What to See in Madrid
The capital of Spain is quite large, but if you organize you can see everything in 3 days, and for this, we have made a list of the main places you can not miss:
1. Puerta del Sol
A huge square full of people at any time will give you a warm welcome, you are in the Puerta del Sol, dominated by the Old Post Office, famous for housing the clock that sounds the 12 strokes with which the Spanish eat 12 grapes to say goodbye every year, as tradition says.
In addition, there are several statues worthy of consideration. The main one, because it is the symbol of Madrid, is the Bear and the Madroño , but you can also see the equestrian statue of Carlos III , which intends to pay homage to him as he was considered the “best mayor of Madrid”, although he never held this position, or the Mariblanca , a copy of the Venus of the fountain that was in this place, before the transformation of the square in the 19th century. The original statue can be seen in the coquettish Casa de la Villa (old town hall of Madrid).
Right in front, you will find the plaque that marks the zero kilometers of the roads of the country, and although the geographical center is really located in the Cerro de Los Angeles, you can not stop taking a photo, in the officially considered center of Spain.
2. Plaza Mayor
Just a few steps from the Puerta del Sol, is the Plaza Mayor, which despite the three fires suffered throughout its history, continues to last from the times when it was outside the medieval village, and used as a market, as a bullring or where public acts and executions were held, in front of the Draper’s Building if the penalty was garrote, in front of the beautiful facade of the House of the Bakery, if it was hanging and before the House of the Butcher shop if the weapon used was an ax.
It is fascinating to walk through this square full of history seeing the statue of Felipe III, try the typical dishes of Madrid’s gastronomy, and cross the Cuchilleros Arch where the oldest restaurant in the world is located according to the Guinness Book, Casa Botín founded in 1.725.
3. Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Madrid was completed in 1755, on the same site as the Old Alcázar, a residence of the kings of Castile, destroyed by fire, and which in turn was built on a fortification of the Muslim kingdom of the ninth century.
Inside you can see the Throne Room, which highlights the frescoes of its vaults, the Royal Armory with one of the most important collections of its kind, and the relaxing palace gardens, such as the Campo del Moro or the Gardens of Sabatini. If you are lucky to be on the first Wednesday of the month, you can also see the Change of Guard that takes place at 12:00.
4. Almudena Cathedral
It is true that it is not the most beautiful cathedral in Spain, but it is definitely worth visiting, not only for the wonderful architectural ensemble that forms together with the Royal Palace but also for its luminous neoclassical interior and the interesting neo-Manic Crypt, in front of them that you can see vestiges of the Arab wall of the city.
In addition, its construction for more than 50 years, is part of the most recent history of all Madrid, and has served as inspiration for proverbs that my great-grandmother already said, who never came to see it finished, as “it takes more than the works of The Almudena “.
Nearby, just crossing the famous Viaduct of Segovia, you will find the Basilica of San Francisco El Grande, with a huge and beautiful dome, and paintings by renowned painters Goya and Zurbarán.
5. Prado Museum
The Prado Museum is one of the most important in the world for the pictorial collections it holds, and it occupies the eleventh place in the most visited museums. According to Antonio Saura, “this museum is not the most extensive, but it is the most intense”, and that is due to the fact that among other reasons, due to lack of space, it is decided to exhibit only the best paintings, making it consider the museum with more masterpieces per square meter. Right next door, you will find the oxygenated Botanical Garden.
Contemporary art lovers will enjoy the Reina Sofia Museum, with a large collection of paintings by Picasso, Miró, and Dalí. The Thyssen Museum also has a splendid collection of works from all the schools, among which I would highlight the largest sample of flamenco art that exists in Spain.
Do not forget to read our guide to the 20 most interesting museums in Madrid, with schedules, prices and the days that you can visit for free.
6. La Cibeles and Neptuno
If we continue walking along the Paseo del Prado, we will find mythical sources of neoclassical style in which the main football teams of the city celebrate their victories.
The first is the Fountain of Neptune, the Roman god of the seas, with the beautiful Church of San Jerónimo el Real in the background, and surrounded by two centuries-old hotels, the Ritz and the Palace, which is very close to the Congress of the Deputies.
The second is the Fuente de Cibeles, goddess of fertility on a cart pulled by lions, in front of the City Hall of Madrid, which is located in the beautiful building of the Palacio de Comunicaciones.
7. Puerta de Alcalá and Retiro Park
The Puerta de Alcalá is the most famous of the old doors that gave access to the town, and which are still located in various areas of the city, along with the Puerta de Toledo or the Puerta de Hierro. It was the first arch of the triumph built after the fall of the Roman Empire, so it is considered the precursor of others such as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Behind the door, we find one of the lungs of Madrid, the Parque del Retiro , which will guarantee a pleasant walk near the peaceful Crystal Palace , astonishing us with one of the few statues that exist in the world of the Fallen Angel, seeing some interesting exhibition in the Casa de Terneras or enjoying a boat in front of the Monument to Alfonso XII, in which by the way, usually many people gather on Sunday afternoons.
Leaving through its south door, you will reach the Atocha Station, the largest and most used railway complex in the country.
8. Temple of Debod
Near the impressive Plaza de España, there is the Temple of Debod, a temple of Ancient Egypt, which gave this country to Spain as thanks to the help given to save temples like Abu Simbel from disappearing by the construction of the Aswan Dam.
From there, you will get beautiful views, and just two steps you can use the cable car to get to the Casa de Campo.
9. Real Madrid Stadium
Starting from the Plaza de Colón, I recommend a walk along the Paseo de la Castellana, without stopping to look at the rooftops and domes that will amaze you, passing through the sober buildings of the Nuevos Ministerios, until you reach the stadium.
The Santiago Bernabéu stadium is one of the most visited places in the city, due to the fact that the Real Madrid football club is internationally known, which is why many people take the opportunity to get to know its museum and the cups the team has won.
10. The Trail
On Sunday mornings the streets of the historic center of Madrid, from Tirso de Molina to Embajadores, become a fun street market, the Rastro de Madrid, where besides finding a multitude of objects to buy, you can try one of the typical dishes of Madrid, the snails.
Madrid is a tremendously hospitable city, where you will have a great time walking along its Gran Vía or going into the alternative neighborhoods of Lavapiés, Malasaña or Chueca.
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