Madrid has been the capital of our beloved Spain since King Felipe II moved the Court in 1561.
From its beginnings, Madrid was conceived as a vila. Yet step by step, it started gaining importance since, as it was the Residence of the King of Spain, it became crucial for the city to match the greatness and prestige of the Monarchy.
In Madrid we can find the landmark of history in every spot, from the Madrid of the Austrias, to the Barrio de Salamanca. Its beauty is spread all across the area, but walking it all can require quite an effort. Here you can find the key places to see if you come for a visit.
The "Palacio Real" (Royal Palace) was the official residence of the Crown until 1931. However, nowadays it is only used for relevant events and remains open for visitors. The Sabatini gardens surround its whole environment and magnify the "Ópera" area.
The "Plaza Mayor", created by Gómez de Mora, is one of the most emblematic places hosting a statue of Felipe III (crafted by Pietro Tacca) in the centre. Here you can enjoy some of the best soirees in any of its endless terraces.
The "Retiro" park, also known as the lung of Madrid, is the ideal place to go for a walk, sail across its pond or practice almost any sport in "La Chopera" sports centre. The well known "Feria del Libro" also takes place there, among with many other cultural activities.
The "Catedral de la Almudena" (Almudena Cathedral), finished by early XX Century, comprises a wide range of architecture styles like the neogothical, neoromanical and neoclassic. It is also the house of the Diocese of Madrid, since the "Virgen de la Almudena" is the Patroness Saint of the vila.
The "Puerta de Alcalá" (Alcala Gate), is a neoclassical monument located in the "Plaza de la Independencia" (Indepence Plaza). It stands near the city center and several meters away from the main entrance to the "Retiro".
"Puerta del Sol" is one of the best known and busiest places in Madrid. Centre of the radial network of Spanish roads, the square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year.
Madrid also has numerous museums of great importance, nevertheless Spain is known for being a pioneer in terms of historical and artistic heritage.
Its main icon, as far as art is regarded, is the "Museo del Prado" (El Prado museum), located in the "Paseo del Prado". It is indeed one of the greatest picture galleries worldwide hosting masterpieces of some of the most relevant artist related with the Spanish Crown like Velázquez, Murillo, Goya, El Greco, Rubens, El Bosco or van der Weyden among others.
But this artistic greatness goes beyond a single museum as Madrid is also home of the "Museo Thyssen Bornemisza", comprised of contemporaneous artwork; or the "Museo de Arte Reina Sofía", with creations ranging from vanguardism to current days signed by Picasso or Dalí.
Among the many other places we can suggest, we would undoubtedly recommend the "Templo de Debod" (Debod temple), the "Biblioteca Nacional" (National library), the "Plaza de Oriente" (Oriente plaza), the area around the "Barrio de Salamanca", the "Círculo de Bellas Artes"... possibilities are endless.
History and art have left their landmark all around the vila, making Madrid one of the most beautiful and most important icons of Europe, waiting for you to see it!
by Elisa MP