Madrid Introduction Walk I (Self Guided), Madrid

Madrid is a vibrant metropolis full of taste, vigor, and wealth. This walk starts in the city's most prominent areas - Gran Vía and Sol. The latter is Madrid's epicenter and popular meeting place. Gran Via ("Great Way") is a high-end thoroughfare in the heart of the capital, nicknamed Spanish Broadway for world-class shopping and nightlife. The walk follows through Plaza Mayor and Mercado de San Miguel to Palacio Real and Templo de Debod to discover Madrid that never sleeps and show you good time worth to remember!
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Madrid Introduction Walk I Map

Guide Name: Madrid Introduction Walk I
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 25
Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Edificio Metropolis
  • Museo Chicote
  • Gran Via
  • Edificio Telefonica
  • Carrion Edifice
  • Plaza de Callao
  • Puerta del Sol
  • Calle Mayor
  • Chocolateria San Gines
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Arco de Cuchilleros
  • Restaurante Sobrino de Botin
  • St. Michael's Basilica
  • Plaza de la Villa
  • Mercado de San Miguel
  • Calle del Arenal
  • Plaza de Isabel II
  • Teatro Real
  • Plaza de Oriente
  • Palacio Real
  • Catedral de la Almudena
  • Jardines de Sabatini
  • Plaza de Espana
  • Museo Cerralbo
  • Templo de Debod
Edificio Metropolis

1) Edificio Metropolis (must see)

On the corner of Calle de Alcala and the Gran Via, you will find another of Madrid’s famous landmarks: the Metropolis, one of the most photographed buildings in the city.

This graceful building was built in 1911 by the French architects Jules and Raymond Fevrier after they won an architectural competition launched by the Union y el Fenix insurance company who owned the land.

The brothers gave the facade its lovely Beaux Arts style: the first floor balconies are separated by four pairs of Corinthian colonnades and above these are statues representing mining, industry, agriculture and commerce, sculpted by St Marceaux and Lambert.

The central dome is black with elaborate decorations in 24-carat gold-leaf. At the foot of the dome is a statue by Benlliure. On top of the dome once stood the Fenix symbol; a statue of a Phoenix with Ganymede on one of its wings, but this was removed in 1972 when Metropolis Seguros bought the building. Today the statue that graces the top of the dome is that of the winged goddess, Victoria.

Sadly over the years, the building had been damaged by pollution and pigeon excrement. Restoration work began in 1988 with particular care taken over the statues. The building was given a new roof and the facade was cleaned. The work took over seven years and nowadays cleaning is undertaken every year to keep this popular landmark as beautiful as the day it was inaugurated.

Why You Should Visit:
Certainly one of the most eye-catching buildings in the city center area, albeit closed to the public.

You can get a great view of the Metropolis (from a different angle) from the top of the Circulo de Bellas Artes building (across the street) if willing to pay a few euros.
At night the pinnacle of Metropolis' tower is lit with lights and the views are great.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Chicote

2) Museo Chicote

When you are looking at your list of museums to visit in Madrid, don’t be misled by the Museo Chicote on the Gran Via – it is not a museum, it is the most famous cocktail bar in Madrid. During the Spanish Civil War the bar was a favorite meeting place for the Foreign Press and Hemingway was one of its most regular patrons. It has kept its nineteen thirties Retro style, but has added modern lighting, modern acoustics, a dance floor and some of the top Spanish DJ’s to entertain you into the small hours. The walls are festooned with the great and famous who have (perhaps) sipped refreshing cocktails in the heat of the Spanish summer nights. Here you can see – apart from the famous Ernest – photos of Dali, Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles, among others.

If Ava Gardener ever frequented the place, you would have a hard time proving she didn't – a well positioned photo suggests that she did; but in these days of airbrushing software, who really knows? Only the bar-tenders and they are keeping mum! The cocktails aren't very cheap, around 7 Euros a glass, and a lot of people don’t find them up to the high standard the fame of the bar requires they should be, but you should visit the place to form your own opinion. You should know, however, that at night the cocktail bar is a favorite haunt for gays, the music is very loud and the place is often over-crowded. If you want to have fun, then it’s a great place to spend the evening; if you want a bit of peace and quiet, it would be better if you chose another bar – or spent the evening at your hotel with a good book!

