Madrid is located smack in the center of the Iberian Peninsula. It has been the capitol of Spain for centuries and in being such, it has become the country's economic and social center...the heart of all that is new and all that is old in this Latin country.
Spain is a traditional country by all accounts. It is not a particularly hip and modern place where you vacation to explore funky coffee shops and wacky fashion. Rather, it is where to go when you want to explore the centuries of history that have made this Western European country the amazing place that it is today. It is filled with great architecture, stunning scenery, incredible cuisine, and even more incredible people who are both very European and very Spanish at the same time.
But if you are looking for a city within this beautiful country where you can find not only tradition and the expected historic landmarks but also some new modern culture, look no further than the capital city itself. Madrid offers you the best of the tourist attractions such as the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) with its incredible gardens and beautiful architecture, including rows of statues of the country's royal leaders, or the Plaza Mayor, a gorgeous square plaza filled with local artisans and restaurants.
But there are also less expected treats to be found, modern flamenco tablaos like Las Carboneras which is everything but the traditional flamenco restaurant that you see in pictures. This modern restaurant is filled with constantly changing artwork by local artists who put a spin on the typical flamenco paintings. The beautiful flamenco dancer are amazing technical and emotional artists, but instead of the expected gypsy attire, they wear gorgeous fitted dresses and modern hair styles, less of the expected flowers and dangling earrings, more artistry and passion. They have moved the art into the 21st century.
This is just one example of the surprises you can expect from Spain. It a country where you can find the typical old fashioned cafeteria (which in Spain means somewhat dirty but filled to capacity and serving delicious free tapas with your beer) and next door you may encounter a recently opened bookshop cafe with free books that coffee drinkers are welcome to read while they sip on their cafe con leche.
It is a city of the expected and the unexpected. Come to find traditions and leave with a little bit of the future.
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