Hemingway's Walking Tour (Self Guided), Madrid

There have been many writers who express a love for Madrid, but one who did so quite famously was Ernest Hemingway. During his life, Hemingway was a frequent visitor of Madrid, finding in it his muse, popular success and critical acclaim. Don Ernesto, as he was called in Spain, was a frequent visitor to specific sites in Madrid that became major tourist attractions. The majority of those sites are described in the next walking tour.
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Hemingway's Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Hemingway's Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Restaurante Sobrino de Botin
  • Cerveceria Alemana
  • La Venencia
  • Museo Chicote
  • Circulo de Bellas Artes
  • Hotel Suecia
  • Westin Palace Hotel
  • Museo Nacional del Prado
Restaurante Sobrino de Botin

1) Restaurante Sobrino de Botin (must see)

The Botin restaurant, a famous eatery in Madrid, claims to be the "oldest restaurant in the world." It was founded by Frenchman Jean Botin and his spouse and was originally called Casa Botin. The restaurant was inherited by their nephew Candido Remis, thus explaining the change of name to Sobrino de Botin, which survives to this day. The famous painter Francisco Goya is said to have worked here as a dishwasher in his younger years and the place was also a firm favorite of Ernest Hemingway. It grew more popular after Hemingway's regular visits, and is said to be the place of the last scene of his novel "The Sun Also Rises." Botin is known for its excellent cuisine and great staff.

You can also book the 'Botin Experience' which includes a tour of the restaurant prior to sitting down for your meal.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 1pm-4pm / 8pm-12am
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cerveceria Alemana

2) Cerveceria Alemana

Cerveceria Alemana is located in central Madrid's Plaza Ana, well known for hosting many cafes and eateries and for being a popular night spot for Madrid's youth. It is also the place where Hemingway had his daily haunt- the Cerveceria Alemana (German Bierkeller). His regular table still stands in the near right-hand corner and this tavern is noted in his novel "The Sun Also Rises."
La Venencia

3) La Venencia

Clad in vintage posters with the interior yellowed in cigarette stains, La Venencia sherry bar in central Madrid gained fame in the 1930s, during the Spanish Civil War, as a popular hangout of Republican soldiers and their supporters, among whom was Ernest Hemingway, a war correspondent, who frequented the place seeking news from the front. Nowadays, the joint has retained much of its character; the old wooden barrels and sawdust floor, still in place, remember Hemingway pitching up for a glass of sherry, much as the top shelf bottles, none of which seems to have been dusted since either. All of this adds a great deal to the place's appeal. Regularly crowded by locals, the bar still carries the sign from the Civil War era, saying “Don’t spit on the floor.” Moreover, in keeping with its republican tradition, La Venencia still observes the strict rule, as was in Hemingway’s time – no photographs, as a safety measure against possible Fascist spies, as well as no tipping. The latter may seem odd, but these were socialists and workers, after all...
Museo Chicote

4) Museo Chicote

When you are looking at your list of museums to visit in Madrid, don’t be misled by the Museo Chicote on the Gran Via – it is not a museum, it is the most famous cocktail bar in Madrid. During the Spanish Civil War the bar was a favorite meeting place for the Foreign Press and Hemingway was one of its most regular patrons. It has kept its nineteen thirties Retro style, but has added modern lighting, modern acoustics, a dance floor and some of the top Spanish DJ’s to entertain you into the small hours. The walls are festooned with the great and famous who have (perhaps) sipped refreshing cocktails in the heat of the Spanish summer nights. Here you can see – apart from the famous Ernest – photos of Dali, Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles, among others.

If Ava Gardener ever frequented the place, you would have a hard time proving she didn't – a well positioned photo suggests that she did; but in these days of airbrushing software, who really knows? Only the bar-tenders and they are keeping mum! The cocktails aren't very cheap, around 7 Euros a glass, and a lot of people don’t find them up to the high standard the fame of the bar requires they should be, but you should visit the place to form your own opinion. You should know, however, that at night the cocktail bar is a favorite haunt for gays, the music is very loud and the place is often over-crowded. If you want to have fun, then it’s a great place to spend the evening; if you want a bit of peace and quiet, it would be better if you chose another bar – or spent the evening at your hotel with a good book!

