Salamanca Walking Tour, Madrid (Self Guided)

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.
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Salamanca Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Salamanca Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Author: emma
Plaza de Colon

1) Plaza de Colon (must see)

The Plaza de Colon is something of a paradox: situated not far from busy intersections, it is nevertheless a place where many people go to relax.

It is a lovely square and well worth spending a while walking in the “Jardines del Descubrimiento” (Discovery Gardens), or sitting on a bench in the sun watching the children who flock here with their skateboards and mountain bikes.

The square, once named after St James, was renamed in 1893 in honor of Christopher Columbus. In the center of the square, a 17-meter high monument was constructed by Jeronimo Sumol and you can see the famous explorer on top of the Italian white marble column, one arm outstretched, as if in the direction of distant lands waiting to be explored.

The base of the monument is Neo-Gothic and it stands in a stone fountain with a huge cascade; at each end of the fountain is a flight of stairs leading to the Centro Cultural de la Villa de Madrid. The sound of the cascade here is incredibly loud and it makes talking in a normal voice impossible.

Another monument of note is by Joaquin Vaquero-Turcios. This huge block of concrete bearing various inscriptions by philosophers and Spanish leaders is shaped either like the tail of a fish or like an anchor, depending on where you are standing.

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 will take some great photos.

Check out the huge Spanish flag which is, in fact, the biggest in the world (at a cost of €400.000 ) and one of most eye-catching features of this square.
Beside the plaza, you will find Platea (Calle Goya, 5-7), which is a new gastronomic site with about 20 restaurants where one can eat tapas and different types of food in the food courts.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Biblioteca Nacional

2) Biblioteca Nacional

If you are a bibliophile you should not miss an opportunity to visit the huge and impressive Biblioteca Nacional de Espana on Paseo de Recoletos, not far from the Plaza Colon.

This wonderful public library was founded in 1712 by King Philip V and by Royal Decree a copy of every book printed in Spain from that date was required to be given to the library. Ownership was transferred from the Crown to the government in 1836 and the library was opened to the public in 1896 when a new reading room for 320 readers was added. In 1931 the General Reading Room was opened for students and researchers.

Within the building, if you had the time to count them, you will find over 26 million items, including 15 million books in Spanish and other languages; 30 000 manuscripts, over five hundred thousand maps, six hundred thousand sound recordings from the first gramophone records to MP4 recordings. There are also over five hundred thousand music scores. Luckily, you don’t have to wander around forever looking for what you want – there are computers in the reading rooms where you can consult the library’s catalog.

In 1986 the library became the Sate Repository of Spain’s Cultural Memory and in 1990 it became an Autonomous Entity attached to the Ministry of Culture.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Centro Cultural de la Villa

3) Centro Cultural de la Villa

One of the most important cultural centres in Madrid is the Teatro Fernan Gomez and you will find the entrances to it on the Plaza Colon, at each end of the fountain surrounding the statue of Christopher Columbus.

The centre was built when the city council decided that the Plaza Colon should be redesigned to include the land where the Royal Mint once stood. During the planning stage the architects included an underground parking area and the area which became the Centro Cultural de la Villa. The centre was renamed in 2007 in honor of Fernando Fernan Gomez, the famous Spanish actor, writer and film director.

Inside the centre you can visit the three main cultural spaces: the Guirau Hall where there are several stages for zarzuela (Spanish opera), ballet, Spanish folklore, contemporary Spanish drama and, of course, Flamenco dancing. From autumn to spring there is a Children’s Puppet Theatre with performances every Sunday. Hall Number 2 includes conference rooms and workshops; Hall Number 3 is the Exhibition Hall that holds both temporary and permanent expositions of art and sculpture.

The centre is always worth a visit but is closed on Mondays. You can pick up a programme about current and forthcoming events from the nearby Tourist Office.
Museo Arqueologico Nacional

4) Museo Arqueologico Nacional (must see)

You really should spend an afternoon in Madrid’s Museo Arqueologico Nacional, housed in a splendid 19th-century Neo-classical building beside the Plaza Colon.

The museum was founded by Royal Decree in 1867 by Isabelle II and here you will find an excellent collection of Prehistoric, Iberian, Roman, Greek and Celtic objects, as well as Visigoth, Muslim and Christian artifacts.

The highlights of the museum include Iberian sculptures: the bust of the Lady of Elx, executed in the 4th century BC; the Lady of Baza, a limestone statuette also from the 4th century BC; the strange Bicha of Balazote a 6th century BC statue that resembles a cross between a doe and a snail.

You can also admire a 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, and ivory cross crafted in 1063. It is the earliest known cross that bears the body of Christ. There are also bell-shaped pottery jars over 4000 years old that were 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 where Upper Paleolithic paintings grace the walls and ceiling of the cave.

Why You Should Visit:
The museum is beautifully set out, the modern lighting and display techniques are outstanding and the labeling clear and informative (and 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 around.

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

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 9:30am-8pm; Sunday & holidays: 9:30-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Mercado de la Paz

5) Mercado de la Paz

Even though it is located in the Barrio de Salamanca, one of Madrid’s most exclusive areas, you will find that the prices at the Mercado de la Paz are affordable and it is a great place to visit.

