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Day 10: Madrid

Monday was our second day exploring Madrid. We caught the metro into Puerta del Sol in the centre of town again and walked along one of the main shopping streets for a while before turning off onto some quieter side streets. The first impressive building which we saw was the Palacio del Senado, the seat of the upper house of the Spanish parliament.


We were walking in the direction of the royal palace again to see some of the gardens which we didn't have time to investigate on Sunday. They were worth coming back for, with some beautiful flower displays and statues of former Spanish kings.



There were also some lovely views back towards the palace....


As we were walking around the park we caught sight of a stunning church dome in the background. We'd never seen anything quite like it and decided we would definitely have to walk in that direction to explore.


On the way we stopped at the Plaza de España, which features a large monument to Cervantes. Behind it is one of the tallest buildings in Madrid, the Edificio España, which reminded us a bit of one of the buildings we had seen in Riga last year.


Eventually we found the church we were looking for. It turned out to be the Iglesia de Santa Teresa y San Jose. We couldn't find anything in our guidebook to explain why it had such an unusual roof, but it was really beautiful.


Not far past the church we found what is perhaps the strangest monument in Madrid: the Temple of Debod. This is an ancient Egyptian temple, originally built near Aswan and dedicated to the goddess Isis. The temple was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government in 1968 in gratitude for their help preserving other historical sites during the construction of the Aswan Dam, and subsequently rebuilt in one of Madrid's parks. It was quite surreal to see it there.


After seeing the temple we walked back into the centre of Madrid along one of the main roads, Gran Via. This was a recommended walk in the guidebook and it didn't disappoint as the street is lined with imposing buildings.


We soon found ourselves outside the Banco de España, a building so enormous that it was difficult to fit a respectable amount of it into a picture.


Just down the road from the bank was the Palacio de Comunicaciones, an incredibly ornate building which we were surprised to read was home to the Postal and Telegraphic Museum until 2007 when it replaced one of the buildings we saw yesterday as the new town hall. It certainly looks far more fitted to being a town hall than a mere postal museum.


We walked north from there to the Plaza de Colón, a square built to commemorate the explorer Christopher Colombus.


We also saw the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the largest library in Spain.


We stopped for lunch and then walked south towards Retiro Park again for an afternoon stroll. On the way we passed the Puerta de Alcala, an archway into the city constructed in 1778.


It was quieter in the park today and we had a pleasant stroll under the trees.


Walking around the lake, we had a better view of the monument to King Alfonso which we had seen up close yesterday:


Finally we found the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, which depicts the moment when God expelled Lucifer from heaven. It is said to be the world's only public statue depicting the devil!


We have had a lovely time in Madrid and tomorrow will be moving on to Cordoba. The plan was to travel by train, but a visit to the railway station today revealed that the prices were much higher than we had expected (more than €60 each!) so we are hoping to travel by bus instead.

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