Madrid Introduction Walk II (Self Guided), Madrid

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 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 II Map

Guide Name: Madrid Introduction Walk II
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 19
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Edificio Metropolis
  • Grassy Edifice
  • Edificio Gran Pena
  • Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum)
  • Plaza de Santa Ana
  • Cerveceria Alemana
  • Casa Museo Lope De Vega
  • CaixaForum
  • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
  • Estacion de Atocha
  • Cuesta de Moyano
  • Real Jardin Botanico
  • Museo Nacional del Prado
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
  • Paseo del Prado
  • Plaza de Cibeles
  • Plaza de la Independencia
  • Puerta de Alcala
  • Parque del Buen Retiro
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
Grassy Edifice

2) Grassy Edifice

Just next to the Metropolis Building is the Grassy Edifice (Edificio Grassy), a massive structure named after the jewelery shop it used to host on the first floor. It was built in a modernists art deco style with an original column-like cupola at the top. It is one of the most striking buildings of Gran via and it also contains a museum that exhibits rare watches that have belonged to royalties all over Europe. The Edificio Grassy was built between 1916 and 1917. It was constructed on a triangular piece of land, in the same way as the Edificio Metropolis next to it. Moreover, its architect Eladio Laredo aimed to achieve an architectural similarity between both of them. This trend was respected to a certain extent along Gran Via. It comprises two independent buildings, which are joined together by the hall and the patio. Eclectic in its architecture, it boasts a rotunda topped by two superimposed belvederes of Renaissance influence. In 1981, the Edificio Grassy was immortalized by painter Antonio Lopez in his hyperrealist masterpiece "La Gran Via". A plaque placed at the entrance of the building facing to Calle del Caballero de Gracia informs that in spring 1840 Theophile Gautier lived in this area.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Edificio Gran Pena

3) Edificio Gran Pena

This was one of the first structures to be built on Gran Via and stands just at the start of the street, in front of the Metropolis Building. It was built on a corner plot, highlighting the facade on the outside, in a classical baroque style.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum)

4) Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) (must see)

The Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Fine Arts Museum) was founded in 1752 and while it might not be as grand as other museums in Madrid, it is one of the most important and is certainly a must for lovers of Spanish art.

Housed in the 18th century Goyeneche Palace not far from Puerto del Sol, the museum proudly displays over 1500 paintings and 600 sculptures dating from the 15th century to the present day. It is also the headquarters of the Academy of Art and Picasso and Dali were once students at the Academy.

In the section for foreign artists you will be able to admire important works by Van Dyck, Rubens, Raphael and Titian, and “Spring”, one of the wonderful 16th century “Four Seasons” paintings by Arcimboldo.

Spanish works are represented by El Greco, Murillo Ribera, Velazquez and Zurbaran. A whole room is devoted to Goya, where you will find two self-portraits and “The Madhouse”. Another room is dedicated to Picasso and the exhibits include a part of his collection of drawings from the famous “Suite Vollard”.

The Museo de Calcografia Nacional in the same building and here you can see the original chalcography plates used by Goya. You can also buy limited edition prints.

Why You Should Visit:
Contains art from some of the best-loved old masters but eventually becomes more modern as you get to the top.
The collections can be easily enjoyed in beautiful rooms with lots of comfortable/intimate space to relax.

Entry is free on Wednesdays; on paydays, there's a seniors discount.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de Santa Ana

5) Plaza de Santa Ana (must see)

Plaza de Santa Ana is located in central Madrid, nearby Puerta del Sol and Calle de Huertas, in the Barrio de las Letras. It features monuments to Spanish Golden Age writer Pedro Calderon de la Barca and the Grenadian poet Federico Garcia Lorca and numerous restaurants, cafes and tapas bars, with its terraces covering most of the sides surfaces. Teatro Espanol, the oldest theater in Madrid, is located on the plaza's east side. It was built in the 17th century and then had the name Corral de la Pacheca, and Principe. On the west side of the plaza, a luxury hotel (now ME Madrid Reina Victoria) was built in the early 19th century. The hotel achieved fame for being the favorite among the most popular bullfighters. For example, the regular guest Manolete always reserved room number 220 in superstition. The plaza is a popular meeting point in Madrid.

