Under your feet. Goya's painting called The Second of May recalls how Spain hoped the ideals of Revolutionary France would spread, bringing democracy to Spain. Madrid's subway is simple, speedy, and cheap. It was a grand mausoleum for Spain's royal family, it was a monastery to provide constant prayer for the king's soul, and it was a religious school designed to teach and embrace humanism in a way that fit the Catholic faith. And the fine old buildings show off their original elegance. Europe%27s well-organized rail system makes touring by train a breeze ... Munich, or Madrid. Rick, look at these photographs. And some bars are more contemporary catering to young locals who come out for their favorite acts. Carlos: Yes, gazpacho is like a vegetable soup with a tomato base. The elaborate model — constructed after the age of Copernicus — insists on proving that the solar system revolves unmistakably around the earth. In the lavish throne room, golden lions tread red velvet, symbolizing the might of the monarchy — whose coat of arms incorporated many realms and whose empire spanned both hemispheres. Madrid Travel Guide by Rick Steves For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, see our FAQ . At midday on Saturday and Sunday, the area around the lake becomes a street carnival, with jugglers, puppeteers, and lots of local color. They also rank the tourist sites according to a prioritized system: three triangles represent a must do, two are kinda-do, one is a maybe and then there are the untriangled also-rans. ▲▲▲ Paseo Evening stroll among the Madrileños. Chose this as our very first group tour (May) 'cuz it's a short trip & we speak NO Spanish. The altar features a painting of the flame-engulfed grill with St. Laurence meeting his fiery death. My Spanish friend and fellow tour guide Carlos Galvin is joining us to share a local's insight into Madrid's culture and food. Charles' son, Philip II, though very religious collected a bevy of sensual Venetian paintings. For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, She's joined by her servants…the "meninas.". In fact, they can be seen in the mirror at the back of the room. Rick: Carlos, gazpacho is really refreshing in the summer, right? Madrid — permeated with passion — from its grand history to its love of life today. The line of torch-like lamps adds to the somber ambience. In this compact guide, Rick Steves covers the best of Madrid and Toledo, including tips on arrival, orientation, and transportation. Madrid is the hub of Spain. A 500 foot-tall granite cross marks the Valley of the Fallen — an immense and powerful underground monument to the victims of Spain's devastating Civil War. Try gambas a la plancha (grilled shrimp) or gambas al ajillo (ah-HEE-yoh, shrimp cooked in oil and garlic) and a glass of sweet red house wine. In the center of it all a face peers out of this bizarre nightmare — a self-portrait of the artist: Bosch. Some Spaniards come here to honor him…others come to be sure he's still dead. The palace was designed to be Phillip's Versailles — to help establish a new dynasty…the Bourbons. Carlos: I can, yes. Downstairs, the Royal Pantheon is the gilded resting place of four centuries of Spanish kings and queens. Explore the lively cities of Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla, and follow the Route of the White Hill Towns in … Hasta luego. Terms of Service | Privacy, A Trip to the Bullfight: Two Bulls Are Plenty, Marvels Beyond Madrid: Four Easy Day Trips, Art Appreciation for Travelers Ignoring the rebels' passionate pleas, a faceless firing squad mows them down — without mercy. Experiencing Madrid at its fun-loving best, we're mesmerized by flamenco dancers and munch on pigs' ears. The immense Library shows that knowledge was a priority for the Spanish royalty. Guernica caused an immediate sensation, and with each passing year…and war, it seems more prophetic. In Madrid, visit the masterpieces of … The Plaza Mayor and Puerto del Sol mark the center. You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling in Madrid and Toledo. They serve gazpacho May through September. The Spanish artist Pablo Picasso heard the shocking news and immediately set to work sketching the destruction as he imagined it. It divided every village. It's time for flamenco. As if measuring sorrow in distance, this 870-foot-long chamber is far longer than any church in Europe. We tour the lavish Royal Palace, enjoy art-packed museums, and look deep into Picasso's greatest masterpiece. While touring the Gothic Quarter, we passed by a building that Federico called the Music Palace. But interred here — in chapels flanking the altar — are the remains of tens of thousands — victims from both sides — who lost their lives in Spain's civil war. Wow, pigs' ears. And so is the subway. Sign Up. A few blocks away stands one of Europe's most stunning palaces. ▲▲▲ Prado Museum One of the world's great museums, loaded with masterpieces by Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Goya, El Greco, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, and more. Aficionados gather at a bar like this after fights — or to watch one on TV. We'll experience the majesty of its palaces and museums — and, we'll enjoy today's Madrid at its fun-loving best. The historic center is enjoyably covered on foot. Here, try. The lavish Royal Palace rivals Versailles, the Prado has Europe's top collection of paintings, and nearby hangs Picasso's chilling masterpiece, Guernica. Rick Steves on Madrid The Rick Steves’ Madrid guidebook includes suggested itineraries, walking tours, easy to read maps and other useful suggestions. It's as if shards from the bombing are pasted onto the canvas. I never thought I'd be eating actual pigs' ears. I think they prove that the matador does not always win. In this wonderfully 3-D painting, the unique perspective is that of the king and queen as they pose. Carlos: This wine is like the house- made wine from the northwest of Spain, from Galicia. French soldiers, with their Egyptian mercenaries, slashed through the crowds and arrested the ringleaders. For maximum fun, people, and atmosphere, do the "tapa tango." Madrid is livable and fun to visit. ▲ Zarzuela Madrid's delightful light opera. This one has been eating acorns. Rick Steves shares his extensive knowledge of European history, art and culture. In the mid-1500s, King Phillip II needed a suitably grand palace to establish his family dynasty — the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs. Carlos: But it's very refreshing. Retiro Park invites you to take a shady siesta, but save time for Madrid's elegant shops and people-friendly pedestrian zones. There is a strict filing system: The first and greatest, Charles V and his queen, flank the altar on the top shelf. These peaceful gardens offer great picnicking and people-watching (closes at dusk). Rick: So this is? Carlos: Oh absolutely. Then, foolish people chase after earthly delights — a pursuit that is ultimately a vicious cycle. We're side tripping — a short drive into the hills from Madrid — to San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Dunk and chat…recalling highlights of the day…and looking forward to tomorrow. I do use them and so should you. The hotel has an honest ethos and offers a straight price. Churros are the favorite local donut. That's particularly clear at the Retiro Park. Carlos: That's right. Their son, Philip II, rests below Charles and opposite his wife…and so on. [Franco's remains were exhumed in 2019 and moved to a cemetery outside the valley.]. While these days the royal family lives in a mansion a few miles away, this place still functions as the ceremonial palace (call ahead to make sure it's not closed for a royal function), used for formal state receptions, royal weddings, and tourists' daydreams. ▲ Naval Museum Seafaring history of a country famous for its Armada. Madrid was once the capital of the mightiest Empire on earth. Carlos: Yeah, they have freedom in the fields and they're eating acorns. How do you excuse it? Madrid's much-loved "Central Park" offers splendid picnicking, row boating, and people-watching. So if all you want is Madrid, Toledo, and what's nearby, this compact Snapshot guide delivers everything you'll need to know — for about half the price and half the bulk. Rick: If you like bull fighting, how do you justify it, with the animal? To transfer, check a map and simply follow the signs. Home to Picasso's Guernica, the Reina Sofía is one of Europe's most enjoyable modern-art museums. 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