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Old April 4th, 2011, 06:55 PM   #1
Nightsky
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MADRID – Nightsky’s trip to the exciting capital of Spain

In February 2011 I visited Madrid, the capital and largest city of Spain, for a week together with my girlfriend.
The weather was nice considering we arrived from Swedish winter, it was always sunny, never rained and about 15 degrees C most of the times.
I liked Madrid a lot since I think it has much to offer with many contrasts. It has diverse architecture styles from art beaux and jugend to modernism and futurism, it has hectic avenues and picturesque,relaxed pedestrian streets and the homeless people are sleeping next to 5 star hotels. The city center is vibrant 24 hours a day 7 days a week, but there are also relaxed, almost dead areas. In the city center you can find large scale palaces and some of the most beautiful, nice plazas with open-air restaurant, cozy stores and some of the most impressive buildings in Europe, but just a few blocks from the royal castle the magnificent city center ends and a suburban landscape of dull highrise blocks begin, surrounded by highways and shopping malls. But one thing you see everywhere is parks: both in the city center and the outskirts. Madrid has some of the most beautiful parks I ever visited, as well as some really grandiose plazas with a lot of traffic a la Paris. The most important parks are Parque Retiro, that lies on the East side of the city center and Parque del Este, that lies on the west side. The 3 most importants squares are Plaza de Espana, where our hotel was, Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. The most famous streets are Gran Via and Calle Alcalá with their beautiful early 20th century highrise buildings and palaces filled with banks, hotels, offices and exclusive stores. In the outskirts you can find some of the tallest and most striking and skyscrapers in Europe.
Some of the most famous buildings in Madrid are Edificio Metrópolis, Palacio de Communicaciones, EdificioTelefónica, Edificio España, Torre Picasso, Torre Caja Madrid, Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia. The latter ones are 2 world famous art museums that we visited.
Madrid is partly very hilly and the mountains of Sierra de Guadarrama are visible from some spots.
Something you don’t see much of in Madrid is water; it is located in the inland and there are no canals or sea nearby. Río Manzanares flows through the city, but it is hidden below the city center and I never saw it. However, there are so many other good things about the city, so I didn’t really miss the water. Madrid feels like a comparatively safe city considering its size, it felt ok to go alone on the streets in the city center even in the night, but Gran Via felt a bit obscure during midnight.
I stayed with my girlfriend at the 4 star Mercure Hotel near Plaza de Espana, a very nice (but a bit worn) hotel. As she had to leave earlier, I spent the last 3 days alone and saved money by staying at a hostel, Cat’s Hostel near Calle Atocha. A very simple place (I shared room), but very cheap and located in a gorgeous moorish palace.
I also visited Toledo, a very beautiful historical city that will be presented in a separate part.

Population: 3 256 000 (metro 5 843 000)
Tallest building: Torre Caja Madrid (250m, built 2008)
Language: Spanish
Founded: 9th century as al-Mudaina
State: Madrid
Area: 607 km² (metro 10 506 km²)
Soon on http://www.worldtravelimages.net
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Madrid-Barajas Airport
Barajas is Spain's largest and most busy airport, and the 4th largest in Europe. It has 4 huge terminal, the largest and most modern one is Terminal 4 that was designed by Richard Rogers. In 2010 almost 50 million passengers used Barajas. It is the international hub of the airline Iberia. The airport opened in 1927. Terminal 3, opened in 2006, is very futuristic with its sweaping elements, elements reminding of a science fiction and strong colours. It is the most unusual airport I have been to. 2 large accidents have been taking place at Barajas the latest years, a car bombing at the parking garage in 2006 and a fatal Spanair plane crash in 2008, killing 152 people.
A Monday evening in February 2011, me and my girflfriend landed with an Iberia plane in Madrid Barajas, arriving from Copenhagen. She had to leave earlier, so I departed alone an early morning one week later with Spanair.

Terminal 4, arrivals:

Barajas Terminal 4, were we arrived, were designed by the famous architects Richard Rogers and Antonio Lamela (but for a long time I thought Calatrava was the architect).
It opened in 2006.

Terminal 4 has glass walls that makes light slip in to create a stressful atmosphere. The structure has elements featuring a colour scheme including all the shades of the rainbow.


The rainbow colour scheme changing from green to yellow.

Terminal 4 from the plane:



The luggage hall:




Waiting for the metro to the city center.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 06:56 PM   #2
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Plaza de España
Our hotel, Mercure, was located close to Plaza de España, the northernmost of Madrid's famous and historic large squares, and my favourite of them. It borders Parque del Oeste and is the west end of Gran Via. At Plaza de Espana you can find Madrid's 2 oldest skyscrapers (that are the tallest in the city center), trees, fountains, sculptures and a famous monument to Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote. As our hotel was close to Plaza de Espana, we visited and passed by the square a lot of times. In the evenings, especially Fridays, young people start to party and picnic on the square already in the early evening. Palacio Real is only a short walk from Plaza de España. Busy roads and a highway tunnel is next to the plaza, but it is still a relaxing place.


