After breakfast we transferred to the train station to take the AVE fast train to Madrid (three hours, ten minutes).The train travels at 310 kilometres per hour. It was a smooth relaxing ride.
We arrived and transfered to the city centre to check in to Hotel Posada Leon De Oro, located in the heart of the Latin Quarter. The 12th century foundation of the hotel is visible through the glass floor in the restaurant and bar area. Our rooms are spacious, bright and comfortable. My room had a great view of the old roof tops. The street that our hotel on is a lively one, this area is frequented by the locals and on this Saturday afternoon the local taverns are bustling as the locals enjoy tapas while watching soccer. We enjoyed a fabulous tapas lunch while the hotel staff transferred the luggage to our rooms.
After freshening up we met Teresa and began our exploration of Madrid with a walking tour in the Austrian Quarter, the old centre of the city built during the Hapsburg reign. We walked past beautiful buildings, spacious squares and took a stroll through colourful Jardine del Principe Anglona where the roses were in full bloom.
We viewed the modern 20th century El Almundena Cathedral, in English this means The Lady of the City Walls. This is the only European cathedral founded by a pope. Continuing on we passed the Palace built by King Philip. The construction began in 1738 and took 50 years to build. The architecture is typical of the Hapsburg constructed from marble and stone. Ferdinand, son of Philip finished the palace and built another larger palace with ornate gardens. This certainly was an era of opulence.
We viewed the oldest church in Mardrid, Iglesia de San Nicolas de los Servitas. The spire is 17th century and the ancient brick tower at one time was a mosque tower. The Moors (muslims) inhabited the city until the late 1500’s when they lost ground to the Christian Kingdoms. The Muslims left a lasting legacy for Spain, evident in the cities of Madrid, Toledo, Granada and many more.
Next stop was the most historical square with 3 centuries of buildings here, 15th century Gothic, 16th century Renaissance and a 17th century building depicting the typical Hapsburg architecture. The statue in the square is the commander in chief of the battle of 1571 when he stopped the Turks from taking over western Europe, The wooden door is the oldest in Madrid dating back to the 15th century.
We stopped at the church of the secluded nuns. The baroque building has a very plain façade on the outside and an ornate chapel inside.
We ended our tour at the Plaza Mayor, built during Phillip III’s reign (1598–1621) and is the central plaza in the city surrounded by three-story residential buildings with ornate balconies facing the Plaza.
This evening we enjoyed dinner and a flamenco show at Casa Patas Restaurant. The dinner was excellent and the show amazing!