Madrid, other plazas and fountains

In my time in Madrid and many visits afterward, one of my best time was walking, eating ,and having a great time around its many plazas and fountains. It is best to walk, and Madrid is heaven with a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday of your life. I will try to bring some of this magic back in telling you about some of my favorites.

The first that comes to mind is Plaza Canovas del Castillo and its Fuente de Neptuno (fountain of neptune). It is in the centro Cortes district very close to the Prado museum, best to get there is the metro Banco de España line 2.  The fountain was done under king Carlos III that try to modernise the area, and was built looking towards Cibeles.  The fountain of Neptune is done on a carriage in the form of a conch thrown by seahorses;you can see some dolphins around it. It was begun in 1777  and finish in 1786.

My other favorite is a bit off the tourist trail but wonderful area of Madrid I spent many time around here. The Plaza de Castilla and its KIO towers are modern and chic. It is along the Castellana in the district of Chamartin, neighborhood of Castilla, north side of Madrid.  The KIO towers are incline 15% degrees and with 114 meters high each (376 ft) . Around the plaza you will see the obelisk of Calatrava itself 92 meters high (304 ft) ,and 6 meters in diameter (19.8 ft).  the monument of Calvo Sotelo, a huge sculpture of the Spanish jurist and politician, built in 1959 in memory of the assassination that spark the Spanish civil war. The area is one of the main bus terminals in Madrid, above ground many local buses have a stop here, and underground you have buses to nearby cities and inter province service. You reach it on metro Plaza de Castilla ,lines 1,9,10.

The emblematic Plaza de Colon or Columbus plaza, is by paseo de la Castellana, best reach on metro Colon, line 4. It is dedicated to Christopher Colombus (Cristobal Colon) with a spire tower in neo-gothic style built in 1885 with Colombus on top. The highlights of his discoveries are shown at the base. Near the tower you have  a more modern monument of four concrete shape squares showing quotations about Colombus’s journeys. It is my favorite spot for my banking needs when in Madrid at nearby Barclays branch. Around the plaza you have on the south side a palace housing the National Library and the Archeological museum. It has lots of traffic around it but underground there is a cultural center or Centro Cultural de la Villa de Madrid with art’s center, exhibition halls,lectue rooms,theater,and a café.  You have underground too the terminal for the bus that runs to the airport Barajas.

Next for me is the Plaza de España or Spain,it is another busy intersection and a popular meeting place. The plaza slopes down to the Palacio Real or royal palace, and the Sabatini gardens. It was once the site of military barracks in the 19C, and an execution spot during the war of independance made famous by paintings by Goya. On the northern side you have the Edificio de España built in 1948 and the Torre de Madrid built in 1957 which for a while were the tallest buildings in the world. However, the most attractive part is the center occupied by a massive obelisk built in 1928 ,in front there is a statue of Cervantes and below his creation Don Quijote riding his horse Rocinante with Sancho Panza riding alongside in his donkey,on the left you see Dulcinea, the sweetheart of Don Quijote. The story in stone before your eyes ! You get here on metro Plaza de España lines 2,3,10.

The Plaza de Oriente, in the historic center of Madrid, trace it in 1842. You have around you the Palacio Real or royal palace, the Teatro Real, or royal theater (also known as teatro de la opera built in 1850) ,and the statue of king Felipe IV(b. 1634-1640) , and design with the help of Galileo so the horse feet remain off the ground! ,surrounded by a garden. Its northern face is adjacent to the Real Monasterio de Encarnation (royal monastery of the incarnation). Surrounding the plaza you have about 20 sculpture bust of Spanish kings from medieval times built from 1750-1753. Near the street Calle San Quintin, you have the gardens of Cabo Noval, corporal Noval gardens done in 1912. Near Calle de Bailen or street Bailen  and Calle de Vergara you go down a lowering hill to the Calle de Lepanto that gives name to the Jardines de Lepanto or Lepanto gardens with a statue to Captain Angel Melgar built in 1911 and with opening ceremonies under king Alfonso XIII. You can even park your car in the parking at the plaza or walk in to see an archeological find,the wall from the time of the reconquest of Madrid by the king of Castile Alfonso VI!  You reach the plaza on metro Opera line 2,5, and train line R from Principe Pio.

Keeping the old in mind I introduce the Plaza Mayor, it was finished in 1619 AD. It is a splendid rentangular square all with balconies, and pinnacles, deco windows, and steep slate roofs; indeed very Castilian! Many things happenned in the Plaza, the first major one was the beatification of the patron saint of the city, St Isidore (San Isidro) in 1621. Same year execution of Rodrigo Calderon, secretary to king Felipe II. The big feast celebration was the arrival from Italy of king Carlos III in 1760. It has an equetrian statue of king Felipe III in the middle done in 1616.  You have live Madrid, la movida from here as the plaza is line up with the best night action in Madrid. You go into Calle Toledo and reach the flea market, El Rastro. And under the Arcos de Cuchilleros you reach Calle de Cuchilleros with very nice restos there favorites of mine for years and years . You reach here on metro Sol lines 1,2,3.

Last on my tour but not least is the Plaza de la Villa, one of the most happening plazas in Madrid. The oldest building surrounding it is the Torre de Lujanes or tower of Lujanes from early 15C, king François I of France was held prisioner here after the defeat of the battle of Pavia in 1525. then ,you have the Casa de los Cisneros built in 1537 for the nephew of Cardinal Cisneros founder of the University of Alcala de Henares. The ayuntamiento or city hall built from the 1640’s. In the middle there is a statue of the Marquis of Santa Cruz from 1888. You reach here on metro Sol lines 1,2,3 or Opera lines 2,5,train R.

Hope it brings you out into the streets of Madrid, the best way to enjoy the friendly city,and to see these historical marvels of today.


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