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A Photographic Study Abroad Journey in Madrid, Spain

April 11, 2024
by Anand Wetzel
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Iconic Madrid: Plazas, Landmarks, and Cultural Delights from Study Abroad Lens 

Madrid is Spain’s vibrant capital city, steeped in history, culture, and architectural marvels. Its plazas serve as hubs where history meets modernity, where locals gather, and where the city’s pulse is felt. In this collection of photographs, I worked to capture the essence of such beautiful sites and offer a visual journey through studying abroad in Madrid.

A building with trees and plants

Calle Raimundo is the apartment complex where I reside. It’s an example of where you could live if you study abroad with CEA CAPA.

Each plaza tells a story, echoing centuries of tradition, passion, and creativity. From the grandeur of the Plaza Mayor to the charm of Plaza de la Villa, these spaces are more than mere squares—they're the living, breathing stages upon which the drama of Madrid unfolds.  

What I Captured 

Palaces and Plazas in Madrid

I cannot mention Madrid's plazas and buildings without mentioning their architectural splendor. The ornate facades, elegant arcades, and intricate details bear witness to the city's rich heritage and diverse influences. Many buildings and palaces were created during different periods, and the architecture of each time speaks volumes. Whether adorned with baroque flourishes or in neoclassical elegance, each plaza is a testament to the craftsmanship of generations past and a source of inspiration for generations to come.  

A large building with a pool of water and trees

This is the Royal Palace in Madrid. It’s a massive building and is home to 3,418 rooms.

But beyond their architectural significance, Madrid's plazas and parks are also vibrant social arenas, where people from all walks of life converge to celebrate, converse, and connect. Wherever you go, streets echo with lively music from performers and chatter as people get to know each other.

A group of study abroad students in a plaza with Plaza Mayor, Madrid in the background

CEA CAPA’s walking tour showed us around our new home. This photo was taken in Plaza Mayor, one of the most popular plazas to visit.

Restaurants and Food in Madrid

Restaurants at plazas are my favorite places to enjoy a coffee or pastry while getting to know other students or locals. One of the more famous restaurants in Madrid is Botín. It’s the oldest restaurant in the world, founded in 1725, and serves excellent cochinillo and garlic soup.

A person in a chef's uniform cooking food

Botín Restaurant in Madrid.

Another famous treat in Spain is churros con chocolate. Two of my friends and I visited a place that specializes in this dish near Sol.

A study abroad student sitting at a table with food on it

Churros con chocolate near Puerta del Sol; it’s an experience everyone should have.  

Iconic Landmarks and Parks in Madrid

To do justice to all Madrid has to offer, exploring on your own or with friends is a must.

A room with a painting and a statue in it

This is an exhibit in the History Museum of Madrid. It showcases the rich history Madrid shares and is one of many museums free or discounted for students.

CEA CAPA did a great job with their walking tour as we toured most of the iconic areas near the city center.

A building with a clock tower and people walking in front of it at night

Puerta del Sol is often considered the heart of Madrid. No matter the time of day, you'll find it packed and some of the best restaurants are nearby.

Since Madrid is so large and culturally dense, one of the best ways I’ve found to explore all the city has to offer is to take a bus or metro to a new area as often as possible. You almost always find new restaurants to try, plazas to relax in, and photo opportunities in beautiful locations. 

A study abroad student standing in front of a stone archway

This is the Puerta de Alcalá monument. It’s near Retiro Park and is exceptionally beautiful near sunset.

This photoset showcases the breathtaking beauty of Madrid's iconic landmarks and hidden gems. The greenery of Retiro Park amid the bustling city offers a glimpse into the city's diverse tapestry of landscapes, history, and culture.

A study abroad student standing in a park at sunset

El Parque del Buen Retiro at sunset. This is one of the most beautiful parks I’ve been to; we explored for hours and barely scratched the surface.

You can traverse the park for hours and still come across new and interesting spots, such as the pictured famous open-air chess area La Cabaña. You can play a couple of games against locals or spend some time playing on the giant chess board like we did. 

Two study abroad students standing next to a chessboard

Playing giant chess in Retiro Park at night. There were dozens of people playing chess when we got there and it felt necessary to partake for at least a game.

In essence, this photoset is a celebration of Madrid’s past, present, and future. Through the lens of my camera, I hope viewers may embark on a visual journey through this magnificent city's heart, discover its hidden treasures, and experience the magic that makes Madrid truly unforgettable. 


Anand Wetzel is the Content Creator - Photographer in Madrid, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
 
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