Operation Hours: Monday - Saturday: 17.00 - 03.00. Sunday - closed.
Gran Via

3) Gran Via (must see)

There is nothing like an afternoon’s shopping and for that, there is nothing like the Gran Via, the most popular and up-market street in Madrid. It also has a variety of interesting buildings.

The Via runs from Calle de Alcala to the Plaza de Espana and is lined with theaters, hotels and, of course, shops. You will find everything you could wish for here, from leather handbags and shoes to souvenirs with prices to match.

The Via also crosses squares, such as the Plaza Callao which has a lot of cinemas and ends at the Plaza de Espana where you will find two of Madrid’s famous skyscrapers, the Edificio Espana and the Torre de Madrid.

The Via is not without its own splendid tall buildings: the Edificio Metropolis, which was built in the early 20th century and has a winged statue of Victoria on its dome; the Edificio Telefonica, the 90-meter high American style building and the Edificio Grassy, built in 1917. The latter, just off Calle Alcala at the beginning of the Gran Via, has decorations on its facade that are a remarkable mixture of Medieval, Spanish Renaissance, Spanish Modernism and Classical French. At the top of the building is a rotunda of two superimposed belvederes. On the ground floor is the famous Grassy watch shop and in the basement is a marvelous Museum of Antique Clocks.

Why You Should Visit:
A great place to stroll and take in the sights, particularly the skyline and the frontage of many of the old buildings.

Early evening is probably the best time to walk the walk, particularly on hot days.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Edificio Telefonica

4) Edificio Telefonica

While you are in Madrid, don’t miss a trip to the Edificio Telefonica on the Gran Via, which was once the tallest building in Europe.

The building was designed by Ignacio de Cardenas who based his plans on those of the American architect Lewis Weeks. The 90 meter high, 14 storey American-style skyscraper has nevertheless a Spanish Baroque facade of elaborately sculptured ornaments.

Since its construction in 1929 it has been a symbol of Madrid and was used during the civil war by the Republican army as a lookout for enemy troop movements and it housed the offices of the foreign press. Ernest Hemingway was one of the foreign journalists at the time and he got the inspiration of his famous book “For whom the bell tolls” here. Unfortunately, its height also made it an ideal target for bombing raids by Franco’s troops.

Today the building plays a more peaceful role in Spanish life. The first two floors are shopping malls where you can buy any and every kind of communications equipment. Other floors house the Museum of Telecommunication, the Technology Museum and an auditorium. Two other floors are given over to temporary Spanish art exhibitions. The rest of the building serves as office space.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Carrion Edifice

5) Carrion Edifice

The Edificio Carrion, located in Plaza Callao, is the building that hosts the Capitol Cinema. It is a famous landmark of Gran Via and was built between 1931 and 1933 using marble and granite. The building has an art-deco style with several decorations and incorporated technological advances, which was totally new at the time.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de Callao

6) Plaza de Callao (must see)

Although it is neither very large nor very important, you won’t miss the Plaza Callao, which is crossed by the Gran Via, especially if you would like to see a film in Spanish, as there are six cinemas in the square. It also boasts buildings that were once the tallest in Spain.

The Palacio de la Pensa was built in 1929 and with its 14 storeys it was the tallest building in Madrid until the Telefonica Building surpassed it. The building houses a cafe, a concert hall and a cinema, as well as offices, private flats and the Madrid headquarters of the Socialist Party.

The Carrion Building was built in 1933 by the architects Eced and Feduchi in an Art Deco style of white marble and granite. It won a second-class medal at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1934. Its cinema is on the ground floor. In 2007 the facade was restored and all the advertising slogans were removed, apart from the one for Schweppes, which is a symbol and has appeared in films and documentaries.

The Callao Cinema Building was built in 1927 by Louis Gutierrez Soto. It is a fine example of Spanish Neo-Baroque with a Viennese Art Deco interior. The terrace is used in fine weather for open-air film screenings. The first “talkie” in Spain was shown here in 1929.

Go at night to see the Schweppes sign and the rest of Gran Via in all its neon glory!
For an even better experience, go to the El Corte Ingles department store (located at the square) up to the 9th floor which is the food court, and from there you get great views, especially looking towards Gran Via.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Puerta del Sol

7) Puerta del Sol (must see)

Puerta del Sol ("The Gate of the Sun") square is one of the best known and busiest places in Madrid. This is the centre (Km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads, located in the very heart of the city, not far from Plaza Mayor. The square is dominated by the monument to King Carlos III and the famous bronze sculpture of "the bear and the strawberry tree". Another key attraction here is the clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes at a new year celebration that's been broadcast live on the Spanish national TV since 1962.

