Spend a Holiday in Madrid

Every day's your birthday on your Madrid holiday. In this land of dusk-‘til-dawn parties, the fiestas in honour of Madrid’s patron saint San Isidro are even longer and livelier. Pilgrimages, bullfights, and concerts are just some of the traditional events during that time of year.

The centuries-old Plaza Mayor (Main Square) deserves its title for being the place where everything happens; visit its souvenir stalls, jewellery stores, and fabric shops. Bullfights, religious processions, and public executions used to be held here. Among the sights are Casa de la Panadería (bakery), whose attraction isn’t the bread but its frescoed walls, and Casa de la Carnicería (butcher shop), where you won’t get meat, but will meet local politicians. For a lesson in architectural style, visit holy sites such as Capilla del Obispo for Gothic, Basilica de San Miguel for Baroque, and Iglesia de San Pedro el Viejo for Mudejar (Moorish and Christian).

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The streets of Madrid come alive at night with bars, pubs, cafés, terraces, and restaurants where you can come and party; Arguelles, Malasaña, and Paseo del Prado are just some of the hotspots. Horseback riding, pigeon shooting, and car racing are serious hobbies here, and you can also enjoy tennis and golf in Madrid’s many excellent facilities.

Unleash the toro in you and attack… the food, that is. Try Cocido Madrileño, which is vegetable stew with chickpeas and meat, Sopa de Ajo, or garlic soup, and dishes with bacalao or cod. Have some dessert; Madrileños love sweets like barquillos (rolled wafers), mazapán (marzipan), and rosquillas (doughnuts).

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