By Thurston Hatcher

Madrid seems to have been a little overshadowed by popular tourist draws like Rome, Paris, London — even glamorous rival Barcelona — among Europe vacation destinations.

But it definitely belongs right up there on the must-visit list, as I finally discovered for myself last month during a week-long Spanish immersion program.

Yes, the incredible, sprawling Prado — home of Velazquez’s "Las Meninas" masterpiece and enough turbulent Goya works to impress even the most reluctant museum-goer — offers reason enough to check it out.

But there’s so much more to see and explore. From colorful Plaza Mayor to the picturesque Parque del Buen Retiro — Madrid’s answer to Central Park — It’s a happening, sophisticated, stunningly beautiful city of many subtle surprises.

Here are a few of my photos:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Related Orbitz resources:

Thurston Hatcher is a writer and editor at Orbitz.

Tagged: Europe Vacation, International Vacations, Photography

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