We passed through the Plaza Mayor to catch the main building in the square-enclosed plaza lit up with warm light. Not much activity on a workday morning, except for Fat Spiderman trolling for children. I think this Spiderman ate the one from El Retiro yesterday, because this one was enormous. His red and blue costume was soiled and stretched tight around a substantial gut. A red triangular bandana formed the lower half of his creepy mask. What child wouldn't want a balloon from this guy? (On this morning, the alternative was an equally scary clown...so it was really a coin toss for King Icky!)
On to the Cabildo Catedral Metropolitano de Madrid...the city's late 20th century cathedral adjacent to the Royal Palace. Completed in 1993, this is the latest cathedral constructed in Europe. Classic features like the stained glass windows, wooden ceilings, gilded high altar, and central dome all exhibit modern styles and colors blended with traditional iconography. The look is clean and powerful...not pretending to be old, but rather embracing its youth. The view from the exterior of the dome was panoramic...although the now-midday sun and still haze made the view less than photogenic. On the horizon, the Plaza de Toros stadium resembled the iconic saucer spaceship from Lost in Space.
Our main stop for the day...and our most anticipated sight in Madrid...was the Royal Palace. We purposefully left this for Monday, since all of the museums are closed today. The Palacio Real de Madrid is the working palace of the Spanish monarchy...although the King and Queen reside elsewhere in town. This 18th century structure of over 2000 rooms was completed during the rein of Carlos III...and many of the rooms are decorated in his style. Our tour consisted of a couple dozen state rooms...all ornately decorated. Most of the rooms had elaborate ceilings of varying styles and materials. A favorite was the Chinoserie style room used as a formal dressing room for the awakening cermony of Carlos III...and to think I just get dressed unceremoniously. A beautiful painting adorning one of the large rooms depicted a colorful scene with Columbus returning to the court of Isabel and Ferdinand from the New World. The palace was probably the best possible way to finish up our trip. The visit certainly left you with a reminder that Spain has a rich and powerful history in spite of its current economic place in the world.
Spent the late afternoon people watching and recalling highlights from our trip. Strolled down the crowded Grand Via...ducking occasionally down a side street for a more intimate walk. Cervezas on the Plaza de Chueca...love the olive oil chips that accompany drinks. Laughed reviewing photos of Fat Spiderman. Scouted out our last meal in Spain...for now. The pleasant breeze and entertaining scene won us over, and we dined once more outside...yummy pizzas and cervezas from Pizzete. As the town closed up after midnight, we traced a circuitous route back to the hotel taking a few final photos.