Operation Hours: Monday - Saturday: 17.00 - 03.00. Sunday - closed.
Circulo de Bellas Artes

5) Circulo de Bellas Artes

Not far from the Plaza de las Cibeles you will find the Circulo de Bellas Artes, a private, non-profit making cultural institution which first opened its doors in 1881. In 1921 it was declared the Center for the Protection of Fine Arts and in 1981 it was listed as a National Historical Building.

The institution offers one of the most active cultural programmes in Madrid and is certainly worth an afternoon’s visit. You will find here something for everyone’s taste in the arts; in the exhibition rooms you can admire drawings, paintings, etchings, ceramics and photos from many famous artists and also from up and coming artists of today.

For film lovers there is a cinema, but if you prefer to see a play, you will also find a good theater. There are concert and lecture halls and during the Madrid Carnival the famous Masked Ball is held here. Bookworms will love the Center’s well-stocked library or you can play snooker in the Billiard Room on the third floor. There is a shop for souvenirs and a cafe/restaurant where you can enjoy a very good meal and tapas are served at all hours of the day.

Don’t miss a visit to the terrace, where there is a statue of Minerva and where you will be afforded a wonderful view of Madrid.

***Hemingway's Madrid***
Hemingway was a frequent guest at the Hotel Suecia, which was just around the corner, and often visited the Circulo de Bellas Artes. Several famous artists passed through the doors of this educational center that is a must see for any arts lover.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hotel Suecia

6) Hotel Suecia

Hotel Suecia was the place Hemingway stayed on his last visit to Madrid. He had stayed at the end of the 50s, leaving the hotel a stamp of historical importance before its closure. Today, a wall plaque reminds tourists of the visit of the writer before his presumed suicide.
Westin Palace Hotel

7) Westin Palace Hotel

Westin Palace Hotel (previously known as Palace Hotel) is where Ernest Hemingway would come to stay whilst in Madrid. In particular, he would frequent the bar in the lobby for a glass of Martini en route to his much loved Prado museum, which is just around the corner.
Museo Nacional del Prado

8) Museo Nacional del Prado (must see)

The Museo Nacional del Prado is a museum and art gallery that features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture, it also contains important collections of more than 5,000 drawings, 2,000 prints, 1,000 coins and medals, and almost 2,000 decorative objects and works of art. Sculpture is represented by more than 700 works and by a smaller number of sculptural fragments. The painting collection comprises about 7,800 paintings, of which only about 1,300 are at public display, mainly because of the museum's lack of space. A new, recently opened wing enlarged the display area by about 400 paintings, and is currently used mainly for temporary expositions. El Prado is one of the most visited sites in Madrid, and it is considered to be among the greatest art museums in the world.

***Hemingway's Madrid***
Although Ernest Hemingway was not a usual lover of museums, Prado was an exception for him. He recognized this cultural site as a treasure, with its exhibited works by Picasso, Velazquez, Goya, El Greco and many other international artists. The writer was especially fascinated by Goya, whom he considered a genius.

Why You Should Visit:
The sheer number of masterpieces is mind-boggling, the iconic works truly humbling.
The rooms are very well organized, the map is easy to figure out, the signs are very informative and they're all translated into (very good) English.

Buy online tickets one day or several days ahead and skip the (usually long) lines.
Purchase your ticket with the added museum guide at the ticket booth, which essentially saves you €10 if you plan to purchase it individually inside.
If you plan to visit all the 'big ones' - El Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía, purchase the "Art Walk" ticket at the ticket office as it is quite affordable.
Free visit for the last 2 hours (get there early) – great idea to reduce your travel budget and still see something, but too short if you want to take your time.
Another tip is that you can have both your ticket and audio guide stamped and leave the museum for lunch.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-8pm; Sunday and holidays: 10am-7pm.
Free for those under 18 years of age.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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