La milla del arte

By | 21 May, 2014 | 0 comments

CaixaForum MadridThe inauguration of CaixaForum was the fourth and latest addition to the great museum scene in Madrid, made up by the Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía National Museum of Art, up until then known as the Triangle of Art. A unique concentration of culture along an avenue, Paseo del Prado, that leads to the nearby area of Atocha train station and the Reina Sofía Museum, located in the old hospital of San Carlos.

Below is a little bit on each of these museums, from the newest to the oldest. Inaugurated in 2008 as part of the social project of laCaixa bank, CaixaForum Madrid stands out among the other three for having a free entrance. All of its temporary exhibitions can be enjoyed without paying a single euro, as well as the vertical garden at the entrance of the building. The building itself is one of the main attractions, like for example the re-adaptation of an industrial building, the old Electrical Station of Mediodía, reconverted by the studio of Herzog & De Meuron into a modern space whose spiral staircase is worthy of a mention.

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Categories: Arte y cultura, Guías Madrid, tourism

San Isidro: una fiesta con raíces

By | 6 May, 2014 | 0 comments

San Isidro MadridConsidered as the patron saint of farmers and although his festival is celebrated in many towns with processions that bless the fields, it’s in Madrid where he is venerated the most, with a festival dedicated to him that is becoming increasingly important.

The saint’s incorrupt body is located in Madrid, the city where he was born in around 1082, in the old cathedral of la Real Colegiata de San Isidro. The visit to his sacred remains is what originated the pilgrimage around the chapel built as a tribute to him, located in Pradera de San Isidro, painted by Goya in a painting with the same name. Every year, the amount of attendants is huge to the point that you need plenty of patience to deal with the large crowd that has gathered there since first thing in the morning. In the afternoon, the procession with images of San Isidro and Santa María de la Cabeza take place from the Colegiata de San Isidro to the district of La Latina and the Plaza Mayor, a return route that ends with the hymns of the Virgin of the Almudena and of San Isidro.

This happens on the festival’s biggest day, May 15th, but both the days prior and after this date have a large programme with different festive, cultural and gastronomic events. Some of the best places during this festival are Plaza Mayor or Las Vistillas, as well as the aforementioned Pradera de San Isidro that offer traditional entertainment such as giants, cabezudos (large papier-mâché heads), operettas, or the Regional Houses Festival. Other activities that are less linked to folklore are the concerts of David de María, Pablo López or Carlos Rivera, as well as the 30-year tribute to La Unión or the Rock Villa de Madrid Awards.

A series of leisure activities that do not rival the main one in the programme: the bullfighting of San Isidro, that lasts for almost the whole month of May with fantastic line-ups on the most important days. Bullfighters such as Enrique Ponce, Juan José Padilla, Miguel Abellán or Morante de la Puebla will attempt to leave out of the main gate during these days in the Monumental de Las Ventas bullring.

Both to go to Pradera de San Isidro and to the Las Ventas bullring, Victoria 4 offers all the amenities of a 3-star hotel located in the centre of Madrid, very close to the Puerta del Sol. From there, you can easily take the metro to the bullfight on Line 2 or the bus that will leave you close to the festivals on the southern bank of the Manzanares river.

Categories: Arte y cultura, Ocio y eventos, tourism

Estación de metro de Sol

By | 25 April, 2014 | 0 comments

Metro SolSol is the busiest station in Madrid, alongside Atocha, due to it being an intermodal station, since it has offered a regional trains service since 2009. The latest renovation did however encounter a few difficulties, since the works had to be interrupted due to the finding of archaeological remains.

Originally, with the earliest metro lines, it only had one service, Line 1, which in 1919 was the only one that went through the inside of the city. It wasn’t until 1924 that another metro line arrived, Line 2, and a further twelve years for a third one. Today, it still has not incorporated further metro lines and it has a regional trains that go to El Escorial, Alcobendas-San Sebastián de los Reyes and Colmenar Viejo.

These advances slowly contributed to create the modern and complete station that Sol is today, renamed for sponsorship and funding reasons to Vodafone Sol, and whose latest renovation culminated with the ‘whale’ or ‘hungry-hippo’ building. Designed by the architect Antonio Fernández Alba, at first it was the victim of criticisms and jokes, both by the conservative and modern voices. They ignored that, with time, it would be part of the landscape and that it would not be as shocking to the eye, just like the Eiffel Tower or the pyramid at the Louvre, or even the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, all of which sufferers from similar judgements after their construction.