Torre de Madrid, the Cervantes monument and Edificio España.

The monument to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the author of Don Quijote.


Fuente del Nacimiento del Agua, the fountain right in front of Calle de Princesa, the northern extension of Gran Via.

Torre de Madrid and Edificio España, 2 of Madrid's oldest but most prominent skyscrapers. Very few of Madrid's skyscrapers are in the city center. The 2 buildings were constructed by the project developer Metropolitana and the Otamendi brothers designed them. After their completion in the 1950s, the plaza became a popular
meeting place.

Torre de Madrid. Built in 1957 and 142 m tall it is the tallest building in the city center. Tallest building in Madrid when completed. Still the tallest in the city center.

Cleaning the windows of this early modernist skyscraper!

Edificio España. A 117m tall hotel from 1925. It was completed in 1953. It was Madrid's tallest building until 1957 when it was surpassed by Torre de Madrid (see above).
Edificio España is designed in a Spanish Revival style with classical elements. The hotel is Crowne Plaza.

The statue of Cervantes. It was built in 1925, but was not completed until 1957.

Cervantes on his horse. Hordes of tourists want to be photographed there.



Palacio Real seen from Plaza de Espana. More of that later.




A church with an unusual architecture. Anyone knows the name?

2 old timer Seat, a very rare sight in Madrid, that is mostly trafficated by new cars. Note that both have punctures!

And some of our hotel, Mercure at Plaza de Espana:



The view from the room.

Mercure Hotel Madrid Plaza de Espana is the full name of the 4 star hotel where me and my girlfriend stayed. It has nice interior and friendly staff, but is a bit worn.
It has only 97 rooms, so it is not very big, but it has about 5 floors.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 06:57 PM   #3
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Gran Via

Gran Via is the most famous street in Madrid and passes from the west to the east end of the city center. It begins at Plaza de Espana, passes Plaza del Callao and ends where it meets Calle de Alcala, where the famous Metropolis building is, close to Plaza de Cibeles. Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor are just a couple of blocks south of Gran Via. A lot of hotels, exclusive stores, department stores and restaurants are located along the street. Some of the most impressive exteriors in Spain can be found here, as well as expensive stores, but it has some kind of worn charm with all the beggars and poor people along the streets, so be careful at night! But the architecture is fascinating, it is a true pleasure to study all the palace like highrises from the early 20th century with all the decorations. Gran Via resembles New York's Broadway, as well as London's Oxford Street, but has an identity of its own..


History: In the middle of the 1800s, it was decided that a new thoroughfare had to be created to connect Calle de Alcalá with Plaza de España. Many old buildings were demolished, but construction of the new buildings didn't start in decades and the media cynically called it "Gran Via", the Great Road. In 1904 it was finally approved and construction could start some years later. The design of the new buildings were for the time very modern, many architectws were inspired by the Chicago school. The whole street was completed in 1929.

A WALK FROM THE EAST TO THE WEST END OF GRAN VIA:


Edificio Metropolis. The crossing Gran Via/Calle Alcalá is the most photographed place in Madrid. The Metropolis building, originally constructed for the insurance company Unión y el Fenix Espa, was built between 1907 and 1911. It was designed by Jules and Raymond Février in a French Beaux-Arts style. Today
Metrópolis Seguros, another insurance company has their headquarters here, hence the name.

The black dome of Metropolis. The original statue was replaced in 1975 by a statue of the winged Godess Victoria, because the original insurance company removed it when Metrópolis took over the building in 1972. The golden garlands shine in the sun.


A bronze miniature of Gran Via just outside Metropolis.


Instituto Cervantes by the architect Antonio Palacios.

Edificio Grassy is the corner building from 1907 in the middle, Edificio Telefonica is to the far right.


Gran Via towards Edificio Telefónica, with Ed. Grassy to the left.

Iglesia de San José.

Banco de España, The National Bank of Spain. Spain's golden reserves are preserved underneath Plaza de Cibeles (to the left). An art collection with famous paintings by Goya and other artists is also inside the building, but to be able to see it you must write a personal letter to the bank first.




Edificio Telefónica was Madrid's first highrise and is today the HQ for Spain's largest phone company. It was drawn in 1929 by the American architect Lewis Weeks and was inspired by the Chicago school.

Ed. Telefónica played a key role during the civil war as an observation tower for the soldiers. Inside is a fine art exhibition including famous painters. Today the clock tower is famous.




Calle de la Montera. This pedestrian street leads towards Puerta del Sol.


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Website about my travels and buildings in USA and Europe -many cool pics:
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All my diagram drawings - more than 700!:
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Old April 4th, 2011, 06:58 PM   #4
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Plaza del Callao at Gran Via:


Plaza del Callao with Torre Carrion. This square is the movie center of Madrid, home to 6 cinemas. Callao is a bit like Madrid's answer to New York's Times Square. It also has 2 large department stores.

