Golden Mile Walking Tour, Madrid

Golden Mile Walking Tour (Self Guided), Madrid

Similarly to the 5th Avenue of New York, Champs Elysee of Paris, or Bond Street of London, Madrid's Golden Mile is a home to high-end boutiques, stylish cafes, and celebrity chef restaurants. Located in the Salamanca district, this is one of the wealthiest and most expensive neighborhoods of the Spanish capital. The posh area is dotted with grand mansions and some of the most prominent cultural attractions found in the city.

If you would like to explore Madrid's Golden Mile with its high-end shopping and dining, and to see what an upscale neighborhood in Madrid looks like, take this self guided walking tour!
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Golden Mile Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Golden Mile Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Plaza de Colon (Colon Square)
  • Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum)
  • Platea Food Hall
  • Mercado de la Paz (Peace Market)
  • Lavinia Wine Shop
  • Calle de Serrano (Serrano Street)
  • Museo Lazaro Galdiano (Lazaro Galdiano Museum)
Plaza de Colon (Colon Square)

1) Plaza de Colon (Colon Square)

Colon Square is a bit of a paradox in a sense that, although it is situated not far from busy intersections, this place is actually where many a people come to relax. The lovely square is indeed well worth spending a while walking in its Discovery Gardens, or sitting on a bench in the sun watching the kids flock around with their skateboards and mountain bikes.

Originally named after St James, the square was renamed in 1893 in honor of Christopher Columbus, whose monument now stands in the center. Constructed by Jeronimo Sumol, it represents a 17-meter column made of white Italian marble topped by the famous explorer's figure with one arm outstretched, as if in the direction of distant lands waiting to be explored. The base of the monument is Neo-Gothic and stands in a stone fountain with a huge cascade, at each end of which is a flight of stairs leading to the Cultural Center of Madrid. The sound of the cascade is incredibly loud, so talking in a normal voice, while next to it, is impossible.

Another monument of note is by Joaquin Vaquero-Turcios. This huge block of concrete, bearing the inscriptions of sayings by various philosophers and Spanish leaders, resembles a fish tail or an anchor, depending on the angle you look at it.

Why You Should Visit:
There is a mix of contrasting architecture all around, with both modern and old buildings to be found; if you're a keen photographer, don't forget your camera as you might want to take some really incredible shots here.

Check out the huge Spanish flag, the world's biggest (worth €400.000) and one of the most eye-catching features of this square. Beside the square, you will find Platea Food Hall on Goya Street next to the square, a new gastronomic market with some 20 outlets serving tapas and lots of other delicacies.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum)

2) Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum) (must see)

If you have an afternoon to spare, consider spending it at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid. Founded by Royal Decree of Isabelle II in 1867, this museum is housed in a splendid 19th-century Neo-classical building, beside Colon Square, and boasts an excellent collection of Prehistoric, Iberian, Roman, Greek, Celtic, Visigoth, Muslim and Christian artifacts.

The most notable among its highlights are the Iberian sculptures, namely: the 4th century BC bust of the Lady of Elx; the Lady of Baza, a limestone statuette also from the 4th century BC; and the strange Bicha of Balazote, the 6th century BC statue resembling a cross between a doe and a snail.

You can also admire here part of the Treasure of Guarrazar: 26 votive crowns and gold crosses offered by the Visigoth kings to the Roman Catholic Church in the 7th century AD, and the Crucifix of Ferdinand and Sancha, an ivory cross crafted in 1063, the earliest known cross to bear the body of Christ. There are also bell-shaped pottery jars worth checking out, dating back over 4,000 years, found during excavations in Madrid.

In the museum gardens, there is a short flight of steps leading down to a perfect replica of the Cave of Altamira, which is the first cave ever discovered with Upper Paleolithic paintings gracing the walls and the ceiling.

Why You Should Visit:
The museum is beautifully set out – modern lighting, outstanding displays, and clear and informative labeling (also in English!). Lunch in the cafeteria downstairs is fairly quick and easy, with your ticket allowing you to re-enter at leisure. Admission fee is modest, the museum is very quiet, and lockers are €1 each, so you don't have to carry much stuff around.

You can easily spend half a day here, but if you have only an hour or so, get a leaflet showing the top 10 items and try to find those. Admission is free on Sunday morning (expect crowds); children's entry is always free.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 9:30am-8pm; Sunday & holidays: 9:30-3pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Platea Food Hall

3) Platea Food Hall

If you're looking to pause on your shopping route through the Salamanca district, there's hardly a better place than Platea. Located next to the Colon Square, Platea offers a unique gastronomic experience. Part of Madrid's Golden Mile, this food hall covers almost 6,000 square meters of space distributed in five different sections: two floors and three boxes, housing 12 restaurants, three gourmet food stores and cocktail bars.

In the bar area you will find tapas, skewers and abundance of everything else in small portions to be enjoyed with your vermouth or as a light noon snack, or something to relax with after work with a good beer. For something more substantial, Platea brings the whole world of kitchens under one roof: Mediterranean, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Peruvian, delivered by Michelin star restaurateurs, and is, without doubt, a perfect place to satisfy the whims of everyone.

