IN PARTNERSHIP: As a city rich in history with royal ties, Madrid is the beating heart of Europe and is the perfect cityscape this season.
Whoever said Spain was only an escape during summer? Madrid, the country’s capital, makes for the perfect cityscape this winter season. Exuding a vibrant culture, rich heritage, a history rooted in royalty, varied gastronomical offerings and a plethora of luxury hotels, this premium city is the ideal destination for a break during the upcoming season.
A Royal Heritage
Similar to many other European countries, Spain still upholds a constitutional monarchy, with the royal family taking residence in the capital city. The Spanish monarchy – now headed up by King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Letizia – dates back to the eighth century. To get a true sense of the city’s royal heritage a visit to the Royal Palace of Ma- dried – also known as the ‘Palacio Real de Madrid’ – is a must-visit. Previously home to monarchs Charles III, Alfonso XIII and more, the Spanish royal family no longer lives there, but it does remain their official residence. While at the Royal Palace of Madrid, take a stroll in the Sabatini Gardens, which features an exhibition of sculptures, located in front of the north façade of the grounds. The palace also houses the Royal Kitchen which reopened five years ago in 2017 after undergoing a huge renovation, but the Real Cocina remains the oldest well-preserved kitchen of a European royal residence.
Continuing the royal tour of Madrid, historical buildings to add to the must-visit list should include: Liria Palace, the official residence of the House of Alba, a well-known Spanish aristocratic family; the Prado Museum which opened in 1819 and was used by King Ferdinand VII to store the royal paintings; and the Royal Botanic Gardens located in the centre of Madrid with more than 5,000 species of plants to see.
As well as these royal heritage spots, the Royal Tapestry Factory is a particularly special venue to visit. First founded in 1720, the neomudéjar building produces the tapestries, carpets and coats of arms for the royal family which can be seen throughout many of the palaces including: Palacio Real, Palacio del Pardo, Palacio de la Granja de San Ildefonso, Palacio de Aranjuez, Palacio de Riofrío, Reales Alcázares, Palacio de Pedralbes, and numerous other national and international institutions.
No visit to Madrid is complete without a shopping experience fit for royalty. While there is Galería Canalejas an avant-garde shopping area is set across 15,000 metres, tourists should also take the opportunity to visit the areas which tell a story. For example, Sanz Joyeros is a century-old jewellery business – now run by Carrera y Carrera – known as the supplier for the Spanish royals. Then there is CapasSeseña, founded by tailor Santos Seseña Rojas in 1901, creating traditional Span- ish capes following traditional cutting and hand-stitching methods. To this day, Capas Seseña is commissioned by the royals for tailor-made pieces. The current monarch, King Felipe VI, has had a Seseña cape since he was 21 years old.
The Spanish capital is home to a plethora of homegrown restaurants and eateries, many of which have witnessed historical moments take place over the years. In particular, Lhardy Restaurante has over 180 years of history in Madrid and is famed for witnessing the meetings of politicians, nobilities and intellectuals resulting in the overthrowing of monarchies and the creation of republics. Meanwhile, for a more casual dining setting, there’s the San Miguel Market. It first opened in 1916 as a local food market, but is now Madrid’s foremost gourmet market and today houses the cuisine from globally renowned chefs.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s Casa Mira, opened by Luis Mira in 1842 with a simple stall. The confectioner soon became a supplier to the royal household during the reign of Isabel II, Amadeo de Saboya, Al- fonso XII, the Regency of María Cristina and Alfonso XIII. To this day, Casa Mira is run by the Mira family and is now located in the area of Carrera de San Jerónimo.
No stay in Madrid is complete without a hotel fit for royalty and several of Madrid’s hotels are housed within buildings that were once noble properties including: AC Pala- cio del Retiro, Catalonia Las Cortes, Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques and more.
For more information visit esmadrid.com/en