Madrid, Spain

Spain’s capital and the third largest city in the European Union, Madrid is another proof that Spain is much more than just sea and Sun. Many buildings from the Spanish Golden Age in the 17th century stand still, like the Royal Alcázar, originally a Muslim fortress built over a thousand years ago, and Plaza Mayor, one of the city’s neuralgic centers.

The 17th-century streets of Madrid became the main inspiration to the geniuses of Velázquez, Lope de Vega, Quevedo and, most of all, Miguel de Cervantes, whose Quijote became the most read book ever after the Bible. Madrid grew and at the beginning of the 20th century its Residencia de Estudiantes, literally « Student Residence », became a pressure cooker of talent and ideas in the interwar Europe, and was home to the painter Salvador Dalí, his friend the filmmaker Luis Buñuel or the Nobel Prize laureate Severo Ochoa among others.

Madrileños, the way the locals call themselves, are huge fans of tapas and beer; it is a tradition to be offered a free tapa whenever ordering a glass of beer at any of the city's bars. Don’t forget to try one of Spain’s main specialities: churros. Madrileños have them for breakfast along with a cup of coffee, and although I can’t say it’s the healthiest way to start your day, the combination is guaranteed to keep you awake long enough. Madrid is overall a rich and diverse city which is definitely worth a visit if you swing by Spain.

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