- 1 A Walk along Gran Via
- 2 Palacio Real – Royal Palace of Madrid
- 3 Parque del Retiro – Buen Retiro Park
- 4 Museo Del Prado – Prado Museum
- 5 Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
- 6 Reina Sofía National Art Museum
- 7 Plaza Mayor
- 8 Barrio de La Latina (Latin Neighborhood)
- 9 Mercado San Miguel – Market of San Miguel
- 10 Templo de Debod – Debod Temple
- 11 Puerta del Sol Plaza
- 12 Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
- 13 Plaza de Cibeles
- 14 Museo Arqueológico Nacional
- 15 Royal Convent of La Encarnación
- 16 Monsasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Monastery of the Royal Discalced (Barefoot) Nuns).
- 17 Catedral de la Almudena – Almudena Cathedral
- 18 The Calle Serrano Shopping Experience
- 19 The Teleférico
A Walk along Gran Via
Start your walk at the Plaza Callao at the Capitol Building (Edificio Carrion), as you walk, you will discover the tall Telefonica Building which was at one time the tallest building in Europe. Also a museum which is not a museum, the Museo Chicote, a renowned cocktail bar, also Edificio Grassy and Edifico Gran Peña. At the end of your walk is the Metropolis building one of Madrid’s most photographed buildings. You can also do a little window shopping or perhaps stop to buy a good quality souvenir Spanish leather handbag or pair of shoes in one of the many shops along your route.
Palacio Real – Royal Palace of Madrid
Built on the site of the 9th century Moorish Alcázar (Castle) this Palace is closer to the origins of Madrid than any other standing structure in Madrid today. The Royal Palace with its classic French architecture was modelled on the Palace of Versailles and stands high on a bluff creating an awe inspiring background to the city of Madrid. Inside the palace are more than 2,800 opulent rooms. A guided tour of the palace will take you to the Salón de Gasparini, King Carlos III’s private apartments with its 2 ton crystal chandelier, the Salón del Trono, which is the grand throne room, and the great banquet hall with seating for up to 140 guests. The current King and Queen of Spain do not live in the Palace as it is now used only for official state occasions.
Plaza de Oriente
This Plaza stands in front of the Royal Palace and is surrounded by massive statues of past monarchs. The statue in the centre of the Plaza is of King Felipe IV. It was the first equestrian bronze of a rearing horse ever caste and it was with the help of the great Galileo Galilei’s knowledge of physics that the sculptor Pietro de Tacca ensured that the horse did not topple over.
Parque del Retiro – Buen Retiro Park
On your way to the Museo del Prado you might like to take a stroll through the Central Park of Madrid. Once the playground of the Royal family, this beautiful park hosted royal pageants, bullfights and even mock naval battles. In the 18th century the public were given access, but only if dressed in formal attire, but is now relaxed and a popular Sunday recreational area for the people of Madrid. In the park are sculptures and monuments of historic significance as well as a fun boating lake. During the summer months the park is host to free concerts as well as the annual book fair.
Museo Del Prado – Prado Museum
Although the Museum was first a house of science it served for some time as a cavalry barracks for Napoleon’s troops during the French occupation between 1808 and 1813. However it was reinstated as a museum by King Fernando VII, in which to store the royal collection of priceless artworks. However, the museum at that time was not for the edification of the public as art was strictly the preserve of royalty.
Today you stroll through the rooms and take as much time as you need to enjoy the glorious paintings within its portals. You may find that you are overwhelmed by what you see and need to return for a second visit to really see and absorb all the exhibits.
To enter the Museum you will need an entry ticket which are sold at the ticket office in the northern Puerta de Goya – the entrance itself is at the Puerta de los Jerónimus.
In the Paseo del Prado is the Thyssen art gallery that offers a breathtaking eclectic mix of artists and styles covering 3 floors. It is recommended that you start at the top and work on down. The top floor houses medieval art, the 1st floor exhibits by Goya and Gainsborough, Van Goch, Gauguin and Cezanne plus many more. On the ground floor, you step into the 20th century with works by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, and Sigmund Freud’s grandson Lucien Freud.
There is so much in the Thyssen to see, ponder and wonder at, that you may find that you need more than one visit.
Reina Sofía National Art Museum
In the Calle de Santa Isabel is the gallery of modern art whose greatest drawcard are the works of Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. The permanent collection of artworks is on the top floor.
Visiting the Sofia also gives you a chance to discover lesser known Spanish artists of both the 19th and 20thcenturies.
This hub of modern-day Madrid was designed in 1619 by Juan Gómez and its very first public ceremony was the beatification of San Isidro Labrador (The farm labourer), however thereafter it was often the scene of less illustrious events such as the burning of heretics, and public hangings but these all ended when in 1790 the entire square was gutted by fire. However much of the original architecture remain such as the Royal Bakery (17th century), however the frescos are modern created to coincide with Madrid’s time as the European culture Capital in 1992.
