As part of my R4A, on April 22, 2012 I will run the Rock'n'Roll Marathon in Madrid to raise awareness about self-injury and suicide. I run in honor of my little brother, who I lost to suicide two years ago. My goal with this blog is to write a post a month about a new city in which I run to raise awareness about suicide. I will layout the path I run that day, put up some history of the new city I am running in and some pictures of the journey and any supporters I might have that day!
Raising Awareness in Madrid/Running Tour of Madrid
Today, November 9th, I ran my first tour run to share with you all the beautiful city in which I currently live and where I am and will be doing most of my training for the marathon.
My run, outlined in the map below, was of approximately 6.5kms. I started off at one of my favorite places in Madrid, the entrance to El Parque del Retiro, and finished at one of the most beautiful places in Madrid, El Templo de Debod. On my way I passed through Puerta de Alcalá, Plaza de Cibeles, Puerta del Sol, Catedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, and el Palacio Real.
El Parque del Retiro is the largest park of the city. FunFact: El Retiro is less than half the size of New York’s Central Park. Nonetheless, the park is a very popular place for afternoon walks and sports and has several sculptures, monuments, and a boating lake. It also hosts an annual book fair and free concerts throughout the summer. This would be a must see place if you are ever in Madrid.
Just a couple of meters into my run I passed the Fountain of the Fallen Angel:
The Fountain of the Fallen Angel is said to be a tribute to Lucifer and evil and is the only public monument to the Devil in the world. It is believed to have been placed by chance at a topographic altitude of 666 meters above the sea level. They say by chance because the statue was placed in 1885 at a time when instruments to measure sea level were not very precise, so it seems to just be a remarkable coincidence. SCARY Huh…. Its theme is the expulsion from paradise in which Lucifer is shown being banished and embodying the spirit of evil which has sway over him.
I then came across the Crystal Palace in Retiro Park:
This palace is in the center of the park and is modeled on London’s Crystal Palace. It has the shape of a Greek cross and is made entirely of glass with an iron framework on a brick base decorated with ceramics. The palace is used for contemporary art exhibitions organized through the Reina Sofia Museum.
The last touristic spot of my run through Parque del Retiro was Plaza del Parterre which is the only French-style garden in the complex, created under the orders of Philip V.The trees are definitely the most interesting part of the plaza:
Before heading out of Parque del Retiro here is a video at the boating lake, courtesy of Chris McCoy and BuddyGripper:
After leaving the Retiro Park I passed by Puerta de Alcalá:
As the name states, this monument was placed as a gateway on the old path between Madrid and the town of Alcalá de Henares (which is the town where I am getting my Masters - University of Alcala!!). The monument is located in the middle of Calle de Alcalá, one of the oldest streets in Madrid.
Next up was the Plaza de Cibeles:
The Fountain, although not shown in the picture, shows Cybele, the Greek goddess of fertility and nature holding a scepter and a key while being pulled by two lions on a chariot. The pull of the wild lions symbolize the power of nature or of the goddess. This fountain is most popularly known as the meeting point for Spanish football fans and often for the players themselves whenever the Real Madrid team wins the Spanish league or Spanish Cup, as shown in the picture!!!
I continued down Calle de Alcalá until Puerta del Sol:
This is Madrid's most famous and most central square. Originally it was the site of one of the city's gates, which faced the east and was adorned with an image of the sun, hence the square's name. On the "flat" south side of the semi circle is the "Real Casa de Correos" which was originally a Post Office and now functions as the headquarters of the President of Madrid's Autonomous Community. The clock at the top of the building, seen in the background of the picture to the left, is the famous clock Spaniards turn their eyes to on New Year's Eve as they eat a grape to each of its twelve chimes at midnight.
Right in front of the Casa de Correos is a stone slab on the pavement marking Kilometer Zero which is the official starting point for Spain's 6 National Roads.
The Oso & Madroño in the picture to the left is the official symbol of the city although with an unclear origin.
From Puerta de Sol I took Calle Mayor to the Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena:
The cathedral is consecrated to Santa Maria de la Almudena, a name with Arabic origins for which al mudayna means "the castle".
Legend has it that in the 8th century, when the Moors invaded the fortress where Madrid now stands, the people hid an image of the Virgin in the city walls, and only when the city was reconquered in the 15th century did a wall crumble to reveal her presence once again. The building is a mixture of styles with a neoclassical exterior, a gothic revival interior, and a neo-romanesque crypt.
Right next to the Cathedral is the Palacio Real:
The Royal Palace is Madrid's largest building and the largest royal palace in Western Europe. The palace itself contains furniture, tapestries, paintings and ceramics as well as other important works of art and frescos by Tiépolo, Velázquez, Goya, Giordano and Mengs.
My final destination was El Templo de Debod:
This is also a MUST SEE place if you come to Madrid. El Templo de Debod is an authentic Egyptian temple in the middle of Madrid and dedicated to the gods Amon and Isis.
Due to the construction of the Aswan Dam many valuable monuments and archaeological sites were in danger of being destroyed. The UNESCO made an appeal to countries to help save these monuments, and as thanks for the aid given by Spain, particularly in helping to save the sacred buildings of Abu Simbel, the Egyptian government donated this temple to the Spanish people in 1968.
The temple originally stood in Debod in the Nile Valley not too far from the city of Aswan, but the need for the new dam meant that it had to be moved elsewhere or it would have remained underwater forever. So it was dismantled stone by stone in 1969 and shipped to the Spanish port city of Valencia, from where it was then taken by train to Madrid. The temple is laid out in Madrid in the same way as it was orientated in Egypt, from east to west and has some carved reliefs and inside it is a museum with photographs depicting the monument's history.
The temple has a surrounding park from where it is possible to admire the Guadarrama mountains and the best sunset in all of Madrid!!!!!!!!!
This concludes my Running Tour of Madrid. Most of my historic data was taken from Go Madrid (http://www.gomadrid.com/sights/). Visit the website if you want more information about Madrid. The pictures were also taken from online pictures because unfortunately my camera is broken but I hope to have personal pictures for my next Running Tour!
I hope you have enjoyed the reading and the pictures and most importantly I hope you can continue to support me in my cause. I want to thank Zubin Chagpar for his support and for providing me with a book and some resources to help me prepare for my marathon. Thank you soo much! And as far as training goes, my current goal is to be running 25km per week by December.
Don’t forget to visit the Race4Awareness page and tell of us if you are aware about Suicide.