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Old July 24th, 2011, 04:38 AM   #1
El_Greco
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A Tale of Two Cities - Madrid And Toledo, Spain

After Prado some Prada? That perhaps sums up Madrid pretty nicely - it is the city of sophisticated living which spends the day preparing itself for the rigours of the night ahead, always under the motionless and empty blue sky. It dresses up and heads into the night to lose itself in the numerous eating and drinking places. It goes to bed only when the night is dead...On top of that Madrid is famed for its shopping and its world class galleries and museums and while it has no instantly recognisable architectural icons it is still a beautiful city with wide and spacious streets lined with elegant buildings. This is what I managed to see during my stay.

Be warned theres a lot of photos (95)! Enjoy, leave a comment and lets go!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrid

1. ¡Viva España!



2. Where better to begin than on the Gran Via - a stunning showpiece of 20th century architecture.



3.



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7. However on the street level it is somewhat less impressive...



8.



9. The Imperial Russian Ballet Company was in town, it was founded by Gediminas Taranda - a Russian of Lithuanian descent. The Company does a lot of travelling.



10. Oops closing shutter gave me away...



11. Plaza de España with its monument to Cervantes, below it you can see sculptures of his most famous creations - Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza.



12.



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15. The view from my hotel, as we can see I had one awesome view - a truly one to kill for, or rather to kill over...nah the hotel was very nice.



16. Modern facade.



17. Another interesting piece of architecture.



18. Old facades are equally impressive.



19. This caught my eye - the scene looked rather Italian for some reason. Calle Mayor.



20. Plaza de la Villa. Madrid is blessed with some beautiful squares.



21. Most of the housing in central and inner Madrid are in the shape of big "Haussmannian" apartment blocks such as this. In my mind that is the perfect type of urban housing, or at the very least much better than endless rows of terraces.



22. One of the streets leading to Plaza Mayor.



23. Plaza Mayor itself. Its origins go back to 1576 and for centuries it has been a scene of bullfighting, executions and markets. Nowdays it is occupied by restaurants and filled with people dressed in weird costumes trying to part you with your money.



24.



25. Small side streets somewhere near Plaza Mayor.



26. Cant quite remember the name of the street but its one coming from Plaza de la Puerta del Sol. It looked a little quiet when I took this photo but after a couple of hours it was filled with masses of people, indeed it looked as if the whole of Madrid suddenly turned up for some fiesta!



27. Note the wall decorated in azulejos.



28. A pub.



29.



30. Museo Reina Sofia - museum of modern art which occupies a huge site. The glass tower(s) were designed by Ian Ritche and the extension by Jean Nouvel.



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33. Caixa Forum - gallery of post-modern art which also exhibits works from other periods, it is one of the most visited museums in Madrid and it is easy to see why, absolutely stunning place, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The Green Wall to the right is the work of Patrick Blanc.



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37. And now we are off to the Atocha Station to book the tickets for Toledo. I like the garden.



38. Stunning place, perhaps the most impressive station Ive ever visited. Looks like a modern take on Ancient Egyptian temple architecture.



39.



40. Taxi mania outside the station.



41. Quick trip to Barajas Airport. T4 is yet another incredible example of modern architecture in Madrid. Designed by Rogers (of Lloyds Building fame) and Antonio Lamela in 2006. It is one of the largest terminals in the World. Barajas was voted Best Airport in 2008.



42. Back to city centre, here we have monument to Juan Valera.



43. Madrid has many of these wide avenues with benches and water fountains and sometimes bar or a caffe. This is how you plan a city. Think wide and big.



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49. Plaza de Cibeles and its Palacio de Comunicaciones which is offices of Madrids Mayor.



50. Bye, bye Madrid...



Toledo the ancient capital of Spain which is still called by its inhabitants Le Ciudad Imperial is a rich and vibrant mix of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures coming together on a rocky outcrop in the bend of the river Tajo. Walking here one is reminded of Fes or Damascus, although the total lack of touts makes walking much easier, while the tourists too seem to be either lost in the narrow streets or preoccupied with Sangria in Zocodover square, meaning that it is very easy to have the place for yourself and enjoy its numerous architectural treasures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledo,_Spain

51. Toledo skyline with the famous Alcazar.



52. Alcazar and Puente de Alcántara which is in fact Roman!



53. City walls of Toledo have been turned into nice gardens.



54. La Granja Escalators, collection of escalators and stairs cut into the rock onto which the old city of Toledo is built. A rather interesting idea and certainly better alternative to long, winding, steep and exposed roads.



55. An old church built around much older building which seems to be of Moorish origin.



56. The old town consist of narrow streets reminiscent of medinas of Fes or Damascus. Shadows and strong sun light provide plenty of photo opportunities.



57.



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60. If not complete absence of touts Id think I was back in Fes!



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62. Theres even cats!



63. After hours of aimless wandering in the old town you suddenly emerge to the light and this. The Cathedral, began in 1226.



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70. Gotta love Spanish street signs. Beautiful.



71. A piece of canvas put above a street to protect those below from the intense, intense July sun.



72.



73. Modern apartment building.



74. Toledo is full of architectural treasures.



75. The Cathedral again.



76. And again.



77. Another Moorish building put to Christian use.



78. Plenty of quiet squares with cafes too.



79.



80. Pots hanging from the roof of some building, Im not sure whats the meaning of these...



81. I like this girls hair.



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91. Plaza de Zocodover, a good place to relax in one of its many bars with a cool glass(es) of sangria and watch people.



