A magical blend of ancient and modern, Madrid is believed to be one of Europe's most beautiful cities. It owes its exotic feel to the multitude of historical and cultural monuments hidden away in the vast areas of greenery scattered around the city.
The view of Madrid at night, illuminated by thousands of lights, is a truly unforgettable experience. If you're in Madrid with your children, you might want to take a ride on the Teleférico, the city's cable car running along Paseo del Pintor Rosales to Casa de Campo Park. There, you can visit the Madrid Zoo with its large aquarium, dolphinarium and impressive collection of wild and domestic animals. This area is also home to a theme park with a number of special attractions for children of all ages, as well as a myriad of tapas bars, cafés and restaurants. Another interesting location for a family afternoon is Madrid's Wax Museum, featuring wax figures of famous Spanish people as well as a virtual reality simulator, a roller coaster and a multi-vision historical show.
For those who enjoy taking walks in a picturesque setting, Madrid has more than 40 carefully maintained parks, with small ponds and perfectly green lawns stretching as far as the eye can see. The city’s main park, El Retiro, boasts the astonishing Crystal Palace, located beside a large boating lake inhabited by ducks and black swans. It regularly plays host to exhibitions of Modern art.
The Royal Botanical Garden is another favourite refuge for the locals. Situated next door to the Prado Museum, it’s a maze of exotic palm-lined paths, terraces and neatly arranged stretches of grass. The garden holds representatives of plant species from five continents. You can admire Chinese peonies, soapbark trees from Chile, irises from South Africa, rhododendrons from Korea and Japan, exotic fruit trees, herbs and vegetables as well as a wide variety of wild roses. Needless to say, the best time to visit is spring and summer, when all of the plants and flower explode in a colourful pandemonium of scent.
A traditionally popular form of entertainment in Madrid is bullfighting, drawing tourists and locals alike. The city's Plaza de Las Ventas is the second-largest bullfighting ring in the world. Since 1931, it has hosted the controversial spectacles that are widely recognised as a symbol of Spanish culture.