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95.43   
Madrid  

Europe’s Most Passionate City
“If you’re in Madrid, you’re from Madrid.” It’s a phrase heard often in the city and refers as much to the mixed ancestry of the residents as it does to guests. It doesn’t mean that the Madrileños beat down any hotel doors to make guests feel at home. But the first time a visitor to the city finds themselves lost in unfamiliar territory and is taken under the wing of a local, the meaning becomes clear.

In contrast to the rich architecture of Barcelona, France, and Italy, this humble array of majestic estates and cobbled roads, juxtaposed against skyscrapers and modern architecture, has little to say about its appearance. It has much more to say about the lifestyle and philosophy of the people that call Madrid home.
For one, they love their bullfights in the afternoon. Sparkling toreadors perform the traditional dances and footwork of their school in the deadly artistic craft that pits man against the fury and force of 2,000 pounds of angry bull.

When there’s not a fight to be seen, Madrileños can be found enjoying sushi and shopping for steals at the Rastro—a flea market featuring everything from precious gems to cast-offs, where the serious shoppers line up as early as 7 a.m. for first picks. A 350 acre stretch of shade trees and ponds offers the perfect repose at Parque del Retiro before the evening kicks into gear.

After all, it’s not the bullring or the flea market that draw travelers to this oldest and most Spanish of Spain’s cities. Some of the best live music to be found, enjoyed from a banquet of restaurants and bars, nestled between art galleries fit to rival the Louvre for size and quality, offers unrivaled entertainment and a serious party scene.

Evenings can be spent nibbling stuffed peppers and regional cheese, drinking Spanish wine and meeting new friends skipping between the tascas—bars specialized in a wide variety of appetizers and sophisticated banquet dishes. Past midnight, the night scene takes off, locals and travelers packing into the bars for drinks and heading to Calle Arenal to jam in Madrid’s big named clubs until there’s no night left.
 
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Madrid
Madrid, Spain
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Rating 95.43 
Rank [category] 5 
Rank [overall] 12 
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"It's like the New York of Europe. Actually it's more like New York is Madrid of America. "
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