Madrid Architecture: A Walking Tour

On any given street in Madrid, there are a thousand focal points dazzling from every angle – from postmodern sculptures peeking off rooftops to classical fountains circled by cars and buses to pastel-toned buildings, their years of origin faintly painted onto elaborate facades. 

If you are looking to make the most of Madrid’s very varied architecture, here are some of my favorite spots in Madrid on an easy walking tour!

1.    Templo de Debod

An import from ancient Egypt, Templo de Debod is easily one of the most recognizable spots in Madrid. With surrounding shallow pools and arches through which one can look out onto the city, the Templo combines seamlessly two worlds – one lost to mythology and history, and one blossoming with the modern era. Continue onto Calle Ferraz to get to…


2.    Plaza de España

A plaza of two fountains, this square hosts an impressive assortment of people for avid people-watchers in addition to its architectural wonders. Be sure to find the Cervantes monument, featuring a statue of Don Quixote and his ever-trustworthy Sancho at his side striding forward on horses, flanked of course by two statues representing his love interest: real and imaginary. Make your way to Gran Vía until you arrive at …

3.    Callao

The Times Square of Madrid, the lights of Callao burn bright into the night and remains bustling at all hours. With billboards lit in a rainbow of color and light and a cinema dressed as if from the roaring 20s, Callao is a marvel. Cross the street and continue from Gran Vía onto Calle de Alcalá to find …

4.    Instituto Cervantes

In Madrid, it is easy to pass by pieces of immense beauty; take for example the Instituto Cervantes, which I must have walked past a hundred times before noticing the classical Greek pillars and four female statues forming columns guarding the entrance. Turn around and look up at the …

5.    Metropolis Building

A hallmark of the city, the Metropolis building can be found everywhere from postcards to Set a foot’s website. With a gold-laced, black roof topped with a striking statue of Ganymede, cupbearer of the Greek gods, and a phoenix. Keep moving down Calle de Alcalá until you are in front of …

6.    Palacio de Cibeles

Palacio de Cibeles is unmistakable in its white, grandiose glory, juxtaposed against the vivid blue skies that are so constant to Madrid. This Palacio is home to many local events and the city hall.  Take a moment to admire the fountain in the center of the roundabout and follow Calle de Alcalá to our final destination …

7.    Puerta de Alcalá

Predating the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Puerta de Alcalá was commissioned and built between 1774 and 1778 by Carlos III. A prime spot for every type of photograph from wedding to tourism, this is a must-see on any tour of Madrid.


Comment and leave pictures of your favorite spots from the Walking Tour!

By Heather Keleher