Madrid´s City Centre Tour

Spain, Madrid Guide (A): Madrid´s City Centre Tour

This city centre tour of Madrid covers the main attractions including monuments, historical buildings, anecdotal sights and snapshots that every traveller to Madrid would love to capture and take back home. Madrid is a comfortable city to travel on foot and this guide takes advantage of many touristic attractions including the city's people, customs and festivals to make this tour both informative and entertaining.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: Madrid´s City Centre Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Plaza Mayor   The Botín Restaurant   Plaza Puerta Cerrada   Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel   La Fuente de Diana Cazadora   Viaducto de Segovia   Parque Emir Mohamed I   Former Town Hall and Plaza de la Villa   Monument for victims of the assassination attempt   Mercado de San Miguel   Clockmaker in Salt Street  
Author: Sarah Serakalala
Author Bio: Hello!I am a 29 year old living in Madrid for 5 years now.Its a fabulous city for me to explore my talents and hobbies including going to parks,writing,visiting museums and galleries as well as making friends and being an entrepeneur.Enjoy Madrid.
Author Website: http://www.cheapinmadrid.com
1
Plaza Mayor

1) Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor in Madrid is situated in the centre of the city a few metres from Puerta del Sol (Square of the Sun) and Plaza de la Villa. Historically, it was a key scene during the Spanish Golden Century hosting various public acts like bullfights, processions, festivals, theatre, trials and capital executions by the Spanish Inquisition. In the centre of the square, the equestrian statue of Felipe III carved in bronze can be found.
2
The Botín Restaurant

2) The Botín Restaurant

The Botín restaurant is the oldest restaurant in the world, and don’t just take my word for it. You can peep through the window to see a Guinness World Record certificate which is proudly displayed in the window. It dates back to 1725. The restaurant has 4 floors and is located in Cuchilleros street number 17. This restaurant gets frequented by tourists, however, that should not put off any visitors as many Spaniards, especially, from powerful and elite groups of society frequent the place. The Royal Family of Spain is known to dine there every now and again and other famous faces like Catherine Zeta Jones, the late Christopher Reid, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, Spanish hunk Antonio Banderas and Quentin Tarantino have enjoyed the restaurant’s scrumptious Castillian dishes including roasts of all types of meats.
3
Plaza Puerta Cerrada

3) Plaza Puerta Cerrada

The Plaza de la Puerta Cerrada starts where calle de Cuchilleros or Cuchilleros street ends. The name of this square translates to the square of the closed door. The story behind this location is that the square was in a place with many tight corners and high walls which became a breeding ground for looters and assailants. Therefore to halt these surprise attacks on locals a door was erected and closed to separate one part of the city which was seedy from another more fancy part of town. The square is characterized by a stone cross from the 19th century and the door enclosure was brought down in 1569. The square was part of the territory of the so called “Christian Wall of Madrid” or la Muralla cristiana de Madrid in Spanish, to mark the extension of territory gained from the Muslims or the Moors by the Catholic Kings. It was constructed between 912 and 932.In total the wall was 2.2km long.
4
Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel

4) Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel

The Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel or known by its English translation The Pontifical Basilica of Saint Michael is a religious monument. It is a baroque Roman Catholic Church and minor basilica centrally located in Madrid. Construction was initiated in 1739 and was completed in 1745. The façade features allegorical statues of charity, faith, hope, and fortitude. On the inside, the cupola is decorated with frescoes by Bartolomé Rusca, depicting the apotheosis of Santos Justo and Pastor. It was also a temporary burial for the Italian composer Luigi Boccherini. However, his remains were later repatriated by Benito Mussolini to his native Lucca in Italy. After the Spanish Civil war, the basilica was handed over to the Opus Dei whom reformed its interior considerably and constructed a crypt under the church. This curiously narrow basilica is worth a visit and hence was so declared a National Monument in 1984.
5
La Fuente de Diana Cazadora

5) La Fuente de Diana Cazadora

The monument La Fuente de Diana Cazadora, is from the 19th Century found in the region of Madrid called Madrid de los Austrias. It is also known as Fuente de la Cruz Verde or Fountain of the Green Cross in English. This square is found between the street of Segovia from where flows the streets of del Rollo and de la Villa. The fountain was inaugurated in 1850 in the la Plaza de la Cruz Verde. The square is so-called due to the presence of an old wooden cross painted in green. It was customary in that era to mark in this way places where capital executions by the Spanish Inquisition were conducted. The fountain itself was built to supply portable water to the community. The sculpturers who carried out the construction of the fountain were the same persons responsible for the fountain of the Puerta Cerrada mentioned earlier. Curiously, the name of the fountain also belongs to a fountain in Mexico. The statue of Diana, the virgin goddess of hunting and protector of nature, rests on the lintel dressed in a short tunic. The statue is made of white marble and the same applies to the mythological dolphins found at the feet the goddess.
6
Viaducto de Segovia

6) Viaducto de Segovia

The Viaducto de Segovia or Viaduct of Segovia was built in the 1930s to replace one built earlier in 1874. The motive for the construction of the Viaducto de Segovia was to prolong a preceding street called Calle de Bailén and also to level a street called calle de Segovia found perpendicular to it dropping about 23m below. Between the locals, the Viaducto de Segovia is simply known as el viaducto. It is an easily recognisable landmark in Madrid because of its modern-looking structure that still retains a certain classical architectural appearance. The idea to construct the Viaduct was conceived in the 18th century by an architect of the Royal Palace.However, a lack of funds put a pause to that idea. Fortunately the project was taken up and completed in 1874 by an engineer called Eugenio Barrón. The project was so important that the oldest church in Madrid at the time had to be demolished to make way for the construction works. Eugenio Barrón’s structure was made of wood and iron. The viaduct suffered wear and tear through the years and damage from the Spanish Civil War. Consequently, architects were called in to repair and rebuild the viaduct. This time the construction material used was concrete to create its current appearance which is owed to its last restoration from 1970. Tragically, the Viaducto de Segovia is infamous for being a suicide point. This is as a result of a series of suicides by young people in the 90s which prompted the local government to erect transparent screens to limit easy access to the edges. Apart from this dark heritage, in and around the viaduct are several tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace, the Plaza de la Villa square and the magnificent Plaza Mayor square where this tour started.
7
Parque Emir Mohamed I

