Highlights in Madrid

Major sights and places of interest in Madrid

Madrid is a perfect city for a weekend get-away although you might be surprised; the city has so much variety to offer that you could end up staying here for weeks! First of all you might consider when to go; summers are hot with temperatures topping 35-40C while winters can be cold (around 0-5C). Also be prepared of the city being shut down in August; most shops and restaurants will be closing while the owners enjoy their summer holidays at the beach (except for the bigger stores in the commercial city centre). As such, the best time to visit Madrid is during spring and fall when temperatures are pleasant and the city is full of energy.

Although Barcelona is often considered the most vibrant and ideal city in Spain for a city trip, you might want to get to know Madrid and change your mind! By day, the city is sophisticated, steeped in history and culture with beautiful buildings, big green parks and wide streets. However by night, a dramatic change occurs with the city letting her hair down and becoming a whirlwind of tapas bar-hopping, accompanied by dramatic flamenco dancing. Located in the center of the country, Spain’s capital has something for everyone, from exciting bullfights to elegant architecture, sleepy siesta times to a frenzied nightlife. After Franco’s death and the end of his totalitarian regime, Madrid celebrated with non-stop all night parties, giving birth to an era known as la Movida. Today, Madrid has lost none of that energy, which continues to attract visitors from all corners of the globe.


Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
Calle Alcalá 237 (Metro Ventas)
913 562 200
Open: Mon-Fri from 09:30-14:30 (March – Oct also on Sundays from 10:00-13:00)
Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is the biggest Bull fighting Arena from Spain and one of the most important ones in the world, built in 1929. Bull fighting lovers can attend a corrida every weekend from March – October. The cheapest seat is in the top of the arena, in full sunshine. The most expensive seats are located in the shade, in the first row. In the small Museo Taurino bullfighting clothing from famous toreros are displayed among many other interesting objects. Around the arena you will find many bars which are visited by fans and tourists.

Puerta del Sol
Metro Sol
Welcome to the busiest area of the city! This square is the place where Madrileños rose against French troops and lost their lives in battle. Nowadays, this is the tourist area where all the shops, bars and clubs can be found. In front of Casa de Correos (the red building, now used as a postoffice) is the ‘point zero’ of Spain. The meeting point for many tours, tourists and locals is the Madroño, the bear statue, eating strawberries from a tree.



Gran Vía
The Gran Vía (the big road) runs straight through the city centre and houses many shops, theatres and restaurants. The road is very big, but this doesn’t seem to stop all the traffic jams that you will find here on a daily basis. Alongside the Gran Via, many small bars and shops are located in various noisy barrios.





Mercado San Miguel
Plaza de San Miguel (Metro Ópera)
Open: Mon – Fri from 09:00-14:30 & 17:15-20:15. Sat from 09:00-14:30
If you are interested in Madrid’s local products, don’t forget to walk around at Mercado San Miguel. Since 1916, this covered market provides local residents with their meat, fish, vegetables and many other products. The place has just been refurbished and tasting is allowed at almost every stand. Inside, you will also find a library where you can bring your purchased glass of wine and enjoy a book in silence.


Plaza Mayor
Metro Sol
laza Mayor has been in Madrid for over 370 years now and is a great starting point for your stay in Madrid. The tourist information centre is located here as well as many restaurants where you can enjoy a drink in the sun (quite expensive though!). 100 years ago, the square was the stage of many big spectacles such as bullfights, tournaments and public executions. Nowadays, it still holds spectacles, although less violent than it used to be. Theatre plays, concerts and political protests are held here throughout the year as well as a Christmas Market in December.


Plaza Santa Ana
Metro Sol
This square is home to the oldest theatre in Madrid, Teatro Español, which was built in 1745 and puts on classical Spanish productions. Plaza Santa Ana is especially nice at night, when the lights turn on, the musicians start playing and the atmosphere is vibrant and comfortable. Dining here is not cheap but the atmosphere is great and you will very easily find yourself here drinking cañas until late at night.



Royal Palace
Calle Bailén (metro Ópera)
914 548 800
Open: Apr-Sep Mon-Sat from 09:00-18:00, Sun from 09:00-15:00. Oct-Mar Mon-Sat from 09:30-17:00, Sun from 09:00-14:00
www.patrimonionacional.es
The Royal Palace (Palacio Real) is built in 1734 and counts 2800 rooms from which more or less 50 can be visited. It is the official residence of the King of Spain but is only used for official visits. Besides the beautiful palace, you can have a stroll around the gardens and enjoy the nice view it offers you. The palace is located on the Plaza de Oriente; a nice square with beautiful statues and the possibility to relax on the grass, one of the benches or at one of the terraces.

