Madrid, located in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula, is the capital and cultural center of Spain. This is a beautiful bustling city with cozy boulevards and green parks, which carefully preserves ancient architecture and historical monuments.
Who and why should come to Madrid
The Spanish crown has been accumulating works of art and masterpieces of world culture for many centuries. Now all these unique exhibits are exhibited in the museums of Madrid. Tourists can look at Renaissance paintings, archaeological finds and medieval Spanish relics.
The city is famous for its wide squares, palaces and temples. The majestic baroque buildings of Madrid have an exquisite beauty that attracts millions of travelers every year.
Many aspire to Madrid to see the famous Spanish bullfight. Bullfights take place from early March to October at the Las Ventas arena. A grandiose spectacle on the verge of life and death gathers full stands of people. In early May, the Comunidad de Madrid festival, dedicated to the independence of the country, starts. On the central streets of the capital there are mass festivities, fairs, fireworks are arranged in the evenings.
In a crowded city, it is easy to find activities for the whole family. Children will definitely like a large zoo, a dolphinarium, an amusement park with rides, surprises, and quizzes. Nature lovers enjoy visiting the Sabatini and Buen Retiro gardens.
Connoisseurs of Spanish cuisine come to Madrid. There are many establishments specializing in the preparation of national dishes: paella with seafood, gazpacho, meat stew in pots. Dry-cured pork ham and sangria — red wine with the addition of fruit, brandy and liquor are a kind of visiting card of the city.
To experience an unforgettable experience and admire Madrid from above, you can take a flight in a hot air balloon. Aerodifusión offers tourists an exciting journey and guarantees safety.
Squares of Madrid
Puerta del Sol
The Puerta del Sol is the heart of the city, surrounded by government buildings. Tourists come here to see the mansion of the Academy of Arts and the clock announcing the New Year. Also on the square there is a large fountain, a monument to Charles II and the famous four-meter sculpture of a bear with a strawberry tree — a symbol of Madrid.
Plaza Mayor is one of the main squares of the capital, built according to the drawings of Juan Gomez de Mora. It has a regular quadrangular shape and is surrounded by tall houses in the Madrid baroque style. Each mansion has balconies.
Through arches are intended for passages between buildings. In the center stands a statue of Philip III — the king, cast in bronze and sitting on a horse, stands on a granite pedestal.
Plaza of Spain
Previously, gardens grew on the site of this square, then there was a monastery, converted by Napoleon into stables and barracks. At the beginning of the last century, they were destroyed and a square was built, which became the central transport interchange of the city.
Walking along it, you can see the monument to Miguel de Cervantes. The composition includes a figure of a writer sitting near a stela and statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. At the top of the stele is a globe, behind — a monument to Queen Isabella of Portugal and a fountain. Around the square are iconic city buildings: the 142-meter-high Madrid Tower, the House of Spain and Gaillardo.
The area attracts with its beautiful architectural buildings: the mansion of the Dukes of Alba, the Bank of Spain, the Post Office Palace. In the center stands a fountain built in 1782. The composition consists of the goddess Cybele’s chariot drawn by panthers and lions.
Arena Las Ventas
The arena, built for bullfighting in 1929, is one of the most recognizable places in Madrid. It can be found in the center, next to Independence Square. The round neo-Moorish red-brick building is decorated with horseshoe-shaped arches and tiles. Near the main entrance there are monuments to matadors José Cubero and Antonio Bienvenida.
The diameter of the arena is about 65 meters. Since the middle of the last century, the Bullfighting Museum has been operating on its territory. Those who wish can see stage costumes, portraits of matadors and the heads of defeated bulls.
The ivory-colored palace in the western part of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish kings. It was built in the middle of the 18th century in the Italian Baroque style. Inside, the richest interior has been preserved. On the tour you can see the Flemish tapestries, crystal chandeliers, neoclassical furniture, weapons.
The palace houses a collection of Stradivari violins and paintings by famous artists. Tourists are shown the Throne Room, reception rooms, porcelain panels and the armory.
Gate of Alcala
Arched gates rise on Independence Square, erected by order of Charles III in 1778. The early classicist granite monument, 21 meters high, used to function as a city gate.
