This morning our group headed out on a city tour of Madrid. Our first stop was to Jardines del Templo de Debod. This Egyptian temple devoted to the cult of Amun and Isis dates back 2,200 years. It was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government in 1968 as a thank you for Spain's help in rescuing the temples of Abu Simbel. (As you can tell by the sky, we had another beautiful day of sunshine.)
Next we stopped at the Monument to Cervantes in Plaza de España. The bronze sculpture at the bottom is Don Quixote and Sancho Panzo while the sculpture above that is Cervantes.
From here we visited the Madrid Atocha Railway Station. The photo below is of its beautiful interior with botanical gardens. The station’s notoriety, however, comes from the Madrid train bombings on March 11, 2004. Ten bombs exploded on four trains in and around Atocha Station in the city’s center, leaving 191 dead and more than 1,800 injured. Occurring just three days before Spain’s general elections, the attacks had major political consequences. The official investigation found that the attacks were directed by an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist cell, although no direct al-Qaeda participation has been established.
Bonnie and I left the group and headed back to our hotel for a brief rest; then we headed out to tour the interior of the Royal Palace. (The photo of its exterior is on yesterday’s post. We couldn’t take any pictures inside.) The palace was built during the 18th and 19th centuries as a royal residence. Today it is used for award ceremonies, royal audiences, banquets and important events. We explored lavish halls, banquet rooms, the throne room, residential areas, the Royal Armory and Royal Pharmacy. We also saw classical Spanish art from Goya and Velazquez.
After the palace, we walked a half block to see Almudena Cathedral. The site of the cathedral was originally occupied by Madrid's first mosque. Construction of the cathedral began in 1883 but was not completed until 1993. Below is the north facing side of the cathedral which faces the Royal Palace.
We ended our day with a lovely dinner at a small family restaurant with our entire group. In addition to Ruth and Liisa, we were joined by fellow travelers from the DC area, Bernice and Myron.