Consulted for the different names that the locals, spontaneously, started to propose for this new way of access to the Metro, the architect told the press that he would just call it Puerta del Sol. He was therefore referring to that gate that sees 70,000 people walk past it every day and that it finally had an entrance since this central square, unlike the Puerta de Alcalá or the Puerta de Toledo, never had a single way of access. Perhaps because the most important squares, like the seas, are fed by different streets that, just like the rivers, populate its urban space with people.

Sol Metro station is the closest to our establishment. Hotel Victoria 4 is just 200 yards from this new Sol Metro and regional trains entrance.

Categories: Guías Madrid, tourism

La calle Preciados

By | 16 April, 2014 | 0 comments

Calle PreciadosDespite what some may think, this street does not start on Plaza del Callao but before, from the area of Santo Domingo, parallel to Calle Jacometrezo.

Its name comes from the fact that the Preciado brothers used to live there, who worked as civil servants that used to check and spy on the irregularities that took place in the markets, an old figure that was common in the Arab souks. The word in Spanish is almotacén, of Arabic origin, which sounds like almacén – warehouse, which is relevant because this house held one of the most famous department stores in Spain of the 20th century, Galerías Preciados, who opened their doors in 1943. Their central location soon turned it into a favourite street among locals who began to enjoy higher purchasing power from the 1960s onwards, which influenced the pedestrianisation of the area a decade later.

The first stretch of the street, the one that is born on Santo Domingo, is almost exclusively dedicated to gastronomic offer. The visitor can find fast food restaurants in the different free buffet places at good prices, as well as traditional cuisine in restaurants such as Asador de Aranda, which specialises in Castilian cuisine and suckling pig.

In the second stretch, leaving the square to our left, is the impressive building of Callao, with a fine and modern outline that makes it hard to believe that it was built in the early 1940s. Its author was the eclectic architect Gutíerrez Soto, who is also the ‘father’ of other emblematic parts of the district such as Bar Chicote and Cine Callao, of modernist style. The Callao building used to hold the aforementioned Galerías Preciados, today owned by the Corte Inglés group, who later paved the way for the current tenant, FNAC.

Among the different fast fashion shops and others like Camper or Swatch are some older surviving ones, such as the toy shop Sanatorio de Juguetes, on the first floor of number 19 Calle Preciados, considered the oldest toy shop in Madrid, open since 1916.

A street of contrasts, since its important commercial and consumerist offer -before reaching Sol are two Corte Inglés buildings- is combined with the presence of many different NGOs that try to get affiliates to register for their causes. They are part of the human landscape of this famous artery in Madrid, the one chosen by different televisions to carry out surveys on current affairs. These are elements that once the visitor reaches the Puerta del Sol, where our Hotel Victoria 4 is located, will make him breathe and feel a happy relief.

Categories: tourism, Uncategorized

Restaurantes con solera: Casa Botín

By | 10 April, 2014 | 0 comments

Casa Botin MadridThe name does not come from the president of an important Spanish bank; this restaurant boasts, and rightfully so since it is certified with a Guinness plaque (the records one, not the beers), of being the oldest in the world. The date is subject to controversy since there are older restaurants in the world although if you google “oldest restaurant in the world” you will find Casa Botín in the top places. In any case, it is the oldest in Spain, opening its doors in 1725 during the reign of King Felipe V, the first king of the House of Bourbon in Spain. It rivals with Can Culleretes in barcelona, a restaurant that has offered Catalan gastronomic specialities since 1786.

In fact, it is called, as the plaque says at the entrance, Restaurante Sobrino de Botín, and it is just a stone’s throw from the Plaza Mayor, on the picturesque Calle de Cuchilleros. Its interior with four floors surprises the visitors with its intricate rooms. Its menu does not include over complicated dishes of fusion cuisine but rather traditional and simple cuisine, with juicy stews and starters such as asparagus or peppers, although they all have the special charm of the restaurant, filled with lovely corners and old-style waiters. However, do not expect a local crowd in there because it is full of Japanese and European tourists, tourists with a deep pocket since it is not particularly cheap; age has a price.

