Madrid is an ex-convent schoolgirl, a rebellious teenager who pushed the boundaries of hedonism and then grew up and got sophisticated without ever forgetting how to have fun. That’s why this is a city as at home in the nightclubs and bars that give the streets their soundtrack as it is in the hallowed halls of high culture.
It’s true that Spain’s capital doesn’t have the immediate cachet of Rome, Paris or even that other city up the road, Barcelona. Its architecture is beautiful, but there’s no Colosseum, no Eiffel Tower, no Gaudí-inspired zaniness to photograph and then tell your friends back home, ‘this is Madrid’. But this city is an idea, a way of living for the moment that can be hard to resist.
Madrid’s calling cards are many: astonishing art galleries, relentless nightlife, its transformation into Spain’s premier style city, an exceptional live music scene, a feast of fine restaurants and tapas bars, and a population that’s mastered the art of living the good life. It’s not that other cities don’t have some of these things. It’s just that Madrid has all of them in bucketloads.
It’s often said that this is the most Spanish of Spain’s cities and it is indeed Europe’s most passionate city writ large. Very few Madrileños come from here originally, possibly making this Europe’s most open and welcoming capital. If this can be summed up in a single phrase, it’s the oft-heard, ‘If you’re in Madrid, you’re from Madrid’. It’s not that they’ll knock you over with the warmth of their welcome. Rather, you’ll find yourself in a bar or lost somewhere and in need of directions, and you’ll suddenly be made to feel like one of their own. Just as quickly, without knowing when it happened, you’ll realise that you never want to leave.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
- Kick off your 'Best of Spain' tour in Madrid
- Experience the grandeur of El Escorial monastery
- Discover the rich history and culture of Madrid with a Madrid Card
- Take a day trip to beautiful Toledo
Last updated: Jan 17, 2013
Tips & articles
31 October 2012
When it comes to art, Madrid knows few rivals. The Museo Del Prado justifiably attracts more visitors than any other...
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