Off the Beaten Track in Madrid

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Apart from the Prado, Madrid’s main attraction to me are all the unusual things you keep coming across that I’ve never seen anywhere else. These are just some of them.

You can just see a building on the left that’s a squat and has signs up that seem to indicate the people have been evicted. During the day, all their clothes and furniture are gathered together in the middle of the square (Santa Cruz) and at night, they line up their mattresses under the nearby arches.

How to keep warm in a terrace café!

We saw a lot of cartoon characters in various places throughout Madrid posing for photos and asking for money.

Particularly in front of the Palacio Real, various invisible men were to be seen. This was my favourite.

The “living statue” is a well-known attraction everywhere in Europe but we were not convinced that this “escapee from Vesusius” was really alive. I think he might just set up his plaster cast and collect the money at the end of the day!

There are many shops with this type of fashion. Always very colourful. Lots of fabric shops as well which have virtually disappeared in Paris outside the Quartier Saint Pierre.

We came across seemingly hundreds of these queues and couldn’t work out what they were all about until we eventually came to a church that was bursting with people already.

Another indication of how alive religion still is in Spain is this stall on the Sunday flea market.

And on the same flea market, just look at this sofa!

On the same market, the dummies are obviously having a whale of a time.

I don’t know whether the emergency medical service is a colourful in the rest of Spain!

Our Plaza Mayor turned into a very busy and eclectic collectors’ market on Sunday.

Anyone for crisps?

And you can follow them up with sweets …

And last, but not least, we have Cervantes with his famous Don Quixote and Sancho Panza with a typical skyscraper from the Franco era (1950s).

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12 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Track in Madrid”

  1. I remember seeing queues of people at a couple of churches when I was in Madrid a few years ago, even after midnight. I don’t know what’s up with that country.

  2. If you’re still there, several more things to see:
    1) Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (all those modern art paintings you see in posters are here) catercorner (on the other side of the roundabout) from the Prado
    2) the tapestry museum (take trolley in front of Prado)
    3) Museo del Jamón (where you can spend hundreds on one slice of the best jamon in the world)
    4) (if still there) the military museum, at the end of the street behind the Prado, about 3 blocks down, UNBELIEVABLE displays.



  3. That couch is something else!! And the beautiful! Not that yellow looks good on me, but the styles are very elegant. Looks like you are having fun!

    1. You’re going to be disappointed. Before we went to the flea market, I promised Relationnel that I would limit the size of any purchases to what we could put in the suitcase. You know, they’re obviously popular – I saw two of them!

  4. So interesting to see your Off the Beaten track pics of Madrid.

    It’s such a beautiful city. But our first visit there was many years ago when it was still under Franco’s rule. Very down at heel and the people were very subdued. All traffic stopped every day for his drive to and from work, preceeded by at least 60 or more motor bike police, police cars and then a series of the limos of the day with black glass windows, motor bike outriders and then the same deal at the rear. The guardia civil and other police and military were all heavily armed. It was a police state and it really felt like it. It was so nice to go back in the nineties and see a free and prosperous Madrid with buildings steam cleaned, flowering plants, and people enjoying their fashions and restaurants. Another Museum you might like to see next time is the Reina Sophia, mostly Spanish art and other moderns, including Picasso – exiled and an enemy of the state when we first visited. His painting Guernica is in the Reina Sophia.

    1. Oh goodness, I had no idea that Guernica was in the Reina Sophia! What a pity I missed it. Picasso is one of my favourite painters. I’ve even been to the Hermitage in Saint Petersbourg.
      What you say about the police is interesting. We found there were a lot of police cars and bikes around, far more than you see in France or Italy, for example. There was even a police car parked opposite the Cervantes statue. Relationnel remarked upon how safe we felt, even in the downtrodden areas.

  5. Dear Fraussie

    Yes, back in Franco’s day, we felt quite safe from crime, just rather nervous about all the police/military who clearly intended to make everyone feel their presence. Interesting that you still observed quite a police presence even now. Perhaps it’s because Spain has been subjected to quite a bit of terrorism from the Basque separatists and even from Al Queda with the terrible train bombings a few years ago. With the impact of the GFC maybe Madrid doesn’t look as prosperous as it did when I visited in the 90s. I noticed then how well dressed people on the streets looked. Perhaps the police are also out there to deal with any social unrest stemming from the GFC. I guess the Spanish have been accustomed to a large presence of heavily armed police/military over the years but coming from Australia it shocked us on our first visit.

    Best wishes

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