Inland Spain includes regions that do not touch the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts, covering almost half of the landmass of the country.
Located in the heart of Spain, Madrid has been an important national capital for four and a half centuries. Its Old Quarter is a bustle of narrow lanes opening to plazas with cafe and street life. Outlying districts include stately 19th-century mansions, modern high-rise and commercial districts.
Not to be missed:
Prado Museum: one of Europe's most renowned collections of art including
Goya, El Greco, and many great Flemish, Dutch and Italian artists works
Plaza Mayor Must see! Located in the heart of the city, plaza features outdoor
cafe vendors, artists, strolling musicians, bars, bakeries and souvenir stands. Botanical Garden next to Prado featuring rare plants and trees
El Retiro 300-acre public park for walking, picnicking, boating & socializing
Royal Palace (Palacio Real) site of a palace for 1,000 years; magnificent views
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina
Sofia houses contemporary art treasures
DAY TRIPS FROM MADRID:
Avila: : The Walled City (65 miles northwest of Madrid)
Built in the 11th century, this is a completely walled city featuring 90 towers
and 9 entrance gates. This is the home of St.Theresa of Avila. There are museums devoted to her, the convent she founded and her mystic presence is felt or remembered almost everywhere as the soul and spirit of the city.
Segovia: : Roman Aqueduct and Spanish Castle (Alcáº¡r) (30 miles northwest)
Highlights include the 2,000 year-old Roman Aqueduct, one of the grandest feats of Roman engineering directed by Augustus; and the Alcáº¡r, one of the most romantic and photographed castles in Europe
Toledo: : Soul of Spain and Home of El Greco (50 miles south of Madrid)
One of Spain's most historic cities and capital of Moorish Spain until 1085, Toledo was El Greco's inspiration and continues to be an artistic and intellectual center known throughout the world. Visit the Cathedral of Toledo and the mighty fortress that still dominates the city, the Alcáº¡r.
Pamplona Every year in July, Pamplona erupts with the Fiesta de San Ferm celebrated by parades, music, dancing and religious processions. What has put Pamplona on the world map, is the annual Running of the Bulls - July 7-14 at precisely 8:00 am when the six bulls that will be fought in the ring that afternoon run a mile-long course to the bullring watch, enjoy and be careful!
ANDALUCIA: SOUTHERN SPAIN
All of Spain has its deep and proud traditions; Andalucia adds to these a Mediterranean spirit of delight and love of life that is characteristic of lands where cold winds seldom blow. The sun is brighter, the fiestas are more emotional and the beach season is almost 12 months long! Andalucia is a "classic" part of every first time trip to Spain. The four major destinations in Andalucia
Seville: - With a population of more than 700,000, Seville is Spain's fourth-largest city and home of the 1992 World Expo. Seville is tiny plazas, narrow streets, and Jewish and Arabic neighborhoods dating back 1,000 years. It is home to Spain's more emotional and intense Holy Week religious processions that two weeks later gives way to one of Spain?s most traditional and picturesque festivals. Make sure to plan on tapa bar-hopping, people watching and for a truly special experience plan on one of the excellent tablaos (shows) in this home of the flamenco. Only a few miles outside of Seville, visit Itca where you may explore the ruins of a
25,000-spectator Roman amphitheater, one of the largest in the empire.
Cordoba: While the rest of the continent was living through the Dark Ages, Cordoba was giving the world Jewish and Arab scholars whose teachings and discoveries are still revered and acknowledged. The Great Mosque of Cordoba, the Mezquita, was built in 785 A.D. The Mezquita's most striking characteristics are its hundreds of interior columns and arches of brick and stone, alternating red and white colors, creating unforgettable optical effects. It is indeed one of Spain's most beautiful images. Plan on meandering through the narrow winding streets of the Juderia (Jewish Quarter) past jewel-like private patios and whitewashed houses.
Granada: - Also known as Costa Tropical, this extension of Costa del Sol is perfect for active fun lovers who can ski in the morning and after a leisurely lunch, relax on a Mediterranean beach in the afternoon. The Alhambra Palace is practically a city unto itself offering spectacular views of Granada and surrounded by more than a mile of walls decorated by many buildings, courtyards and extensive gardens. Plan time to visit the Cathedral of Granada begun in 1518 and the resting place of Ferdinand and Isabella.
Malaga and Costa del Sol: One of the most popular destinations in the world due to its inviting sun-drenched tropical atmosphere! This is a wonderful place to finish your vacation, relaxing along the 200-mile long Costa del Sol (Sun Coast). You will find resort towns ranging from elegant and sedate to brash and noisy - there is something for everyone in this internationally famous playground with over 30 golf courses!