Why You Should Visit:
Indispensable for first-time visitors; the essence of Madrid and Spain – lively, boisterous, cheerful.
Many restaurants here serve food till well after midnight, and the pubs stay open till 3am on weeknights and till 4am on weekends.
Unlike other areas of Madrid, most retailers here don't close for the afternoon siesta.

Make sure you know where your valuables are at all times.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Calle Mayor

8) Calle Mayor

Calle Mayor street runs from La Cuesta de la Vega to Puerto del Sol. Back in the Middle Ages this was the main street of Madrid housing shops of silversmiths, coopers and fletchers who used to sell their wares to the rich merchants passing by to the city center. Today, Calle Mayor is renowned for its boutiques, cafes and restaurants, much as for excellent street musicians and a number of peculiar buildings associated with historic personalities and events. At Number 48 you will find the Cervantes House Museum, a place where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, #1 Spanish writer was born. Number 61 is the narrowest house in Madrid, measuring only 5 meters across. Number 88 went down in history in 1906 when the anarchist Mateo Moral attempted to kill King Alfonso XIII along with his bride on their wedding day by throwing a bomb from this house's top balcony. The royal couple was unhurt, but there were many innocent victims in memory of which a monument has been erected opposite the house.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chocolateria San Gines

9) Chocolateria San Gines

Established in 1894, Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid is famous for its main course - churros con chocolate - deep-fried batter sticks served with hot chocolate. Also on the menu is a good selection of cakes. This place is ideal for a quick break on a sightseeing walk, to sit down and enjoy the crispy churro dipped into the hot, thick, dark chocolate, while watching the world go by for a while...
Opening hours: 24/24
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza Mayor

10) Plaza Mayor (must see)

Plaza Mayor, originally known as "Plaza del Arrabal", was built during the Habsburg rule period and is a central square of Madrid, located only a few blocks away from Puerta del Sol. Rectangular in shape, the square measures 129 by 94 meters and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings with a total of 237 balconies facing the Plaza, nine entryways and a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under their porticoes. Casa de la Panaderia, a municipal building, dominates Plaza Mayor. In the course of history, the square has hosted many different things, including markets, bullfights, soccer games, and even public executions of condemned heretics back in the days of the Spanish Inquisition. This place is excellent to hang out or start an interesting tour.

Why You Should Visit:
Perfectly symmetrical, highly detailed architecture, with a walkway to shield from sun or rain around its perimeter. This layout has been copied in squares around Europe and for good reason.
Very photogenic, and always full of people with cameras; also a great spot to have dinner and drinks and watch the world go by.

If looking for something cheaper and just as good quality, try the restaurants and bars just outside the square.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Arco de Cuchilleros

11) Arco de Cuchilleros

The largest and liveliest plaza in Madrid is the Plaza Mayor and you can gain access to it through nine archways, the most famous of which is the Arco de los Cuchilleros.

The archway is more a street than a simple arch between one place and another. Reached by a flight of stone steps, the Cutler’s Arch was once where the city’s cutlers and sword makers plied their trade.

Nowadays it has taverns and handicraft shops where you can buy handmade souvenirs, including pottery, leather goods, wood-carvings, wicker baskets and silver jewelry. In one of the taverns you can watch, or even take part in, flamenco dancing.

The Plaza Mayor was built in the early 17th century, but after a fire destroyed most of it in 1790, the Spanish architect, Juan de Villanueva, redesigned the square in the style you can see today. The plaza has served many purposes over the centuries: it was a market, a bullring, a gathering place for public executions, an open-air theater and where many tournaments took place.

Today it is a great tourist attraction with its cafes, restaurants and shops. In late November until the end of the year it is the site of the biggest Christmas market in Madrid, and on Sundays there is an important market for coin and stamp collectors.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Restaurante Sobrino de Botin

12) Restaurante Sobrino de Botin (must see)

The Botin restaurant, a famous eatery in Madrid, claims to be the "oldest restaurant in the world." It was founded by Frenchman Jean Botin and his spouse and was originally called Casa Botin. The restaurant was inherited by their nephew Candido Remis, thus explaining the change of name to Sobrino de Botin, which survives to this day. The famous painter Francisco Goya is said to have worked here as a dishwasher in his younger years and the place was also a firm favorite of Ernest Hemingway. It grew more popular after Hemingway's regular visits, and is said to be the place of the last scene of his novel "The Sun Also Rises." Botin is known for its excellent cuisine and great staff.

