Exploring Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - October 4, 2019 - 12:00am

SPAIN — We will be here in the next few days to explore the tri-cities of Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia, the three most populous and most favorite tourist destinations in Spain. If we recall, Dr. Jose Rizal lived in both Madrid and Barcelona, to study and to work with other Filipino nationalists for the liberation of our country from the colonial stranglehold of the then biggest global empire which was Spain. Although Rizal did not live in Valencia, he used to visit that port city which now has the fifth busiest container port in the entire European Union, and the busiest on the Mediterranean Sea.

What we like here are the ancient castles, the large museums, wide parks and gardens, and the libraries and art centers all around. These three cities have amazing collections in their libraries, and wide varieties of art pieces across ages preserved for centuries. The three cities are imbued with nationalistic soul and spirit. The Spanish consider their history, culture, arts, music, and language as the hallmarks of their greatness as a people. There are monuments in all corners of the cities. There are landmarks of history and culture, and they are passionately committed to preserving their heritage.

Madrid has a population of 3.3 million, and is the third largest in the European Union, surpassed only by London and Berlin. Metro Madrid's total population is 6.5 million, next only to London and Paris, respectively. It is the leading economic hub in the entire Iberian Peninsula. The residence of the king and the prime minster are both located in Madrid. The Monchoa Palace, the meeting place of the Council of Ministers is located here too. So also are the Spanish Cortes, or Spain's Parliament, both the Palacio de las Cortes and the Palacio del Senado. In 2018, Madrid was visited by no less than 10.21 million tourists. Tourism, in fact, is the third contributor to Spain's GDP, next only to manufacturing and banking. Madrid's famous landmarks include the Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace of Madrid, and the Paseo del Prado.

Barcelona has a population of 1.6 million. Metro Barcelona has 4.8 million. Its famous tourist sites are the Plaza Real, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, Casa Batiller, Palacio de la Musica Cataluna, Hospital de Sant Pau, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the St. Eulalia, the Gothic Basilica de Santa Maria, the Royal Shipyard, the Columbus Monument, and the Monastery of Petralbes. Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, with a population of 800,000. Metro Valencia has 1.7 million to 2.5 million. It is a busy container port and contributes a large portion of Spain's GDP.

My advantage here is my ability to speak Spanish and to converse with the locals quite credibly. I happened to have 24 units of Spanish in college, and my fellow Filipino pilgrims are amazed at my fluency.

JOSE RIZAL
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