Madrid is a city located in Spain. Madrid is packed with sights and attractions worth visiting. This is a city where you never get to see everything, but you have to start somewhere. Here we have picked out some of the best the Spanish capital has to show.
Plaza Mayor is Madrid’s most important and most beautiful square. The square plaza was built in the 1560s by King Felipe III, and is surrounded by impressive and historic buildings. Previously, the square was used as a marketplace, for bullfighting, a coronation place for new kings, in addition to serving as a courtroom and courthouse when one or another poor man was to be beheaded. In the arcades under the buildings around the square there are many nice restaurants, tapas bars, wine bars and cafes. From there, you can watch the life of the people buzzing around the statue of King Felipe III, while enjoying Spanish delicacies.
El Retiro, or Parque del Buen Retiro if you want to use the full name, is a beautiful, green oasis right in the center of Madrid. The park is full of monuments and small gardens, including the Jardin de Vivaces, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez, the rose garden Rosaleda and the Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios. In the garden called Parterre Francés you will find Madrid’s oldest tree, which is believed to be about 400 years old. You will also find a couple of small castles in El Retiro, as well as an artificial duck pond where you can rent a rowing boat. Bring with you the glass palace (Palacio de Cristal) which was built to house exotic plants in 1887, but which is today used for exciting art exhibitions.
The Prado Museum turns 200 in 2019 and is ranked among the 20 most visited museums in the world. The art collection inside is considered one of the world’s most comprehensive and best. Here are paintings from, among others, El Greco, Goya, Rubens, Titian and Hieronymus Bosch. In total, the collection includes over 8000 illustrations, 7600 paintings, almost 5000 prints and about 1000 statues. The Museo del Prado is open every day of the week from 10:00 to 20:00, except on Sundays when it closes at 19:00. Be aware that the museum is visited by about 3 million people a year, and there can be long queues to get in if you troop up at the wrong time. However, it will not be a toll road if you combine the museum visit with the beautiful Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid which is next door.
Go to a football match in Madrid
Even people who are not interested in football will benefit from watching a football match in Madrid. Life in the stands, the intensity and everything that happens around is a bit of an experience, even if you do not know the offside rules. At the top of the list is of course Real Madrid who reigns. They play at the Santiago Bernabéu arena which takes in excess of 80 thousand spectators. And, there is a guaranteed package at the stadium when “Los Blancos” plays. Especially in recent years, Atlético Madrid have taken up the fight with big brother Real. Atlético plays on the renovated Wanda Metropolitan which takes about 67 thousand spectators. This team is also no slower, and has become a regular both at the top of La Liga and in the Champions League. In addition to the two top clubs, Madrid has two other teams in the top division, Rayo Vallecano who plays at the Estadio de Vallecas, and Getafe who plays at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.
San Miguel Market
Mercado San Miguel is one of Madrid’s oldest and most beautiful markets. Originally, the market was outdoors, but in the years between 1835 and up to 1916, it was designed as an indoor market. The building itself is dominated by iron columns with glass facades in between, and houses 33 stalls selling the most delicious delicacies you will find in Madrid. Here the locals go shopping for sushi, oysters, caviar, chocolate, pasta and much more from the top shelf. You can sit down at most stalls and have a wonderful meal, or taste local wine or beer. Occasionally, food festivals, cooking classes, concerts, book launches or the like are arranged at Mercado San Miguel. The market is open from 10.00 until midnight every day, except Wednesday and Sunday when they close at 01.00.
Teleferico og Casa de Campo
If you want to see Madrid from above, you should take the trip to Teleferico. This is a gondola ride from Paseo del Pintor Rosales, right near Templo Debod. The trip with Teleferico takes about 11 minutes, and you get to see much of the city on the road. The terminus is Parque Casa de Campo, Madrid’s largest park. In the park you will find an artificial lake, good opportunities for a walk in quiet surroundings, the amusement park Parque de Atracciones de Madrid, and Madrid Zoo. Note that Casa de Campo is best during the day, because in the evenings the area has a reputation for being somewhat burdened with shady businesses.
Madrid’s royal palace
The Royal Palace in Madrid stands on the same grounds as the old Alcazar fortress, a fortress built in the 9th century. The building is large and impressive. In total, the nobles have 135,000 square meters to romp on, spread over 3418 rooms, which makes the palace the largest of its kind in Europe. It is true that the royal family no longer lives here, but the Palacio Real de Madrid is still officially considered a royal residence. The absence of King Felipe VI and his family means that people like us can see the palace inside if we take a guided tour. Wednesdays at 12.00 are the right time to visit if you want to see the change of guard on the Puerta del Principe, the large square in front of the palace.
Cibeles Palace and Cibeles Square
This neo-Gothic palace was originally built to house Madrid’s telegraph and telephone exchange, which can be perceived as unreal when you see the beautiful façade. Here one would think that the king lived. The building was originally called the Palacio de Comunicaciones until 2011, when the building was taken over by Madrid City Council. The inside of the Palacio de Cibeles is dominated by glass vaults and statues of mythological figures, white stairs and marble columns. At the front of the building is the Plaza de Cibeles, one of the most beautiful and lively in Madrid. The fountain in the middle of the square depicts the goddess who is Madrid’s protector. It is in this fountain that Real Madrid’s fans bathe when the team wins trophies, while the bus with the players on the roof is parked in the Plaza de Cibeles.
Temple of Debod
This temple is a somewhat unusual feature of Madrid’s many sights. The building itself was built back in the 2nd century in Egypt, as part of a religious center in honor of the gods Amon and Isis. When the Aswan Dam was built in the 1960s, the temple was in danger of being destroyed. Therefore, it was decided that the temple should be dismantled and moved. Spain thus received the temple as a thank you for helping to save a few other temples in the same time period. The Templo de Debod was completely rebuilt in Madrid in 1968, located in the beautiful La Montana park just near Plaza Espana.
The Madrid Trail
El Rastro is the city’s largest and most popular flea market. It is also one of the oldest and largest in Europe, and has been held almost continuously since the Middle Ages. Here you will find all sorts of strange things every Sunday, as well as when there are other holidays in Spain. The opening hours of the almost 3,500 different stalls are from 09.00 in the morning to 15.00 in the afternoon. The flea market takes place between Calle Embajadores and Ronda de Toledo. Take the metro to La Latina station, and head south so you can not avoid seeing El Rastro. It is common for antique shops and other small shops in the area to be open as long as the flea market is open.