Madrid is one of those places that, although it sounds like a stereotype, you fall in love with at first glance. Anywhere in the region we find not only an unparalleled cultural, gastronomic and leisure offer in general. Likewise, the people of Madrid stand out for its welcoming character and makes everyone who has the good luck to visit this land feel as if they were at home.
Its multicultural character; the monumental and scenic beauty; the orographic contrast, or the privileged climate, are some of the many virtues that turn the Community of Madrid into that place that leaves a permanent memory and from which saying goodbye, even if you know you are going to come back, is a bad pill to swallow.
Madrid, the beating heart of an entire country
To talk about Madrid is, of course, to talk about its capital, which is also the capital of Spain. Located in the geographic center of the Iberian Peninsula, its privileged position has served to be, for centuries, an inescapable crossroads that has forged the open spirit that it preserves today.
In this large metropolis we can find an Arab wall from the ninth century and, a few meters away, some of the most modern and sustainable buildings in Europe. A mixture of tradition and innovation that few other cities in the world are able to combine. Strolling through each of its streets means discovering, at every step, a sample of architectural and social styles that coexist in perfect harmony.
A classic part, ‘castiza’, represented by the historic center, with impressive samples of the most rooted currents in the old continent, where highlighting one would be unfair to the others. Because it makes no sense to compare the Royal Palace, the largest in Western Europe, with the Plaza Mayor. The best thing to do is to enjoy both.
Culture, an intrinsic part of the region
Throughout the entire territory of the Community there are many points of historical and cultural interest. Including, of course, those that are World Heritage Sites, such as the Monastery of El Escorial. An overwhelming work of more than thirty thousand square meters built during the reign of Felipe II and that serves as a palpable summary of one of the most flourishing periods of Spanish culture, the so-called ‘Siglo de Oro’.
Furthermore, returning to the city, we find some of the most important museums and art galleries in the world. The Prado, the Reina Sofia, the Thyssen-Bornemisza… contain priceless collections of paintings and sculptures, which can be admired by anyone who wants to get lost in its endless corridors.
Once again, in this case, we have to leave some things out and «forget» indescribable places like the Royal Site of Aranjuez, the Almudena Cathedral or any of the theaters that enrich the localities of Madrid. And the fact is that, never better said, a book could be written about the culture that this region treasures.
A natural oasis
But all this wealth, which obviously needs the human hand, is not at odds with the enormous natural footprint preserved in the Community of Madrid. In the blink of an eye we go from «urban chaos» to the freshest air imaginable, with unique ecosystems carefully preserved to last over time and survive for generations.
Just take a walk through the trails, forests and peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama and realize all this. There we are transported to the depths of nature while observing, through a clearing, the skyline of the capital city in the distance. An unforgettable sensation, the same that we undoubtedly experienced in the Hayed de Montejo forest, also a World Heritage Site, where a capricious microclimate has managed to create one of the very few examples of Central European deciduous vegetation outside these confines.
But this «oasis», as we have defined it, is not exclusive to the high mountains. We can also find it at the foot of the most dense neighborhoods. The Casa de Campo or El Retiro Park are authentic green lungs that live «door to door» with their concrete neighbors. There is no need to travel long distances to sit and enjoy the murmur of the Manzanares as it passes through Madrid Río or to shelter from the summer sun under a leafy pine forest… which has a subway station next door.
Madrid is about enjoying life
Embarking on a trip necessarily involves squeezing the most out of every minute spent away from home. But in Madrid you will have to squeeze literally every second if you want to get the most out of it.
In the Community of Madrid there are more than thirty thousand bars and restaurants where you can taste and drink all the culinary essence of a region. Currently, there are 22 restaurants that proudly boast the Michelin star. These are places full of history, some with hundreds of years of history, where sitting at the table becomes an experience for the senses and taverns that overflow with life where «throwing a beer» is elevated to the category of art.
It is also true that you have to have a full stomach to go through the more than one hundred shopping centers scattered throughout Madrid. Some of them with a ski slope included, such as Xanadú, and others that marked a before and after in the construction of this type of commercial premises, such as La Vaguada. It is one of the first ones conceived at European level as a multi-service meeting point and is designed by one of the most prestigious architects in Spain, the Canary Islander César Manrique.
Likewise, even if we are not football fans, we should not miss a visit to one of the sports venues that have transcended the use for which they were conceived and become another landmark on the city’s tourist maps. We are talking, of course, about the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, home of the soccer club with the most titles in the world, whose museum receives close to one million visitors every year and which, with its remodeling, will become one of the most modern complexes of its kind in the world. A facelift that will mark the definitive commitment to diversification, incorporating, among other elements, a restaurant by chef Martín Berasategui, with 12 Michelin stars.
Therefore, there are hundreds of arguments to visit Madrid, and thousands of reasons to return. We, as it could not be otherwise, we recommend you discover them for yourselves.
Main Image: Beatriz Durán Balda