What to see in Madrid, Spain – Part Two

Sorolla Museum Gardens in Madrid, Spain

Travel tips for Madrid, Spain – part two

The blog post before this was about the main sites to see in Madrid. This post will cover two other interesting places to see that are off the beaten path.

My favorite location in Madrid is the Sorolla Museum and Gardens. If you are an art lover or a garden lover this is a must see!

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In case you are unfamiliar with Sorolla and his work…

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida was a Spanish painter known mainly for painting landscapes and portraits. Sorolla was born in Valencia and studied painting on his own until going to Rome, Italy after serving in the Spanish army and studying painting at the Spanish Academy. Sorolla went on to have exhibitions, portrait commissions, and received awards for his work.

Sorolla’s paintings are full of light and warm colors. His portraits are graceful and inviting, portraits of well known individuals from Spanish Royalty to friends and family. He also painted many beach scenes, countless paintings of his family and his wife, and landscapes.

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The Sorolla Museum in Madrid was his house and studio. The building is lovely with creaky wooden floors, high ceilings, and plenty of natural light. Paintings cover every inch the walls and the rooms have the original family furniture.

The largest room was Sorolla’s studio and in one corner there is an easel set up and a side table with old paint brushes and paint pallets – it feels as though Sorolla just stepped out of room. At the far right of the room there are small sketches framed and hanging on the wall that I always enjoy studying.

There is also a second floor with more portraits, some of them studies for larger murals. And then there is the dining room which is another favorite room of mine because of the painted border which Sorolla did himself. The dining room border consists of a garland with bunches of fruit being held by Sorolla’s wife and children.

Aside from the house and the studio there is the garden. The gardens at the Sorolla Museum are so tranquil and beautiful at any time of day and any time of year!

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Another interesting site is the Royal Tapestry Museum and Factory. The Royal Tapestry factory was established in the 18th century and is still functioning today and also restores old tapestries. You can tour the factory and see the craftsmen at work; the tour requires a guide.

I think any trip to Madrid should include these two places!

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More Information:
1 – Click here for more information about Sorolla.

2 – For a link to the official Sorolla Museum, Museo Sorolla, website click here.

3 – For hours and admission prices for the Royal Tapestry Museum click here.

What to see in Madrid, Spain – Part One

Madrid, Spain

Travel tips for Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain is a city that truly never sleeps. You can stroll along the Castellana to the Museo del Prado and the monumental Palacio de Comunicaciones. Walking through the downtown you stumble upon hidden streets with cafes and small plazas. From the Royal Palace one can see panoramic views of the city and mountains in the distance. There is so much to explore in Madrid!

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First I will start off with the main sights to see in Madrid.

A great place to start is downtown with Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Palace. The Plaza de Oriente is a gorgeous plaza with the Opera House at one end and the Royal Palace at the other. I recommend getting a coffee at one of the restaurants and simply admiring the scenery. The Royal Palace is the official residence of the King of Spain, however the Royal Family actually lives in a palace outside of the city. Portions of the Palace are open to the public and should not be missed! (If you are visiting Madrid around the holidays you will see many Nativities called Belens in Spanish, and you can see one at the Royal Palace that is very elaborate, just be prepared to wait in line).

Next to the Royal Palace is the Catedral de la Almudena. The construction of the Catedral de la Almudena has been an extremely long process. The exterior of the Cathedral matches the white exterior of the Royal Palace, however the interior of the Cathedral is modern.

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From the Cathedral you can make your way through the old town streets and over to Plaza Mayor. The Plaza Mayor in Madrid is a major point of interest and a good reference point too. The Plaza was constructed in the early 17th century and has been used for bullfights, markets, soccer games, and concerts.

From the Plaza Mayor I recommend walking down towards the Castellana. You can stop in the Puerta del Sol which is another main plaza. However this plaza is more crowded and not my favorite place but it has become more pedestrian now with many pedestrian only streets leading off of the plaza. This is also the site of the bear statue – a bear eating a madrone tree – the symbol of Madrid. And the marking of kilometer zero which symbolizes the center of Spain, the start/ end of the Spanish road system, and the site of protests.

You can reach the Gran Via from Sol and if you like a busy main street with lots of shopping, Gran Via is the street for you to walk down.

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Personally I recommend going from Plaza Mayor down either Calle de Atocha or wandering through the streets to get to Paseo del Prado. Visiting the Prado is a must! The museum is huge so you do need a good amount of time, most of the afternoon! The newest portion of the Prado is an incredible exhibition space and the classical building has the must see painting: Las Meninas by Velazquez.

Also on the Paseo del Prado is theThyssen-Bornemisza Museum which is one of my favorite museums in Madrid. The building itself is beautiful and they have an amazing permanent collection and excellent visiting collections. My advice is to also allow a good full afternoon for this museum as well. Also for any special exhibitions, it is wise to buy tickets in advance (you can buy them days and weeks in advance) because there can be very long lines for these. Don’t miss this museum if you are an art lover!

Then just walk down the Castellana (main street) and you will pass significant buildings such as the Palacio de Communicaciones, the National Library, and Plaza Colon.

Another main site is the Jardines del Buen Retiro, usually just referred to as El Retiro. The park has main statue lined paths, a popular fountain/pond with a Monument to Alfonso XII, and there a crystal palace! After walking through the park you can explore the neighborhood near by and walk down the Calle de Serrano for a look at ritzy stores, restaurants, and apartment buildings.

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These are some of the main sights to see in Madrid, Spain. In part two about Madrid I will list one of my favorite locations in the city along with information about a couple of festivities.

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Helpful Links for Information about Madrid:

1 – For the Royal Palace hours and admissions prices click here.

2 – To read more about the Prado Museum’s history click here.

3 – For the official Prado website click here.

4 – For the hours and admission prices for the Prado click here.