Now it is an architectural monument, reminiscent of the past of Madrid. Tourists come to admire massive columns, semicircular arches, sculptures of children and even human virtues.
Palace of Santa Cruz
A small mansion built in the 17th century has an interesting history. The inconspicuous building was intended for the city court. It immediately opened a prison for noble criminals and heretics.
Over the years, the writer George Barrow, Lope de Vega, the poet Jose de Espronceda, the famous bandit Luis Candelas visited the dungeons. The building now houses the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Tourists can go inside, see the church nearby and the fountain in the form of a statue of Orpheus.
Palace of Cibeles
On the square of the same name, one of the most beautiful palaces in Madrid is easy to find, attracting attention with a mixture of architectural styles and an abundance of decorations. Construction began in 1907 and lasted 12 years.
After the opening, it housed the postal service, which was replaced by the city hall in 2007. Inside the house are offices of officials, exhibition halls, souvenir shops and cafes. A trendy restaurant is open on the top floor, and an observation deck is equipped on the roof.
The ancient Egyptian temple, erected in 200 BC, was originally located in Egypt. But in 1968, the government of the country donated the temple to Spain as a token of gratitude for saving the historical treasures of Egypt from flooding. The structure was moved to the Parc del Este in Madrid and installed in the center of a square pool.
Tourists can admire the stone columns, the ancient chapel, which has preserved Egyptian hieroglyphs and frescoes. In the evenings, lights around the temple turn on, making it even more mysterious and beautiful.
Cathedral of Almudena
Opposite the Square of Arms stands the cathedral dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena. Its construction began at the end of the 19th century and was completed only in 1993. World wars prevented the work from being completed on time.
Inside the cathedral there is a statue of John the Baptist of the 18th century, the figure of the Virgin Almudena and a casket with the relics of St. Isidra. The attention of visitors is attracted by skillful frescoes, multi-colored stained-glass windows and a green marble altar.
Monastery of Encarnacion
The convent of Encarnacion, founded in 1611, still functions today. The strict facade of the building, built of stone slabs in the late Renaissance style, became the standard for Spanish temples.
A church has been erected on the territory, in which the relics of saints, bronze sculptures, paintings by Vincenzo Carducci and José de Ribera are kept. At the entrance to the temple rises a sculpture of Lope de Vega. In the middle of the last century, a museum of national heritage was opened at the monastery.
Chapel of St. Anthony of Florida
In the center of Madrid, there is a small white chapel hidden in the shade of trees. This is a cultural monument of Spain, attracting attention with wall frescoes by Francisco Goya, which tell about the life of St. Anthony of Padua. Inside the chapel is the tomb of the great artist — his remains were brought here in 1919 from Bordeaux.
Cultural attractions and museums
National Prado Museum
The museum in the center of Madrid was founded by the wife of Ferdinand VII, Isabella of Portugal. The two-story building houses collections of Flemish, English, Spanish, French and German paintings.
Visitors can see paintings by artists of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Golden Age. Italian sculptures of the 16th-19th centuries, antique furniture, drawings and engravings are exhibited in separate rooms.
The oldest city museum, operating at the headquarters of the fleet, highlights the history of Spain, the traditions and features of maritime affairs. The museum halls contain various exhibits: ship cannons, sailors’ weapons, ancient maps of the seas and oceans.
The exhibitions «Shipbuilding», «Underwater Archaeology», «Sea Treasures» and «History of the Spanish Navy» are very popular.
Reina Sofia Museum
The Arts Center was opened in 1992 under the patronage of the royal family. The vast halls present a collection of contemporary art, which includes works by Julio Gonzalez, Eduardo Chillida, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro.
Museum exhibitions tell how art has developed from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. The most famous painting in the gallery is Guernica by Pablo Picasso.
In the Palace of Libraries and Museums on Serrano Street, it is easy to find the archaeological museum founded by Queen Isabella II. It contains numerous archaeological finds, ethnographic exhibits, ancient coins, weapons, decorative arts.
Egyptian sarcophagi, mummies, manuscripts, ancient gold jewelry, and ceramics are stored in the museum’s vault. In the inner courtyard, a copy of the Altamira caves with rock art has been recreated.