You can also book the 'Botin Experience' which includes a tour of the restaurant prior to sitting down for your meal.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 1pm-4pm / 8pm-12am
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Michael's Basilica

13) St. Michael's Basilica

The Basilica of San Miguel is a baroque Roman Catholic church in central Madrid, Spain. It is located in San Justo Street, adjacent to the Archbishop's Palace. It is now owned by the Opus Dei. Constructions began in 1739, on the site of the parish church of Sts. Justus and Pastor. The work was commissioned by Cardinal Infante Luis of Chinchon, Archbishop of Toledo, who subsidized construction with 1,421,000 reales. Construction was completed in 1745. After the Napoleonic invasion, the church added the advocacy of Saint Michael (San Miguel), when the nearby parish church of San Miguel de los Octoes was torn down. The Italian composer Luigi Boccherini, who died in Madrid, was buried here until 1927, when Benito Mussolini repatriated the remains to his native Lucca. The cupola is decorated with frescoes (1745), by Bartolome Rusca, depicting the apotheosis of Santos Justo y Pastor.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de la Villa

14) Plaza de la Villa (must see)

If you would like a bit of quiet in the heart of busy Madrid, the best place to go is Plaza de la Villa, not far from Plaza Major. This small, medieval square is surrounded by lovely buildings, each with its own story. Among them is Madrid’s old Town Hall (Casa Villa), built in 1696 and renowned for its graceful stained glass windows and frescoes by Antonio Palomino. Remarkably enough, at some point, this building was used as a prison. Adjoining the town hall by an archway is Casa de Cisneros, an early Spanish Renaissance castle built in 1537. It boasts a Plateresque façade, quite rare in Madrid, and an outstanding collection of fine tapestries. The nearby Casa and Torre de Los Lujanes are supposedly the oldest buildings in the city; the tower dating back as far as the early 15th century. According to a legend, King Charles 1st imprisoned King Francis 1st of France here after the battle of Pavia in 1525. The reason for that the French King's refusal to show respect to and bow his head to the captor, upon which King Charles ordered the tower door to be lowered, so that Francis would have to bow when entering and leaving the building. That gave people an impression that the French monarch was indeed bowing to their king. In the center of the square stands a statue of Alvaro de Bazen, the Spanish admiral who planned the Armada and, remarkably, never lost a battle in his entire 50-year-long career. The statue was sculpted in 1888 by Benlliure and was set in the plaza in 1980.

Why You Should Visit:
Not a big plaza and there's nothing very touristy about it; rather, it is discrete and feels like stepping back in time which is very cool.
The buildings are quaint and well maintained; the garden in the centre is nice and well kept.

Go at night when it is beautifully illuminated for an even better shot.
Mercado de San Miguel

15) Mercado de San Miguel (must see)

No holiday in Madrid is complete without a visit to the Mercado de San Miguel in the heart of the Old Town. It really is a must for gourmets and gourmands alike. The market is housed in a glass-fronted 20th-century Beaux-Arts building and is known as the Cultural Culinary Centre of Madrid. There are over 50 individual stalls, each run by a specialist in his chosen field, e.g. fresh fruit, vegetables, fish or meat. You can browse through the stands of locally grown fruit and vegetables where the odor of herbs and spices fill the air; nothing here has seen the inside of a freezer, none of the produce is ready-packed in plastic and the layout of the goods is an art in itself. The fish stalls display a vast range of rather ugly-looking seafood, fresh from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the produce on sale is Spanish, but you will also find charcuterie from France, Viennese Patisseries and a selection of fine European cheeses. The market also contains several cafes, restaurants and shops selling books on Spanish cuisine and kitchen utensils. The only thing a bit off-putting about this really great market is the number of signs forbidding potential clients from touching the produce, so you won’t be able to pick and choose your purchases.

Why You Should Visit:
To try from a seemingly endless variety of fresh tapas, paellas, seafood, produce, as well as cocktails and other interesting refreshing drinks.
The price is a little high in places but the quality is there and you walk away with a perfect introduction to "la gastronomia de Espana".

Don't be afraid to ask for a taster if you are not certain of what you're ordering.
If you're going to use the restroom, make sure to keep a receipt from one of your purchases so you don't have to pay.
Also, watch out for pickpockets – after all, this is a popular tourists destination.

