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Things to Do in Madrid - page 4

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National Anthropology Museum (Museo Nacional de Antropología)

As the first anthology museum opened in Spain, the National Anthropology Museum has led the way in preserving and bringing in items from all over the world to Spain. Founded by King Alfonso XII in 1867, it was initially a museum of anatomy. The work of physician Pedro González Velasco (who funded much of the museum’s construction) was its first collection. It has since expanded to present various cultures of the world, highlighting their similarities and differences. The museum seeks to provide context and understanding and promotes a global cultural vision and message of tolerance.

Many of the prehistoric items presented are connected specifically to the history of Spain. Items from everyday life in Asia, the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Oceania show the rituals and beliefs that take place all over the world, including those related to clothing, art, war, and religion. There is also a lecture hall which allows for live performance of global traditional music and dance.

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Cerralbo Museum (Museo Cerralbo)

Housed in the former abode of the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo, Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, the Cerralbo Museum features the vast personal collections of its namesake, bequeathed to the State after his death in 1922. The 19th-century palatial mansion is almost overwhelmingly ornate and admiring its bold décor is one of the museum’s principal pleasures. The comparatively traditional façade gives little hint of the lavish interiors hidden within – a sumptuous series of rooms featuring neo-baroque and rococo elements and elaborately furnished.

The period house museum paints a striking picture of the era’s aristocracy, with an estimated 50,000 objects on display. Jewelry, paintings, ceramics and tapestries are among the items amassed by Cerralbo on his many travels.

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Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas

The Campo de Futbol de Vallecas is home to the Rayo de Vallecano de Madrid football club. Opened 1976, it holds just more than 14,000 spectators. The stadium originally held more than 20,000, but the capacity decreased when standing areas were eliminated and replaced by seating in 1996. Located on Avenida de la Albufera in a densely populated neighborhood in the Vallecas district of Madrid, the stadium is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings. As a result, it only has stands on the three sides of the stadium, with the eastern side having only a wall with advertising. This configuration is unique among top level Spanish football stadiums and creates an intimate and intimidating atmosphere. The stadium has also hosted major musical performers over the years, including Bob Dylan, Queen and Metallica.

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Museum of the Americas (Museo de América)

The Museum of the Americas ringing together pieces of history and culture from across the American continents, including collections of prehistoric, colonial, and ethnographic items. There is a range of artifacts — from pre-Columbus Peru and Guatemala to contemporary indigenous cultures from the coast of North America. Together the exhibits aim to tell the story of the Americas over 12,000 years of history, from anthropology to religion to arts. Many of the historic items were brought back to Spain from explorers who left for the continents in search of gold, and the majority of the artifacts are from South America. Permanent exhibitions are organized into five categories or themes: awareness of America, reality of America, society, religion, and communication. A few items are particular note are the Viracocha head and the Quimbayas Treasure, and the Tudela codex which details the Aztec code of law from the 16th century.

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Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (El Escorial)
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27 Tours and Activities

Once just a sleepy little resort town 28 mi (45 km) northwest of Madrid, San Lorenzo de El Escorial now hosts thousands of tourists coming in throngs to see the famous royal monastery. In addition to being home to an order of monks, this attraction also acts as a royal palace, museum and school.

Commissioned by King Felipe II as a testament to Spain's devout Catholic faith, El Escorial was built in the 16th century after defeating the French in the Battle of Saint Quentin (with help from the heavens). The highlights of the immense complex include the elegant basilica, the marble Pantheon de los Reyes, where many kings and their relatives are buried, and the Patio de los Reyes, the entrance to the monument.

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Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos)
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A striking monument to those who lost their lives during the Spanish Civil War, the Valley of the Fallen, or Valle de Los Caidos, is a poignant dedication to the 40,000 victims whose remains lie buried beneath. The immense structure features a basilica and tomb complex set in a mountain valley north of El Escorial and is topped by an enormous 500-foot-tall stone memorial cross – allegedly the tallest monument of its kind in the world and visible for miles around.

The impressive site is an admirable achievement, but one not without controversy. In fact, many dispute the nature of a monument that only commemorates two names – the Nationalist dictator General Francisco Franco who commissioned the monument and José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Fascist Falange – believing the monument to be a one-sided tribute to the victorious, rather than a sign of post-civil war reconciliation.

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Las Rozas Village
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Just 30 minutes from downtown Madrid, Las Rozas Village is a shopper’s nirvana – a designer outlet village crammed with over 100 shops and boutiques. One of nine Chic Outlet Shopping malls in Europe, Las Rozas Village not only offers an impressive array of luxury brands and local designers, but shoppers can enjoy discounts of up to 60%, plus tax-free shopping for non-E.U residents.

International designers at Las Rozas Village include Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Versace and CH Carolina Herrera, as well as top brands like Diesel, Timberland and Pepe Jeans, jewelry boutiques like Swarovski, and Spanish favorites like Desigual and Custo Barcelona. There’s also a range of cafés and restaurants on-site and a play area for kids.

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More Things to Do in Madrid

Royal Palace of Aranjuez (Palacio Real de Aranjuez)

Royal Palace of Aranjuez (Palacio Real de Aranjuez)

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Phillip II developed a small holiday lodge into a magnificent palace, which was given its final majestic appearance by Charles III. The most striking features of the Palacio Real de Aranjuez (Royal Palace in Aranjuez) are the red and white façade, the Rococo staircase and the Porcelain Room which has walls lined with porcelain.

The gardens are world-famous and include the Museo de Faluas Reales (Museum of the Royal Barges); in which you can see how King Charles IV and King Ferdinand VII of Spain traveled as well as maritime instruments and paintings. The whole complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Parque Warner Madrid

Parque Warner Madrid

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Museo de Falúas Reales

Museo de Falúas Reales

Spain has always been known for its naval history and accomplishments, from military to exploration. The Royal Museum of Feluccas showcases several large barges used by the royal family to navigate the Tagus River. The ships utilized by Spanish royalty, ornately decorated royal feluccas, can be seen just outside of the Spanish capital at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aranjuez. Visitors can view the boats of Charles IV, Ferdinand VII and Elizabeth II, as well as a beautiful gondola that once belonged to King Philip V.

The long, narrow boats are gloriously detailed and were used in ports and on rivers. Most date back to the 17th century. There are also small historic items and old photographs of the era, marking a fascinating glimpse back in time. Be sure to explore the expansive royal gardens that surround the museum.

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Hard Rock Café Madrid

Hard Rock Café Madrid

Thirty years ago Hard Rock Café shirts from far-flung cities ranked high on every globetrotter’s list of the most coveted travel souvenirs. Three decades later, those shirts carry a bit less clout, but a trip to Hard Rock Café still holds the same magic it once did—particularly in Madrid.

Visitors to this city landmark can experience the ultimate entertainment trifecta—part restaurant, part club, part museum—and all a seriously good time. With hundreds of artifacts from the international music scene, including a risqué outfit once worn by Madonna and a bass guitar played by Aerosmith, there’s also a bright red jacket worn by Little Richard and a handwritten letter written by John Lennon posted on the restaurant wall. Travelers can stop in for an all-American meal of burgers and fries, explore displays of authentic music paraphernalia, catch a live concert (if the timing is right) or just pop in the shop to collect yet another Hard Rock Café shirt.

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La Esquina del Bernabeu

La Esquina del Bernabeu

Madrileños love their home soccer team, but these locals also love to shop. Experience both Madrid traditions at La Esquina del Bernabéu, a shopping center with clothing stores, food vendors, and restaurants that’s located in the shadow of Real Madrid’s stadium. Stop by La Esquina before a soccer match and grab a souvenir or two.
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