Torre Carrión (middle), or Edificio Capitol, is the 14-storey art deco landmark of Plaza del Callao. It hosts the Capitol Cinema, a Benetton store and a lot more.

Edificio Allianz is the building with the domed pavilion.

Callao, looking towards H&M and Torre Carrion.

Inside H&M at Gran Via. A lot more upmarket then in Sweden, were it has its originas. This branch's interior looks like a palace.

Cines Callao, a large cinema in an outstanding buildng at Callao.


FNAC, a French department store chain specializing in entertainment (records, book etc) occupies a 12-storey narrow highrise at Plaza del Callao. To the left is one of the largest branches of the department store chain El Corte Ingels.
From Callao, Puerta del Sol is only a few blocks away if you walk on Preciados (right).

Palacio de la Prensa, is the impressive cinema/residential building to the left.

View from El Corte Inglés, Plaza del Callao:

These photos were taken from the café on the top floor of the department store El Corte Inglés branch at Plaza del Callao.


Plaza del Callao with Torre Carrión (left) and Gran Via leading towards Torre de Madrid at Plaza de España. Mountains in the background.

Towards Palacio Real and the mountains of Sierra de Guadarrama.

Looking to the southwest: Almudena Cathedral (right), the national theater and some other churches.

Almudena Cathedral and the National Theater. Commie blocks in the distance.

Looking West towards Plaza de España with its landmark Torre de Madrid...

...and East towards Plaza del Callao.



A statue throughing a building on the street?!

World famous musicals can be seen in the world metropolis Madrid.



Plaza de España. The west end of Gran Via.

To be continued, more will be posted soon…
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:46 PM   #5
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Nice pics and reminds of many fond memories there in Madrid - and how time flies ...
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That was happiness then.

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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:52 PM   #6
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That is one brilliant ceiling design.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:56 PM   #7
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Wonderful, Madrid is a fantastic city!
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Old April 4th, 2011, 08:44 PM   #8
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a brilliant ceiling design
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Old April 4th, 2011, 10:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightsky View Post
[b]A church with an unusual architecture. Anyone knows the name?
Santa Teresa church, a medieval revival with a neobyzantine dome, built in 1923-1928.

Great pics! Ah, that's not the Sierra de Guadarrama, that's at south and the Sierra de Guadarrama is northwest.

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Old April 4th, 2011, 11:47 PM   #10
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Thanks for comments and corrections!

@buho: What is the name of that mountains, that is not Sierra de Guadarrama?
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Old April 5th, 2011, 12:21 AM   #11
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Ups, I quoted the car instead of the church!

I think it's maybe the "cerro de los Ángeles", the geographic center of Spain.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 01:09 AM   #12
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No, in this photo appears Casa de Campo and the west of the region, and the peak on the right may be part of Sierra de Gredos.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 07:07 AM   #13
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Beautiful city.

So clean with beautiful architecture!!
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Old April 5th, 2011, 09:29 AM   #14
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Very nice pics! Madrid is a cool place - and my favourite big city in Spain.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 12:17 PM   #15
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Thanks, Night. Awsome pictures.

It seems you have gone to El Corte Inglés to see Gran Vía from the top.

Good done!!

Thanks for the explanations too.

Love the images of the airport too!!!
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Madrid: 3 top world class museums, 300 kms of underground for 1,20 euros, a new airport terminal of 1 km long by Richard Rogers, the city where more companies are created in Spain and which gets 70% of foreign investments for Spain, the biggest gay pride of Europe, the perfect city to learn Spanish, a new park of 6 kms along the river Manzanares, 4 skyscrapers of 250 mtrs, some excellent museums and...in the future a new avenue of three kms with more than ten skyscrapers of 250 and 300 mters...and soon Eurovegas!
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Old April 5th, 2011, 06:51 PM   #16
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Great, very nice photos from Madrid Nightsky
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Old April 5th, 2011, 09:20 PM   #17
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very nice street gran via, i love this old architecture maybe i'll see madrid too this year when I move to spain.hope you enjoyed your trip!
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Old April 6th, 2011, 04:01 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightsky View Post

Inside H&M at Gran Via. A lot more upmarket then in Sweden, were it has its originas. This branch's interior looks like a palace.
[/i]
that's because it was a theater,then a cinema and now a H&M store


about the montains those are clearly the first mountains of Gredos Mountain Range at the SW part of Madrid province
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Old April 6th, 2011, 05:17 PM   #19
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@buho: Nightsky was right, those mountains are Sierra de Guadarrama, (and the western part of it, Monte Abantos, El Escorial area) the ones you posted are Navacerrada.

@NIghtksy, one slight correction, the parks you mention, Retiro and the other one, Parque del Oeste (what literally means Western park because it is placed in the west part of the city).

Wonderful pictures, thread and comments
Thanks a lot.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 05:34 PM   #20
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Thanks for sharing your experience in Madrid. Even though i'm spanish, I have learn some small details about the city I didn't konw.
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