Day 4 in Madrid was a another cloudy day, but thankfully there was no rain. To make the most of my time, I woke up early and hopped on the subway to first see the Temple of Debod. My mission was to make my way to the Prado museum by late afternoon, which didn’t close until 7PM.
1: The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple dating back to 200BC. Due to a dam being built on the Nile near it’s original location, it was donated to Spain. It was relocated to Madrid and rebuilt, stone by stone around 1968, and opened to the public in 1972. It’s one of the few examples of ancient Egyptian architecture that can be viewed outside of Egypt.
2: Inside the temple are plenty of well-preserved hieroglyphs. For many Europeans, this provides the only opportunity to experience ancient Egyptian ruins in person.
3. Following the visiting the Temple of Debod, I worked my way towards Plaza Mayor. The plaza dates back to the 15th century, and the current buildings that surround the entire square date back to after the year 1790. There are 9 gates which lead into the plaza. In the center of the plaza, is an equestrian statue of King Phillip III, during whose rein the original buildings were built. These were destroyed by fire in 1790.
4: About a 15 minute walk from the Plaza Mayor is the El Rastro Market. El Rastro Market is an open air flea market which takes place every Sunday. The market spills out of a square into several side streets. You can find everything from antiques, to clothing, to electronic accessories.
5: A few blocks from El Rastro Market, was the Puerta de Toledo. This city gate dates back to 1827, and was part of the Walls of Philip IV, which surrounded the city of Madrid.
6: Working my way towards the Prado Museum, I decided to take a relaxing walk through the Real Jardín Botánico. They have a huge collection of trees, plants and flowers. There were few people there, and it was easy to find a quiet corner to relax and meditate. The garden’s creation was ordered by Fernando VI in 1755 to be created on the banks of the River Manzanares. In 1774, Carlos III ordered it to be moved to its current location on the Paseo del Prado. It was inaugurated in 1781.
7: Among the many flowers in the garden, I found this one to be especially beautiful. It’s so light and airy, it almost has the consistency of tissue paper. I’m not a botanist, but a Google images search reports this a hollyhock.
8: I found this monument on the Paseo del Prado as I was walking to the Prado Museum. The reality of homelessness in Madrid is hidden in plain sight.
9: Late in the afternoon, I visited the Prado Museum. The Prado has a massive collection of art. It spans from the 12th until the early 20th century. They were very aggressive about preventing people from taking photos unfortunately. I’ve found that museums do this to encourage you to purchase their overpriced souvenir books. I’d have to say my favorite artist displayed at the museum was Hieronymus Bosch. He was way ahead of his time. Click his name and you can see for yourself what I am talking about.
10: Upon leaving the Prado, I stopped at the San Jerónimo el Real. As a 16th century church, it’s impressive on the outside. I was particularly impressed with this massive altar painting by Jose Mendez.