While seeing a Verdi opera at the Teatro Real or Picasso’s famed Guernica are two ways to experience art in Madrid, the city’s chefs also elevate new cuisine to an art form—or some might even say a science. Inside Madrid’s eclectic restaurants, like El Chaflan, DiverXo, or Coque, culinary alchemists mix flavors in new and inventive ways that inspire all of the senses. Similarly, a crop of stylish new gastrobars, like Estado Puro and Le Cabrera, are putting a fresh spin on traditional specialties.
Just north of Madrid’s historic center, the renovated Salamanca district is the place to go for high-end fashion streets like Serrano and Goya. Locals call this strip the “Golden Mile” for its ultra-glamorous shops and luxury boutiques carrying top Spanish and international designers, including Adolfo Dominguez, Amaya Arzuaga, Prada, and Manolo Blahnik. It’s also the neighborhood for upmarket jewelers, like Suarez, Tiffany & Co., and Bulgari.
Few cities can rival Madrid’s renowned Paseo del Arte, or “Golden Triangle of Art,” formed by three of the most important art museums in the world located about 10 minutes apart. The three major stops include: The Prado, a magnificent bastion housing classics from Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, and others; the Reina Sofia National Museum showcasing contemporary icons, such as Picasso and Miro; and the wonderful Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum featuring Gothic and Renaissance pieces. Along the Art Walk, there are also radar-worthy smaller galleries, cutting-edge foundations, and cultural institutes, including Matadero Madrid and CaixaForum, which is hosting “Federico Fellini: Circus of Illusions” until December 26.
Here are some of the best World Markets to visit:
- San Francisco | Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market– Waterfront location. 80 Bay Area purveyors on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. 1 Ferry Bldg., The Embarcadero; 415/983-8030; www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com
- London | Borough Market – Stalls, pubs, shops, and small restaurants. Come early on Thursday or Friday and avoid the Saturday crowds. 8 South-wark St.; 44-20/7407-1002; www.boroughmarket.org.uk.
- Madrid | Mercado de San Miguel– In a 1916 Beaux-Arts building, San Miguel market stood abandoned for years—until renovated in 2009. Plaza de San Miguel; www.mercadodesanmiguel.es
- Paris | Marche des Enfants Rouges– Petite marche in the Marais (one of the oldest in Paris) is the spot for an affordable meal. 39 Rue de Bretagne, Third Arr.
- Palermo, Italy | La Vucciria– Palermo’s labyrinth of narrow passageways piled with produce. Between Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Piazza San Domenico.
- Istanbul | Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) – Istanbul’s 15th-century bazaar with more than 4,000 shops spread out over 65 covered streets. Between Nuruosmaniye, Mercan, and Beyazit; 90-212/519-1248; www.kapalicarsi.org.tr
- Mexico City | Mercado de la Merced – Spans several city blocks and has more than 3,000 vendors from across Mexico. Anillo de Circunvalacion between GeneralAnaya and Adolfo Gurrion; 52-55/5522-7250.
- Sao Paulo, Brazil | Mercado Municipal Paulistano– 1930’s market known for its cathedral-worthy stained-glass dioramas. 306 Rua da Cantareira; 55-11/3313-3365; www.mercadomunicipal.com.br
- Melbourne | Queen Victoria Market – Open since 1878, “Queen Vic” is an over-l,000-stall melting pot. 513 Elizabeth St.; 61-3/9320-5822; www.qvm.com.au
- Singapore | Tiong Bahru Market –Circular 1950’s building, with second-floor hawker center with more than 80 food stalls. 30 SengPoh Rd.
Madrid is the capital of Spain and a city of over 3 million people. Situated close to the geographic center of Spain, Madrid’s main attractions include three internationally acclaimed art galleries, a royal palace, grand public squares, and many museums filled with treasures of Spain’s history. The city is surrounded by it’s own small province, the Comunidad de Madrid. One of Spain’s most famous monuments, the palace of El Escorial, is also located in the Comunidad.
Stretching from the charming Plaza de la Villa to the busy Puerta del Sol, the compact heart of Old Madrid is easily navigated on foot. Old Madrid is full of history and interesting sights. Trials of the Inquisition and executions were once held in the Plaza Mayor. This porticoed square is Madrid’s finest piece of architecture from the Habsburg period.
Sampling tapas and cocktails are an intrinsic part of Madrid culture. Restaurants rarely open earlier than 8pm, and are typically open into the early morning hours. One of the best ways to sample tapas in a unique lively environment is to sit at one of the stalls in the Mercado de San Miguel, which is half-market, half bar & restuarant.
For lodging in Madrid, our top pick is Hostal Madrid. This apartment/hotel is an excellent place to stay if you are visiting Madrid for a few days or for longer periods. Situated in “Old Madrid”, one of two main historic districts in the central city, the location is excellent. Walking distance to some of Madrid’s most important attractions in the Old Town, one can easily reach the Palacio Real and the Plaza Mayor, within about 10 or 15 minutes. Hostal Madrid is closest to the Puerta del Sol, one of the city’s liveliest areas with shops and cafes.