Travels in Madrid – Day 3

March 5, 2013

Tuesday 3rd March 2013

We took another bus tour around the city this time following a different route and passed by the Neptune Fountain.  Sculptor Juan Pascual de Mena began building this marble statue in 1780, under the orders of King Carlos III and in 1786 his disciple José Rodríguez finished off the project, which represents Neptune, God of the Sea, with a trident in one hand and a coiled snake in the other. The figure is standing on a chariot, drawn by two sea horses and surrounded by dolphins.  When the Atletico Madrid football team win a trophy the fountain becomes a focus of their celebrations.

The Neptune Fountain

The Neptune Fountain

We stopped at the renowned archaeological museum, one of Madrid’s oldest museums, dating back to 1867.  It shares the same building as the Biblioteca Nacional and Museo del Libro and traces the evolution of human cultures, from prehistoric times up to the 15th century.  Unfortunately the museum was closed for renovations and we were unable to enter.

Museo Arqueologico Nacional

Museo Arqueologico Nacional

We passed the Palacio Real, or Royal Palace, which is Madrid’s largest building and possibly its most beautiful.  It is the largest royal palace in Western Europe and was built on the site of the old Alcázar, the Moorish castle destroyed by fire in 1734.

The Palacio Real

At the bottom of the road where our hotel was situated lies the fountain of Cybele, one of the city’s best known landmarks.  It was designed by Ventra Rodriguez and depicts the goddess of nature riding a chariot drawn by a pair of prancing lions.  The pair of water-spouting cherubs were added later.  When the city’s other major football team and perhaps more famous team, Real Madrid, win a trophy, the fans head for this fountain to celebrate.

Cibeles Fountain

The Cybele Fountain

Later that evening I watched Real Madrid beat Manchester United in Manchester on TV in the café attached to our hotel.  It was a brilliant match and if I was a Real fan I would not have had far to go to celebrate.

Tomorrow we have to pass by the Cybele monument to catch the airport bus for our flight home.  It has been an enthralling holiday.  Madrid is a city well worth visiting, the people are very friendly and we can return home having enjoyed a most wonderful trip.

Travels in Madrid – Days 1 and 2

March 4, 2013

3 March 2013 & 4 March 2013

Caught the 12.10 pm flight from Gatwick and arrived in Madrid around 4 pm local time.  Then took a bus to the city centre and arrived at our hotel at about 5.30 so, apart from a brief walk to a restaurant nearby had little time for site seeing.

Took a city bus tour the next day starting very near Madrid’s most famous square, the Plaza Mayor.

Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor

The tour took us passed Real Madrid’s famous football stadium where Manchester United drew in the Champion’s league on 13th February.  They are due to play again in the second leg of this fixture in Manchester tomorrow.  Last year I was in Lisbon when Chelsea beat Benfica in the same competition and then went on to win the champioship.  Perhaps some of the luck I experienced then will rub off on the Manchester team.

Real Madrid Stadium

Real Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium

We passed many striking statues on this tour and I was particularly impressed by the Puerta de Alcala, an imposing city gateway designed by Francesco Sabatini.

Puerta de Alcala

The Puerta de Alcala

That afternoon we visited the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia which houses an amazing collection of Spanish 20th and 21st century art and saw Picasso’s famous painting, Guernica.

Then in the evening we walked down the hill towards the Neptune Fountain and as the clock struck 8 o’clock saw the dancing statues parade on the balcony of the Plusultra Seguras.

Dancing Balcony Statues

The dancing statues of the Plusultra Seguras

Off to Madrid for a few days on Sunday

February 27, 2013

Watch out for blog, tweets and photos.  Called into Woking post office lunchtime for Euros.  One euro is now nearly worth one British pound – time to holiday in UK.  Called into the Herbert Wells while in Woking for a pint of Piddle (a Dorset ale) and a burger.

Woking Martian

Back jogging to Hockey Club regularly again – should nullify the effects of the beer and burger I consumed.

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