I really loved Madrid. It wasn’t that touristy when I was there and it has a great relaxed atmosphere with a ton of culture. As always, here are my tips for Madrid:
- Most museums are free for students or have certain days and times when they are free to the public. Booking in advance can save you some time in museum lines.
- The public transportation is pretty new and functional. Google Maps works great with the transportation system, though keep in mind if you’re going to the airport with the subway there may be an extra cost. Walking is also a great option.
- Stay up late. The hours are shifted in Spain, with late lunches and late dinners (around 8 pm).
- The permanent must sees were: Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Prado for a range of artwork, Sorolla Museum, and Guernica at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
- Nice outdoor spaces: pay a quick stop by Plaza Mayor, check out the park by Rio Manzanares and the art at Matadero, Parque del Oeste and the Temple of Debod, Real Jardín Botánico, and Parque Retiro
- Places to eat: go to San Ginés for chocolate and churros. The Calles Cava Alta and Baja generally have good tapas, as do mercados, or markets. I also had good food at Taberna la Concha and La Rue
- Lots of restaurants will have a menu del dia, or daily menu, which often is three courses and wine for a very reasonable price.
Thankfully my last day in Madrid was pretty calm. A late afternoon flight meant that I was able to take my time before heading to the airport (which is accessible by metro). The one thing that I was really determined to see before I left was Picasso’s Guernica. It’s housed in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and because I didn’t have a ton of time to spend in the museum, I made a beeline for the floor that it’s located on. Because it’s such a notable piece, Guernica is housed in its own room. The room is located in an inner room, so I took my time exploring the surrounding outer rooms. Much of what I saw wasn’t really to my taste, but I still found the odd work of art that I really liked.
I did however really love seeing Guernica. To give the museum due credit, they really did a great job of presenting the painting. It’s huge. Thus the room is huge. This is all just emphasized by the fact that the painting is pretty much the only thing in the room. The other things displayed there are some pictures of Picasso working on Guernica. His mistress Dora Maar did an excellent job of photographing the various stages of the work, and it’s fascinating to actually see how Picasso went about painting Guernica. It was also interesting to see some of the works that Picasso did to compliment Guernica, called his Postscripts to Guernica, located in a neighboring room. While it seems a bit of a shame to go to a museum just to see one particular painting, I would have to say that it was absolutely worth it.
Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take many pictures inside the museum, hence the limited pictures above. Once I had finished checking out Guernica and a few of the museum’s other rooms, I was off to the airport.