And then Madrid took me to another place, more comfortable and friendly, the place where it could tell me about its life a bit... so I could see some of its buddies and listen to the music it likes to listen, smell the soon to be ready dinner and secretly giggle at a stupid comment of one of its guests... Hey, Madrid, it seems I've started to like you!
Behind fences and bars
There are some residential areas in Madrid with villas. If you have had the thought to see them, just forget it!
The people in Madrid that are living in beautiful small houses just don't want to show them, it seems to me. They hide behind high walls, fences and dense vegetation and you will have no possibility at all to study the architecture or the gardens.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial
King Felipe II's reign in the 16th century was marked by the rise of Protestantism in Europe. In 1559, the king gave Spanish architect Juan Bautista de Toledo the task of creating a "perpetual home for the Catholic Crown of Spain" that would become "an expression in stone of Catholicism in Spain". It resulted in the construction of the magnificient monastery and royal palace of El Escorial, located in the small town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 50 km away from Madrid. The palace is now open to the public, and it makes for a really great day-trip destination.
A visit to the palace includes a tour of the royal family's private chambers, the beautiful basilica and stunning library, with its priceless collection of over 40,000 volumes, as well as the Royal Pantheon where, for the last five centuries, the kings and queens of Spain have been buried. As with all Spanish royal palaces, there is also an impressive collection of paintings on display. There's a small but beautiful garden next to the palace, from where you can enjoy a nice view of El Escorial.
But for the best possible view of the palace and the surrounding village, you need to go to "La Silla de Felipe II" (King Felipe II's chair), located in the beautiful forest of La Herreria (for directions, check out Redang's tips). Legend has it that the king had picked this particular spot to keep an eye on the palace as it was being built. There's indeed a seat carved in stone from where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the palace and its natural surroundings - truly worth the little detour!
To get to El Escorial, you can catch a train leaving from Atocha station every 30 minutes, from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the station to the palace. Opening hours are 10:00 am to 6:00 pm every day (closed on Mondays). Admission: 8 Euros.
Filmoteca (Cine Dore)
The old modernist building of the Dore Cinema of Madrid houses now the National Film Centre. Is a small cinema, near the Atocha street (Metro Anton Martin) where they show old films in original version (with spanish subtitles) at very low prices (1,30 euros). You have to go early (after lunch) for the tickets, they sell out quickly being so cheap!
Movies schedules at the link below:
pub in black and red tones, small tables. great staff but they dont seem to speak english. The pub is a good starter to explore the district, which is very popular amongst locals in the weekends. casual