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With a metropolitan population soaring near 6 million, it's helpful to have an inside track to Madrid's best views, whether that's on top, inside or on the periphery of some of the city's most iconic structures. Get ready for some selfies. This is a Madrid you won't want to forget.
SAN MIGUEL MARKET
Madrid's answer to Eataly, San Miguel Market's 33 stalls are a must-taste destination if your idea of the perfect view is from a bar stool with a glass of Rioja and a plate of tapas. The glass-walled building dates back to 1916 and is the only iron structured market left standing.
Craving more? Imbibe in gastronomic overload with Madrid Food Tours' Huertas Neighborhood Food & Market Tour.
ME MADRID REINA VICTORIA
Meliá Hotels International has been part of Spain's hospitality scene since 1956 and the ME Madrid Reina Victoria —ideally situated on the bustling Plaza de Santa Ana—offers a rooftop deck that showcases the city in all its glory. Down below you can witness the bustling action as passers-by wander the winding streets to nearby Reina Sofia Museum or the Royal Palace, but chances are your eyes will be locked on the good-looking crowd decked out in Zara and other Spanish-centric brands.
CIRCULO DE BELLAS ARTES
Designed by architect Antonio Palacio and dating back to 1926, the Círculo de Bellas Artes is home to a range of artistic disciplines ranging from film and music to poetry and live theater. But it is the terraza on the seventh floor that attracts with locals and tourists alike.
The terrazo at Círculo de Bellas Artes (Courtesy of Madrid Destino)
It costs €1 to access, but if you can snag a seat, it's the picture-perfect locale for sunset cocktails such as Tinto de verano, a simplified version of sangria that combines red wine, La Casera and a slice of citrus.
TEMPLE OF DEBOD
Cuartel d la Montaña Park offers more than young couples picnicking and distant cityscapes. It also houses the 2,000-year-old Temple of Debod, which was transplanted from Egypt to Spain one stone at a time. Originally dedicated to the gods Ammon and Isis, its original east-to-west orientation has been maintained.
History buffs can participate in a guided tour (Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. by appointment only) or the casual observer can wander the grounds free of charge.
DAY TRIP: ALCALA DE HENARES
For literary buffs, academics or those who simply want a brief respite from Madrid's bustling pace, Alcalá de Henares is a great bet. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the world's first planned university city as well as the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. The small Castilian-style home where Cervantes spent his early years contains original editions of Don Quixote dating back to the early 17th century.
Head to La Terraza del M`ercado for lunch with city views and be sure to stroll through the Plaza de Cervantes to appreciate the beautiful gardens.
Matthew Wexler is the national travel editor for EDGE Media Network. In addition, his work has appeared in Hemispheres, Gotham, Hamptons Magazine, Private Islands, Passport and online for AAA, ShermansTravel, offMetro, among others.