National Geographic : 1965 Mar
1 adrid: vibrant heart of the nation. The great unifier, Madrid transforms distinctive Andalusians, Basques, Galicians into Spaniards. From the provinces they come, swelling Spain's largest city. Capping a plateau, Europe's highest capital challenges the busi nessman and delights the shopper. By night the city blazes with lights as madrilenos and tourists crowd plazas, restaurants, and theaters. Here traffic wheels about the Plaza de la Cibeles (lower right), with its famous foun tain of the nature goddess in her lion-drawn chariot. Bathed in floodlights, the Palacio de Comunicaciones, or Post and Telegraph Office, resembles a four-tiered birthday cake sculptured by a master chef. The 240-year-old Antigua Casa Sobrino de Botin (below) offers a treat to the dis cerning palate. The owner's son carves the specialty of the house-roast suckling pig. Prawns, baby eels, and eggs a la flamenca complete the feast. Castilian oil lamps cast a warm glow over the basement hideaway. Sefioritas in flouncing skirts clatter their castanets as Antonio leads his Madrid Ballet to flamenco rhythms at the Zarzuela Theater. The stage quivers with the stac 332 cato of pounding heels. On periodic tours the dancers fill theaters all over the world.