92. Photographing the photographers.



93. Photographing random girls with their mums.



94. A watermill on the river Tajo which empties itself into the Atlantic at Lisbon for views of it there click on the "Lisbon" link in my signature.



95. Ruined watermill.

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Old July 24th, 2011, 06:01 AM   #2
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Madrid is one of the best cities in the world. I love it.
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Old July 24th, 2011, 11:56 AM   #3
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Amazing and very nice work El_Greco; both cities are really great
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Old July 24th, 2011, 02:39 PM   #4
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You went to Toledo and nothing about your namesake, the great Greek painter El Greco, who considered it home, did some amazing work there and put the city forever on the map? Not a picture of his house, anything.
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Old July 24th, 2011, 05:31 PM   #5
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Nice pics, as most people know I visited both Madrid and Toledo in february. Both cities are great to visit, Madrid is one of my favourite big cities in Europe!

Btw, I took pictures of El Greco's house when I was there. Perhaps it will come later in the thread?
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Old July 24th, 2011, 05:42 PM   #6
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Great pics!

Even if it can be pretty hot, Madrid and Toledo have a special light...
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Old July 24th, 2011, 07:36 PM   #7
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Your observations of Madrid to large extent coincides with mine as I also was there recently. And your pictures are fantastic!
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Old July 24th, 2011, 08:52 PM   #8
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Wonderful Toledo!
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Old July 24th, 2011, 09:30 PM   #9
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Fantastic photos! I went to Madrid in June 2008, where it rained non stop. Seems whenever I leave London in sunny weather it rains elsewhere Atocha is an amazing station, I was going to go to Toledo, but didn't have the time
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Old July 24th, 2011, 10:16 PM   #10
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Wonderful pictures!! I´m glad you have enjoyed your trip to Madrid and Toledo.
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Old July 24th, 2011, 11:04 PM   #11
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Wow Madrid. Now that's what I call a city. Makes me want to go there. Thanks for this beautiful thread.
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Old July 25th, 2011, 05:49 AM   #12
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Beautiful photos of a beautiful city, and above all beautifully presented!
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Old July 25th, 2011, 05:47 PM   #13
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What camera / settings did you use? The photos look so crisp!
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Old July 25th, 2011, 09:33 PM   #14
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I use my old Nikon D50 + 18-135mm and 10-20mm lenses, I did use polariser for most of the shots too.
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Old July 25th, 2011, 10:50 PM   #15
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Beautiful tours, thank you!

I'm not sure I agree, though, that Madrid has no "instantly recognizable architectural icons." The Puerta de Europa buildings (the pair of leaning towers) are quite well known. Perhaps not Eiffel Tower well-known, but most folks who know cities and architecture would recognize them as Madrid, even if they are only moderately impressive in person and live out on the outskirts of the city. But I did go looking for them when I visited, so that must count for something. Oh, and they make the "33 World Buildings" skyscraper poster that they sell over at skyscraperpage - surely that's authoritative.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 01:21 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertWalpole View Post
Madrid is one of the best cities in the world. I love it.
It certainly is!

Quote:
Originally Posted by skymantle View Post
You went to Toledo and nothing about your namesake, the great Greek painter El Greco, who considered it home, did some amazing work there and put the city forever on the map? Not a picture of his house, anything.
Sadly the pull of sangria was stronger...terrible isnt it?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightsky View Post
Nice pics, as most people know I visited both Madrid and Toledo in february. Both cities are great to visit, Madrid is one of my favourite big cities in Europe!

Btw, I took pictures of El Greco's house when I was there. Perhaps it will come later in the thread?
No, no photos of his house. I didnt go to Toledo to see something specific, I simply went there to experience it through walking aimlessly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vecais Sakarnis View Post
Your observations of Madrid to large extent coincides with mine as I also was there recently. And your pictures are fantastic!
Thank you. It would appear that entire SSC converged on Madrid!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pansori View Post
Wow Madrid. Now that's what I call a city. Makes me want to go there. Thanks for this beautiful thread.
Youre welcome and thanks for your comments!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taller, Better View Post
Beautiful photos of a beautiful city, and above all beautifully presented!
Thanks, much appreciated! You really need to get yourself to Europe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bunt_q View Post
Beautiful tours, thank you!

I'm not sure I agree, though, that Madrid has no "instantly recognizable architectural icons." The Puerta de Europa buildings (the pair of leaning towers) are quite well known. Perhaps not Eiffel Tower well-known, but most folks who know cities and architecture would recognize them as Madrid, even if they are only moderately impressive in person and live out on the outskirts of the city. But I did go looking for them when I visited, so that must count for something. Oh, and they make the "33 World Buildings" skyscraper poster that they sell over at skyscraperpage - surely that's authoritative.
Yes but how many people outside this forum actually know about them?

Thanks for your comments people! Some more wouldnt hurt!

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Old July 26th, 2011, 01:45 AM   #17
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Fantastic photos of a great city, thanks very much for the thread.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 04:15 AM   #18
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Thanks
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Old July 26th, 2011, 08:32 AM   #19
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Thanks for the great pics.....
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Old July 26th, 2011, 01:58 PM   #20
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I think we have here two things put together: an excellent photographer as we have seen in Naples and other cities and two beautiful Spanish cities.

Thanks El Greco.

By the way, did you see pictures of El Greco in Toledo?

Do you have more pix?
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