Madrid – my favourite places

It was September 1st, 2010 when I landed in Madrid for the first time. I was to spend 5 months in Spain on a student exchange programme Erasmus Mundus at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. I am nowhere close to being an expert on the city, especially since I did not actually live in Madrid, but I completely fell in love with it. I will tell you about my three favourite places in Madrid, but first, let’s make sure you know something about the city itself.

Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be over 6 million. The city spans a total of 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi). The Madrid region features a Continental Mediterranean climate with cold winters and hot summers.

Did you know? Madrid enjoys more cloudless days than almost any other city in Europe – about 250 days per year.

I’ll stop with the technical information you could read on Wikipedia and tell you a little bit about my favourite places in Madrid and what you should not miss while you’re in the city. I am sorry, but I do not know anything about hotels, hostels or other accommodation.

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace at night

The Royal Palace (Palacio Real) is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in Madrid, but nobody actually lives there. The palace is only used for state ceremonies. You can visit the inside of the palace for 8 euros, or 10 if you want a guide.

On its east side, you will find Plaza de Oriente, a beautiful square with a park. I was sitting there when this picture was taken. It is a great spot to sit down and relax after some sight seeing.

Did you know? The Royal Palace of Madrid is the only place in the world where visitors can find a complete Stradivarius string quartet.

Temple of Debod

This is my favourite picture from Madrid

Temple of Debod (Templo de Debod) is a real ancient Egyptian temple! Seriously, it’s the real deal, just sitting there in a shallow lake in Parque del Oeste (Western Park). How cool is that?!

How did it get there? Well, in 1960 in Egypt some of the monuments were in danger of being destroyed and UNESCO called out an international cry for help. Spain chipped in and helped save the temples of Abu Simbel, so to show their gratitude the Egyptian government gave Spain Temple of Debod in 1968.

Parque del Oeste is a popular hangout and you will find it is full of people, even late at night. If you plan to go there, I suggest bringing something to drink with you. There are no stores or bars close by and people that walk around the park selling beer and Cokes will charge you a fortune.

Queen Sofia Museum

Guernica is the most famous item in Queen Sofia Museum. Photo from: pablopicasso.org

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is a mouthful, so people just call it Museo Reina Sofia. It’s near Atocha metro and train stations and it’s my favourite museum in Madrid. I am ashamed to admit this, but I really disliked Museo de Prado. :/ Room 1: Jesus is born on 25 different pictures. Room 2: Jesus dies on 30 different pictures. Room 3: Jesus resurrects on 17 different pictures.

Reina Sofia was much more diverse* and I guess that’s why I found it more interesting. It’s dedicated to Spanish art and its most famous picture is Picasso’s Guernica. It is 3.5m x 7.8m (11 ft x 25.6 ft) and I don’t know if it is the biggest picture in the world, but it is certainly the biggest I’ve ever seen. :D

*I guess I should clarify this: More different things to see that are exhibited close to one another.

You will find a little yard with a park and a few benches in the center of the museum. I loved it. It was very peaceful and a perfect spot for relaxing! I spend most of the day in this museum, listening to the audio tour I took (recommended!) and walking around. When I got tired of art, I spent some time in the inner yard and continued my museum tour when I felt ready. It was a great afternoon!

Tip! You can get it for free on Saturday afternoon and Sundays! Students, journalists and minors get in for free with their (student) IDs at any time.