Tag Archive: Plaza Mayor



SLOW. Like Snails. 

Why not? It’s my 6th visit to Madrid and this time taking my oldest sister for a month-long holiday. The first day was hard for her, hardly sleeping on our long flight from Manila. We managed to go out on Day 2 but careful not to tire her out. The bus in front of our Madrid crib took us to Almudena Cathedral, right beside Palacio Real. The mandatory shots in front of the Royal Palace turned out alright. There was a long snaking line outside for those seeking admission into the Palace. We trooped to the nearby Cathedral instead where a mass was going on. Coming out, we turned right down the street to get inside La Crypta. For a €1 donativo, one finds solace in this Crypt underneath the Cathedral. An altar inside tells you that mass services must be held here too though I never heard one since I started frequenting the place. Why, you ask? I like how tranquil the place is. More so than in the Cathedral where the religious and the tourists comprise the crowd. One time, I sat beside a friendly priest visiting from Zimbabwe. We prayed quietly then. 


From La Crypta, we crossed the street to view portions of the ancient muralla (walls) before walking up along Calle Mayor. It’s a 1 kilometer walk from this corner to Puerta Del Sol. Many iconic landmarks and short detours along this main road. First off is my favorite tiny square called Plaza de la Villa. The old Town Hall can be found here. The oldest building, fully restored, in Madrid. Across it is the Tower where the French monarch Francois I was imprisoned for a year following their defeat in the Battle of Pavia. In the center of the square is a statue of a naval commander who led the Spanish Armada. Truly, a very interesting square.


Not very far, and still walking along Calle Mayor, you’d find Mercado de San Miguel. You can pick up a Sangria or a Tinto de Verano here, to go with a cone of fried calamares or octopus or boquerones. Great appetizers! The giant paelleras of greatlooking Paella Negra or Marinara may appeal to firsttimers like my sister. But I won’t be fooled a 2nd time 😜. From here, we walked just a few more steps, under one of 9 or so arched entrance ways, towards Plaza Mayor. Being a Saturday, it was way too crowded. 


Museo de Jamon. It’s a chain. Their tapas bar on the littered ground floor is packed with tourists. On the second floor, we found a table and this old waiter who fondly calls my niece La Niña. We took our seats, and ordered enough for our lunch here, and leftover dinner later! No problem having a meal replay of callos, pecaditos and boquerones. We didn’t bring home the pulpo, and we drank our sangria to the last drop. It won’t be our best meal and we’re really being touristy here, but hey, it’s my sister’s first time in Madrid. 


For dessert, we walked FASTER towards Chocolateria de San Gines. Churros con Chocolate for my sister and niece. Cafe for me. Refueled, we managed to do some shopping. Then some snapshots with the Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue, an iconic landmark to be found in the Puerta Del Sol. Before taking the metro here going home, I wanted to get inside La Mallorquina for some napoleones and marron glacé but the place looked like it’s been invaded by tourists! 


Home is in Bravo Murillo. We heard anticipated mass in the Parroquia right next to our building. Estamos Felices! 


The main plaza or Plaza Mayor is just a few steps from Puerta del Sol in Madrid. Your best bet is to take the Metro and get off in Sol. To make things even more right, be sure to cross the street from Sol towards the Ayuntamiento or City Hall and stand firmly with your feet on that marker that says “Kilometro O”. A very touristy behavior, but who cares?

 

 

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To the right of the Ayuntamiento are 2 streets both ending in the Palacio Real and Almudena Cathedral area. The street on the right is Calle del Arenal where you would be tempted to drop by for churros con chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines. So take the road on the left instead. That’s Calle Mayor where you walk past Museo de Jamon ….. Oops.

 

 

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On your left side, watch out for an alley that leads to Plaza Mayor. I think this is Calle Felipe III. Take this alley and be sure to drop in on this small shop where you can check out your “apellido” and buy a keychain with your family heraldry or insignia or emblem….. I found mine, and my family name like many Filipinos has Spanish roots. Mine is a special clan of mercenary warriors noted for their bravery. Paid soldiers!

 

 

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Within the square you may want to visit the Tourist Information Center. You can pick up maps here and check out some guided tours. Many chose to do the “hop on, hop off” red tour bus for €20. If you’re not keen on walking and would just want to sightsee from your bus seat (it’s open on the 2nd level), then this is for you. Otherwise, take the unlimited tourist pass for €9.30 (1day) or €13 (3 days) which you can use taking the metro or bus and explore on your own. After all, the metro stops for the tourist sites are clearly marked and Madrid has a superb metro system.

 

 

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Again, you’d find many street artists — should I call them plaza artists? OR buskers?  — around the statues of King Philip III and the corners of the square. Many dining outlets too — mainly catering to the tourist crowd, I guess, judging by their patrons. You can have your paella and jamon fix in any of the tascas here. (Tascas mean “local gathering place”) Or you may simply have that sangria or cafe con leche with some tapas (appetizers) in any of the open-air bars and just people-watch. Buen provecho!

 

 

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