MARÍA ZOZAYA ÁLVAREZ

OCCUPATION:Exhibitions Coordinator at the Fundación Juan March

MY STYLE IS: Relaxed, urban, feminine, chic. I always mix my comfortable basics—such as jeans and oversized sweaters or simple dresses—with edgy statement pieces. My collection of designer handbags, colorful jewelry, foulards and sunglasses add pizzazz and color to the staples. My home, meanwhile, is eclectically modern. The building’s 19th century architecture acts as a backdrop for our contemporary art collection, and antique family heirlooms accent the modern deco-inspired furniture.

I LOVE MADRID BECAUSE: You can get anywhere easily, either by walking or hopping on a bus or metro, and it is filled with parks and marvelous museums. It is very safe and the weather is fantastic, most of the year we have blue skies.


The Ritz

Alfonso XIII wasn’t only the most pleasant ruler; he was also the most hospitable. The king noticed the need for a hotel in his country’s capital, and proceeded to build one of the world’s most luxurious. Built in 1910, The Ritz has stood the test of timeless luxury – don’t be surprised if you rub elbows with aristocrats upon entering the baroque-inspired structure. Upstairs, the newly renovated rooms still maintain The Ritz’s royal roots, and accommodate children with a library of cartoons, PlayStation, bottle warmers, and bathrobes. In the spring and summer, take the family down to the terrace for sun-drenched tapas.

Palacio Real

Don’t expect a royal sighting on these palace grounds–while the Palacio Real is used for state ceremonies, the monarch resides in more modest dwellings on the outskirts of Madrid. This says something about the enormity and opulence of Europe’s largest palace, which boasts 2,800 rooms. Take a tour of its interior, and then head out back to the 50-acre Campo del Moro gardens. Though it’s worn the hats of Moorish army camp and royal hunting grounds, it’s hard to imagine doing anything but relaxing on its pristine, shaded lawns.

Plaza de la Independencia

In the heart of Madrid, Plaza de la Independencia offers a remarkable combination of history and humanity: the wide promenade is the perfect place for people watching. Rare are the photographs of the plaza sans the Alcalá Gate, a neo-classical structure inaugurated in 1778. The gate has come a long way since being scarred with shrapnel—having been memorialized in song and appointed as the stage for a 2010 Katy Perry performance. Some argue that the plaza is best observed at night, once illuminated by the buildings’ elegant lights.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Nearly one thousand works are on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and many of them predate the building by centuries. Built in 1988, the museum is the culmination of a decades-long love affair with the arts, starting first with August Thyssen, the German industrialist who had a lasting friendship with Auguste Rodin (of which the Thyssen-Bornemisza’s four Rodins are a result). These days, the museum is a cultural hub, with a number of classes, activities and tours for children and families. Check out the museum’s education program—EducaThyssen—for class schedules and descriptions.

Biblioketa

This international bookstore specializes in children’s literature in Spanish, French, and English. So whether it’s Le Petit Prince or Goodnight Moon, you can be sure to find it at Biblioketa. The store’s bright and colorful interior invites kids in and makes them want to stay, find a book and expand their imagination! In addition to books, Biblioketa also offers activities such as music, art, storytelling, and drama workshops. “They have fantastic storytelling sessions by authors in the evenings,” says Kavita Parmar. Check the website for a schedule of events.

Baby Deli

Pretty much a mother’s dream come true, Baby Deli is comprised of three components: a retail space for toys and clothes, a snack bar with healthful bites, and an educational center where children can engage in activities galore. Stacy Knoell, one of the founders, recommends some of her favorite edibles: “Make sure your snack includes my favorite vanilla PurNatur yogurt and a Natur-Frisk lemonade. Also take some organic and healthy snack foods with you for later like Organix’s Goodies Cheese and Herb Puffs and a Kidz fruit bar.”

Retiro Park

One of Madrid’s most popular attractions, Retiro Park, was once home to King Felipe IV’s 17th century royal palace. Since it became a public park in the 19th century, thousands have flocked to the beautiful grounds, taking in the monuments, sculptures, historical architecture, rose gardens, and even paddling in the boating lake. In the summer, Retiro Park offers free concerts and also hosts an annual book fair.

Le Cabrera

Those in a cocktail rut should seek a change at Le Cabrera, a gastrobar that serves creative, seasonal concoctions in a chic, two-level venue. While the much-brighter top level is meant for enjoying dishes like steak tartare, ham croquettes, and paté; the intimate, dimly lit ground floor is designed with drinks in mind. In the summer, enjoy a fresh fruit cocktail (and maybe a soccer match) at Le Cabrera’s terrace bar, located in the picturesque Linares Palace.

Murillo Café

“This charming restaurant has great food and music, plus a wonderful bar,” says Caroline Herrera de Baez. Owners Eliza Arcaya and Johanna Müller-Klingspor, who also ran a successful catering business, offer simple but interesting Mediterranean fare. The clientele—often museumgoers coming from the next-door Prado—only add to the dining room’s style. What’s more, the “Hamburger CH,” topped with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and pickles, is named after the lovely Herrera de Baez. “I love it!” she says.

CaixaForum

This electric power station-turned cultural center is relatively new—especially in relation to its neighbor, El Prado; nevertheless, CaixaForum has quickly become a distinctive city landmark. Inside, you’ll find an auditorium, media library, bookshop, café, several exhibition spaces, and beautiful conference rooms available for rent. Especially eye catching is the “vertical garden” designed by French botanist, Patrick Blanc, whose other projects include the Quai Branly Museum in Paris and the New York botanical gardens, among countless others.

Nichola Hunt

Cocktail aficionado. Large dog breed lover. Fondness of summer dresses. Hater of pickles. Born in London, based in Bali.

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