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Mad About Madrid

The people of Madrid, who are known as Madrilenos,

use a poetic phrase to describe their city: “De Madrid al cielo” translates to “From Madrid to the sky.” It’s easy to see why travelers fall in love with the Spanish capital. Art, history and gastronomy collide to give the city a heavenly ambiance. Nothing personifies the passionate, artistic soul of the city like the seductive flamenco dance.
The city was made for meandering through its eclectic barrios, its one-of-a-kind neighborhoods, and getting lost between one and the next. Each of Madrid’s districts has its own unique complexion.


Home to the Spanish Royal family, Madrid became Spain’s capital due to its geographical position at the heart of Iberia. Madrid tempts all visitors with grandiose art exhibits, savory small plates of tapas, large green open spaces, and Europe’s largest palace. Yet the Spanish capital remains relaxed. Madrilenos have a zest for life, often dining with revelry that extends long into the morning hours. The thrilling metropolis flaunts styles for every taste. Travelers can spend a week in the capital and will likely only uncover a scattering of its treasures.


Barrio de Salamanca
The city’s most exclusive quarter is Barrio de Salamanca. Broad boulevards with ornate 19th-century facades shelter a refined lifestyle. Tree-lined Calle de Serrano, Calle Ortega y Gasset, Calle de Goya and Calle de Velasquez are some of the classiest streets in Madrid, home to high-end couture, boutique shopping, jewelry stores and gastro tapas bars.


El Retiro Park
Madrid is one of the greenest cities in the world. Covering nearly 300 acres, El Retiro Park is its heart and soul. In the 19th century, the acreage was reserved for select Spanish royalty. Today, it resembles New York’s Central Park as the hub of the grand metropolis with its bicyclists and runners, meandering Madrillenos and vagabond visitors. Sights include the Crystal Palace, Retiro Lake (with its Alfonso XII monument), dazzling fountains, a fragrant rose garden, memorials to Spanish heroes and writers, gazebos and open-air cafes for socializing.


Golden Triangle of Art
When I asked a Madrileno friend how much time I should spend in the city, he replied: “You could spend weeks just visiting Madrid’s three top museums. It has one of the highest concentrations of art on Earth.” The renowned El Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum form the Golden Triangle of Art. The collection at the Prado alone flaunts more than 7,500 Spanish and European paintings. Displaying work from the Renaissance and Baroque periods through the 19th century, it exhibits more than 1,000 sculptures alone.


Phenomenal Dining
Over the past decade, the Spanish capital has seen its once-sedate restaurant scene transform into the hot spot of Spanish dining. Today farm-to-table dining is dedicated to home-style meals, the sort of comfort food that a Madrilena mother would make in her own kitchen. The best way to get a feel for Madrid’s market-oriented culinary scene is to glimpse its packed local markets and food halls. Mercado de San Miguel, near heavily trafficked Plaza Mayor, dates back to 1916 and showcases the best of Spanish cuisine in one building.
Restaurante Botin, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the oldest restaurant in the world. High-end dining begins at L’Atelier Robuchon. Paying homage to late culinary legend Joel Rubicon, the modern restaurant features French haute cuisine with a Spanish touch.


Fabulous Flamenco
Flamenco, the most passionate of Spanish dances, originated in the province of Andalusia in southern Spain — but Madrid is a wonderful place to experience it. In the Salamanca district, at Tabloa Flamenco, a fierce and seductive evening of dancing and singing is presented through gastronomy, music and art by the stately Flamenco de Leones troupe in an intimate dinner and show.


Barrio de Las Letras
The Barrio de las Letras is the city’s library quarter. Many significant literary figures lived in the streets between the Paseo del Prado and the Plaza de Santa Ana during Madrid’s Golden Age. Cervantes, Quevedo and Lope de Vega were among those who passed through. Today its pedestrian streets and eclectic shops share the lively street scene with cafes and beer halls.


Rosewood Villa Magna
The Rosewood Villa Magna hotel occupies a prime location in the heart of Madrid. The luxurious property, with 154 residential units, stands in a coveted place on the grand, tree-lined Paseo de la Castellana. The Rosewood offers guests a chic, elegant solace from the bustle of the outside world. Guests can enjoy high-quality massages and facials at the Sense spa. A Finnish sauna, jacuzzi and steam room enhance the experience. Executive chef Jésus Sanchez helms the Michelin-rated Amos Restaurant.
Air Europa has convenient service from Miami and New York to Madrid Barajas Airport. For schedule and information visit

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