With 3.2 million people, Madrid is the largest city in Spain. Located on the site of a Muslim fortress, it was established as the
capital of Spain by Philip II in 1561. It is located near the middle of a large central plateau that covers much of the Iberian Peninsula,
and has an altitude in excess of 2,000 feet. While unquestionably warm in the summer, it is somewhat cooler than Seville, and in the winter
is quite a bit cooler than one might expect of the capital of a warm place like Spain. Like many European cities, Madrid is situated along
a water source, the Manzanares River. But the river is located to the west of the interesting tourist sights, so we never saw it during our
We traveled to Madrid from Seville using the high-speed AVE train, which delivered us to the Atocha railway station in Madrid in under three
hours. The train was very modern and relatively inexpensive (to us, anyway – the government subsidies must be substantial). The Atocha
station was the target of a terrorist bombing in 2004, and security there is now tight.
On arriving at the station we transferred to the co-located Madrid Metro station and bought 1€ tickets that got us a subway ride to the Callao
station near our hotel. After briefly orienting ourselves, we took the one-block walk westward to our hotel, the
After we got situated in our hotel room, it was still pretty early, so we took a short walk down to the center of tourist activity, a plaza
called the Puerta del Sol, and caught the Metro to our first Madrid destination, the Reina Sofía Gallery.