Madrid Parque de el Retiro - Madrid by Rob Inh00d

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 12th May 2010 and has been read 38945 times.

City of Modern LivingSlap bang at the heart of the Iberian Peninsula is the very vibrant and bustling city, Madrid. Since 1563, this mesmerising metropolis has been Spain's capital and quite rightly so, being the epicentre for parties, panache and progressive political movements (the 80s la movida punk movement gave birth to artists such as Almodóvar, amongst many others).
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Why should I choose Madrid for my year abroad?

Bursting at the seams with culture, Madrid is home to the aptly known Golden Triangle of Art (Museo del Prado, Museo de la Reina Sofía and the Museo Thyseen Borenmisza are all worth their weight in tapas). The names and works of the Spanish greats, Goya, Velázquez and Picasso, resonate through these empirical establishments. Be sure not to miss the thrilling Guérnica, debatably Picasso's greatest offering to the world of art and politics.

The pulse of this capital city beats from its historic barrios (the Palacio Real and the Biblioteca Nacional offer visions of grandeur the French can only envy) right through to its more modern, hippy-esque neighbourhoods (well worth a visit are the barrios of Lavapies and Moncloa — the latter being the student district). Have a few servings of tapas in La Latina and admire the impromptu flamenco tablaos on offer.

If literati are more your thing, then you should check out Barrio de las Letras, a little touristy but worth the detour to admire the homes of Cervantes and Quevedo, amongst many others, and perhaps find the inspiration to pen your very own dissertation on the Spanish language. Historians and explorers can (re)discover the world of Spanish conquistadores in the much-acclaimed Museo de América, pre- and post-colonization. Madrid is also privy to many a popular plaza, two of which cannot be missed — Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, popular meeting spots for locals, with loads to admire, from statues to open-air symphonies. All the hustle and bustle of the city may have you aching for 5 minutes respite, and this can be found in El Retiro, Madrid's equivalent to New York's 'Central Park'.

After a mad night out in one of the many bars running along the streets of trendy Chueca or alternative Malasaña, you'll want to feast on some churros y chocolate, after rolling out of clubs at a decidedly conservative 7AM. Should you feel the city life isn't all it's cracked up to be (it really is, by the way), you could always stick it out just to see the yearly Festival de Transhumancia, a festival that gives sheep and other farm animals the chance to run through the specifically warded-off streets of Madrid! A city, in short, that can really call itself the big (goat's) cheese.

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