Far from stalling and living from the past, the oldest restaurant in Spain is showing signs of adapting to the changes, as its online reservations network shows, as well as its presence in the social networks and YouTube. Also, the business is open to expansion, exemplified with its restaurant in Toledo, where they serve every day in the Army Museum and have a fantastic terrace with a view over the river Tajo. The latest heirs of the restaurant also want to bring new dishes to the menu and have incorporated paellas made in true Valencian style, with water and vegetables brought especially from this region, an excellent example of how the different parts of Spain that come together in Madrid. Isn’t that fusion cuisine?

Enjoying lunch or dinner at Casa Botín is a unique experience for foodies staying in our hotel. From Hotel Victoria 4 we can walk to the Plaza Mayor in just a few minutes. You just have to cross the Puerta del Sol, from its birth in Plaza de Santo Domingo.

Categories: Gastronomía, tourism, Uncategorized

Metro de Madrid

By | 31 March, 2014 | 0 comments

It offered its first underground services in 1919, when King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the first line that went from Cuatro Caminos to Sol, with Chamberí station -of which we will talk about later on- in the middle of the line. With these new infrastructures, Madrid was now a European city in its full right, with the works on the Gran Vía in full flow initiated nine years before and the vocation of leaving aside that appearance of ‘Castilian town’, paraphrasing the members of the literary Generation of ‘98. In neighbouring Portugal, the first lines of the metro in Lisbon were inaugurated in 1959 while the underground in Rome began to work in 1930. In Paris, the first line of the Métropolitain opened in 1900, built for the Olympic Games of that same year.

During the Spanish Civil War, the metro stations became common refuges  for the people of Madrid to keep safe from the bombings of the aviation of General Franco and his German and Italian.

Going back to the present, the metro of Madrid enjoys a good reputation among locals despite the recent protests due to the increase in ticket prices, prices that are in line with those from other European capitals with a higher per capita income. However, the short frequency of trains -especially by day- and the cleanliness of the facilities make it an increasingly-popular transport as the following data indicates: 634 trips in 2011.

With a total of 12 lines and 238 stations, the Madrid Metro is getting closer and closer to the periphery of the city, with access to cities like Alcobendas, Leganés or Getafe, although the regional trains are recommended for long journeys inside the city itself -which you can get from Chamartín and Atocha, for example-, essential for day trips of cultural interest to places like San Lorenzo de El Escorial , Alcalá de Henares or Aranjuez.

If we go back to the aforementioned station of Chamberí, a curiosity is that it was closed to the public because with the opening of new stations it was no longer needed, so it was ‘frozen’. Before it became a museum, if you travelled on Line 1 you could still see the remains of the past, with adverts from products from years gone by (Anís del Mono) and the tiles in Parisian style on the walls that used to be so trendy back then (and which luckily are coming back into fashion). Since 2008, it became a small museum on the old metro, preserving the aesthetics it had until the station closed on May 21st 1966. An excellent way of learning about the past of the quickest and most comfortable transport in the city.

The most famous and key station in the network is Sol, which is located barely 200 yards from our hotel. From it you can get to almost every point in the city of Madrid in less than an hour. It was one of the first stations in the network but in the 1980s it was revamped to make it suitable for the huge traffic of commuters that it had every day.

Categories: Excursiones, Guías Madrid, tourism

Ofertas de hoteles en el centro de Madrid

By | 24 February, 2014 | 0 comments

Are you planning on visiting Madrid in the next few months and you’re looking for a hotel to stay in? If that’s the case, don’t miss checking out on the hotel offers in the centre of Madrid that Hotel Victoria 4 offers you, which guarantees you special prices on its official website that will make your stay in the capital a lot cheaper..

Hotel Victoria 4 offers its guests different kinds of offers according to their demands and needs. For example, for stays longer than 3 nights, we have a 3 for 2 offer in which one of the nights is free, including also breakfast every day. We also have an offer for 4 nights for the price of 3 for even longer stays.

If, on the other hand, you are one of those people who book trips at the last minute or you have come across a setback that means you have to travel to Madrid quickly, you can also benefit from our last-minute offer, with discounts of up to 20% from the original room price in booking that include breakfast, half board or full board.

You might have also planned your trip to Madrid in advance. If that’s the case, Hotel Victoria 4 also has an offer for you that will allow you to save 25% from the price per night in the hotel if you book more than 30 days in advance and stay two or more nights with us.

If you like travelling calmly, you may also be interested in our offer package that guarantees you the best available room in the hotel, check-out at 2pm and a 10% discount on the final price. Ideal for weekend getaways.

