2024 - Spain


 Photo: mytravellinglens.com

Puerta de Alcalá - in the Plaza del la Independencia, designed by Italian architect Francesco Sabatini (1778).

Madrid, Spain

As with our previous trip to Madrid, our apartment has a great central location. We are located just off the Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun), one of the most famous squares in Madrid. A few blocks away is the noted Plaza Mayor. In the square is the clock whoe bells mark the eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of the new year.

The Puerta del Sol used to be one of the gates to the walled city. The gate faced east receiving the morning sun. It now sits in the centre of the city and all roads start at 0 km from this square.

In 2020 the roads into the square were closed off and it is now a large pedestrian area. Handy for our travels in the city, a large metro hub is underneath the square with metro lines 1, 2 and 3 pass through the station.

Great shopping, including a number of El Corte Inglés department store buildings which includes as I remember, a great wine shop as well as restaurants on the top floor. You have not eaten a hamburger until you do so here!

Lots of planning to take place but we have already identified we have to try chocolate-dipped churros!

Plaza de Santa Ana

Plaza de Santa Anna in Madrid, Spain, Marcus Travel Journal

photo: mytravellinglens.com

Named after the Santa Ana Monastery which stood here in the 17th Century, we remember having many great lunches in this scenic Plaza. The monastery was demolished in 1820, and work to finish the plaza did not finish until 1880. The plaza has monuments celebrating Spain's "Golden Age" writer Pedreo Calderón and poet playwright Federico Garcia Lorc.

 Madrid Digs


Accomodations are an important part of the travel experience. Karen found us a great apartment just off Puerta del Sol in the centre of Madrid.

Palais Royal

Palais Royal, Madrid, mytravellinglens, Marcus Travel Journal

photo: mytravellinglens.com

The beautiful arcades of the Palais Royal in Madrid. This was the official residence of Spain's Royal Family. Now it is used for state ceremonies but still considered a residence, no photos can be taken inside the palace.

The sights of the palace include:

  • The Main Staircase
  • The Porcelain Cabinet
  • Chamber of Charles III
  • The Throne Room
  • Royal Chapel
  • Stradivarious Hall

Things to See in Madrid

Gran Vía -

Museo del Prado - the most important art museum in Spain.

El Retiro Park -

El Rastro Market - Every Sunday for decades the most famous flea market in Madrid is held around Plaza Cascorro. More than 1,000 street vendors set up first thing in the morning in C/Ribera de Curtidores and the surrounding streets.


Banco de España

This enormous building located on the Paseo del Prado may not grab your eye from the street, but inside it's one of the most beautiful in Madrid. It is indeed the Bank of Spain, and it functions as such, but in 1999 it was declared a 'Bien de Interés Cultural' ('Good of Cultural Interest') for its architectural value. Originally it was the Palace of the Marquis of Alcañices, and then, after several expansions and renovations, it became the gigantic complex that it is today. Its 27-metre-high interior patio contains more modern elements and Art Deco features, such as an impressive stained-glass window and a large clock located in the centre of the patio. It's worth going in just to marvel at those.

Alcalá, 48 | Madrid | Metro: L2 (Banco de España)

La Neomudéjar

La Neomudéjar, a leading arts centre and international artist residency that's not as well-known as other similar spaces like La Tabacalera or La Casa Encendida. Far from the conventional art circuit, La Neomudéjar aims to give an outlet for all disciplines that don't fit in other galleries, such as video art, performance art, street art, parkour, robotics and more.

Museo del Ferrocarril

Housed in the elegant but disused Delicias station, with ironwork by Gustave Eiffel, Madrid's railway museum has an evocative collection of models, old locomotives, railway equipment and memorabilia. There is also a room dedicated to clocks, including the one that marked time when Spain's first ever train chugged from Barcelona to Mataró. You can climb on the trains, have a drink in an old restaurant car or watch film footage of Spanish railways. This great museum for kids offers children's workshops, Train Day, a modelling market and one of the unmissable events for Madrid's hipsters, the ‘Mercado de Motores’, held once a month.