Why You Should Visit:
Not the best venue for real good Spanish food, but not bad nevertheless for taking refreshment on a terrace and people-watching.

Be mindful of your belongings anytime you are in this area, as it is infamous for pickpockets.
The Madrid Reina Victoria hotel has a restaurant and a terrace on the top floor with nice views of Madrid.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cerveceria Alemana

6) Cerveceria Alemana

Cerveceria Alemana is located in central Madrid's Plaza Ana, well known for hosting many cafes and eateries and for being a popular night spot for Madrid's youth. It is also the place where Hemingway had his daily haunt- the Cerveceria Alemana (German Bierkeller). His regular table still stands in the near right-hand corner and this tavern is noted in his novel "The Sun Also Rises."
Casa Museo Lope De Vega

7) Casa Museo Lope De Vega

House museums are always an interesting way of learning about the life of the occupant and the Casa Museo Lope de Vega is no exception.

You will find the museum in a charming three stored 17th century building in the street named after one of his fellow playwrights – Cervantes. Lope de Vega spent the last 25 years of his life in this house where he wrote several rather religious-minded plays and poems.

The furniture and ornaments, while typical of late 16th and early 17th century Spain, are nonetheless reproductions of Lope de Vega’s actual furniture and personal belongings – the originals were divided among his children after his death in 1635. This doesn’t take anything away from the charm of this small museum, which depicts life in the Golden Age of Baroque Literature. The gardens are lovely, with a well and fruit trees that Lope de Vegas mentions in his diaries.

Lope de Vega is little known outside Spain, where he is considered one of the greatest writers of Western literature. During his life he wrote over 1800 plays, 9 epic poems, 7 novels and novellas and over 3000 sonnets. He had a very complicated love life: he was married twice, but had several children by various mistresses. Even when he joined the priesthood in 1614 he kept up his romantic trysts!
Sight description based on wikipedia

8) CaixaForum (must see)

When you arrive at the Caixa Forum you will be immediately struck by two aspects of this extraordinary building. The first thing to draw your eye is the vertical garden adjoining the Forum; the second feature will take your breath away: the building appears to be floating off the ground!

When the Caixa Foundation acquired the disused power station they wanted to create a modern multicultural center, but the building was classified as a historical monument and they couldn’t have it pulled down. Instead, they hired Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron who created this truly amazing building, incorporating the ancient station with top floors in “rusted” steel. To make the building “float”, they removed the crumbling base to create a covered plaza and provide the entrance to the Forum.

There is a central staircase to take visitors of the 2000 square meters of the exposition rooms from the two underground levels to the top floor where the administration offices and a restaurant are to be found. The underground levels house an auditorium and a theater. On the other floors, you will find a library, a bookshop, exposition rooms that house both temporary and permanent exhibitions of post-modern art, conference rooms and concert rooms.

The vertical garden is over 25 meters high and is a beautiful contrast to the brick and steel Forum. The garden was designed by the French botanist Patrick Blanc, who invented the concept of mural gardens.

Why You Should Visit:
For a cheap price, you have access to exhibitions of great quality and the upper floor has a nice and comfy coffee shop to rest your legs.
They also have an exquisite gift-shop where you can do all your gift-shopping, albeit their special designs are not so cheap.

Since the exhibits are on a rotational basis, check the website before planning a trip to make sure you want to see what they have.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

9) Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (must see)

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (MNCARS) is the official name of Spain's national museum of 20th-century art. The museum was officially inaugurated on September 10, 1992, and is named for Queen Sofia of Spain. It is located in Madrid, near the Atocha train and metro stations, at the southern end of the so-called Golden Triangle of Art (located along the Paseo del Prado and also comprising the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza).

