The city with an ebullient spirit, Madrid has a reputation of being a hedonistic paradise for party mongers and fun loving tourists! The city never really sleeps, despite what anyone tells you. Full of joie de vivre, the open and cosmopolitan city with over five million Madrile?os, is a great place to visit, if only to feast on the rich culture and traditions, vibrant history and the numerous gastronomic delights on offer.
The first impression of Madrid leaves an everlasting imprint on the mind. Blatant display of wealth can be seen reflected in the modernistic KIO Towers, a glass and concrete structure at Plaza Castilla, the Business Hubs of AZCA next to the Castellana Avenue, and the nouveau rich and swanky suburbs of Las Rozas, Majadahonda and Salamanca. Here, Americanized business centers surround the urban rows of villas and chalets and McDonald?s and Citibanks are nothing out of the ordinary.
Deep inside, the heart of Madrid remains traditional and steeped in history that dates back to 1562, when Madrid first became the capital of Spain. Suspended in time, Los Austrias, Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor and other heritage structures are reminiscent of an era gone by. Where ravages of time may have succeeded in leaving telltale signs of despondency, but have not succeeded in diminishing the vitality and beauty of the spirit. (not a sentence) Traditional districts called ?castizo? such as Lavapi?s, Chueca, and Malasa?a have been restored but have remained unchanged, architecturally, for decades and decades, and are now the archetypical examples of Bohemian and ethnically cosmopolitan camaraderie, thanks to the influx of nationalities ranging from Peruvians to Bangladeshis and the resident flock of artists and culturati.
For tourists who like to start early in an attempt to cover more of the city, you don?t have to go without your regular caffeine fix. Many cafes open at 5:30 AM for coffee and ?churros? but almost never shut down! Madrid really never sleeps and the fun and revelry are part of the city?s way of life. Enjoy a range of fulfilled activities from pubs, clubs, and discos, to flamenco bo?tes, theatres, concert halls and many cinemas. The famed ?Museum Mile? holds fort with Prado, the best museum in Spain which is home to some of the greatest treasures from the Renaissance period.
Other museums, art galleries, prestigious monuments, and ecclesiastical structures also jostle for your attention in Madrid. Although there aren?t many eating joints around the Prado, the streets around the Plaza Santa Ana, which is a five-minute walk from the Prado, are spilling with myriad bars and restaurants. Get into a pub crawling mood and hop from tapas bar to tapas bar. Also, Plaza Mayor has many traditional dining places. If you head away from the square, you will enjoy eating at some excellent gourmet tapas bars, a latest trend in Madrid, or head to Plaza de la Paja for some hip and trendy tapas bars and cafes. With a wide range of choices, when it comes to food, Madrid has over 17,000 bars and it?s rumored that there are more here than - in the whole of Belgium!
All that gorging on delicious Spanish food calls for a jog in the park and Madrid has plenty. Having joined the elitist ?Green Club?, Madrid is officially one of the greenest cities in Europe. The largest park in Madrid is Retiro and the Madrile?os like to relax amongst all the flowers, trees, and fountains that decorate the area. Pick-up some mouth-watering picnic fare from Rodilla, and enjoy the cool breeze on a full stomach!