Booking with security is also rewarded. If you are completely sure that you are coming to Madrid on a specific date, why not make your booking now and save some money during your stay? At Victoria 4 we offer 13% discount if you book seven days in advance and accept that your booking is non-refundable.

So, before booking your hotel in the centre of Madrid – we are next to the Puerta del Sol-, we recommend that you check out our special offers and see if there is one that offers better price or conditions. Booking directly on our hotel’s website pays off. We are waiting for you at Hotel Victoria 4.

Categories: offers

De compras en Sol desde el Hotel Victoria 4

By | 13 January, 2014 | 0 comments

One of the pleasures of travelling is ‘hunting’ for those unique items that are exclusive from the place we find ourselves in, small trophies with which we can surprise our loved ones when we go back home or that we can treasure in our own home as travelling souvenirs.

If you have chosen to stay in our hotel, it’s very easy to go shopping in Madrid because some of the most original and oldest shops of the city are located in the area of Sol due to its unique history and central location.

Below are some of those shops that you can find in Sol, where you can buy traditional gifts from Madrid without having to walk further than 15 minutes from our hotel:

1) Casa Diego

Casa Diego - Tiendas en SolOn one of the busiest corners in Sol we find Casa Diego (Puerta del Sol, 12), a 200-year-old workshop-shop that makes fans, umbrellas, parasols, and walking sticks.

All of its products are handmade, which gives them a unique touch and exclusiveness of the highest quality. Members of royal families from around the world have ordered products from Casa Diego, such as the princess of Spain Letizia Ortiz, who ordered a fan made here for her wedding.

2) Cafés “La Mexicana”

The century-old shop Cafés La Mexicana (Preciados, 24) welcomes its visitors with the strong and unique aroma of freshly-grinded coffee. All of its coffees are 100% homemade, toasted by hand and grinded right in front of the client.

Curious fact: despite the latest trend of coffee-capsule machines, this shop and its franchises currently hold the Guinness Record for being the shop that sells the most coffee in the world.

La Violeta, dulces típicos de Madrid3) La Violeta

Whether you want to take back a souvenir from Madrid for a delicatessen lover or you have a sweet tooth yourself, don’t miss out on visiting the confiserie La Violeta (Plaza de Canalejas, 6).

The violet-flavoured sweets and the dewed petals of this flower are this sweet shop’s biggest speciality, a shop that will fascinate you for its vintage style both in its decoration and in the wrappings of its sweets. This is something you can only buy in Madrid.

4) Capas Seseña

Founded in 1901, Capas Seseña (Cruz, 23) is the only shop in the world that specialises in the traditional garment that are capes. Celebrities such as Pablo Picasso, Federico Fellini or Michael Jackson have ordered capes made in the workshop of Seseña. Even the Nobel-prize-winning writer Camilo José Cela received this prestigious award in one of these capes.

Originally a piece of clothing for men, in the last few years they have been making silk ones for women: Hillary Clinton has one of them.

Photos | (CC) La Casa de Diego, Kerolic and (CC) Violet Candies in Madrid Shop, by Mark Peacock.

Written by Laura Blanco

Categories: Guías Madrid

Cadalso de los Vidrios, un cuadro de otoño

By | 22 October, 2012 | 0 comments

Categories: Excursiones

Un día en la Casa de Campo

By | 23 December, 2011 | 0 comments

 

Casa de Campo is a very romantic name for one of the biggest urban parks in Madrid. Situated on the western border of the city, Casa de Campo or Country House is home to the Madrid Zoo as well as the amusement park or Parque de Atracciones.

For both these attractions you will have to spend a whole day to fully enjoy them. Although on the outskirts of the town, Casa de Campo is easy to reach from the town centre by tube, stopping at  Casa de Campo or Lago.

The zoo is one of the biggest in Europe and even has an aquarium where you and your whole family will be able to enjoy seeing dolphins and other aquatic animals performing.

If you prefer to spend a day out in the amusement park, you will have access to a number of different rides and experiences for the whole family. It is divided in themed areas and there is something for everybody, even the tiny, weeny ones. There are also numerous areas where you can have a bite or something to drink, while you wait for your next exciting experience.

Going back to Hotel Victoria will be very easy as both sites are connected by underground to the centre of Madrid.

Categories: Sin categoría

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