a place worth visiting. It is a lesson that teaches how nature always beats humans, creating gothic arches even before man discovered them.
I have to admit that my relationship with the Guggenheim was love at first sight. When I saw it on TV I thought it was too modern, too unreal, too…I always found something wrong with it, but now I can only say that it is an authentic architectural marvel that has adapted to the city of Bilbao in a harmonious and perfect way.
If you are lucky enough to visit it on a day when the sun and clouds constantly change the color of the scales, you can feel really privileged. And, of course, don’t forget to see the beautiful puppy guarding the entrance. You couldn’t ask for more.
Bilbao definitely deserves a visit, and not only because of this impressive museum.
The futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava is made up of the Palace of Arts, the Hemeisferic, the Oceanographic, and the Museum of Sciences, each loacted in incredible buildings.
The Palace of Arts: an impressive building houses the main hall, an auditorium, the Martin Theater, and the the Soler. The palace was created with the purpose of recognizing, supporting, and promoting music and performing arts.
The Hemisferic: Because of it’s peculiar design, it’s known as the “eye of wisdom”. Inside there’s a planetarium, and Imax theater, and the laser theater, all created to surprise visitors with fantastic displays of new technology.
The Oceanographic: considered to be the best aquarium in all of Europe, the Fun, Learning and Investigation Park, contains 45,000 specimens of over 500 different marine species. It’s divided into 10 different areas. The marine sections reflect various habitats, including: Mediterranean, Arctic, Antarctic, tropical seas, islands, and the Red Sea.
The Museum of Sciences: impressive both on the inside and out. The imposing building looks like a dinosaur skeleton. It’s a spectacular learning center for the public, displaying recent scientific and technological discoveries.
Visiting Las Ramblas seems very common and unoriginal but, for many travelers, it is and always will be a wonderful walk. Even after many times, we keep being as fascinated as the first time we saw it.
Personally I got to know Barcelona and the Ramblas in 1976. At the time, Spain was Spain and Catalunya was less Catalunya than nowadays. To be honest, as foreigners visiting Barcelona, it is a little bit hard to understand you visit a place with a double personality. Today Barcelona is the heart of Europe, the favorite place for young people who come to live a cosmopolitan experience in an old and noble city.
This time I arrived in Barcelona by boat and I was amazed at the new building of the harbor, with hundreds of thousands visitors a year. I must say every time I visit the city it is more beautiful and has a better atmosphere for tourists. Yes, it's true it lost a little bit of this typical spirit you could only feel in Las Ramblas. Everything was unique, you could only see certain things there: the traditional people, the flowers, the painters and artists showing their work, the stands with fruits or other goods form the region, and, of course, the tourists throughly enjoying Spain.
Now it is more of an international, open-minded, diverse, original, alternative and funny atmosphere. You can bump into the famous human statues (mimes) representing the creative magic of the young, or groups of support or protests against cause X; art, culture, shops, food; today being a foreigner is the common factor share by most of the passers-by 24 hours a day.
Let me tell you about my experience taking a tour of the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. It is, without a doubt, one of the best stadiums in the world.
The views from the highest seats, as you can see in the photos, are excellent. The tour begins exactly there, above everything, where you can take some panoramic photos before heading down to the museum. There, you get audioguides that explain the history of the Real Madrid team from its founding to the present day. You can see the original shirts, the membership cards of celebrities, and an interminable collection of trophies. Among these, of course, you’ll find the Champions League trophies, which have a special multimedia presentation.
After, we continued our descent down the bleachers until we finally arrived at the field and the benches, both of which make a great photo opportunity. Later, we headed up the tunnel where the players come out and entered into the locker room. Afterwards, we headed to the press room, where you can get a photo like one of the players you see on TV. Finally, we arrived at the stadium’s shop where you can get everything from official Real Madrid suits to golf balls emblazoned with the RM logo. If you’re a Real Madrid fan, don’t forget to bring a lot of cash because I’m sure you’ll want to get a souvenir and it isn’t cheap.
The entry costs five euros. The nighttime photo that you can see is the view from the stadium’s bar that we visited at night. The bar has a five euro cover and it isn’t cheap once you’re inside. But, if you’re a die-hard fan, it’s a good place to have a drink and enjoy the views of the stadium.
To go inside the Cathedral-Mosque of Córdoba is to go inside another world, where you can see the remains of different cathedrals and of different time periods in the floors, structures and walls, as well as in the relics.
This church, “Mother of the Diocese”, like it is called, is not just a symbol for the believers but it is also a millenary witness of a passionate and captivating history. From the first Islamic influence inspired in the Mosque of Damascus, combined with Roman-Hispanic art and the superimposed arches alternating with bricks and red stones, along with the enlargement of the naves of the oratory, or with the materials used by Byzantine artists with beautiful mosaics for the construction of the “mihrab” (sacred space where the imam conducts prayer), and the Christian contribution of the floor with a Latin cross structure or the eight naves that vary in colors.
The current tower covers the minaret crowed by a statue of St. Raphael, Guardian Archangel of the city. This tower has the Puerta del Perdón (Forgiveness Door), which is the main entrance to the place.
The first mass that was celebrated after the Christians took back the space was conducted by the King Ferdinand the 3rd in 1236, and they build the Main Chapel of Villaviciosa, which marked the beginning of the Christian cult that was interrupted with the Islamic domination.
The choir is covered with a vault inspired from the Sistine Chapel. The beautiful side chapel, the infinite number of paintings, images, chapels and altars are impossible to describe.
El Parque del Capricho (Capricho Park) is located in the Alamedia de Osuna neighborhood, in the Northwest of Madrid, right next to Juan Carlos I park. It’s the most unknown of all Madrid’s parks, despite being the only Romantic garden in Madrid.
It’s a very beautiful and remote park, which explains its limited visiting hours, which are reduced to weekends and holidays. It is prohibited to enter the park with food, drink, pets, bicycles, etc. (park entrance is controlled by turnstiles).
It’s an absolute delight to visit this park, as it’s so isolated, pure and gorgeous. The plant life is abundant and is perfectly maintained, thanks to the army of gardeners that work there. Among the many exemplary attractions, my favorites are the trees of love, whose leaves form a heart.
The best time of the year to visit the park is in the spring, when the lilacs are in full bloom. Although, the fall also offers spectacular scenery, especially if it’s a shady, damp day where you can really smell the outdoors.
The Capricho Park houses many neat and interesting places to discover, such as: a labyrinth, flower beds, beautiful buildings like the Palace, the Casino de Baile (Dance Casino), a lake with swans, ducks, and a small wharf that connects the canal running throughout the park to the Casino de Baile. Each path offers something new and breathtaking to see.
What are my favorite places in the park? The Plaza de los Emperadores (Emperors Square) and the hermit’s dwelling, where a hermit used to live under contract of the Duchess of Osuna.
Stunning, remarkable views in a place worth spending countless hours while in Madrid.