Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spain: Madrid, Part II

(Here's Part II of our time in Madrid!)

One of the places I really wanted to visit was the inside of the Palacio Real, the official residence of the royal family of Madrid, even though it is now only used for state ceremonies.  There are 2800 rooms, with about 26 open to the public.  The palace is just immense; it's 1.5 MILLION square feet, making it the largest palace in Europe by square footage.

Palacio Real
Dad and I couldn't get over the finery of the interiors.  It definitely reminded me of Versailles, but with a Spanish feel.  It was just so ornate and rich.  We also really loved the Royal Armoury, with some of the most remarkable pieces of armor, weaponry, and other military history that we've seen.  It rivals what I saw at the Tower of London, and it was really cool to see the armor for horses and even practice armor for your royal children!

Dad wanted to see the Plaza de Toros, but we missed the tour hours!  Still, seeing the outside of the building was pretty impressive.  I'm not a fan of bullfights (those poor animals!) but understand that it is a tradition and big cultural event for many Spaniards.

Plaza de Toros
We also took some time to explore the Museo Nacional del Prado, an ENORMOUS art museum that had some incredible pieces.  There was a temporary exhibition of pieces from the Hermitage in Russia, a great collection by Goya (including his Black Paintings) and some fantastic sculpture.  I think we both liked the Rembrandts a lot, as well as the ornate hair pieces/jewelry/trinkets in the Hermitage exhibit.

Museo del Prado

And what trip to Spain would be complete without some flamenco?  Our entire group went to a fantastic dinner at Corral de la Moreria.  (By the way, Palacio Real, Museo del Prado, and Corral de la Moreria are all mentioned in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die!)  I wasn't a huge fan of the giant prawns (seafood freaks me out!) but I think I ate ever last grain of rice in the paella with chicken.  I also loved all of the wine I had at the restaurants in Spain; no matter what price point, I thought it was fantastic!

The flamenco was fascinating.   I didn't realize how much stomping and energy was involved!  It was a sensory overload-type experience.  The dancers had to be in incredible shape; they really put so much emotion into it.  I really enjoyed Madrid, and this was the perfect ending to that visit.

Corral de la Moreria

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