Fifteen must see’s places in Madrid
Nocturnal, alive, vibrant, cultured, artistic, edgy, irreverent, bohemian, urban, fun-loving, epicurean, traditional, young, explosive, passionate, musical, elegant, chic, innovative, free….
Madrid, like New York, never sleeps. It has everything to keep it going: stunning architecture, natural scenery, nightlife, celebrations, terrific weather, flamenco, great food and wines, Madrid is rich in history… One day, of course, will not be enough to see everything, but that will just give you more reasons to want to keep coming back. Discover the city through our “Madrid in one day Tour”.
We are here to help your discover the best of what Madrid has to offer: Must-see sites that one should definitely not miss in this vibrant city that everyone falls in love with the minute they arrive, stroll through its spirited streets and savour the nightlife of a city more authentic and vivacious in the world, Madrid.
This post serves as a brief introduction of the tourist attractions we offer you that one should not miss when coming to visit Madrid.
The Puerta de Alcalá
Built during the reign of King Charles III between 1769 and 1778, The Puerta de Alcalá is one of the famous works of the architect Francisco Sabatini, who also designed the Royal Palace of Madrid. It is a neoclassical style monument built from granite from the Sierra de Guadarrama y white stone from Colmenar Viejo. This commemorative memorial has a visual narrative that represents military sculptures designed by Robert Michel and Fernando Gutiérrez. The Spanish pop band, Mecano made this monument famous all over the world through their song entitled “La puerta de Alcalá.”
Fuente de Cibeles
The Fuente de Cibeles was also constructed during the reign of King Charles III. This enchanting fountain is a representation of the Roman Goddess of Fertility and Earth. A sceptre is seen held by her right hand, while the left holds an instrument to control the four seasons of the year. The fountain was designed by Ventura Rodriguez in 1777, but during its construction, other artists were also involved such as Francisco Gutiérrez who produced the Goddess and the carriage she is riding, and Robert Michel who created the lions.
The Prado Museum
The most important museum in Spain was born as a Cabinet of Natural History according to an idea of Charles III (which also included the botanical garden and the Astronomical Observatory). The project was commissioned by Juan Villanueva in 1785, which was one of the artistic works that ceased construction during the War of Independence that took place between (1808 – 1812). It was then during the reign of Ferdinand VII (grandson of Charles III) who decided to continue all works and assigned it the royal museum of art, taking advantage of the local and international works stored in Royal Palaces accumulated for centuries from the royal collections of past kings. The kings of Spain have always been great lovers and collectors of art.
According to many scholars, the Prado Museum is the most important art museum in the world. It has been the school of great painters over the centuries, with the likes of Velázquez and Goya who used to visit the Museum and soak up the technique of great painters before them. This lively museum is filled with unique treasures to discover. Discover some of these jewels and paintings not to be missed through a private tour in the Prado Museum.
The Plaza Mayor
The main square, as seen today, is the final product after two centuries of remodelling, from 1617 to 1790 when Juan de Villanueva was entrusted with its reconstruction after a great fire ravaged it.
The Plaza Mayor is square-shaped and its most important buildings are located on opposite sides: The bakery and the butcher, where instruments were kept to weigh these products.
From the ancient era of the Austrians, only the Bakery remains, whose last mythological decoration was done by Carlos Franco and was built between 1990 and 1992.
The Plaza Mayor has been the location of processions of faith, bullfights, markets, as well as events of the holy inquisition. Most of the balconies surrounding the square were assigned to members of the court so they could be seated in a good location to witness the events.
The Retiro Park was was a playground for the Court. It was named the good retreat by the Count-Duke of Olivares who defined it in 1633.
With a total area of 118 hectares, the park holds a number of interesting places to visit like the monument of Alfonso XII that faces the pond, the popular Crystal Palace which holds seasonal exhibits, main street, the rose garden, The Velázquez Palace, and the famous and mysterious fountain of the fallen angel.
The Royal Palace of Madrid
Although the king and his family do not live in the Royal Palace of Madrid, it is where the most important official receptions of the state are held. It also serves as an interesting artistic “gallery” that showcases works by famous and important artists such as Lucas Jordan, Caravaggio, Antonio Rafael Mengs, Juan Bautista Tiépolo and his sons, Corrado Giaquinto and Goya.