Operation Hours:
Sun-Thu: 10am-12am; Fri, Sat: 10am-1am
Sight description based on wikipedia
Calle del Arenal

16) Calle del Arenal

Before leaving Madrid, you would definitely want to stock up on small presents for family and friends back home and there’s no better place for that than the souvenir shops at Calle de Arenal (Sand Street) named so after the huge piles of sand that used to be stocked here during the construction of the nearby buildings. This mostly pedestrian street runs from Plaza Puerto del Sol to Plaza Isobel II and is full of gift and souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, short-stay flats and hostels. Perhaps for this reason it always seems full of young tourists, who find the lodgings clean, central and not too expensive. In Spain the Tooth Fairy is a Tooth Mouse – called Little Perez – who slips into children’s bedrooms at night to take the fallen tooth the child has put under his pillow and to leave a small gift or coin in its place. According to a legend, Perez the Mouse once lived at Number 8 Calle de Arenal in a sweet shop. There is a plaque at Number 8 attesting to that and the children all over Madrid send cards and letters to this address. The building now houses a small shopping mall on the ground floor and the Perez the Mouse Museum on the first floor, featuring theme mugs, notebooks and other souvenirs. Next door, at Number 9, is the Palacio de Graviria, which is a cocktail bar during a day and a cabaret/dance floor/night club at night.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de Isabel II

17) Plaza de Isabel II

At the end of Calle del Arenal you will find Plaza de Isabel II, a large square sided by the Teatro Real. It is a popular meeting place for the young of Madrid. Apart from the illustrious buildings around it, the square is rather unremarkable with the statue of Queen Isabel II in the middle of a fountain at its center. The queen succeeded her father King Fernando VII to the throne when she was only three years old. This in itself wasn’t so extraordinary, as child-monarchs weren’t unusual; what was extraordinary is that the king’s successor was female. Part of the 6th century Salic Law stated that no woman could accede to a throne, but Fernando VII didn’t much like his brother Carlos, his natural successor, so he overruled the law and decreed that his daughter should reign after him. Obviously, he didn’t count on dying when she was only three and for eight years Isabel’s mother acted as a regent. The queen’s life wasn’t particularly a happy one – at the age of 11 her mother abandoned her, she got married at 16 to her homosexual double-first cousin, and had only five of her eleven children reach adulthood. Her uncle Carlos fought her for years over the succession of the Spanish Crown and she was disposed during the Glorious Revolution in 1868. Her son Alfonso became King Alfonso XII and Isabel was exiled to France, where she died in 1904.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Teatro Real

18) Teatro Real

While in Madrid you might like to spend an evening at the opera and you couldn’t do better than book your seats at the Teatro Real, the Royal Theatre just in front of the Royal Palace.

The Teatro Real is Madrid’s major opera house, finished in 1850 under the explicit orders of Queen Isabelle II, who was an ardent opera lover and who had grown tired of seeing the half-finished building in front of her palace. On the inauguration night (which just happened to be on the queen’s birthday) the famous Spanish contralto Marietta Alboni played the leading role in Donizetti’s “La Favorita”. In 1863 Verdi gave the Spanish premier of “La Forza del Destino” here.

During the exile of the Spanish monarchy the opera house was renamed the National Opera Theatre. From 1867 to 1925 it housed the Madrid Royal Conservatory. During the construction of the metro system nearby, the building suffered serious structural damage and was closed down in 1925.

The theater reopened after extensive repairs in 1966, but was used as a concert hall, until 1990 when, after further renovations, it regained its status as an opera house. In 1997 the stage was improved with 18 articulated stage-sets, making even complicated background scenery easier to install. The orchestra pit was enlarged and acoustics were greatly improved by the elevation of the roof.

Today the opera house attracts some of the greatest operatic shows on the European circuit and its 1854 seats are quickly filled, so don’t hesitate to book in advance.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de Oriente

19) Plaza de Oriente (must see)

While on holiday in Madrid you will surely visit the Royal Palace; if so, don’t miss a stroll through the Plaza de Oriente on the eastern (“oriental”) side of the palace.