Parque del Buen Retiro
The biggest and most famous park of Madrid, El Retiro, offers great space to relax, row in a boat, skate on the pavement or have lunch at one of the cafes. During the week, the park is pretty quiet but in the weekend most Madrileños come here to enjoy their free time. For a few euros you are able to rent a little boat and row across the lake for approx. half an hour.





Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Avenida Concha Espina (metro Santiago Bernabéu)
902 291 709
Open: Mon-Sat from 10:00-19:30 and Sundays & holidays from 10:30-18:30
www.santiagobernabeu.com
The famous Bernabéu stadium, house of football club Real Madrid, was built in 1947. Besides going there to see a match, the stadium is open for tourists who are interested in a tour through the enormous building. Be advised: on match days the tour is only available from 5-2 hours prior to the kick off (no dressing room access).

El Rastro
Plaza de Cascorro – Calle de la Ribera de curridores (metro La Latina)
Every Sunday from 09:00-13:00
www.elrastro.org
For early birds: visit flee market El Rastro on Sunday morning! This market covers many streets in the area La Latina and you can find anything here from clothing to food to antiques. When the market is over, most of its visitors enjoy their lunch in La Latina where you will find many restaurants and tapas bars.


Círculo de Bellas Artes
Calle Marqués de Riera 2
913 605 400
Open exposition: Tues-Fri from 11:00-14:00 & 17:00-21:00. Sat & Sun from 11:00-14:00
Open café: Mon-Fri from 09:00 – 01:00. Sat & Sun from 09:00-03:00
www.circulobellasartes.com

Designed by the architect Antonio Palacios and constructed in 1926, this cultural centre offers lots of activities for cultural lovers: music, film, the stage, literature, science, philosophy and poetry. As a tourist, enjoy one of its expositions and sit down for a coffee in the stylish cafeteria.

11-M Memorial Monument
Paseo de la Reina Cristina (metro Atocha renfe)
Estacion Atocha Renfe
Open: daily from 10:00-20:00

On March 11th 2004, Madrid was the target of a number of bombings on some of its trains. Most of the victims died in one of the trains that exploded on the Atocha Train Station. Since this tragedy, a monument has been built in front of the Train Station to remember the victims that lost their lives in the bombings. The monument is a glass cylinder which you can see from the outside as well as on the inside. From the train station you can get underneath the monument where you can look up and find messages in different languages, written and collected shortly after the attack.

Plaza de Cibeles
Metro Banco de España
One of Madrid’s most photographed places is Plaza de Cibeles. In the middle of the square you will find the impressive fountain with Goddess of fertility Cibele, together with her lions. Plaza de Cibeles is an important square in Madrid; with whatever kind of festivity this square is rebuild as party central 1, including dj’s thousands of people and fireworks. We recommend walking towards Plaza de Cibeles at night: the impressive buildings will be spectacularly lightened.



Calle Fuencarral
Metro Gran Vía/Tribunal
Open Mon-Sat

The street Calle Fuencarral, located in a side street of Gran Via, offers many nice shops with something for everyone: shoes, clothing, bags, jewelry, vintage, furniture and much more. It is located in between the two areas Chueca and Malasaña which gives the area a laidback vibe with lots of young people and interesting bars and cafes. On number 45, you will find Mercado Fuencarral: a covered mall with 3 stories.


Puente de Segovia
Calle Segovia (Metro Puerta del ángel)
The Puente de Segovia (bridge of Segovia), built in 1584, is the oldest bridge in the city and offers a magnificent view on the Royal Palace and the buildings at Plaza de España.





Viaducto de Segovia
Calle Bailen (Metro la Latina)
This viaduct used to be a very popular suicide-spot for desperate Madrileños but in 1998 the municipality but glass walls on it to stop this ‘tradition’ . The current viaduct was built in 1942 after the first one was damaged in the Spanish Civil War. The view from here on the mountains outside of Madrid is very beautiful.
 



Plaza de España
Metro Plaza de España
The huge Plaza de España (Spanish square) is dominated by 2 skyscrapers that used to be the symbol for Franco’s success and downfall. The big statue you will find here is the statue of the famous writer Cervantes. In front of him stand his 2 biggest creations in bronze: Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. This is not Madrid’s most beautiful square but it does hold lots of history and is a prominent square in between the Royal Palace and several busy barrios like Arguelles, Moncola and Chamberi.
 


Teleferico Casa de Campo
Paseo pintor rosales (Metro Arguelles)
915 417 450

Open: Spring & Summer: daily from 12:00-21:00. Fall & Winter: Sat & Sun from 12:00-18:00 Look at Madrid from a different angle and take a ride on the funicular! This Teleferico brings you to Casa de Campo (big park) on the west of the city. At the end station you can have a picnic and walk the nice walk back to the city centre. Buying a two-way ticket is also a possibility.