A Week In Madrid, Spain | Day 1 (10 Photos)

I arrived in Madrid in the morning.  Not wasting any time, I dropped off my luggage, grabbed my camera, and took to walking.  It was a very gloomy day, with a constant drizzle of rain.  When you travel, it’s important you take what the weather gives you.  When it’s rainy and gloomy, seek out museums.  If you don’t have an umbrella in Madrid, fear not, there are plenty of people selling them on street.

1: I started of in Retiro Park, which is a massive public park in the heart of the city. Pictured is one of the many fountains in the park, with the Church of San Manuel y San Benito in the background.

2: The monument to Alfonso XII was inaugurated in 1922. This is the rear of the monument, which looks over a small man-made lake. Alfonso was exiled as a prince, following the revolution of 1868. After which Spain became a republic. The monarchy was restored after the republic failed, and Alfonso became king due to his mother’s abdication. He died at the young age of 27 due to dysentery.

3: I thought it was interesting they allowed this monument to be partially overgrown by a bush. I learned that Francisco de Paula Martí Mora was an inventor who introduced stenography to Spain.

4: The Ruins of San Isidro are located within the park. These ruins are of a 13th century church that were relocated to Madrid from Ávila in the late 1800s, which is 140km away.

5: After a couple of hours being drizzled on in the park, I decided to move on. My next destination was the National Archaeological Museum. On my way I passed the Puerta de Alcalá, a triumval arch commissioned by Charles III, and built in 1778. It is older than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which was built decades later.

6-7: The National Archaeological Museum probably isn’t the most trafficked museum in Madrid, but it has a splendid collection of Roman mosaic work from when Spain was part of the Roman province of Hispania. Mosaic is one of my favorite art forms. It’s amazing a complex design can be created from tiny little uniform squares of stone.

8: The Lady of Elche is one of the more notable pieces in their collection. It dates back to the 4th century BC, and is in remarkably good condition and highly detailed. It was held at the Louvre in Paris for 40 years after its discovery, until being bought back by Spain in 1941.

9: A remarkably well preserved bronze cuirass and helmet from around the end of Ancient Greek times around 500-600AD.

10: The museum had a special exposition on human skulls used in art. I had always been curious about shrunken heads. It turns out that only skin is used to make a shrunken head, and it is shrunk down in size through a process of boiling.

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