The plaza is shaped like a rectangle with one of its long sides curved outwards; it was designed by Pascual y Colomar in 1844. The plaza has a series of small, beautifully tended gardens separated by gravel walkways leading to a central stone basin fountain with the equestrian bronze statue of Philip IV as its centerpiece. The statue was cast in 1843 by Pietro Tacca, who had the idea to make the back end of the horse very heavy and the front part very light, so that the horse would balance on its hind legs without toppling over before it was fixed to its stone base.

Around the plaza are rather disproportioned limestone statues. These represent the monarchs of Spain and among them are 5 Visigoth Kings and 15 Christian Kings. The statues were originally intended to stand on the palace roof and were sculpted in a fashion to look tall if you are looking up at them. When they were finished, however, it was decided that they were too heavy for the roof, so they were arranged around the plaza.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautifully decorated sculpture garden with a great view of the Sabatini gardens and the Royal Palace itself.
Many places to relax; you can even sit at one of the cafés and enjoy the quietness as no car traffic enters the square.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palacio Real

20) Palacio Real (must see)

The Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid), also known as the Palacio de Oriente (The East Palace), is the official residence of the King of Spain in the city of Madrid, and it is only used for State Ceremonies. However, King Juan Carlos and the Royal Family did not reside in it, choosing instead the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid. The palace is owned by the Spanish State and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional, a public agency of the Ministry of the Presidency. The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest palace building in Western Europe. It is located on Bailen Street, in the Western part of downtown Madrid, East of the Manzanares River. The palace is partially open to the public, except when it is being used for official business.

Why You Should Visit:
There are 25 rooms you can see in the interior of the palace and they are absolutely amazing, with original silk wallpaper, decorations, furniture, clocks, and other items.
The gardens and the views out the back are also very impressive but at night, the palace is lit up with 1000 lumen spotlights, making it the brightest building in the world.

The audio-visual guides are really informative. If you want to see the kitchens you need to check the times as that is by guided tour only.
Do check the opening hours on your day of visit, as it might be closed early due to special occasions.
The Sabatini gardens can also be visited without having to enter the palace.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm (Oct-Mar); 10am-8pm (Apr-Sep);
Box office and admission to the Palace close one hour earlier.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Catedral de la Almudena

21) Catedral de la Almudena (must see)

Opposite the Royal Palace, you will find the Catedral de la Almudena, a Baroque-style cathedral which is less than twenty years old.

This lovely church was designed by Marquis Francisco de Cubas. Construction began in 1879 on the site of a medieval mosque. The original plans gave the church a Gothic Revival style with a Neo-Classical cupola. One unusual feature about the church is its orientation – North-South, instead of the traditional East-West.

Construction limped along for over 50 years and it was abandoned entirely during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. Work started again in 1950 under the direction of Fernando Chueca Goitia who adapted the original plans and gave the church its present-day Baroque style.

The interior of the cathedral is modern Neo-Gothic, with many small chapels and statues of contemporary artists in diverse styles. The crypt is Neo-Romanesque with a 16th-century image of the Virgin de la Almudena. In 2004 new paintings by Kiko Arguello were hung in the apse.

The cathedral was completed in 1993 and was consecrated by Pope Jean Paul II, a statue of whom is to be found in front of the building. Don’t miss the bronze doors by Sanguino which bear the legend of the discovery of the image of the Virgin in the 15th century.

Why You Should Visit:
Another gargantuan cathedral, and conveniently located across from the Royal Palace for some time effective sightseeing.
The museum section is a must for anyone interested in the history of the Catholic Church in Madrid.

After viewing the beautiful altarpieces and magnificent vestments plus manuscripts of the clergy in the (paid admission) museum, you can ascend to the dome where views in all directions can be had. The climb also allows proximity to the oversized statues of saints perched on top.

Opening Hours:
(Cathedral) Daily: 9am-8:30pm
(Museum) Mon-Sat: 10am-2:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Jardines de Sabatini

22) Jardines de Sabatini (must see)

Jardines de Sabatini cover over two hectares on the North side of the Royal Palace. They are named after Francesco Sabatini, an 18th-century architect who designed the Royal Stables, which once stood on the site of today’s gardens. The layout is based on the designs he made with the same idea in mind for the use of the land before the stables were built.

This layout is similar to classical French gardens that you would see on a grander scale at Versailles for example. Formal Neo-classical, with small walkways and neatly trimmed hedges in geometrical patterns, you will find a haven of peace here. The trees, which are also planted in geometrical patterns, include pines, cedars and magnolias, whose waxy flowers perfume the warm air.

