In many ways, Madrid is the quintessential Spanish city, bringing together the diverse range of offerings in culture, art and cuisine. The city in itself is a culmination of the Spanish way of life. Even as the economy shrunk during the financial crisis, Madrid refused to compromise. Designer ateliers and restaurants refusing to surrender, instead adapted to the needs of the hour. Nightlife boomed as the bars multiplied. Today, Madrid has the most number of bars per capita of any city in the world. In Madrid, there’s always time for indulgences.
It’s difficult not to feel a tiny bit intimidated by the sheer grandeur that is on display in the art-galleries of Madrid. Masterpieces created by master artists – Picasso, Velázquez, Dali, Goya and Miró, decorate the city’s most famous art galleries. The galleries are a work of art in themselves. The Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Centro de Arte Reina Sofía are a destination of an artistic pilgrimage for many around the world.
Madrid’s architecture is more about tinges of grandiose, than the rather monumental emblazons of other European cities. There’s no Eiffel Tower of Madrid, or a Sistine Chapel. Madrid is held together with more subtle cues of the city’s architectural heritage. Medieval mansions dot the cityscape that is equally accommodating of the more contemporary engineering. The humble slate and brick façade of the Madrid baroque is as vital to the city’s backdrop as the ostentatious creations of the belle époque. Needless to say, Madrid is far more Spanish than it is European.
On your first night out in Madrid, you will inevitably catch a wave of madrileños who will transport you into a classic night out. The city is the place to run into strangers who become lifelong souvenirs of the streets of Madrid. There is much to be said about the after-dark face of Madrid which is painted with sophisticated cocktail bars and less refined nightclubs. But dusk turns to dawn over carafes of Sangria, as the dim city lights illuminate the backdrop. And before you can collect your memories for safekeeping, they slip away behind a haze of a quintessential Madridian soiree.