Mysterious Madrid

Jamon y queso
The capital of Spain… bull fighting, ham… erm, beer? Let’s be honest, not many people outside of Spain know much about this curious city. Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Rome the Coliseum; Berlin has the remnants of its wall, but Madrid?

Spain’s capital always escaped my mind in the past. Having since spent 5 years with a Madrileño partner and having moved in with him over there after university, I find it hard to believe now that this fascinating place never enticed me before. When I first backpacked around Europe as a teenager, for example, I tried to hit every major city from Amsterdam to Athens, but bypassed the Iberian Peninsula entirely! I suppose it was the package deal infamy. Spain has long been the affordable family holiday destination of choice, but in recent years, the rise of beach resorts a little further afield in such countries as Turkey and Egypt has lured the British public into adding an extra hour or two to their budget flights. The resorts may not hold the same sway as they once did, but does that necessarily mean that we should abandon the country entirely? The country of Miguel de Cervantes, Salvador Dali, Fernando Alonso and Penelope Cruz has a lot more to offer than sandy siestas and shop-bought sangria, if we only take the time to explore…

As the capital since the 1600s, the centremost point of the country, Madrid is in its infancy among European capital cities, yet has transformed itself into somewhere with a true sense of identity and importance. Playing host to the little mentioned dictatorship of Franco for most of the last century, Madrid has emerged from the subsequent peripherals of Europe and is now a Mecca of gastronomy, nightlife and art, claiming three of the continent’s greatest art galleries within sight of each other; the Museo del Prado, Reina Sofia and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. The local wine industry too is taking off, as Spain embraces its’ indigenous grape varieties and branches out from the all-powerful Rioja. Vineyards around Madrid are modern and passionate, often with biodynamic production and the face of food and wine in the region is slowly changing. All of which is fantastic news to foodie wine-lovers looking for new frontiers in ancient lands.

Categories: Food, Spain, Wine

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