It was King Philip V who decided to build the Royal Palace on the site of the old Alcazar destroyed by a fire in 1734. He wanted it designed to the likes of a royal residence similar to the Palace of Versailles.
The Royal Palace was built using granite from Sierra de Guadarrama and white stone of Colmenar according to the design of Felipe Juavara. It was then remodelled by Juan Bautista Sachetti and completed by Sabatini. The first monarchy that resided in the palace was Charles III in 1764 and the last was Alfonso XIII, who abandoned it when the second republic was declared in 1931.
The bear and the strawberry tree
The symbolism behind this monument is not the literal take of a bear, but a reference to the constellation of Ursa, which means bear in Latin. Representing it as the shape of the animal was because of Alfonso VI as it was the emblem of the villa, which at that time, was Madrid. This constellation appears on the coat of arms of the Autonomous Community of Madrid.
The monument of Oso y el Madroño can be found in the Puerta del Sol.
La Puerta del Sol
The square took over the name of the previously existing gate that was in the exact location which had a solar relief. It disappeared in the nineteenth century. The existing appearance was last renovated in 1861, which eliminated the Hospital of the Good Event, the Convent of St. Jerónimo and that of St. Felipe del Real. The Post Office whose clock of its tower marked for two centuries the official hour of the country presides over the square. It is currently the kilometer “zero” and origin of all the radial roads of Spain.
Every 31st of December, thousands of people celebrate the ringing of bells for the new year in the Puerta del Sol as has been the tradition.
Madrid of the Austrias
This is the oldest and most historical part of the city. Inside this “barrio” you will find the Plaza Mayor, the arco de cuchilleros, Santa Cruz Church, Institute of San isidro, Plaza of Humilladero, Convent of the descales reales, Plaza of Cordón, Archbishop’s Palace, Convent of the Carboneras, Plaza of the Villa, San Nicolás Church, House of Cisneros, Plaza of Ramales, Santiago Church, Plaza of the east, San Ginés, the Royal Palace and endless alleyways, corners, streets, squares, picturesque centuries-old shops that are still active.
Palacio de Telecomunicaciones
The Neo-Baroque style building was completed in 1920 by Antonio Palacios and was initially meant to be the headquarters of the Spanish post office, Correos. At present, it is the seat of the presidency of the community of Madrid. Some of its floors house traveling exhibitions of contemporary art. It also has a popular panoramic terrace, which is however, not one of our favorites in the city.
La Gran Vía
This important avenue is definitely where Madrid’s effort to become a world-renown modern capital is reflected. Popularized 100 years ago, the Gran Via is the epicentre of shopping and bustling city life of Madrid, the visual movement of the Madrid middle class that is seen here is a total urban spectacle.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
The Reina Sofia is the most important museum of the city. Here you will find all avant-garde art without forgetting the best works of some national and international artists of the 20th century. The most visited exhibit is the one where you can find the mural Guernica by Pablo Ruiz Picasso.
This magical outdoor mecca that only happens on Sundays is a shopping fantasy where everything new and used has its place, where haggling is the norm and pickpockets have become tradition. There is nothing more authentic for a local to do than walk here on a sunny Sunday morning, and then going for a glass of Vermouth with a side order of potatoes bravas in a bar nearby.
This is the third most important art gallery in Madrid due to the quantity and quality of the works found here. It is home to some of the acquisitions of Hans Henry Thyssen-Bornemisza, Baron Thyssen, and his father. In addition to exhibits showcasing ancient art, you will also encounter great jewels in Impressionism, German Expressionism, the Russian avant-garde and post-war English paintings, apart from the leading American artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among its artists are Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Hopper, Bacon or Lichtenstein.
Madrid’s main zones
Barrio Salamanca: Upper class residents, local and international luxury restaurants and retail stores
Malasaña: nostalgic rockers, survivors of the Madrid movement, known for electronic music and alternative, hipster and design shops
Lavapies: Multicultural residents composed of Africans, Middle Easterners and Indians. Secret dive bars with an active and exciting urban cultural life.
Chueca: Gay zone of Madrid, crazy nights, night owls and designer shops
We look forward to seeing you in Madrid and in case you are looking for exclusive experiences and private tours designed especially to your liking, you can take a look at our website : www.madrid-experience.com or you can contact us HERE