Spain's capital and largest city, Madrid is located almost dead centre of the Iberian Peninsula. Culture vultures take cheap flights to Madrid to "ooh" at the treasure troves that are the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia galleries. All are stuffed with priceless religious paintings and magnificent royal portraits. The streets offer plenty of opportunities to say "aah". Philip II established his royal court in Madrid in 1561 and later kings added to the streetscape with ever grander palaces, ornate cathedrals, stately public buildings and glorious monuments.
The galleries and museums might feed the mind, but Madrid has plenty to feed the soul too. It is one of Europe's greenest cities with more than 40 parks. These include Madrid's best-known park, the Retiro, as well as the Casa de Campo and the Parque Quinta de la Fuente del Berro.
As for feeding the belly, Madrid's cuisine is a melting pot, literally, of all of Spain's regional dishes. Renowned in particular for its stews and hotpots and tapas, they provide the fuel for long nights. Starting late, a night out for Madrilenos can end at breakfast time the following day.
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