Feb 19 Madrid

Madrid was now within reach and we had booked a night in a hotel for Clyde’s birthday.  The hotel Casuel del Teatro is in a side street a short walk from the centre of Madrid and it is located in a building protected by its high artistic, historical and architectural value.  It was inaugurated in 1925 by the Madrid architect Antonio Rubio.  It was influenced by Neoclassicism, with oil paintings on the façade that give expression to the building.  Inside it has high ceilings, mouldings and the original iron staircase balustrade.  All the rooms are decorated to celebrate an aspect of theatre and ours was no exception. 

Breakfast was taken in the rooftop room with views of the buildings around.

Our stay in Madrid was only for two days and we made the most of being centrally located to explore the old city and to wander around in the evening soaking up the atmosphere.  Usually, we have made our way back to our van by early evening and miss the lively evening scene. 

On our first day, we went to have a look at the Palacio Real, the Cathedral, the Plaza Mayor and the Opera.  We walked 6 miles around this area and took in as many of the lovely buildings and squares as we could.  After an evening stroll around the centre, we decided to eat at the small local restaurant that is located next to the hotel.  As ever, it was frequented by locals and was extremely good value.

Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor
Looking out from Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor Arches
Cathedral in full view

Lots of beautiful buildings around the centre. I can’t remember what they all were. Here is a selection.

This was near the hotel
Jardins de Sabatini

On our second day, after a hearty continental breakfast, we walked across to the Parque del Buen Retiro.  On the way we happened upon the Congreso de Los Diputados, which houses the historical documents from the adoption of the Constitution, from 1812 to 1978.  It was free to enter so we thought we would have a quick look.  It was surprisingly interesting and so an hour was whiled away with no effort.  The next unexpected pleasure was in the Plaza de Cibeles.  The Palacio de Cibeles was designed at the start of the 19th century as the headquarters of the National Postal Service.  It took 12 years to build and was inaugurated on 14 Mar 1919.  At the time it was known as Communications Cathedral and for 100 years it was the nerve centre of a powerful and effective communications system that covered all of Spain.  It was municipalised in 2003 and the process started to turn it into the seat of Madrid City Council and of a new cultural centre.  CentroCentro opened in 2011 and is quite an impressive building.  We had coffee, at vast expense, in the cafeteria but we were too mean to pay for the rooftop visit.

Pedestrian walkway towards the Communication Centre

Our last few hours were spent at the Retiro Park which has lakes, glasshouse, band stand, statues and lots of gardens.  It was a great place to enjoy people watching and to relax.  There was an exhibition of modern art in the Palacio de Velazquez and in the Palacio de Cristal which we were able to visit for free.    

Statues in Retiro Park and Clyde
Grand fountain in the park
Retiro lake
Glass House in Retiro Park

Having walked another few miles, we were happy to get on the train back to Aranjuez.