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Madrid - Spain

Palacio Real, Madrid El Rastro Sunday Market, MadridRetiro Park, Madrid

Madrid, Spain's capital is situated right in the middle of the country.  Surrounded by the mountains, the city rivals only Barcelona for Spain's cultural heart.

Madrid has many attractions, including the impressive Prado art gallery.  Here many famous paintings are displayed, including many works by Goya, Velazquez and El Greco.  The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is stunning, overlooking the gardens of the Campo del Moro.

Madrid is a working city and as such has a vibrant shopping and entertainment scene, aimed more for locals than tourists.  The Sunday morning market along El Rastro started life as a flea market, but is nowadays one of Madrid's biggest shopping destinations.  There are still some flea market stalls, but the majority are selling clothing, handicrafts and homeware.  The street can get extremely crowded but this all adds to the experience.

To escape the bustle head to the Retiro Park.  This is a relaxing area, withg locals enjoying life in the open air.  The boating lake is very popular, while the Rose Garden and Chinese Garden are other distractions.  Many locals just like to buy an ice cream and stroll around or else sit and watch the world go by.

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