The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights include excellent collections of Spain's two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Certainly the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso's great painting Guernica. The Reina Sofia also has fine collections of the works of Juan Gris, Joan Miro, Julio Gonzalez, Pablo Gargallo, Lucio Munoz, Luis Gordillo, Jorge Oteiza, Jose Gutierrez Solana and many others.

Why You Should Visit:
If 20th-century art is your thing then this is an outstanding museum; if not, the great collection here is still worth a look.
The inner garden is a pleasant cool oasis while the top floor has a view deck of Madrid.
There is a pricey restaurant in the basement and a small coffee bar which is reasonable.

It's better to get an online Paseo del Arte combined ticket to access the main three museums and to save time and money.
If you want to go in for free but you are not under 18 or over 65, or a student below 25, you can go from 7pm to 9pm Monday through Saturday, except Tuesday.

Opening hours:
Mon, Wed-Sat: 10am-9pm; Sun: 10am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Estacion de Atocha

10) Estacion de Atocha (must see)

If you come to Madrid by train, you will undoubtedly arrive at the Atocha Railway Station. If you come by another means of transport, don’t miss a trip to see the station which is the biggest in Madrid.

The original station was built in 1851 and destroyed by fire in 1882. A newer, larger station was built in 1892 by Martin Alberto Palacio Elissague who worked on the Crystal Palace in the Buen Retiro Park. He used the palace as a model and created a glass and wrought-iron vault, giving the central area a light, airy appearance.

The station was expanded to four times its original size by Rafael Moneo in 1985. The tracks were moved to the new structure and the “old” Atocha was transformed into a waiting/meeting area with shops and snack bars. A wonderful tropical garden was installed in the center of the area.

The station is the final destination of the AVE (high-speed trains) from Barcelona, Seville, Saragossa and Valencia, as well as commuter and intercity trains from Madrid’s suburbs.

After the terrorist attack on the 11th March 2004, a cylindrical glass monument, the Monumento a los Victimes del 11M, was raised in front of the station in memory of the people who died there.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautifully designed and refreshingly decorated is the first thing you'll notice at this central train station.
The interior serves as a botanical garden of sorts with palm trees and platforms filled with dozens upon dozens of turtles.
You'll also find cafes across the road next to the Reina Sofia Museum offering budget-friendly breakfast and lunch options (try El Brillante).

Have some coins available if you want to use public bathrooms.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cuesta de Moyano

11) Cuesta de Moyano

Established in 1925, the Cuesta de Moyano is the famous pedestrian alley which is the site of Madrid's daily book market, where over 30 old-fashioned blue kiosks and more simple stalls are dedicated to the sale of old, antiquarian, second-hand books, magazines and maps. The market begins at the southwest corner of the Retiro Park, at the gate of the Royal Botanical Garden and continues on toward Calle de Alfonso XII, linking Paseo del Prado with the rest of the park. There is a statue for each of market's end, one is dedicated to 19th-century Spanish novelist Pio Baroja, and the other one -- to Claudio Moyano, the 19th-century Spanish politician after whom the passage was actually named.

As for the books, this place is a heaven for book lovers! Although most of the books and magazines found here are in Spanish (Castilian), it's still fun to browse through market's trademark shabby kiosks, looking for rare editions and collectable mid-century magazines, enjoying along the tranquil sights of outdoor Madrid.

Operation Hours Monday - Sunday: 9:30 am - 2 pm & 5 pm - 8 pm
Real Jardin Botanico

12) Real Jardin Botanico (must see)

Madrid is rich in history and architecture, and luckily it is also rich in parks where you can relax, eat a picnic lunch and still be in the heart of the city. The Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid is an ideal place to spend an afternoon.

