The satellite view below show the extent of the city center from the Palacio Real on the left to el Retiro on the right. Cutting the city in two like a river, the aptly named calle Mayor meets with the Puerta del sol after it grazed by the imposing Plaza mayor (another gigantic depletion in the layout of roofs after Sol itself), and continues afterwards now as the never ending calle de Alcala through the famous Cibeles. Less visible although much bigger, this pattern is repeated by the Gran Via in a northern branch of a Y. The two meet, again like two rivers, at a dull point overlooked by the Victoria Alada of the Metropolis building. The actual river, the Manzanares, grazes the western part of the city as it falls from the mountains, in the distant north.
The panoramic view below was taken on 17 May (2015) from the Cerro de San Pedro, the first mountain of the sierra de Guadarrama, for the surveillance of which the city was built by the Arabs (click to open). You can see Tres Cantos at the bottom (partly cut) and the Universidad Autónoma along with other recognizable highlights of the capital (the four towers, Plaza Castilla, etc.)
and in a browsable Google Map:
Madrid was funded by the muslims. It was then known as Mayrit, and was protected by walls circling what is today the neighbourhood of Palacio.
El Retiro is the west end of historical Madrid (nowadays surrounded from the further side by geometrical formations from modern urban planning). The name of this district comes from the famous park del Buen Retiro (of the good retreat).
One everybody's favourite of the park is the monument to the Fallen Angel, that depicts the Milton's inspired fall of the brightest amidst the host of Angels.
I like the work because of its ambiguity. The angel is represented as beautiful, while the fall itself is gripping, it seems eternal, never ending, always happening, a real kick from God. There is no angle that seems adequate, the statue falls in all the directions. I use it since 29 December (2013) as the decoration of my social network portals (google+, twitter, YouTube) as an acclaim to this equivocation that allows both satanic sects and devout catholics to both praise and despise the work: as a faithful representation of the Bible or as a tribute to the occult, the evil, the perdition.
Probably once the most beautiful place of Madrid, when it was marking the limits between the old city and the fields with its eponymous gate, now long gone, it became merely—not the heart, because it is not beating—but more properly, the hub of Madrid. It concentrates various important highlights of the city:
Sadly, although we pass by there virtually everyday, it is for us only a transit point to take the train. The place is popular for all sorts of events and manifestations.
The main three venues:
Together they form the so-called Paseo del Arte.
Cutting a slice of grouper in the Mercado de la Cebada.
The lights of la Gran Vía (on a day that was not that of the beast).
Although with the Telefonica building, it seems the devil does live in Madrid.