Madrid, Spain, Day 59-This is supposed to be our warmest day in Madrid with temperatures hitting the low 60’s. We headed down to Puerta del Sol. This rather simple plaza is reputed to be the exact center of Spain. It is marked zero road kilometers and all distances in Spain are measured from here. The Puerta Del Sol (Gate of the Sun) was one of the gates in the city wall that surrounded Madrid in the 12th century. This is a main meeting place in Madrid and where we can catch the hop on/hop off bus for route 2 to the north, modern Madrid.
Modern Madrid is still mixed with some of old Madrid. Very interesting architecture and huge wide boulevards, some with three and four lanes each direction, divided by medians with trees, grass and masses of flowers.
We hopped off at the Prado again and walked to the south of the botanical garden to the used booksellers, an institution in Madrid.
The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is a must see along with the adjacent Almundena Cathedral (featured Photo).
The palace once housed the royal family, but now is used for state functions. An old castle was first occupied the site in the 16th century, but it burned in 1734 and the new palace was completed in 1755. The palace is 1,450,000 square feet and contains 3,418 rooms. It is the largest palace in Europe by floor space. Not exactly cozy….the royal family has chosen to live in a smaller palace on the outskirts of Madrid.
We backtracked to the Plaza Mayor, another popular meeting place in Madrid. Lined with outdoor cafes, we decided to have dinner at the Museo de Jamón Cafe (Museum of Ham). They featured cured ham from all over Spain. We enjoyed some of the Jamón Ibérico, from black Iberian pigs. Absolutely delicious!