Madrid as a capital city of a rapidly emerging and highly influential partner within the European Community deserves respect.
It is a wonderful city with highly fascinating people. The paradox with Madrid is that quite often it is viewed as being second to Barcelona in terms of appeal. Now I know Barcelona has the Cathedral, the Nou Camp Stadium and was the venue for the most recent Olympic Games to be held in Spain but to write Madrid off as Spains second city seems to miss the point completely.
Of course the Catalans may espouse Barcelona for its elegance and creativity but just because parts of Madrid might need the odd lick of paint here and there doesnt mean that Madrid is any the less important or influential.
Madrid has very much the archetypal continental climate in that it has very cold winters and hot summers which means for those who don’t like extremes in temperatures the spring and autumn are the best times to visit.
Madrid has a great many attractions of which a royal palace, many grand public squares, three internationally renowned art galleries, and a great many museums filled with the treasures of the long and glorious history of Spain.
As a city the modern day Madrid that you see is very much the result of a very turbulent history. Madrid and Spain have been conquered and re conquered down throughout history a great many times and one of the great influences in Madrid is that of the North African influence of the Moors. This is reflected in the area of La Latina.
La Latina is an area of Madrid quite often overlooked by the majority of tourists and visitors but it is home to the Plaza la Paja which was Madrids main square during medieval times.
the decline of the Moorish influence in Spain meant that this part of Madrid became known as a moreria otherwise known as an enclosed ghetto where Muslims live. Memories of days gone by can still be found in some of the rich place names found here. As in most international cities with these types of areas, it is at night time that they truly come alive.
Don’t let the slightly grubby appearance from time to time and the general down at heel atmosphere confuse you this is an international capital city with all that that entails. Mention this to the madrilenos and all they will likely do is shrug, sigh and suggest that there are more important things in life worth bothering about?
Who is to say they are wrong?
North of the city you will find Masalena, a wonderful cobble stoned area stretching from the city centre. This is a fabulous part of Madrid once described as being like the girlfriend or boyfriend you couldn’t bring home to your mother. With graffiti, posters and street art on virtually every conceivable surface Malasana has an anarchic feel and atmosphere that tells you this is the place to be at the right time of day.
The trouble is as far as perennial party goers will tell you, in this part of Madrid it is sometimes party time all of the day.
There is an awful lot more to Madrid that initial impressions would indicate. Dig slightly deeper, look underneath the stones and beyond the flaking paint and you will embark upon a love affair with a city that will last for many a year.
You will lose a lot if you miss Madrid.