Strategically located smack bang in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, Spain’s capital Madrid has one of the most important historic centres in Europe, bursting with an infectious energy and lust for life.
Known as the ‘Madrid of Los Austrias’, the Plaza Mayor Square, unveiled in 1620, is one of the most popular sites in Spain, showing off the spectacular splendour of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Not far from away is the ‘aristocratic centre’, featuring the Royal Palace – which dates back to the 17th century and is the largest of its type in Western Europe – the Teatro Real Opera House and the Puerta del Sol, the symbolic centre of Madrid. The Puerta de Alcalá is another of Madrid’s iconic monuments, built for Charles III in the 18th century.
If art is more your cup of tea, don’t miss the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk, which aptly embodies its collection of world-class museums, palaces and gardens. With over 60 museums, Madrid manages to cover all fields of human knowledge, including two of the world’s most important art galleries, the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia National Art Centre, which contain works by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
Madrid is far from a concrete jungle, adorned with elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks and gardens. Providing a peaceful relief from the hustle and bustle of the city, some of the more noteworthy green oases include Buen Retiro – formerly the recreational estate of the Spanish monarchy – Casa de Campo and Juan Carlos I.
When you’ve had enough peace and quiet, the lively nightlife is another key attraction that is not to be missed. With an abundance of bars, pubs and clubs, the city’s flamenco halls provide a more traditional take on Spanish culture, with a passion for life that is rarely matched. There are countless entertainment options during the daytime too, such as outdoor dancing and the San Isidro bullfighting festival, considered one of the more important in the world.
Whatever takes your fancy in Madrid, there is no doubt you will be made to feel like a local and leave with even more zest for life than when you arrived.
Find out more at Madrid Tourism.