Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain, located in the center of the country at a distance of about 250 km from the sea. It is the largest city in Spain and despite not being by the sea, it is well worth a visit. Madrid is recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is full of wonderful sights such as the Royal Palace, the Egyptian Temple of Debod and the magnificent Almudena Cathedral. Madrid has many parks and beautiful gardens.
The capital of Spain is located in the center of the country, on the Manzanares River. The city of Madrid is the financial center of the Iberian Peninsula, where the Bolsa de Madrid stock exchange is located. It is also a center of trade and production. The capital impresses with magnificent sights on every corner. Madrid has many squares with architecture of beautiful streets, well-kept parks and gardens, as well as numerous museums.
What to see in Madrid
Madrid is home to the Spanish royal family, government and parliament. The most interesting sights are located in the city center.
Royal Palace Palacio Real in the city center, near the Real Opera House and Plaza de Oriente – the official residence of the royal family, the largest and most beautiful building in Madrid. The 3,000-room castle is still one of the largest royal palaces in Europe.
The kings of Spain lived in this royal palace from the mid-1700s to the 1900s. The palace is no longer used for personal purposes, it is regularly visited on official visits, and it is also open to the public. The palace houses valuable collections of furniture, paintings, ceramics and frescoes by famous artists such as Velázquez, Goya and Giordano. There is also a collection of musical instruments by Antonio Stradivari. Around the palace are extensive gardens with beautiful flower beds. Opposite is the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena – the main temple of Spanish Catholicism in neo-Gothic style.
Plaza de Cibeles is considered the most famous square in Madrid, with stunning architecture. The main building in the square is the Cibeles Palace, a beautiful neoclassical building with a white façade and few decorative details. It used to house the main offices of the telegraph, postal and telephone services, but now it serves as the city hall of Madrid. Visitors are allowed into certain areas of the palace, including the observation deck, which offers a panoramic view of the city.
On the square there is an interesting fountain depicting the Roman goddess Cybelae, sitting on a chariot harnessed by two lions. At night, lights illuminate the building and the fountain, highlighting the unique architectural details of the square.
Plaza Mayor, which dates back to 1617 and is located in the heart of Madrid, is more of a tourist attraction. Here is one of the works of art – a statue of Philip III on horseback. Not only crowds of tourists pass through the square, but also many street performers.
Puerta del Sol – the most famous and lively area of Madrid is considered the center of the city. Important political events and a venue for festivals take place here. It is located near the Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace. Once upon a time, the city had a gate that faced east and was decorated with the image of the rising sun, hence the current name, which means “solar gate” in translation.
On the south side of the square is a building with a clock tower. On the pavement under the tower is a stone slab known as Kilómetro cero (translated: kilometer zero), which marks the 6 Spanish national roads that start at this point and lead to different parts of the country.
There are several statues on the square.
Bronze statue of a bear eating the fruits of the Madroño tree – a symbol of Madrid. There is also a statue of King Carlos III, during whose reign the city flourished.
Gran Via is one of the busiest streets in Madrid, 1.5 km long runs through the Old Town. It was designed in the middle of the 19th century. The main buildings on it: Metropolis, Telephonika (the first 81-meter skyscraper in Madrid), the Capitol Opera House, which hosts various concerts and performances. Numerous magnificent architectural buildings, shops, restaurants and cafes give the street an extraordinary charm and make it one of the most important meeting places. Here you can have fun until late at night and enjoy the nightlife. During the day, Gran Via is full of tourists who come here mainly for shopping or dining.
Temples in Madrid
Temple of Debod, dedicated to the Egyptian gods Amun and Isis, was built in the 2nd century BC, near the Egyptian city of Aswan on the Nile River. This interesting temple was taken apart and brought to Spain by ship in 1970. Since 1972, it has been open to the public, oriented east-west, as it has been in Egypt for many centuries.
The temple stands in the Cuartell de la Montaña park, overlooking Mount Guadarrama.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena is located opposite the Royal Palace and is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Its construction began in 1883 and was completed only a century later, in 1993. It is built of marble and granite and contains architectural elements of Neoclassicism (exterior of the cathedral), Gothic (interior) and Neo-Romanesque (crypt). Length 102 meters, height 73 meters, dome diameter 20 meters.