Art Academy of San Fernando
The Spanish Academy of Fine Arts opened in 1752. Immediately there they taught only painting, sculpture and architecture. A few years later, the Faculty of Music appeared. Now the academy has departments of photography, television, cinematography.
There is a permanent exhibition of works of art of the 16th-20th centuries on the territory. The list of exhibits includes paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Goya.
Museum of America
The National Exhibition reveals the history of South and North America. Thematic sections contain information about religion, society, national characteristics of Americans. Visitors can see archaeological and ethnographic exhibits, including Indian gold jewelry, statues of gods, household items, mummies.
Royal Opera House
The facade of this hexagonal palace overlooks the Royal Square. The bright building, decorated with columns, arches and loggias, was built in 1850 and is a kind of symbol of Madrid. The Eurovision Song Contest was held here in 1969.
Paintings by Salvador Dali were hung in the concert hall for the duration of the performances. The cultural life of the city is concentrated in the opera house. The royal family regularly visits to see performances.
Interesting places and entertainment
Ferdinand VI appreciated nature, so he ordered the foundation of a botanical garden on the banks of the Manzanares River. A little later, Charles III demanded that the green spaces be moved to where they still grow.
The layout of the botanical garden includes 7 zones with different types of plants. Visitors can admire palm trees, tropical flowers, roses in greenhouses, relax on benches in the shade. The herbarium of the botanical garden is kept in the administrative building. There are about a million items in his collection, including flowers, mosses and mushrooms.
Zoo and Aquarium
In the Casa de Campo park, you can have fun with the whole family. Here is the largest zoo, which has become home to 500 species of animals from different parts of the world.
The territory is divided into zones corresponding to the continents of the earth:
- In the European sector you can see bears, deer, wild boars, wolves, foxes.
- Elephants, rhinos, camels live in the Asian zone.
- Lions, tigers, giraffes live in the African sector.
The zoo has a dolphinarium, an aquarium, a poultry house, as well as souvenir shops, cafes and playgrounds.
The arena in the Casa de Campo park is a pavilion for public events and sports competitions. The facade of the modern building is built of durable glass. The huge dome rests on piles, a hole in the center provides natural light to the arena. The three-level stadium can accommodate 12,000 spectators. It often hosts basketball and volleyball competitions.
The gardens, planted in honor of the architect Francesco Sabatini, grow within the Royal Palace of Madrid. The landscape was designed by Fernando Mercadal. He managed to create a neoclassical garden, which attracts attention with its clarity and rigor of lines.
The park area is divided into two sections. The first contains a rectangular pond surrounded by trimmed shrubs and statues of Spanish kings. And in the second, smooth alleys are laid, pines, cypresses are planted and flower beds with lilies are broken.
The unusual exhibition is popular among visitors and residents of Madrid. Here you can relax in a relaxed atmosphere, meet interesting people and taste delicious dishes.
On the first floor of the museum there are stalls with dried meat, cheese, sweets, homemade bread. Purchased delicacies can be eaten at a bar located nearby. There is a restaurant on the second floor. They serve different varieties of jamon and other national dishes.
Warner Brothers Park
The theme park is open in the suburbs of Madrid. It is easy to spend the whole day there, riding the rides, attending spectacular shows, participating in competitions. The zone is divided into sections. The first is repurposed for toddlers, the second is for teenagers, the third is for movie buffs, and the fourth is for fans of the Wild West.
Atocha train station
The railway station is located on Carlos V Square. The red brick building was rebuilt several times, new features were introduced into the architectural appearance. In 1992, the building was decommissioned.
Trains are accepted by the new terminal, but the old building is not idle. There is a winter garden, shops, cafes, restaurants. In the center there is a pond with turtles, near which there are always a lot of tourists.
Buen Retiro Park
In the Buen Retiro Park, planted with cypresses and pines, there is a unique attraction — the Crystal Palace. The glass three-tier greenhouse, built in the 19th century, is planted with plants from different climatic zones.
In front of the palace there is a pond where turtles and waterfowl live. There is a beautiful fountain in the center.