The botanical gardens were first organized in 1755 during the reign of King Ferdinand VI who wanted a royal garden with different species of plants from all around the world. The botanist Jose Quer y Martinez laid out the first garden with over 2000 plants. In 1774 the gardens were moved to their present location next to the Paseo del Prado by King Charles III, with a new landscape carried out by Francesco Sabatini and Juan de Villanueva.

The gardens today are divided into three terraces, two greenhouses and a Herbarium. The first garden is the Terraza del Plano de la Flor: set out in the English Romantic style, this terrace is a delight of trees and shrubs. In this part of the gardens, you can visit the Villanueva Pavilion or sit beside the pond and feed the ducks. The second garden is the Terraza de los Cuadros: on this terrace, you will find ornamental and common plants, the air is filled with the scent of aromatic and medicinal plants; there is an orchard, a fountain and a lovely rock garden. The third garden, the Terraza de la Escuelas Botanicas has 12 fountains and a wide variety of annual plants.

The herbarium has over a million species of plants separated into two groups: phanerogam (plants which reproduce by seeds) and cryptogam (plants that reproduce by spores). In the greenhouses, you will find a vast variety of plants from tropical, temperate and desert climates.

Make sure you visit the two greenhouses in the back and walk along the upper level of the rainforest and desert one – quite a unique perspective!
Also, check out the small art exhibit (which changes every quarter or so) near the back of the park.
It is worth walking around the perimeter fence to see what is in bloom before you pay the entrance fee.

Opening Hours:
Daily: (Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec) 10am-6pm; (Mar, Oct) 10am-7pm; (Apr, Sep) 10am-8pm; (May, Jun, Jul, Aug) 10am-9pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Nacional del Prado

13) Museo Nacional del Prado (must see)

The Museo Nacional del Prado is a museum and art gallery that features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture, it also contains important collections of more than 5,000 drawings, 2,000 prints, 1,000 coins and medals, and almost 2,000 decorative objects and works of art. Sculpture is represented by more than 700 works and by a smaller number of sculptural fragments. The painting collection comprises about 7,800 paintings, of which only about 1,300 are at public display, mainly because of the museum's lack of space. A new, recently opened wing enlarged the display area by about 400 paintings, and is currently used mainly for temporary expositions. El Prado is one of the most visited sites in Madrid, and it is considered to be among the greatest art museums in the world.

***Hemingway's Madrid***
Although Ernest Hemingway was not a usual lover of museums, Prado was an exception for him. He recognized this cultural site as a treasure, with its exhibited works by Picasso, Velazquez, Goya, El Greco and many other international artists. The writer was especially fascinated by Goya, whom he considered a genius.

Why You Should Visit:
The sheer number of masterpieces is mind-boggling, the iconic works truly humbling.
The rooms are very well organized, the map is easy to figure out, the signs are very informative and they're all translated into (very good) English.

Buy online tickets one day or several days ahead and skip the (usually long) lines.
Purchase your ticket with the added museum guide at the ticket booth, which essentially saves you €10 if you plan to purchase it individually inside.
If you plan to visit all the 'big ones' - El Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía, purchase the "Art Walk" ticket at the ticket office as it is quite affordable.
Free visit for the last 2 hours (get there early) – great idea to reduce your travel budget and still see something, but too short if you want to take your time.
Another tip is that you can have both your ticket and audio guide stamped and leave the museum for lunch.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-8pm; Sunday and holidays: 10am-7pm.
Free for those under 18 years of age.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

14) Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (must see)

Founded by Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and his son Hans, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is housed in a 19th-century Neo-Classical mansion near the Prado Museum. It is one of the finest private art collections in the world and was ceded to Spain by Baron Hans in 1992.

The museum is part of the “Golden Triangle of Art” and has a truly wonderful collection of Impressionist and Expressionist European and American art, Renaissance, Mannerism, Rococo and Romanticism art dating from the 13th to the late 20th century.