Paseo de las Delicias, 61 | Madrid | Metro:3 (Delicias) | Oct-May: Mon-Fri 9.30am-3pm; Sat-Sun and holidays 10am-7pm

Escuelas Pías de San Fernando

A church half in ruins is currently one of the National University of Distance Education headquarters in Madrid. Located in the Lavapiés neighbourhood, it was for decades a school of the Pious Schools of San Fernando. It suffered during and in the aftermath of the Civil War and it was not until 2004 that works were completed to transform it into a beautiful library and study centre. Inside, the long metal lamps that illuminate the work spaces contrast with the brick walls, and the silence that reigns is invaluable. The amazing architectural ensemble is even more beautiful at dusk, when the dim light dons it with a halo of mystery.

Tribulete, 14 | Madrid | Metro: Lavapiés (M L3)
M-f 9:15 - 9:454, Closed Saturday and Sunday .

Palacio de Cristal

This 1880s glass and wrought-iron construction, which dates from 1887 and was constructed for the Philipine Islands Exhibition, is an outpost of the Reina Sofía museum and a lovely, luminous space for viewing art. It occupies a stunning setting in the middle of the Retiro park, next to a lake with ducks, surrounded by nature and people relaxing and having fun. Shows here often involve large-scale installations, sculpture or pieces conceived specifically for the space.

Paseo de República de Cuba, 4 (interior del parque del Retiro) | Metro: (M L2) | Apr-Sep daily 10am-10pm


Toledo, Spain, mytravellinglens, Marcus Travel Journal

photo: mytravellinglens.com

The town centre, the cathedral and the Monasterior San Juan de Los Reyes are all stunning and great reasons to revisit Toledo. It will be an easy day trip, as travel time is just over 30 minutes by fast train from Madrid to Toledo. The 7:45, 8:30 train would arrive in Toledo by 9:30 am in the morning leaving lots of time in the city. The Madrid train station (Estacion Madrid - Peurto de Atocha. It is a 35 minute walk from Puerta del Sol to Puerta de Atocha (2,8 km). Or, walk to the Sol Metro statiion and take a train to Atocha Station.

Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial

The Royal Monastery, located outside of Madrid, was built during 1563 to 1584 and served multiple purposes:  a burial place for Holy Roman Emperor Charles V; a Hieronymite monastery; and a royal palace. It can be visited by bus or train from Madrid. There are about five trains a day. Leave from the  Atocha Station or Chamartín Station you have to take the Cercanías line C3A, with a frequency of every hour, and it will take you about 65 or 50 minutes to get to El Escorial. then a 15 minute walk.     

On-Line Tickets 

 Matadero Madrid

Matadero Madrid Spain


In 2005, the site, the previous Municipal slaughterhouse, was converted into a cultural centre. The site became a testing ground for architectural experimentation.

Centro de Creación Contemporánea
Plaza de Legazpi, 8

Metro: Legazpi (líneas 3 y 6)

Parada permanente de taxis: Plaza de Legazpi | Open 9am to 10 pm

Museum of Illusions

The museum has mind & eye-tricking exhibits. Should be easy to find, Google says it is a five minute walk from Plaza de Sol. Ha! Google Map walking distances have not been wrong in the past.

Metro L1 Tirso de Molina. Closed on Monday and Tuesday Wednesday to Saturday 10-10, Sunday 10 - 9.

La Latina

La Latina is said to be Madrid's quintessential neighbourhood for beer on tap, tapas, mojitos and terraces. Visit during the week as on weekends it's nearly impossibe to get into packed bars and restaurants to get lunch or dinner. Locals shop at the Mercado de la Cebada. There are beautiful churches and basilicas hidden in the narrow streets.


