How would you compare Madrid to Rome?

Old Nov 25th, 2002, 04:50 PM
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How would you compare Madrid to Rome?

A friend that thought Rome was overcrowded and too big says she doesnt want to go to Madrid on our trip next year to Spain. She has it in her head that it is too much like Rome. We havent been to Spain and I want to convince her to go to Madrid at least for a day. Any help out there from the experts?
Old Nov 25th, 2002, 04:58 PM
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If she didn't like rome, she'll hate madrid.
Old Nov 25th, 2002, 05:06 PM
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I didn't really like Rome by the first time I was there, then I learned to love it. I hated Madrid when I was there for the first time, and have no wish to come back. To me, it's a big, charmless city.
Old Nov 25th, 2002, 05:15 PM
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There are some quite nice things in Madrid, Prado and the Retiro come to mind, but it is not a wandering around in sort of city. Traffic was bad on our first trip there (1964) and horrendous now.
I suspect she will loathe it. (How can someone not like Rome?)
Old Nov 25th, 2002, 05:33 PM
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Loved Rome and while Madrid had things to offer, I didn't find Madrid to be worthy of another visit. Madrid will also be crowded & big as most cities are. It's a shame if your friend only remember Rome as being overcrowded.
Old Nov 25th, 2002, 08:28 PM
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It took two trips to Rome before I figured out how to enjoy and appreciate it - it's a huge city with bits of different layers of history sort of plastered on top of each other all around, and a gritty, trafficky, loud, discombobulated place to boot. But I did eventually find its charm and have enjoyed several visits there since. The people are warm, the food is fabulous, and if I could ever be there when the Pantheon were open, it might well rank up there with my favorite places.

Madrid, on the other hand, left me completely cold. There isn't a whole lot of historical interest to see in the city, compared to elsewhere in Spain, it's pretty crowded and fairly gritty, people are up all night making noise in the streets, and petty crime seemed to be rampant, at least when we were there (we were trapped inside a shop across from the Prado while a thief who had stolen numerous large knives was apprehended by the police). The Prado, of course, is legendary for good reason, and there are nice parks in the city, but nothing there "grabbed" me in any way, which is unusual - I almost always find something in a new city in Europe that really grips me and compels me to return. I have no desire to return to Madrid - other places in Spain, yes, but not Madrid.
If your friend is rebellling at Madrid, maybe you could compromise and spend a day or two in Granada or Sevilla - I realize they are much farther south, but they captured my interest a lot more than Madrid did. Or even Toledo - not far from Madrid, but a lovely town/city.
Old Nov 26th, 2002, 05:12 AM
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Sad to see Madrid has such a bad rep. I've been there three times (twice on one trip, arriving and leaving from there) and enjoyed it. To me it seems much smaller and more navigable than Rome. I love the crush of people doing their passeo in the late day/early evening--and all night on Saturday. I enjoyed the "new" cathedral and the tour of the royal palace. A tour of a little known museum in a private nobleman's house, Musee Cabello, I believe, was fascinating and a nice contrast to the royal palace. Seeing all the hams hanging in delis and bars everywhere is fun. The grand buildings on the Gran Via and elsewhere as well as the monuments and great shopping streets are also quite respectable. And Madrid seems to have a street cleaning operation that rivals that of Paris. True it's not the most exciting city in the world or even in Spain, but it's certainly worth a visit. It is, afterall, a major world capitol that seems to me at least to be improving rather than declining.
Old Nov 26th, 2002, 07:15 AM
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Rome has neighborhoods that are older, and also much more charming that what you will see in most of Madrid. Madrid experienced much destruction during its Civil War in the 1930's, and much of the city was subsequently rebuilt.

During my visit to Madrid I was constantly reminded of Manhattan (New York City). I found Madrid to be more like New York than any other city I ever visited, including other cities in the USA.
Old Nov 26th, 2002, 07:18 AM
John G
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Rome and Madrid are nothing alike. You can make a comparison on the basis of grand architecture and wide boulevards, but that is about it.

I agree that Madrid lacks charm, except for the Serrano district. But, the art of Madrid, in the Prado, Thyssen collection, and Reina Sophia is staggering. You should visit Madrid at least once just to see it.

Old Nov 26th, 2002, 09:09 AM
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What about loving both? I do.
Different, but both very very worthwhile
Old Nov 26th, 2002, 09:32 AM
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Have not been to Madrid, but I am surprised that anyone would find Rome "too big." Well, okay, not if they're comparing it to Bath or Cesky Krumlov or Beaune. But, compared to other major European capitals like Paris and London, Rome had a very intimate feel to me.
Old Nov 26th, 2002, 10:56 AM
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If I were you I would avoid Spain altogether. We spent three weeks there last year - never again. We found the people unspeakably rude and vulgar - one breakfast server repeatedly accused my brother of being a chapero - and one bitch grabbed my daughter by the hair in Perta do sol - I made damn sure her attacker regretted it. Go to Morocco instead, lovely people, real history (not made up like Spain) and a real culture but more Westernised than Spain.
Old Nov 27th, 2002, 08:27 AM
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Old Nov 28th, 2002, 06:28 PM
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They are the same as far as breakins and pickpockets, never again.
Old Nov 28th, 2002, 06:45 PM
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I agree that Madrid is a little rough - i've been there a few times and have never left without someone trying to mug me. But they've never been sucessful.
BUT - Madrid is probably the most vibrant city I've ever visited, with Naples ranking a close city. Even NYC is sleepy compared to Madrid. It is a bit seedy, but I liked that.
The museums are fabulous - the Reina Sofia is a magnificent collection of modern art, and the Prado is probably the best musuem in Europe. No, in the world. Much more navegable than the Louvre, more varied than the National Art Gallery in London.
Madrid is more sprawling than Rome or Paris, far more dense than London. It's full of 3rd world neighborhoods and desperate people.
But I still love it!
Old Nov 29th, 2002, 07:29 AM
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Hi Nikki,

Madrid for a day is too short to find the great things in the city. Your friend will find it horrendous and you will not get much out of it other than 'I was there'.

Toledo about 100km South is well worth that day, or perhaps adding a day to Barcelona (Sitges to the South if the city is too crowded for your friend) is well worth the time.
Old Nov 29th, 2002, 02:11 PM
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Rome is my favorite big city. I love it. We visited Madrid and enjoyed the sites, but I think it's the "newer-ness" of it. It's more like being in Washington, D.C. M.
Old Nov 29th, 2002, 02:46 PM
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Nikki, how would you compare apples and oranges?
Old Nov 29th, 2002, 10:51 PM
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Is the problem that your friend simply is not a big city person? If that's the issue then there certainly is many places in Spain to visit that are enjoyable. Toledo, Sevilla, Segovia, Granada ... why try to convince her to go somewhere that very likely she'll hate? Save your visit to Madrid for another occasion, either traveling solo or with another friend who is more enthusiastic about larger cities.
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