Madrid is the capital of Spain and has a population of around six million people but the downtown core isn't as extensive as you might expect. The best way to really see everything is to put on your best walking shoes and take a stroll.
In Spain people generally have small living spaces and so spend a lot of time on the streets. By taking to the streets yourself, you really get a feeling of how the locals interact with each other. Not to mention see the architecture, street shows, great little shops and restaurants.
Yesterday my husband and I took our own little saunter around the streets of Madrid’s charming centre. Here is the photo journey of a few things we saw:
Madrid is a very elegant city. The architecture of the older buildings inspires admiration. Most buildings have so many details on that you may miss them at first glance. Take your time to really look at the buildings, be sure to check the details for the balconies, and roofs as they often have engravings and statues.
Strolling through the streets of Madrid is like going on a tour of an open air architect museum. All of the buildings are works of art.
Madrid isn't built in a nice neat grid form. It sometimes feels like you are in a maze trying to find your way out. Most of the plazas, like Puerta del Sol, have five or six streets leaving it going in all different directions.
There are hundreds of little shops in the maze of streets near Madrid’s centre. Some are shops that have been in business for 100’s of years and specialize in local crafts or unique items that you will almost never see anywhere else. There are shops selling capes the gentry wore 300 years ago, shops that sell swords and knives, seamstresses that make to order, leather shops, or stores that sell only notions—thread, trimmings and other sewing accessories. Mingled in with these traditional shops are newer stores, bridal shops, brand name shoes and clothing as well as gourmet food shops. Even if you are only looking in the windows you will be fascinated by the experience.
Live entertainment is on every street corner and plaza throughout the downtown core. Years ago the street performers—which could be just about anything from musicians, mimes, clowns, dancers, singers or bubble blowers—fought for their spot on the street. Some were excellent and some were scammers trying to steal the tourist's money. Recently the city of Madrid decided to regulate the street performers. The street performers must do an audition for the city board. If they are accepted, the board will assign them an area on a street and allow them to perform and accept donations from the crowds that pass by. They are only permitted to perform on their spot and are not allowed to aggressively beg for money.
The result has been a variety of talented entertainers who perform day and night in the streets. So as you walk enjoy what they have to offer and feel free to add a tip if you think they are worthy.
Food trucks have only made their way to the streets of Madrid—or streets of Spain—in the past three or four years.
Taking a stroll through the streets of Madrid will never leave you disappointed.
What are some of the most interesting sights you have seen in the streets of Madrid?