The Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor is right next to the Peurta del Sol and a great place for everything. There will be lots of people leasurly walking around they are plenty of shopping opportunities, tapas bars and nightlife. Another great meeting point and general area to spend a day!
Since its creation, the Plaza Mayor has apparently seen festivities, bull fights, royal coronations and executions. These would be attended by as many as 50,000 people. The Plaza Mayor, a grand arcaded square in the center of Madrid is very popular spot. The symmetrical rectangular square features a uniform architecture, very similar to the contemporary Place des Vosges in Paris.
During the middle ages the site was just a market place outside the city walls. In the 1560s, King Philip II asked Juan de Herrera, architect of the Escorial, to turn the market place into a real square. It would take until 1617, during the reign of King Philips III, before the construction of the new Plaza Mayor started. Under the direction of Herrera's successor, Juan Gómez de la Mora, the plaza was completed in just two years.
The result was a large square, measuring 120m long and 90m wide (394ft x 295ft). It was surrounded by wooden buildings, at one point up to six stories high. Fires destroyed all the buildings around the Plaza Mayor three times in history: in 1631, 1672 and 1790. Each time they were rebuilt, the last reconstruction after a design by Juan de Villanueva is what we see today.
The Plaza Mayor is just a short walk from the Peurta Del Sol area as well.
There are some annual markets in open air. in may you find a book market in El Retiro, its called the Feria del libro and longs for several weeks. In december you can find the feria de Artesanos, which seels ceramique, leatherwear and glasswork. in may you can buy pottery at the feria de la ceramiqua in malasana. In february the ARCO is held. its an art fair. its held in parque ferial juan carlos 1. A weekly market is the interesting Mercadillo de Sellos y monedas, where you can buy stamps, coins and postcards.
Rug up during May! Make sure you check the weather forecasts before visiting Madrid in May. We went in 2004 and I thought the end of Spring would bring sunny, warmish weather to the city of Madrid, but how wrong I was!
Try 11 degrees maximum and 0 to 3 minimum (celsius)! Luckily we were prepared, and had some great layering clothes and a jacket each. It didn't rain too much, but was definitely chilly at night.
Casa de Campo
This place was used by the arabs to have their camps as they were attacking Madrid. later on it became the Royal's hunting field. Nowadyas the campo is a hughe place with trees and fields and reservoirs. it has an attracktionspark with more than 50 attracktions, a zoo-aquarrium and a cable car.
Nightlife areas in Madrid
There are many different areas in Madrid where to go out, depending on what you are looking for. Just to list a few:
1 Huertas, near the hearth of the city (Metro Sol).
2 Malasania, more alternative and radical (Metro Tribuna)
3 Torre Europa and Avenida Brasil (Metro Santiago Bernabeu)
4 Chueca, gay & lesbian quarter (Metro Chueca)
5 Islas Filipinas or Moncloa, students nightlife
6 Orense, (Metro Nuevos Ministerios)
7 ... sure many others, but these are those I use to go. Of course, depending on the area, but consider that for many places, shoes are required.