Said to be the coolest neighbourhoods in Madrid. The best things to do in Malasaña are very much in line with modern trends and the rise of hipsterdom, but leave your cynicism at the door; this place is written up as being awesome.

Barrio de las Letras

The Barrio de las Letras also boasts the most important museums in Madrid. C/ Huertas is the main artery of the neighbourhood, and there you can find tapas bars and places to have a great time whenever the weekend brings people together, especially thirty-somethings who are out for a beer with friends. Plaza de Santa Ana, with its roomy terraces, is one of the area's big attractions for tourists.

Alonso Martínez

he junction where two other areas that are like chalk and cheese, Chamberí and Chueca, meet up is in this colourful square dedicated to the lawmakers and politicians of Spain. The Plaza de Alonso Martínez is a square that serves as a link between different districts of Madrid, so you'll find all types of restaurants, shops and people. The majestic Chamberí is to the north, while toward the south you'll find Tribunal and Chueca, different from each other but both full of life. Walking west you'll run into the Trafalgar district and its Plaza de Olavide; while if you head east on C/Genoa, where the headquarters of the conservative political party Partido Popular resides, you'll end up at Plaza de Colón.

 Temple of Debod

Temple of Debod - Madrid Spain - Glenn Marcus My Travelling Lens

photo: My Travelling Lens

I  really enjoyed photographing the Temple on our 2015 visit to Madrid. The Templo de Debod dates back more than 2,200 years and honours the gods Amun and Isis. In 1968, the Egyptian government sent every historic brick of this place to Spain as a thank you for their help to preserve monuments that could have been destroyed by the Aswan Dam. From our 2015 time, I found the best time of the day is the early evening. I have this location earmarked for a return visit. The ancient Egyptian ruins are found in the west side of the city in the Parque del Oeste.

Lavapiés, Malasaña, and La Latina

A more local experience and more affordable prices. The streets of Lavapiés to peruse the outdoor murals that add to this neighborhood’s alternative character. 

Círculo de Bellas Artes

Círculo de Bellas Artes is the place to be if you love high-quality culture, including concerts, plays and a changing schedule of exhibitions. Or, it is the place to be if you want to take in beautiful vistas across Madrid. Personally, we love doing a bit of both while making sure never to leave the building without at least a quick trip up to the rooftop terrace.

Alcalá, 42 Madrid | Metro: Sevilla L2 | Exhibitions (Tue-Sun) €4 (€3 with youth card). Access to roof terrace (daily) €4 (€3 with youth card). Combined admission (rooftop terrace, exhibition rooms) €5 (€4 with youth card)

Madrid's Famous Flea Market

Every Sunday the Ribera de Curtidores transforms itself into a giant cauldron of curiosities. Antiques, handicrafts, clothing, jewellery, leather goods and more all have their place in the jumble of street stalls that begins to spring up from 7am. The market is awash with locals and visitors, all enjoying Rastro’s rich 500-odd-year history. Warnings are clear. Pickpockets work the crowds, so don’t drop your guard when visiting this must-see phenomenon. With a bit of haggling authentic vintage treasures can be found at a low price.

Barrio de las Letras and Calle Cava Baja

TRAVEL + LIESURE notes these neighborhoods are where you’ll find the most authentic version of Madrid, “where avant-garde and tradition create the perfect fusion.” In Barrio de las Letras, you'll find all the attractions of Spain’s literary quarter. And in the most traditional area of the city, La Latina, is Calle Cava Baja, “full of bars and taverns reminiscent of the oldest Madrid..

Gran Via

photo: mytravellinglens.com/spain

One of Madrid’s most famous streets, Gran Via is home to several historic buildings, theaters, and shops. The main tourist and shopping artery in Madria starting at C/Alcalá and running for 1.3 km to end at the Plaza de España.


