Devouring Madrid

Because the Castilian city of Madrid caters more for the Spanish than tourists, it’s attractions for visitors are a little less obvious, according to Caitlin Cantor, expat Canadian and tour guide with Devour Madrid.
Cantor reveals the core of Madrid during evening walking tours, throughout central Madrid’s network of plazas and neighbourhoods.
Between the ‘best Iberian ham in Spain’ at the Royal Tavern, (accompanied by red vermouth flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom and orange peel) and the ‘best mushroom tapas in Madrid’ at Meson del Champinon (eaten with a summer red wine and sweetened soda

– Cantor insists it’s not sangria), she brings to life an interwoven plot of Muslim, Christian and Jewish history.
Amid the bricks and mortar of palaces, monasteries and statues are stories of Catholic nuns preparing Jewish cookies, gypsy blues and seedy hotels where patrons shared beds and combs.
And then there’s the bustling main square of Plaza Mayor, where bull fights, concerts and public executions provided local entertainment. It was also the site of public shamings, where those charged with heresy had two choices: plead guilty and be burnt alive, or repent and be strangled to death before being torched.
Cantor also tells the story of Charles II, the last of the Hapsburg line, who, as an unfortunate result of interbreeding, was impotent, had an oversized tongue, and couldn’t walk or talk until he was 10 years old.
‘The buildings have stories and the streets have secrets,’ she says. ‘It’s the melting pot of Spain, and its blend of the traditional and modern makes it more than just a stopover,’ she says.

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