The gardens, which were first opened to the public in 1978, are graced with statues from the palace itself and represent Spanish kings. There are several benches around the long rectangular pond and from there you have a good view of the North face of the Royal Palace.

Why You Should Visit:
To find a shady spot and have a rest especially on a hot Summer's day, or to enjoy the color show in Autumn.
A very convenient stop to make if seeking to combine visits to the Palacio Real and Museo Cerralbo.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-9pm; Free entry
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de Espana

23) Plaza de Espana (must see)

Plaza de Espana is a large square, and popular tourist destination, located in central Madrid, Spain, at the western end of the Gran Via. It features a monument to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and is bordered by two of Madrid's most prominent skyscrapers. Also, the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is a short walk south from the plaza.

In the center of the plaza is a monument to Spanish novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, designed by architects Rafael Martinez Zapatero and Pedro Muguruza and sculptor Lorenzo Coullaut Valera. Most of the monument was built between 1925 and 1930. The tower portion of the monument includes a stone sculpture of Cervantes, which overlooks bronze sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Next to the tower, there are two stone representations of Don Quixote's "true love", one as the simple peasant woman Aldonza Lorenzo, and one as the beautiful, imaginary Dulcinea del Toboso.

Why You Should Visit:
A typical tourist destination with nice sculptures, beautiful fountain and plenty of seats to sit, rest and watch the sunset/the world go by.
There are food vendors around and the streets surrounding have many cafes, bars and restaurants.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Cerralbo

24) Museo Cerralbo (must see)

The Museum Cerralbo (Spanish: Museo Cerralbo) in Madrid houses the collection of Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, Marquis of Cerralbo. It is located in the former residence of its founder and was opened in 1944. The building was declared Bien de Interes Cultural in 1962. Museo Cerralbo offers visitors a view of everyday life in Madrid until the end of the 19th century. Created by Don Enrique de Aguilera and Gamboa it was the biggest private collection of its time. Here one can observe the works of 177 artists of different ages and trends, in a collection of more than 50,000 pieces.

Why You Should Visit:
One the few examples in Madrid of a 19th-century mansion which preserves its stunning original decoration.
Ballroom, games room, Gymnasium, general living areas show the special lifestyle of the owner at the time.
Many highlights – from paintings to carpets, porcelain, weaponry (even a samurai suit of armour), coins and medals, jewelry and books.
There is a good free English guide too, but note that they don't provide ear plugs.

Arrive early because the house cannot accommodate that many people at once, and a line starts to form after 11am.
Seniors enter free but will need their passport; otherwise, the entry fee is €3 except on free Sunday (expect long queues).
If you happen to be short of time make sure to allow time for the final few rooms as these are the most spectacular.
The small outside gardens are also largely intact and beautiful to behold.

Operation Hours:
Tue-Sat: 9:30am-3pm; Thu: 5-8pm; Sundays & holidays: 10am-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Templo de Debod

25) Templo de Debod (must see)

One building you would never expect to find while visiting the Parque del Oeste near the Royal Palace is an Egyptian temple. Don’t worry, you haven’t had too much Sangria – the Temple of Debod really does exist!

The temple was constructed during the 2nd century BC in ancient Egypt as a small single chapel dedicated to the god Amun. Later it was enlarged by the pharaohs of the Ptolemaic Dynasty to make a temple dedicated to Isis.

In 1960, during the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan in Egypt, several ancient buildings were menaced by flood water. Spain helped with the relocation of the twin temples of Abu Simbel, and in gratitude, the Egyptian government donated the temple of Debod to Spain. It was carefully dismantled and sent by ship and train to Madrid where it was reconstructed by a small lake in the park.

The temple has two narrow gateways leading to the central porch with its four colonnades. Inside, the West Hall is richly decorated with hieroglyphics. In the room which is the original chapel, there is a photographic documentary of the temple’s history and its journey from Egypt to Spain.

It is the only edifice of its kind in Spain and one of the rare Egyptian architectural buildings outside Egypt. It is particularly lovely at sunset and in the evening when it is lit up. Then the temple is reflected in the still waters of the lake and gives you the impression of being transported back in time to a forgotten world where people raised places of worship to their strange gods.

Don't take the opening hours too seriously because there's not that much to see inside.
Do bring a mini-picnic with you, however, so you can laze about like the locals.
Also, try arriving 30mins before sunset to enjoy how the place transforms itself with the change of lighting.