The Baron and his son weren’t lovers of religious art, so in this museum, you will find few religious paintings, but mainly portraits and landscapes executed by great artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas and Cezanne. In 2004, the Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza (widow of Baron Hans) lent her extensive art collection to the museum.

You can admire Ghirlandaio’s “Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni”; Carpaccio’s wonderful “Portrait of a Knight”; “Our Lady of the Dry Tree” by Petrus Christus and a diptych of the “Annunciation” by Van Eyck. In the part of the museum devoted to Pop Art, you will find the original “Woman in Bath” by Roy Lichtenstein.

Why You Should Visit:
A very cozy, relaxing, interesting and well-organized gallery, with all great pieces commented by an outstanding audio guide.
You can get close and examine the techniques used, take photos of your favourite works, or just admire them.
The artwork is more varied than in the Prado – there are more artists/styles represented, and something to suit all tastes.
Good cafe/restaurant for either coffee, snack or lunch – you can either sit inside or outside in the courtyard.

If you go on a Monday, check out the temporary exhibitions on the top floors first as they close at 1pm.
Otherwise, either start on the top floor and work your way down or do it vice-versa if you prefer contemporary art.
Also, bring your earphones so you can plug into the audio piece.

Operation Hours:
Tue-Fri, Sun: 10am-7pm; Sat: 10am-9pm; Mon: 12am-4pm, free visit and access.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Paseo del Prado

15) Paseo del Prado (must see)

Of all the boulevards in Madrid, the loveliest and most visited is the Paseo del Prado and you will enjoy strolling along it from the Plaza Cibeles to the Plaza de Emperador Carlos V with the Plaza Canovas del Castillo in the middle.

The paseo is very wide with a tree-lined central strip filled with well-tended flower beds and benches where locals sit in the sun and gossip. Along this popular promenade, you will find the Fountains of Neptune and Apollo, with more benches where you can sit for a while and listen to the sound of the fountains. The boulevard is well-kept and all morning city employees pick up litter, trim the hedges and pull out weeds and dead plants.

The boulevard is also called the Art Walk, for here you will find the three museums of the Golden Triangle: the Museo del Prado with its fine collection of 12th to 19th century European art – the most important collection in the world; the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza which houses what was once the largest private art collections in Spain, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia with its important collection of Contemporary Art.

You will also find the Puerto Real – the Royal Gate, one of the entrances to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Why You Should Visit:
To get a taste of central and upscale Madrid, learn about Spanish culture (there are special events on weekends), shop for souvenirs or just people watch.
The boulevard is bustling with traffic and people; however, it is peaceful at the same time. Fountains, flowers, shrubs, and other plantings make it even more attractive.

It is illuminated at night and when the fountains are lit it is even more stunning.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de Cibeles

16) Plaza de Cibeles (must see)

The Plaza de Cibeles is a square with a neo-classical complex of marble sculptures with fountains that has become an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid. The fountain of Cibeles is found in the part of Madrid commonly called the Paseo de Recoletos. It depicts the goddess Cibeles (Cybele), the Phrygian goddess of fertility, sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions. The fountain was built in the reign of Charles III and designed by Ventura Rodríguez between 1777 and 1782. Up until the 19th century, both the fountain of Neptune and Cibeles looked directly at each other, until the city council decided to turn them round to face towards the center of the city. The fountain of Cibeles has been adopted by the football team Real Madrid as the place to celebrate its triumphs in major competitions such as the Champions League, La Liga or Spanish Copa del Rey.

Why You Should Visit:
Located in the center of Madrid and at the crossing of the main arteries, the fountain (Fuente de Cibeles) and the 'CentroCentro' building are unrivaled in beauty especially when the plaza is lit at night.

