Yes, everybody says that Barcelona is more beautiful, that Valencia has more spirit or that Cordoba has the superior monuments. But then again Madrid is the undisputed capital of Spain, certainly the biggest city in terms of size and inhabitants and also one of the youngest cities in Spain. Madrid became central when Phillip II moved the residence here in the 16th Century, compared to Paris, London and of course Rome it is a latecomer to the European national capitals. But it sits right in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula, in a mountainous area called Meseta, 667 meters high, the highest capital of Europe. The importance of Madrid is symbolized in the Zero Kilometer mark that you can see near the Puerta del Sol. All roads in Spain measure their length from here. If you made it to the Puerta del Sol, go on to the Plaza del Oriente, where the Kings palace can be seen, the Palacio Real. Nearby is the Plaza Mayor, one of the oldest of Madrid. Here the Spanish Inquisition made their public trials and, if found guilty, burnt the convict. From 267 balconies around the Plaza the population could watch. Bullfights also took place here. Today it is a pedestrian space, sometimes you can even see live concerts. If you like art, you cannot avoid the Prado at the Plaza de Cibeles, where masterworks of art history are at home. You can see great pieces from Goya, El Greco, Tizian, Rubens, Dürer, Raphael, Rembrandt and Hironymus Bosch, and these are only the most important. For the more modern-minded art buff the Museo Reina Sofia is the place to go, where Picasso’s most famous picture “Guernica” is on display. You will also find works of Joan Miró, Salvador Dali and Juan Gris. If you feel like relaxing, go to the Parque del Retiro, one of the few quiet places in Madrid. When the sun sets, Madrid starts to wake up. The nightlife is legendary and wild, and it starts really late. So prepare and have a Cocido Madrileño, a stew from chickpeas and all kinds of meat, a local specialty. Then, around midnight, make it the Plaza Dos de Mayos, in the Malasaña quarter. The square is usually full with people, and from here the legendary barhopping starts. The inhabitants of Madrid don’t stay longer than one hour in one place. It may go on all night until the sun comes up, even on regular working weekdays. So book your flight from Sydney (SYD) to Madrid (MAD) online with Lufthansa and experience Spain’s capital, away from the beaten tourist tracks.
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