Opening Hours:
(Oct 1 - Mar 31): Tue-Fri: 9:45am-1:45pm / 4:15-6:15pm; Sat, Sun & holidays: 10am-2pm
(Apr 1 - Sep 30, except August): Tue-Fri: 10am-2pm / 6-8pm; Sat, Sun & holidays: 10am-2pm
(August): Tue-Sun: 10am-2pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Madrid, Spain

Create Your Own Walk in Madrid

Create Your Own Walk in Madrid

Creating your own self-guided walk in Madrid is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Museums Walking Tour

Museums Walking Tour

Madrid is not only a big cultural center in Spain, but in the entire Europe as well. Having a great and interesting history behind, Madrid developed a vast culture over time. The city became world-famed for its museums and galleries. The following tour will guide you through the most famous museums in Madrid.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.2 Km or 4.5 Miles
La Latina Entertainment Walk

La Latina Entertainment Walk

Madrid's oldest neighborhood, La Latina is one of the city's most fun to explore. The place where the old meets the new, and historic blends harmoniously with the modern. El Rastro, Madrid's oldest and most iconic street market is located here. When the night falls, the area comes alive with the multitude of bars, cafes and pubs opening up for tourists and locals eager to go out on...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Gran Via and Sol Nightlife

Gran Via and Sol Nightlife

Citizens of Madrid are famous for being dynamic and very outgoing. Living in one of the liveliest cities in Europe, locals enjoy the nightlife, when Madrid transforms into an array of colors and music. Check out the most popular nightlife spots in Central Madrid in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Madrid Introduction Walk II

Madrid Introduction Walk II

Madrid is the economical, political and cultural center of Spain. Founded in the 9th century, this city is one of the most relevant destinations that Spain has to offer to its visitors concerning culture and history. Madrid is a vibrant metropolis full of taste, vigor, and wealth. This walk starts in the city's most prominent areas - Gran Vía and Sol. The latter is Madrid's epicenter...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles
Buen Retiro Park Walking Tour

Buen Retiro Park Walking Tour

El Parque del Buen Retiro is one of the main attractions of the city of Madrid. Known to the locals simply as "El Retiro," the park is a favorite place to spend weekends and summer days and was considered a Royal Park up until two centuries ago. Highlights of the park include several fountains, palaces, monuments and arranged gardens. Discover this historical site step by step in the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Salamanca Walking Tour

Salamanca Walking Tour

The Spanish capital is a vibrant metropolis made up of 21 districts. This walk brings you to and around one of them - Salamanca - one of the wealthiest and most expensive areas of Madrid, home to many foreign embassies and upscale venues. To see what else makes Salamanca a famous destination, take this walk and find out.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Madrid Souvenir Shopping Guide: Top 15 Spanish Products

Madrid Souvenir Shopping Guide: Top 15 Spanish Products

They call Spain "magnificent" for a reason, as there're loads of fascinating stuff a visitor to the country might want to take home and share with family and friends. Luckily, in Madrid one can find nearly all that Spain is famous for - wine, food, fashion, arts, sports, etc. Good...
Madrid´s Latin Quarter Tapas

Madrid´s Latin Quarter Tapas

This app is a description of bars and cafeterias of tapas and pinchos in the Latin Quarter of Madrid. Tapas and pinchos are generally bar snacks and finger foods, with pinchos generally originating from the Basque Country. The custom of tapas and pinchos-eating refers to eating at the bar, sometime...
10 Uniquely Madrid Foods to Try in Spanish Capital

10 Uniquely Madrid Foods to Try in Spanish Capital

There’s no better way to fall in love with a city than through its traditional cuisine. Complete meals, appetizers, beverages and sweets: all of them draw a path to a tourist heart. Madrid, the Spanish capital, has its very own unique and original dishes that can make a stay in this city a...
A Self-Guided Food Walk in Madrid

A Self-Guided Food Walk in Madrid

The reputation of Spain as a major gastronomic power to reckon with goes a long way. The capital city of Madrid has a lot to offer visitors in terms of soul warming food experience. On this walk you will visit some of the city's most vibrant and lively food markets and other places serving...
Top 16 Bars in Madrid

Top 16 Bars in Madrid

Madrid, the third largest city in Western Europe, is packed with an eclectic mix of bars that offer a scene for every style. In Spain’s Capital city, alcohol flows without end. Just take a walk down the streets of this vibrant city, and it seems as if every other building is a café or bar...