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Madrid, an Iberian Jewel

I have visited lots of European cities, and they all have their attractions. Madrid was a fantastic place to see for me, purely in terms of its architecture.

Simply stunning.

The city lies on the River Manzanares, and surprisingly has quite a lot of forest and woodland surrounding it, and that is where we will start this little piece, looking out over the trees towards the city.

looking over the forests to the city of Madrid in Spain

There are lots of little designated areas in the city, and the heart of that is the Centro area with the Gran Via and other notable structures and public spaces.

The Puerta del Sol is a public square between the Gran Via and the Plaza Mayor which we will come to shortly - the square has a statue of King Carlos III and interestingly is the 0km marker point for all distances in Spain.

the Puerta del Sol in Madrid on a baking hot day

If you exit the square on the road ahead in the image above then you will wander down towards the super-impressive Plaza Mayor, built around 1580 and once the centre of old Madrid.

the Plaza Mayor in central Madrid

There are ten different entrances to the Plaza Mayor and in the very centre is a fantastic sculpture of Phillip III on top of his horse.

the statue of Phillip III on a horse in the Plaza Mayor

If you retrace your steps and wander back through the Puerta del Sol you will arrive back on the Gran Via, the busiest and biggest of all the streets in the centre of Madrid and home to some amazing buildings.

The image below captures the vibrant feel of the street, all sorts of things going on, all sorts of buildings towering over you on each side, from the old to the brutal to the modern.

the Gran Via, in Madrid

But there is also colour, lots of it too.

Especially on a hot summer's day, which is pretty much every day in Madrid which was probably the hottest city I have ever visited. Well over 40 degrees during the daytime as we strolled along the streets.

This bright light and clear sky bring out the best of the architecture.

the bright colours of the buildings on the Gran Via

The heat stays with the city even into the early evening, almost as if it was trapped and couldn't escape.

The failing light delivers new views of the Gran Via.

the Gran Via in Madrid as the light fails

Now I am a big fan of round-ended buildings, they really do catch the eye and provide something different on a street.

The Schweppes building (as I call it) provides exactly that. High up on a wonderfully curved building, pointing out onto the Gran Via is the sign and as the light fails, you can spot it a mile away. Brilliant.

the Schweppes sign on the Gran Via

I am going to finish this little journey with my favourite image of Madrid.

Taken in the evening on the Gran Via. The last inklings of the daytime light were failing and all the buildings were becoming brighter as the neon signs flickered into full power.

I look at this image and can still feel the heat and the buzz of the place.

The Gran Via as the evening lights come into play

I will revisit Madrid one day, the city has a great feel to it, the food is great and there is lots to see and enjoy.


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