During our vacation to the fascinating city of Madrid, we took side trips to the old city of Toledo, the Valley of the Fallen and El Escorial. This is a photo gallery of our trip.
The Majestic capital of Spain and side trips
Madrid is the capital of Spain and is located in the center of the country on the River Manzanares. It’s a city of elegance, art, and palatial splendor. The main purpose of our trip was to attend a performance of La Boheme that took place at the Teatro Real Opera House because Doug’s brother designed the sets and costumes. Of course, we made a more extensive trip out of it and spent 2 weeks traveling throughout Spain before taking the bullet train from Seville to meet up with my children who had flown in from Los Angeles.
They arrived the day before, and I was a nervous wreck because they were 16 and 18 at the time and had never been abroad. But, being resourceful, they immediately learned the lay of the land by taking the Hop on Hop off Bus on a tour of the city. By the time we met them, they’d already been to the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace. So much for worrying about them.
We also visited the Prado National Museum and neighboring El Retiro Park, the Royal Palace, strolled the historic Plaza Mayor, attended a Flamenco performance and the Opera. We met up with a tour company that took us to El Escorial -a monastery where most of the Spanish monarchs are entombed, the Valley of the Fallen – a monument and cathedral built by Generalísimo Franco, and the astoundingly well preserved and stunning city of Toledo – once the former capital of Spain until 1561.
Toledo is known as the “city of three cultures” where Christians, Muslims, and Jews coexisted for centuries. It’s the home of El Greco, whose most famous paintings can be seen at the Church of Santo Tomé. The city is located in the La Mancha region. Needless to say, there were Don Quixote and Sancho Panza statues displayed everywhere along its winding streets and in the shops.
The Royal Site of San Lorenzo El Escorial, known as El Escorial, is the historic residence of the King of Spain. It is now a monastery, basilica, royal palace, library, museum, university, and hospital.
Franco, who was the fascist dictator of Spain from 1939 – 1975 is buried in the Valley of the Fallen in the church. 40,000 others whose lives were lost fighting the Spanish Civil war are buried beneath the valley floor. His burial there is controversial and political rallies honoring Franco have now been banned.
Photos inside the city of Madrid
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The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
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The Valley of the Fallen
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The City of Toledo
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