Museums of Madrid
The Prado Museum is one of the most important art galleries in Europe, and one of the most famous museums in the world since 1918. After the Louvre, this is the largest exhibition of works of art in Europe.
The collection contains 5,000 rare pieces, of which just over 2,000 paintings or sculptures are exhibited.
Not far from the Prado is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which exhibits unique paintings from the Thyssen dynasty.
The Reina Sofia Museum is one of the most visited and therefore the most popular art museums in the world.
The art museum, which was named after Queen Sofia almost 30 years ago, houses collections of contemporary art as well as works by Pablo Picasso. There is also an extensive collection of Salvador. The museum houses numerous works of art by Spanish and foreign artists. The Gemäldegalerie collection includes a library with about 40,000 volumes which is mainly devoted to 20th century art.
The Sorolla Museum is located in the Chamberi district, a little away from other attractions. – The inconspicuous building once belonged to the famous impressionist Joaquin Soroll. After his death, several of his works were exhibited there, and in 1923 the building was converted into a museum.
Dedicated to the famous prehistoric hill Cuevas de Altamira, the Arqueológico National Museum houses artifacts from different time periods, including prehistoric, Egyptian, Celtic, Iberian, Greek, Roman, Visigothic and Christian.
Museo del Romanticismo – in the permanent collection of which there are more than 16,000 objects: paintings, drawings, sculptures, furniture, photographs and objects of arts and crafts.
Casa Museo Ratón Pérez for children is dedicated to Raton Perez, the mouse from the famous fairy tale written in 1902. In Spanish culture, this little mouse is actually a tooth fairy who carries presents to children at night in exchange for a tooth under their pillow.
Museum of the Historical Development of Madrid (Museo de Historia de Madrid), which mainly exhibits paintings, photographs and documents telling about the history of the city.
Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
Football fans will definitely head to the world-famous Santiago Bernabeu football stadium of the famous Real Madrid club. The legendary stadium seats about 81,000 spectators. The stadium of world-class club Real Madrid is a legend in itself and has seen some spectacular matches.
Plaza de Toros de las Ventas Bullring
Like many Spanish cities, Madrid has a bullring that is part of the culture and is already used in many places for other purposes. Many tourists love bullfighting in Spain’s largest arena. The arena, opened in 1934, impresses with a capacity of almost 24,000 visitors and a special architectural style.
Plaza Toros Las Ventas is one of the largest arenas in the world and the largest bullring in Spain. This huge historic arena also hosts concerts, motocross competitions and even the important Davis Cup 3.
Parks and green areas
The huge Faunia Natural Park covers an area of 140,000 m2 and is home to over 1,500 different animals from different parts of the Earth. The territory is divided into 14 climatic zones.
Pay attention! The park differs from traditional zoos in that the animals live in the most natural conditions.
The Retiro Park, east of the center of Madrid, is a true oasis in the city center, a vast strip of lush greenery filled with gardens, lakes, cafes and playgrounds. An imposing monument honoring King Alfonso XII rises above the artificial lake Estanque Grande.
More info! Crystal Palace is located in Retiro Park. A beautiful building from the second half of the 19th century, originally served as a botanical garden for rare flowers and plants from exotic countries. Thanks to this, the palace is completely glass, and stands out beautifully, especially on sunny days.
Casa de Campo – one of the largest parks in Madrid, covers an area of more than 1723 hectares. With pine forests, Casa de Campo lake and large green areas, the park is ideal for getting away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The zoo in the south of the park and the amusement park offer entertainment for the little ones.
The Madrid Botanical Garden on Paseo del Prado is home to 30,000 different plant species from 5 continents. The garden covers an area of about 8 hectares.
This includes many medicinal plants, aromatic and edible flowers, tropical plants and the huge bonsai collection of former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González.
Climate in Madrid
Madrid is located inland. The weather in Madrid is quite changeable due to the nearby mountains. The average annual temperature is 14°C, but in summer it rises very high – up to 40°C.
Interesting! It’s a siesta during the day, which means shops and restaurants are closed and most merchants and townsfolk are resting.
In summer, the amount of precipitation is minimal, while in spring, autumn and winter it rains. In winter it is cloudy, frosts are possible. Snow in Madrid is not uncommon. Due to the nearby mountains, there is a lot of snow here, and in winter the average minimum temperature is 2°C and the average maximum is around 8-9°C.