A combination of spectacle and gastronomy, Platea is also a show, featuring live performances, from aerobatics to flamenco. Complete with great acoustics and a selection of best DJs in the country, this is a perfect source of entertainment and a special place you will always want to return to for a bit of fun with family and friends, or to merely take some refuge from the cold in winter or the heat in summer!
Mercado de la Paz (Peace Market)

4) Mercado de la Paz (Peace Market)

Despite its high-end location in Salamanca District, Peace Market is rather moderate in terms of prices. It sits in the building designed in the late 19th century by none other than Gustave Eiffel who designed the famous tower in Paris that you might have heard of, and has been a market since 1943.

The first overwhelming impression upon entering this site is the smell of freshly baked bread, which will definitely arouse your taste-buds, making it almost impossible to resist the temptation to fill your basket with delicious pastries and bread on sale.

And once you bought your bread, you simply must buy something to go with it too, be it one of the 100+ varieties of cheese, huge hams, pates or smoked fish. Fresh fruit and vegetables are not in a shortage here either, not to mention olive oil and a variety of tapas that are particularly mouth-wateringly tempting. So much so, in fact, that you may find yourself wishing you had brought a bigger basket, and start rearranging the rest of your stay in Madrid so as to fit in just another visit to this wonderful place.

There are also two very good restaurants in this market serving Spanish specialties, so why not stay for a meal and try the local chorizo, smoked with paprika and red chili peppers, or empanadas – a Cornish pasty look-alike, stuffed with tuna or sardines, tomatoes and garlic. And if you are really brave, you can order criadillas – bull’s testicles – which is another Spanish specialty!

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 9am - 8pm; Saturday: 9am - 2:30pm; Sunday: closed.
Lavinia Wine Shop

5) Lavinia Wine Shop

Arguably the largest wine shop in Madrid, Lavinia houses an enormous selection of Spanish and international wines for all tastes and budgets. With over 4,500 wines in stock, from the country’s most famous wine-making regions of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero, to the less known but equally delicious denominations like Bierzo and Jumilla, you will certainly find here something to your liking. But here's the dilemma – whether to drink it at the hotel or wait till you get back home?

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 10am-9pm.
Image Courtesy of Erin Ridley.
Calle de Serrano (Serrano Street)

6) Calle de Serrano (Serrano Street)

City-chic fashion and shoes, luxury watch and jewelry, everything money can buy is within reach inside the fancy shops of Salamanca District – if you have deep pockets, that is. But even if don't, window shopping is no crime and a nice excuse to wander around Calle de Serrano, commonly known as Madrid's Golden Mile, home to every luxury brand you can possibly think of.

Cartier, Chopard, Bulgari, Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera, Prada, Gucci and the likes, not to mention Spain’s largest department store chain El Corte Inglés, have all established their presence on this 2km-long thoroughfare running through the heart of Salamanca. Originally, the street got its name after the military leader and politician, Francisco Serrano y Dominguez, who lived here in 1868.

When it comes to shopping, Serrano Street is like The 5th Avenue of New York, The Champs Elysee of Paris, or Bond Street of London, and as such, deserves to be high on the must-visit list of every genuine shopaholic. Whether you're in Madrid for a day trip, a long weekend or a fortnight holiday, you will surely find a perfect souvenir at one of the many local boutiques.

Otherwise, you can simply enjoy walking and soaking up the atmosphere without fear of getting hungry, for there is plenty of cute restaurants around, as well.
Museo Lazaro Galdiano (Lazaro Galdiano Museum)

7) Museo Lazaro Galdiano (Lazaro Galdiano Museum)

The Lazaro Galdiano Museum is a relatively small museum that houses an enormous art collection gathered over the lifetime by Don José Lázaro Galdiano (1862–1947), a businessman and passionate patron of the arts, together with his Argentinian wife, Paula Florido. The collection is located in their four-story mansion built in 1903.

Apart from the museum, the palatial, Italianate stone building holds a library containing Galdiano's collection of incunabula and manuscripts. The imposing property has retained much of its original interiors, featuring elaborate Baroque-style painted ceilings commissioned by Galdiano himself, themed according to the original activity once carried out therein. Most rooms also contain photo images showing what it looked like back in the day, when Galdiano still lived here. In 1962, the building was declared an object of cultural heritage.

Galdiano, who died in 1947, bequeathed the house and the entire collection, featuring nearly 13,000 pieces of art, 20,000 books and manuscripts, to the city. A good quarter of it are now on display, spread over the ground and two upper stories, featuring works from the prehistoric period to the nineteenth century. The key focus is on Iberian, mainly Spanish masters, such as El Greco, Goya, Madrazo, Velazquez, Murillo and Zurbaran, plus there are some works by foreigners as well, including Reynolds, Bosch, Constable, etc.

A true jewel of the collection is the superb "Young Christ" painting by Boltraffio, a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci. The paintings are interspersed with a great number of statues, ancient books and jewelry, among which are the pieces specifically acquired for the collection and Paula Florido's personal items.

On the second floor there is a collection of miniatures, whilst the top floor is given to an array of carved ivory, textiles, armor and weaponry, coins, ceramics, bronze and silver (both ecclesiastical and domestic), church relics, and more. While the Renaissance is especially well represented, the collection also features early medieval objects, including Visigothic, and those crafted by Iberia's ancient Celtic culture, too.

Inside the building there is a beautiful old metal lift, with a settee in it, still operational.

Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm; Monday: closed.

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