Templo de Debod
This intriguing monument is an ancient Egyptian temple in the heart of the city center. While the temple was extended as a gift from the Egyptians in 1968 as a ‘token’ of gratitude for Spain’s efforts in saving the country’s historic cites after the collapse of the Aswan High Dam, it is actually the original, 4th century BC temple that was dedicated to Egyptian gods Isis and Amun, and was uprooted from the Nile Valley to the center of Parque de la Montaña. For this reason, it is not an obvious monument you would expect to find. Although the location is out of context, the pool that surrounds the temple beautifully reflects the architecture to give you an idea of what this temple would have looked like along the banks of the Nile. It is a sight to behold, by day and with the sunset.
Related article: Polo in Madrid: A Guide
Sobrino de Botin
Opened in 1725, Sobrino de Botin is the oldest-known, continuously running restaurant to date, as was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. When it was originally opened as an inn, guests had to bring their own food and all the desired ingredients, which were then cooked on site. Having no children of their own, the owners passed the business over to their nephew, and hence the name ‘Nephew of Botin’. it is a historic landmark, as it is a museum and cultural venue. Ernest Hemingway mentions this restaurant in his melancholic, The Sun Also Rises. The restaurant spans four floors, each with a unique Spanish theme, from rustic to fancy, and the cuisine has remained true to its roots. The signature dish at Sobrino de Botin is the oven baked, whole suckling pig.
Related article: 10 Things You Need to Know About Madrid
Palacio de Cristal
Inspired by the Crystal Palace in London that was built to host the Great Exhibition of 1851, Madrid’s Palacio de Cristal is nothing short of an architectural jewel. Built towards the end of the 19th century at the foot of a lake in Buen Retiro Park, the baroque style palace still retains its striking beauty, with a high dome, ornate glass and steel frames. Originally built to host an exotic botanical greenhouse, the space was later converted to showcase a wide range of art works. The palace design leverages natural daylight and colors of the lush park to complement the space interiors, creating both a visual and emotional experience from the inside, and out. The charming boat dock at the entrance to the palace leaves you imagining what a cultural night out must have been like, here in Madrid.
Related article: Go Flamenco at Cardamomo
Mercado de San Miguel and Mercado Platea
Market dining has assumed its place on every traveler’s itinerary, and for just reason. There is no better way to sense the flavors and textures of a people’s culture than through the marinated dishes cooking in the stove, or jumping on the skillet. The Mercado de San Miguel is among Madrid’s oldest markets. This beautiful, culinary passage lends itself to visitors who can slowly cruise among the vendor stalls to peek at the local delicacies on offer and experiment with Spanish cooking. We would suggest a creative picnic basket and a bottle of wine before heading over to the park on a beautiful day. On some evenings, the market is also host to live music with performances by local Spanish artists.
The market concept at Platea retains the essence of food exchange, but with a chic urban twist. In fact, you may want to dress up for this one. Situated in Madrid’s elegant Barrio Salamanca, the market space features a center stage and balconies that cover four floors. As the description hints, the Platea market was once a theatre where gastronomy now captures the spotlight. The layout engages visitors with various cuisine styles while you get a feel for the architectural space and enjoy the modern setup of tapas, wine and people watching.
Related article: Madrid: Art + Lunch
In the spirit of elegance, one might imagine what Madrid would be like without a proper game of polo to balance out the adrenaline infused by the presence of Real Madrid. As it happens, polo is a highly acclaimed sport in the capital. The first polo game was hosted by King Alfonso XII at the Royal Casa de Campo in 1876; following an abrupt suspensions after his death, the sport was revived and was officially named the Real Puerta de Hierro in 1915. Since then, the only events to interrupt polo playing in Madrid have been prolonged years of war and conflict. Today, there are five important tournaments including the International Season of Madrid, the Aznar Open, and the Memorial Conde de Sepúlveda, which is held between the months of April and October. We recommend booking seats to an event and engage with those in-the-know for an afternoon of wine, chic tapas and some spectator sport.