Pen, Paper Stores

Papeleria Debod
Calle Ferraz, 24
28008 Madrid

Estilográficas Carranza

Papelería Rey
Avada. de la Ciudad de Barcelona, 144
28007 Madrid,

Estilográficas Sacristán
C. Mayor, 27,
28013 Madrid

Iguana Sell
C. del Conde de Aranda, 24, Salamanca, 28001 Madrid,
Pens and watches, some inks.

Espacio Montblanc El Corte Inglés Preciados
C. de Preciados, 3, 10,
Centro, 28013 Madrid,

Papeleria Coplan
Calle Marcenado, 34
28002 Madrid

Papeleria Salazar
Calle Luchana, 7-9
28010 Madrid
Said to have a good selection of pens and ink.

Papeleria Tecnica Sancer
Calle Fermando el Catolico, 77
28015 Madrid
From low to high end pens


Parque del Retiro

Parque del Retiro, mytravellinglens.com

photo: mytravellinglens.com/spain

Plazza Della Indipendecia, 7

Covering over 125 hectares and comprising more than 15,000 trees, El Retiro Park–recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site–is a green oasis in the heart of the city.

Mercado de San Miguel

photo: mytravellinglens.com 

Oh how much Karen and I enjoyed the Mercado de San Miguel. In 1916 it was a wholesale food market and today is is a gourmet market. The beautiful cast-iron structure is the last remaining iron market hall in Madrid. Enjoy the tapas bars, seafood stalls, artisan bakeries, quality butchers, and an array of booths selling other fresh ingredients.  Open Mon, Tue, Wed, Sun 10am-midnight; Thu-Sat 10am-2am.

Time-Out calls Mercado de San Miguel touristy (sometimes touristy can be okay) and notes other gastro markets to visit. More traditional markets selling only fish or meat have closed, and in their place are veritable restaurants where you can sample traditional Spanish dishes, like the 'tortilla de patata' (potato omelette) at Casa Dani in the Mercado de la Paz or more daring culinary treats from Tripea in the Mercado de Vallehermoso. Los Mostenses, Antón Martín, San Fernando.


Cibeles Palace and Fountain

photo: mytravellinglens.com

A beautiful square in the heart of Madrid, Plaza de Cibeles is home to several historic buildings. Madrid’s City Hall (the Ayuntamiento de Madrid) is found along the south side of Cibeles Square. his striking building was once the Palacio de Telecomunicaciones and is now a great place to see interesting exhibitions on city life, live music and the handiwork of contemporary artists. Exhibitions free. Access to the lookout: €2 adults, Open Tue to Sun 10-8. For great views of Madrid, head to Terraza Cibeles on the sixth floor and Mirador Madrid on the eighth.

 Fundación Canal

 Rotating exhibitions of art, archaeology & history are featured in a spacious parkside setting.

 P.º de la Castellana, 214,
28046 Madrid, Spain

Mercado de Vallehermoso

The Vallehermoso municipal market was built in 1930, and its architectural structure was a novelty compared to other commercial centres of the time. Its façade, colourful and authentically Madrid, means it can't go unnoticed, and there it is, in its roundness, on the corner between Vallehermoso and Fernando el Católico, highlighting the prominence the market had when it was built and still has today. Inside you'll find an excellent selection of quality fresh food at very attractive prices, among the stalls of butchers, fishmongers, fruit shops, poultry shops and bakeries, which make the market the place to go for everyday shopping as well as a meeting point for neighbours. The market boasts a varied gastronomic offer and food to take away, as well as leisure and entertainment activities.

Metro: Quevedo (M: L2) - Vallehermoso, 36

Mercado de Antón Martín - One of the few traditional markets still standing in the centre of Madrid. Here you’ll find greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers and bakers stalls where Lavapies residents come to buy their fresh food. The market is also a major culinary space, with restaurants specialized in imported products such as Best of Britain, featuring articles from the UK and Yokaloka where sushi is available to eat in on the premises to take away.

Santa Isabel, 5 |Madrid | M-F 9-9; Sat 9-3