Have you already done a free walking tour in your city? We tell you about our experience in Madrid!
Our experience in a free walking tour through Madrid
We arrived at 10 A.M. in Madrid and took advantage of breakfast in a tourist café, since we went as tourists, we lived the experience at 100%, right? We went to a very cute café on Calle Mayor, which has the letter in English and I did not remember the name (sorry, I didn’t take a picture).
We had a nice breakfast and went about 10.40 AM to Puerta del Sol and looked for the free tours guys, quite easy to recognize because they go with umbrellas and green T-shirts.
We give our names to Javier, who will be our guide, takes note and already our first impression is good. He is very nice and you see that he likes to work with people.
The tour starts at 11 o’clock and a fairly large group is formed with people from different parts of Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Venezuela and a German girl who wanted to improve her Spanish.
We thought we were going to be the only ones who lived in Madrid and did the tour, but surprisingly, there were more people from Madrid doing it. We totally recommend it, because in addition to having fun, you know more about the city in which you live or visit, you learn anecdotes of places where you have passed thousand times and you had no idea. Plus you make your weekend special and different.
The tour of Madrid begins!
The tour starts at Puerta del Sol and we make several stops within the square itself. The first thing he tells us about is why it’s called Puerta del Sol, and apparently there are several versions, but the official one is that in that location was the wall of Madrid. As you might know Madrid was a walled city and in the sixteenth century in the same place where the Puerta del Sol is, there was one of the entrances to the city and in top of it had a drawing of a sun, so it was left with that name.
Puerta del Sol
Another version is that the square is shaped like a rising sun if you look at it from above and its streets are the rays. Although I doubt that in medieval times they could see from the sky the shape that made the square…
Then we stop at two important points of the square, such as the sculpture of the Bear and the Madroño and the zero km point.
The Bear and the Madroño, are symbols of Madrid and are part of their shield. At first it was a female bear, representing fertility, today it is a male bear. A long time ago, in Madrid there were many bears, and the madroño, which we almost do not see in the streets anymore, is a typical tree of the area, which has a fruit that is “self-fermented” and you can get drunk if you eat many!
The zero kilometer is from where the radial roads of Spain depart, it is said, that if you step on the right foot the zero point, you return to Madrid. I do not know if it will be true, but the first time I visited Madrid my friend Lucia took me to the typical places that I had to know, I do not know if I step with the right or the left, but after a week I came back and stayed to live…
Javier, our guide tells us that the building where the bells ring every December 31, was originally the post office, and that it was also used as a prison at the time of the Franco dictatorship.
Plaza Mayor (Main Square)
It also teaches us to look at the details and look at the ground. In the area of the Plaza Mayor there are many shops that have a plaque indicating their age, also means that that business has never closed or changed activity in at least 100 years, but, it may have changed owners. The first one we see is about religious art, it is more than a hundred years old and has always been the business of the same family!
Something similar happens with the Posada del Peine, is the oldest hotel in Madrid, has been operating as accommodation since 1610 and became famous for being the only one who had a comb in every room, apparently a few centuries ago, was a luxury product, and they offered it in every room , but tied to a chain so they don’t take it away!
We enter the Plaza Mayor and tell us a little about its history. We talk about Its fires and usages, did you know that in the Plaza Mayor were murdered inmates or markets and different events and shows were held? In the plates of each street lamp we can see the different uses that the square had. You just have to know where to look!
The tour continues very enjoyable, we visited the building of Santa Cruz where rich, noble, and famous prisoners such as Lope de Vega were locked up. We passed a street that will make you hungry, it is called “calle botoneras” and there are two bars very famous for their squid sandwiches where tourists and locals mix themselves. You can’t leave Madrid without trying them!
The tour continues through the Plaza Mayor, the Plaza de la Villa, the Cathedral of Almudena and the Royal Palace, but if you want to know more details about them I recommend you to enjoy the tour and tell me your thoughts. We liked it very much, had a great time and also learned a lot of curiosities from the capital.
This tour takes 2h and 15m and the guides do it for free and live from tips so at the end of the tour don’t forget to give them the tip that you consider fair!
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We are not native English speakers but we have decided to translate our post to English so we can share it with the whole world. If you see any spelling mistake or something, please let us know, it is so important to us. If you do so, we can improve our post and also our English knowledge! Thanks in advance!!!