Ed Sanchez, Pro QC’s Managing Director, once called Spain home as he started his career in the design and construction of nuclear power plants. Today, he still considers Spain home, with Madrid holding a special place in his heart.
Recently, Ed had an opportunity to visit Madrid again and shared many of the highlights and historical perspectives of his love for this European gem. He did also make note that Madrid is an excellent starting point for travel throughout the country, with several one-day trips worth experiencing.
One of the first things Ed noted as he reflected on Madrid’s changes throughout the years was that the city is much more commercial than it was during his stay there some forty years ago. Today, Madrid's stable GDP, exchange rate and strong bond market, complemented by a high standard of living, place this city in the company of Europe's most prominent cities.
Madrid’s per capita GDP is considered the highest in Spain, often exceeding the average by as much as 41%. It also often exceeds the European average by up to 37%. Madrid occupies about 2% of national territory. Nonetheless, it accounts for 17.3% of Spanish GDP.
Madrid is one of the cities in the Iberian Peninsula that attracts the most foreign investment and job seekers. In terms of net earnings, Madrid also places first in Spain; Madrid is 28th in the world, at 78.6%.
One downside of Madrid's rapid economic development since 1992 has been the rising cost of living. The city has grown to become the 26th most expensive city in the world in 2009.
Information regarding economic indicators was found using the links below:
Madrid Barajas International Airport (IATA: MAD) is located 13km from the Puerta del Sol. It has 4 terminals, with Terminal 4 the winner of several architectural awards. It is the home base for Iberia and is considered one of the largest airports in Europe.
The airport is connected to the city by metro and bus service, with taxis readily available as well.
More specific information regarding travel arrangements through the airport can be found here:
**This hotel is located nearly a block (or a few meters) from the Plaza Espana, the Royal Palace, the Plaza Mayor and close to the city’s business and financial district. Barajas Airport and the Exhibition Centre are within easy reach using the metro stop just 50 meters from the hotel.
The information below includes specific recommendations from Ed’s personal experience in this amazing city.
Museo del Prado, Paseo de Prado
Considered to have one of the finest art collections in the world and the best collection of classical art in Madrid, this museum includes many different collections: the Spanish (El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya), the Flemish and Dutch (Rubens, van Dyck, and Brueghel), Italian (Botticelli, Tintoretto, Titian, Caravaggio, and Veronese) and German (Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, and Baldung Grien). Some highlights not to miss at the Prado: The Bosch masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights, The famous Velázquez piece Las Meninas, The Black Paintings and The Third of May 1808 by Goya, Adoration of the Shepards by El Greco, and David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio.
Ed mentioned to be sure and walk along Paseo del Prado, a pedestrian walkway full of fountains and trees near the museum.
Palacio Real, Calle Bailen
The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is an enormous palace, the biggest one of its kind, with scorching plains of concrete around it and the Real Armorial (Royal Armory), a two-story collection of medieval weapons and armor. Though it is the official residence of the King of Spain, the royal family does not actually reside here and it is generally used only for state ceremonies. The Royal Palace is considered to be one of the most emblematic and beautiful buildings in Madrid, not only for its location but also for its architecture and the artistic treasures to be found in its rooms. The façades of the palace measure 130 meters long and 33 meters high with 870 windows and 240 balconies opening on to the facades and courtyard. It has a surface area of 100,000 square meters with 44 stairways and more than 30 principal rooms.
Puerta del Sol
This plaza is the "heart" of Madrid and one of the busiest places in the city. On the north side of the plaza there is a famous statue of an oso (bear) climbing the madroño tree, which is the symbol of Madrid. Also in Sol, just in front of the Capital building of the community of Madrid, is Kilometer Zero, a plaque showing the point where the measuring of national highways begins. Both the bear statue, and Km. Zero are common meeting spots for friends. The giant neon Tío Pepe sign above the plaza is also a famous fixture of this area. New Year’s celebrations are broadcast from Sol every year with the ringing of the clock bringing in the New Year.
Ed did mention that one of the highlights of the area is the cable car ride, which you can take to the zoo. The cable ride will take you over a park larger than Central Park, which actually used to be the hunting grounds for the King behind the palace.
El Rastro de Madrid:
Considered the largest open-air flea market in Madrid, Ed assures that you can find anything here in this open street, traditional exchange. Open each Sunday, the market is located along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, between Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo (just south of La Latina metro station).
Azaya is a wonderful restaurant in the countryside of Madrid. It is owned by Ed’s Spanish family, the Santamaria, and is about 1.5 hours from Madrid. It’s worth the ride and is good to combine with a drive to el Escorial or Segovia.
**If anyone visits this restaurant and let’s us know, you will receive a fantastic bottle of wine… maybe two from Ed himself.
According to Ed, Jose Luis is one of the oldest and still the best tapas bars you will find in Madrid (La calle Serrano). Some forty years after his last visit, Ed and two of the waiters recently recognized each other! When speaking with Ed, he’ll tell you “it’s great tapas at its best”.
Information listed in this article was obtained both by referenced resources and personal accounts from Ed Sanchez, Pro QC’s Managing Director. Additional resources for travel to this region includes: