Madrid has been the royal capital of Spanish settlement through centuries. It has got a distinct character which is to be admired.
Along with Barcelona, Madrid is Spain’s biggest city and also one of the most beautiful ones. Over time, it has seen the erection of many historical monuments. These are a treat for tourists.
Madrid is Spain’s capital city, located in the center of the country. It is a place where you will be able to discover Spain’s history and culture through its museums, monuments, and public parks.
It’s also a city where you can enjoy Spanish culinary specialties such as the tapas, the best beers, wines, or sangria of the country!
Fun Fact: Due to the heat, the Spanish have developed the habit of siesta.
Sunset view, Madrid
Things To Do In Madrid
Madrid is a place which enables you to discover its history from its best museums, to its palace and Retiro Park. It’s a city that lets you be transported through time to go back to monarchical times.
Explore Cultural places
Madrid is one of the top destinations in the world for art, both contemporary and not-so-contemporary, with Goya’s most famous works in the Prado, Picasso’s Guernica in the Reina Sofía, and countless other works in those two museums and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
The main church of Spanish Catholicism, constructed in neo-Gothic style. Beautiful and elegant.
The Prado Museum
The Prado National Museum is one of the biggest museums in the world not just because of its size, but also because of its major collections. It is one the most beautiful and richest ones thanks to its 900 work of art exposed out of 8000 in total.
The building was constructed in the 18th century and was initially dedicated to a national history museum but in 1819, King Fernando VII, decided to place all the royal family art collections in this place.
Now, you will be able to find work of art from the 14th until the 19th century. The paintings or sculptures do not only come from Spain but from all over Europe such a French, Danish, English or German ones.
The major painters who are exposed are Velazquez with “The Triumph of Bacchus” or Goya with “The Clothed Maja” for example. You will be able to discover its work all over the museum’s floors and even in front with its statue.
The Reina Sofia museum is a place not to miss if you come to the city, where you will find amazing work of art from modern to contemporary ones. Its permanent collection contains paintings from Dali and Picasso.
The majority of the collection was made by Spanish artists but you will also be able to find international ones. The museum also welcomes temporary exhibitions which helps you understand more current issues or one dedicated to cubism, Picasso’s movement.
But the masterpiece of the building is for sure the Guernica painting, this huge work of art made by Picasso which represents the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War in the 30’s.
The Royal Palace is one of the biggest palaces in Europe, it is also the place where major ancient kings used to live even if, today, the King does not live here anymore.
In this building, you will be able to discover the king’s daily life by walking through the huge staircases, discovering the throne room, the chapel, or where the majesty and its people used to live and sleep.
It is a luxurious place full of history which also exposed Spanish paintings and sculptures, in order for the visitors to discover the culture even more and be fully transported.
Outside, two major gardens surround the building, the Campo del Moro and the Sabatini garden, in which you will be able to see fountains and sculptures of ancient kings.
Benefit from this calm and resting place while walking through perfectly shaped and well-structured parterre, designed following the French style.
Explore Beautiful Architectures
Besides art, Madrid also boasts some impressive architecture courtesy of kings who had access to the wealth of two continents and no qualms in spending it for extravagant royal residences.
The most famous park in the city is the Retiro Park, initially designed to be the garden of one of the secondary king’s residences, the Palacio del Buen Retiro. Once the building was destroyed, only the outdoor part was kept.
It is a place whereby being outside, you can still discover the history of the country. In fact, you will find fountains, statues, or buildings in the entire park, all of them with a special meaning.
The major monument is located near the lake, where during summer, you can navigate using little boats. This masterpiece represents the former king Alfonso XII surrounded by sculptures representing Spain’s major values such as Peace, Freedom, the Agriculture, or the Army.
Other major monuments are the two palaces of the park:
- Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal) – it’s also a conservatory
- Velazquez Palace (Palacio de Velázquez) – has exhibition halls
Both of these places welcome temporary exhibitions of the famous Reina Sofia Museum (listed above).
Barrio de Las Letras (Literary Quarter)
Barrio de las Letras has been home to famous Spanish writers. The literary history makes it interesting, but so do the historical buildings. You can stroll along the Santa Ana square and enjoy beers at the local pubs.
This neighborhood is popular because it was the home of many famous writers including Cervantes. Within its streets you can find many restaurants of all kinds, for example, there is a vegan hot dog place, Venezuelan Arepas, Prima Rosa which is an Italian restaurant.
You can find the incredible Flamenco venues like Casa Patas and Villa Rosa, you can also shop for guitars at Conde Guitars, Alehop, Tiger, etc. There’s also a movie theater and a couple of plazas, so it’s worth it to visit and walk around more than once.
Templo de Debod
Temple of Debod is ancient Egyptian temple that was moved to Madrid’s Parque del Oeste (Western Park) after the construction of the Aswan High Dam. It’s both cool and photogenic.
Travel Tips from the Locals
To allow you to feel completely immersed when visiting the city, here are special places where you absolutely need to go.
The San Gines chocolate shop is one of Madrid’s most famous chocolate factory which has got international renown. In this little café, you can enjoy amazing churros and hot chocolate.
San Miguel Market
This market has got amazing fresh and quality products to offer, it also allows you to eat on-site traditional tapas made by talented and starred chefs or drink a sangria to refresh yourself.
Tablao Flamenco Cardamomo
The Tablao Flamenco is the place you must go to view the best flamenco dances and hear traditional songs. There is also a bar and a restaurant so you can eat while enjoying the show.
My Top Recommendations
- Visit the Prado Museum and/or the Royal Palace with a private guided tour not to miss anything of the Spanish history
- Eat-in at the San Anton Market in the Chueca neighborhood
Nightlife in Madrid
Madrid possibly has the most bars per capita of any European city and a very active nightlife. In other words, Madrid is a party hotspot. You can be up at 3 am and crash at any bar. It is quite common to see a crowded Gran Vía on weekend nights.
Due to this lifestyle, lodging near the fun areas may end up a nightmare for light sleepers if your window faces the street.
Best Time To Visit
Plaza del Callao
The climate of Madrid is continental; mainly dry and quite extreme at times. It can be excruciatingly hot during the summers. That is why it is better for you to visit in months of mild temperatures like Spring or Fall.
On the flip side, there is very little rainfall during summer and winter. During winter snow occurs sporadically; however, snowfall usually lasts only for a few days.
Another Sunset in Madrid
My name is Juliette Smith, and I am passionate about traveling. I’ve already been pretty everywhere around Europe and experienced different traveling types from backpacks to luxury ones, from leisure and relaxing trips to more adventurous ones. But Spain is where my heart is! Visit my website Madrid Discovery to see & experience Madrid like a local. We also offer guided tours in English.
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September 3, 2016 11:31 am Leave your thoughts
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