Built over water, walls made of fire

A mural painting by Alberto Corazón situated at the “Puerta Cerrada” square in Madrid, Spain shows the ancient motto of the city: “I was built over water, my walls are made of fire”. I have never been to the capital and largest city of Spain before and last year I was lucky to finally get a chance to visit the Madrid.

Palacio de Cristal
Palacio de Cristal

After arriving in Madrid we bought a tourist card for public transport which includes metro and busses. The extra transfer costs from the airport, even though it seems to be a normal metro station, are included in the tourist card. The “app” for public transport in Madrid is – well – crap. You can get the tourist card in the metro stations and in the sales points of the Madrid Airport. The metro is really convenient and it is said to be the seventh longest metro system in the world. It is easy to find hotels, from my perspective they are a bit more expensive than elsewhere in Spain, at least in my opinion.

Green Market
Inside the Mercado de San Ildefonso

There is a lot to see in Madrid, more than one can visit in just a few days, so we had to focus. One obvious focus topic for photographers is architecture with the many different buildings and parks. On the top photo you can see the Palacio de Cristal, which was almost entirely made of glass and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Paseo del Prado. Interestingly the structure was designed in a way that would allow it to be re-erected on another site, but the building has remained on the original site. It is recommended to check for construction sites of the different buildings. During my trip the Palacio was being renovated and also the famous Edificio Metrópolis was covered.

The second theme for a trip to Madrid certainly is food – or more precisely – food markets. On the picture above you can see a shot from inside the Mercado de San Ildefonso in the city centre. You can find all different kinds of food inside, usually markets have a central seating area and you can choose from the different places around you. San Ildefonso is international, so you will find more than 50% of the kitchens are not Spanish food – but very tasty.

Callao Lights
Lights at the Plaza de Callao

The most touristic market is without a doubt the Mercado de San Miguel. It is an interesting market but usually filled with way too many tourists and it is very difficult to enjoy. The prices for food also have been adapted to the touristic nature of the place. Either be there very early or better skip it. But there is hope for tourists and photographers alike: The Mercado de Vallehermoso a little to the north. It is a small local market with everything you would expect from a real market, like groceries, meat, salami, olive oil but it is surrounded by food places with tapas and wine, sweats or fish. Whatever you like. It is not crowded, the people are usually rather locals and the food (and wine) is fantastic! One of the places is called Montecano Gourmet, highly recommended.

Grassy Clock
The Grassy Clock and Watch Museum at night

To me Madrid has a flair that combines New York City vibes with Spanish energy. The people are very nice and there is lots of opportunities for photographers. One of my favourite things to do was just walking through the city in the morning and finding all the lights. Madrid presents itself as a very neon city with according lights in almost every bar or shop. This allows for great morning or night scenes and it is easy to get a bit lost in the most positive way possible.

Shining Through
Neon lights north of the Gran Via in Chueca

Useful Links

  1. Madrid Airport
  2. City of Madrid
  3. Transportation in Madrid
  4. Mercado de San Ildefonso
  5. Mercado de Vallehermoso

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