Barrio de La Latina (Latin Neighborhood)
The Latin quarter of Madrid has become one of the most popular areas for visitors and locals alike. It holds within it the tiniest churches and the largest as well as the Segovia viaduct and the Puerta de Toldo. It is ‘the’ neighbourhood for tapas, mojitos and amazingly, draft beer. If you wander into the side streets you are going to find many hidden plazas all with their own unique charms: the Plaza de La Paja, Plaza del Humilladero, Plaza de San Andrés and the Plaza de Puerta Cerrada. If you want to avoid busy crowds then explore the area on a weekday morning when you will have plenty of space to enjoy the area to the full.
Mercado San Miguel – Market of San Miguel
Located in the Old Town’s Plaza de San Miguel and facing both the Plaza del Conde de Miranda and the Cava de San Miguel is the last remaining iron market-hall in Madrid, completed in 1916.
It is a delight for the senses from caviar to chocolate and everything you can think of in between: cured meats, fish, cheeses and pickles. Many options for wine tasting and buying as well as Asturian cider and of course the famous Sherry. There are also, within its glass walls many tables dotted about where you can order tapas and even substantial platters to revitalise the taste buds.
Templo de Debod – Debod Temple
Amazingly right in the center of Madrid on the Paseo del Pintor Rosales, is this Egyptian temple. A block by block reconstruction of the original temple in southern Egypt which would have been drowned in the rising waters of the Aswan Dam’s, Lake Nasser. Standing now in the Parque de la Montaña just north of the Plaza de España the temple was dedicated to the god Amon of Thebes and according to legend it was in this temple that the goddess Isis gave birth to Horus (the god of the rising sun), of course when it was still in Egypt, not in the centre of Madrid.
Puerta del Sol Plaza
This plaza is the official center of Madrid and in the past was the eastern gate to the city, hence its name (Gate of the Sun). Here the regional government works within the Comunidad de Madrid and the 1768 Post Office Building now the Casa de Correos. The equestrian statue in the centre of the plaza is of the Bourbon king Carlos III and the bear statue standing with its nose in a strawberry tree, honours the bears found, even today, in the areas around Madrid, is at the eastern end of the plaza.
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
For football fans and most especially supporters of Real Madrid, a visit to Madrid’s stadium is essential. This temple to football allows self-guided tours that follow a set route that will take you up into the stands, through the presidential box, into the press room and dressing rooms as well as the players’ tunnel. You can even venture out onto the field itself before you end your tour in the Exposiçión de Trofeos (the trophy exhibit). Tour tickets can be purchased at window 10 next to gate 7.
Plaza de Cibeles
The Plaza de Cibeles is Madrid’s landmark and it is renowned for the previous name of the Palace of Communication. Nowadays it is referred to as City Hall or Cybele Palace and the famous fountain that shares the same name, the Fountain of Cybele. Ventura Rodriguez designed the fountain.
Cybele resembles the goddess of nature and abundance and she is displayed riding her chariot that is hauled by a pair of prancing lions. At the end of the 19th century the cherubs were added.
The Plaza was built in 1900 it was originally names Plaza de Castelar however this name was replaced, by the well known name it has become today, Plaza de Cibeles. The square is dotted with marble sculptures and fountains. It is located at one of the busiest intersections of the city. The main buildings on the square are The Bank of Spain, the Cybele Palace, the Palacio de Linares and the Palacio de Buenavista.
Museo Arqueológico Nacional
In the Calle de Serrano is this towering house of artefacts, re-opened after a massive renovation. The range of artefacts from ancient times include some stunning mosaics from Roman villas across Spain. There is much to explore and discover from intricate Mudéjar handiwork to the sculpted figures and examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Royal Convent of La Encarnación
This monastery was once connected to the Grand Palace by means of an underground passageway. It was founded 1n 1611 by Queen Margarita de Austria. Amongst the treasures of the monastery is a reliquary which is said to hold a vial of the dried blood of St Pataleón which is believed to liquefy every July 27. The beautifully ornate church has such excellent acoustics it is often used for choral concerts.
Monsasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Monastery of the Royal Discalced (Barefoot) Nuns).
This monastery was originally only for women of royal blood, and houses many treasures brought by the royal novices as their dowry to the church. There are within the monastery 33 different chapels signifying the age at which Christ died and is also the maximum number of nuns permitted to reside at the monastery at the same time. There are today 30 nuns in residence but they are not necessarily of royal descent.
Catedral de la Almudena – Almudena Cathedral
The great Cathedral adjoins the Royal Palace. This great Cathedral was built on the site of the main Moorish Mosque which as a result of the Christian invasion became a consecrated church and was rebuilt as a Cathedral in 1883. It holds the miraculous wooden statue of Madrid’s patron saint, the Virgin of Almudena.
The Calle Serrano Shopping Experience
Situated in in the upmarket neighborhood of Salamanca this is where you come if it is designer names you are after. La Calle Serrano one favored by Victoria Beckham it’s worth a visit if only to so a little wistful window shopping.
A cable car ride across the Casa del Camp you ride 122 feet (40m) above the ground and admire the dome of Goya’s burial chapel. When the cable car arrives drops you off in the centre of the Casa del Campo it’s only a short walk to the zoo, the funfair and the lake.