Plaza Mayor. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Madrid

Landlocked atop a desert plateau, Madrid was once the baroque centre of a global empire and the wellspring of a golden age of art and literature. Despite centuries of wear and a recent civil war, the city still functions as a massive open-air museum to visitors while also operating efficiently as fourth-largest city in Europe.

For some, its breathless nightlife of countless tapas bars, always packed plazas, and multilevel clubs and discos might overshadow what’s happening while the sun’s out. But Madrid is not a bar town. Its “Golden Triangle” of museums – the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen – house three of the world’s greatest art collections. Located in the center of a country with one of the world’s strongest culinary traditions, Madrid takes in the catch from all directions, creating a gastronomical tour of the entire country in a single city.

But stepping away from the tourist hubs offers opportunities to explore lesser-known perspectives on the city. Down the hill from Puerta del Sol’s lights and giant facadesis Lavapiés, both an immigrant quarter and bohemian neighbourhood, where the outdoor tables along Calle de Argumosa fill with young drinkers most summer nights. Further south, the newly renovated Matadero (the city’s old slaughterhouse) has been turned into a enormous art space and hopes to become an important European creative centre. It’s also located along the banks of the Manzanares – Madrid’s long ignored river – which has recently been reclaimed and rejuvenated as a vast inner-city greenbelt.

Madrid is often overwhelming at first – its unabating energy, sprawling form and apparent lack of centrepiece monuments can make it difficult to get a handle on. But with time and unhurried exploration the city’s revealing details take shape. Like all of the world’s great metropolises, it is a place where expectations meet their end and an openness to life’s unending variety begins.

Madrid Articles
2

I live in the “hood” of Madrid. And that’s ok.

by Lauren Victoria

This Spanish “Robin Hood” restaurant is the feel-good story you need to get you through the day

by Matt Hershberger
10

The best taco in Madrid

by Tom Gates
21

The world’s best cities for late night food

by Sascha Matuszak
9

How to: Enjoy Madrid on the cheap

by Sarah E. Rogers
1

A quick guide to the neighborhoods of Madrid

by Rodolfo Contreras
2

10 things that happen to you when you move to Madrid

by Sarah de los Cobos

Meet the Madrid barber who cuts hair with fire and swords

by Matt Hershberger
1

What to expect from a dancefloor in Madrid

by Alex Scola
1

Real Madrid signs 7-year old soccer prodigy

by Lindi Horton
9

Hot chicks carving on longboards

by Joshywashington
1

A tapas tour of Madrid

by eric warren
15

World Cup studs skip down to their skivvies

by Candice Walsh

The world’s 10 most technologically advanced airport terminals

by Matt Scott
10

Madrid Erotica Festival: Your wet dream come true?

by Abha Malpani
141

The world’s 10 best rooftop bars

by Ross Borden
35

Where in Spain should I study abroad?

by Jon Brandt
45

20 best airports to be stranded in

by Hal Amen
Load More