7) Parque Emir Mohamed I

On the right hand side, while walking up the steep road called la Cuesta de la Vega, the remains of a wall can be seen. This wall is called the Muralla de los Musulmanes or The wall of the Muslims in English. The park was neglected for many years, however it was heavily remodeled in 2009. The remodeling included the paving of the grounds and the erection of a fountain in the middle. This newly remodeled park demonstrates how Madrid was, from several centuries back. It was constructed by Muslims in the 9th Century. The wall fortified the city and enclosed a mosque, a house of the governor Emir and a castle. The wall enclosure had three doors, the door of the mosque (la puerta de la Mezquita) which communicated the military enclosure with the civil part outside the fortification, the door of the Vega (la puerta de la Vega) which led to a fertile valley of the river Manzanares and lastly the door of the cultured land (la puerta de la Sagra) which led to the vegetable garden. The word sagra is of Arabic origin and it means cultured field. Curiously, excavations that took place in 1999 and 2000 brought to light a great part of the wall which was 70m long. The wall will form part of the contents of a planned future museum called Museo de Colecciones Reales (Museum of Royal Collections). The park is open freely to the public and was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1954.
8
Former Town Hall and Plaza de la Villa

8) Former Town Hall and Plaza de la Villa

Previous Town Hall of Madrid: The construction of the building with flags in front, the former town hall, was started in 1644. The building has a very eye-catching patio, a stone escalator covered in tapestry from the 17th century and an old chapel decorated with frescos by Antonio Palomino, a Spanish painter of the Baroque period.. The project was concluded in 1696. Since 2008, the town hall and its functions were moved to Plaza de Cibeles close to the fountain where Real Madrid Football Club celebrates its victories.

Plaza de la Villa: The entire open area in front of the previous town hall is called Plaza de la Villa or Square of the Town. It was one of the principal gathering locations of medieval Madrid due to its equidistance from the main city gates, namely La Puerta de Guadalajara and La Puerta de la Vega, during the middle ages. This is the oldest square in Madrid and was a popular marketplace in the Muslim and early medieval times. It was also later known as Plaza de San Salvador (Square of the Holy Saviour), due to a nearby church of the same name.

The Monument for Don Álvaro: The monument was erected as a third centennial commemoration of the death of a famous Spanish admiral, Don Álvaro de Bazán in 1888. The street facing statue has an engraving on its front that reads: "A / DON / ALVARO / DE / BAZAN" meaning to Don Alvaro de Bazán. It also exhibits some verses from the famous Spanish playwright and writer, Lope de Vega. Don Alvaro de Bazán planned the Armada, the fleet that attempted to invade England and became known for many more feats and acts of bravery. The statue is 2.2m tall and it was inaugurated in 1891.
9
Monument for victims of the assassination attempt

9) Monument for victims of the assassination attempt

This monument is made in memory and honour of the victims of an attack aimed at the then King of Spain Don Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia de Battemberg, who were riding on a carriage after being wed at a nearby church, Iglesia de los Jerónimos. The wedding day was occurring on the 31st of May 1906. An anarchist from Barcelona who wanted to ambush the wedding procession dropped what looked like a bouquet of flowers onto the moving carriage, however, the dangling cables below tossed the bouquet into the surrounding crowd. The bouquet of flowers was in fact a bomb camouflaged as such and it exploded into the crowd killing 23 people and injuring hundreds. The king and queen were unharmed. The assailant was later confronted in a bar where he shot himself. The present monument was created in 1963 by the sculpturor Coullaut Valera. It replaced the first monument which was removed during the Second Republic. This present one is made of granite, bronze and white limestone. It measures 1.1 x 1.1 x 4.5 metres.
10
Mercado de San Miguel

10) Mercado de San Miguel

The “Mercado de San Miguel” is one of the oldest enclosed markets in Madrid. It is a magnificent wrought iron building constructed on two floors and measuring 1200 square metres. Its current location was once a church called San Miguel de los Octoes. The zone and neighborhood suffered a terrible fire in 1790 from which everyone doubted if things would ever be back to where and how they were! This was because even after rehabilitation the buildings were in a bad state. Later in order to reinvent the place and its surroundings the location was made into a public square. It was in the same period that the city was looking to create hygienic markets. In fact the unhygienic state of many markets in those times was so bad that it was reported and documented by some Spanish journalists. Back to present day, the market was reopened in 2009 and the food and tapas sold here are of premium products. The market has more than 50 vendors offering fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and all sorts of delicacies to try right there. The opening hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays from 10am till midnight and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am till 2am. Some famous people who have visited the market lately include Eva Longoria, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Access is free.
11
Clockmaker in Salt Street

11) Clockmaker in Salt Street

The next attraction brings us back to Plaza Mayor and through one of the many streets that flow out from this big square. The name of the street is Calle de Sal (Salt Street)and the attraction is a curious old clockmaker and his clock on the right above eye level. The Old Clockmaker shop was founded in 1880. It has since been remodelled and changed hands of owners through the years. The clockmaker figure illuminates at night and every quarter of an hour the clock and clockmaker move to a melody. This is the end of the guide. Thanks for listening and enjoy the rest of Madrid. Hasta luego!

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