Busy intersection – not really the best place for pedestrians.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de la Independencia

17) Plaza de la Independencia

The Plaza de la Independencia (Independence Square) is a central square in the Spanish capital Madrid. It sits at the intersection of Calle de Alcala, Calle de Alfonso XII, Calle de Serrano, Calle de Salustiano Olozaga and the Paseo de Mexico that runs entirely in the Buen Retiro Park. Being centred with the 18th-century gate of Puerta de Alcala, the Plaza de la Independencia is among the important symbols of the city of Madrid. The square was opened in 1778 during the reign of King Carlos III. It was designed by architect Francesco Sabatini. However, the current shape of the square dates back to 1869. It is mainly surrounded with buildings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, built during the expansion of the city of Madrid. The square has a neo-classical style, with majestic details and is considered to be one of the most iconic landmarks of Madrid. Best viewed at night.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Puerta de Alcala

18) Puerta de Alcala (must see)

The Puerta de Alcala ("Alcala Gate") is a Neo-classical monument in the Plaza de la Independencia in Madrid, Spain. It stands near the city center and several meters away from the main entrance to the Parque del Buen Retiro. The square is bisected by Alcala street, although the street itself doesn't cross through the monument, and it is the origin of the Alfonso XII, Serrano and Olozaga streets. Its name originates from the old path from Madrid to the nearby town of Alcala de Henares. Madrid in the late 19th century, still remained a somewhat drab villa in appearance, surrounded by medieval walls. Around the year 1774, King Charles III commissioned Francesco Sabatini to construct a monumental gate in the city wall through which an expanded road to the city of Alcala was to pass, replacing an older, smaller, gate which stood nearby. It was inaugurated in 1778.

Why You Should Visit:
To see what is considered to be the first modern post-Roman triumphal arch built in Europe – even older than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Parque del Buen Retiro

19) Parque del Buen Retiro (must see)

If you want to mix history with greenery and entertainment, you really should take your picnic lunch and spend the day in the Buen Retiro Park, not far from the Museo del Prado, because here you will find something to keep everyone happy.

First of all, there are the park's lovely gardens, including the Rosaleda Rose Garden where you can see the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, the only statue in Madrid that represents Satan. The gardens were once part of the Buen Retiro Palace and were opened to the public in the 19th century.

In front of an equestrian monument to King Alfonso XII is a huge artificial pond, the Estanque del Retiro to the North of the park. In March 2005 King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia inaugurated the Bosque del Recuerdo in memory of the 191 victims of the terrorist attack of 11 March 2004.

Other interesting features of the park are the buildings which hold temporary exhibitions: the Velazquez Palace, the Crystal Palace and the Cason del Buen Retiro which is the Study Centre of the Museo del Prado and has a wonderful 17th-century ceiling fresco depicting the Apotheosis of the Spanish Monarchy by Luca Giordano.

You will find plenty to entertain you in the park, as it is a favorite haunt of street musicians, fortune tellers, puppet shows and the Annual Book Fair takes place here. You can hire a rowing boat if you are feeling muscular – if not you can visit the park in a horse-drawn carriage.

Why You Should Visit:
This park is a work of art; a dedication to getting outside and enjoying the beauty of nature.
With more than 15,000 trees and lake on 1,4 km2, it is a must-see in the capital of Spain.

Pack a picnic & drinks. The food is on the high end but there are plenty of spaces for you to sit and eat peacefully.
Note that food vendors have toilets for the public to use free of charge (bring toilet paper).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-12am
Sight description based on wikipedia

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Hemingway's Walking Tour

Hemingway's Walking Tour

There have been many writers who express a love for Madrid, but one who did so quite famously was Ernest Hemingway. During his life, Hemingway was a frequent visitor of Madrid, finding in it his muse, popular success and critical acclaim. Don Ernesto, as he was called in Spain, was a frequent visitor to specific sites in Madrid that became major tourist attractions. The majority of those sites are...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Souvenirs Shopping Walk

Souvenirs Shopping Walk

It would be a pity to leave Madrid without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Madrid, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

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...
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...
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...
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...