The building that houses the market stalls was built in the late 19th century by Gustave Eiffel and it became a market area in 1943. The first overwhelming impression is the smell of freshly baked bread, that overlays even the smell of fresh fish in certain parts of the market, and definitely arouses your taste-buds and makes it almost impossible not to fill your basket with the delicious pastries and bread on sale.

Once you’ve bought your bread, you simply must buy something to go with it, and in this market you will find over 100 varieties of cheese, not to mention huge hams, pates and smoked fish.

Other stalls offer fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil and a variety of tapas that are mouth-wateringly tempting. You will find yourself wishing that you had brought a bigger basket with you, and you will start rearranging the rest of your stay in Madrid to fit in another visit to this wonderful market.

There are also two very good restaurants here which serve Spanish specialties; so why not stay for lunch and try the local chorizo, smoked with paprika and red chili peppers; or empanadas – a Cornish pasty look-alike, but stuffed with tuna or sardines, tomatoes and garlic. If you are really brave you can order criadillas, another Spanish specialty – bull’s testicles!
Sight description based on wikipedia

6) Lavinia

What to buy here: Spanish Wine.

It seems the Spaniards have been keeping their phenomenal wine a secret for quite awhile - but slowly that secret is getting out. Still often the cheapest option on wine lists around the world, the vinos of the Iberian Peninsula really shouldn’t be overlooked. And for good reason, because unlike American wines, Spanish wines are almost always a hit, and rarely a miss. Even more enticing – decent bottles can easily be purchased for just a couple of euros – seriously. To peruse one of Madrid’s largest selections of wine, head over to Lavinia, where bottles blanket the two-story tall walls of the Madrid Mecca for oenophiles. From the country’s most famous wine-making regions of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero, to more unknown, but equally delicious denominations like Bierzo and Jumilla, virtually all of the wines won’t disappoint. Now the question – to drink it at the hotel, or wait until you get back home? Price: bottles starting at 2€.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 10am-9pm.
Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre

7) Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre

The Spanish are nothing if not inventive and imaginative. For proof of this, visit the Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre, around and under the Enrique de la Mata Gorostizaga Bridge.

This innovative open air museum, founded in 1979, was the clever idea of Eusebio Sempere, who also took part in the construction of the bridge. Under and around the foot of the bridge on 4200 square meters of three terraces and gardens you can admire over seventeen sculptures by contemporary artists.

You will see Eusebio Sempere’s “Mobile” that he constructed especially to be suspended from the bridge. At first, permission was refused because the mobile is very heavy and the mayor of Madrid was worried that it might become detached and injure people. The sculpture forms the centerpiece of the collection.

Among the other sculptures are “Un mon per a infants” by Andreu Alfaro, “ The Stranded Mermaid” by Eduardo Chillida and “Mediterranean” by Martin Chirino.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Sorolla

8) Museo Sorolla (must see)

Museo Sorolla features work by the artist Joaquin Sorolla. The building was originally the artist's house, and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. It was declared Bien de Interes Cultural in 1962. The House Museum of painter Joaquin Sorolla contains a rich artistic legacy of the artist with his paintings, drawings and sculptures. The House was built between 1910 and 1911 and the building is surrounded by a garden designed by the painter himself.

Why You Should Visit:
Taking a trip through the artist's house and former studio can be a much more fulfilling experience than in a traditional museum.
You also get a glimpse of the passions of the family, through the objects they collected (most notably the pottery and sculptures).

Pay attention to the very detailed gardens that Sorolla has designed with a landscape designer, and which you are free to visit without even going into the museum.
For the museum house itself, there is also the 'SOROLLA MUSEUM AR' app that you can use as an augmented reality experience. Download it before going, especially if you have an iPhone.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 9:30am-8pm; Sundays & holidays: 10am-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Museum of Natural Sciences

9) National Museum of Natural Sciences

National Museum of Natural Sciences is the National Museum of Natural History of Spain. It is situated in the center of Madrid, by the Paseo de la Castellana. It is managed by the Spanish National Research Council. The Museum was created in 1772 by Charles III of Spain as the Gabinete Real de Historia Natural, changing names several times until its current denomination. The museum originally hosted a collection donated by a Spanish merchant, Pedro F. Davila. In 1867, some facilities were separated to give birth to other museums (Archeology, Botanic Garden, Zoologic Garden). In 1987 the museum was restructured and grown with funds from two smaller museums.

Some of the more relevant components of the Museum collections are: A Megatherium brought from Argentina in 1789; A Diplodocus donated by Andrew Carnegie to Alfonso XIII of Spain. The museum shares a big building, the Palacio de Exposiciones de las Artes e Industrias with the Industrial Engineering School of the Technical University of Madrid. The research departments of the museum are: Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology; Evolutionary Ecology; Paleobiology; Vulcanology; Geology.

Operation Hours: Tuesday - Friday: 10:00-18:00; Saturdays: 10:00-20:00;
Sundays and Holidays: 10:00-14:30.
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.
City Orientation Walk I

City Orientation Walk I

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...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 km
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
City Orientation Walk II

City Orientation 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
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
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
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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Madrid for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Madrid has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Madrid's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as iVenture Card, Madrid Flexi Attractions Pass, Madrid Unlimited Attractions Pass, Madrid City Pass and Madrid City Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Madrid's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Madrid hotels that are conveniently located: Hotel Liabeny, Petit Palace Posada del Peine, Quatro Puerta del Sol.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Madrid, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, as a guided tour typically costs from US$25 up to US$100 or more per person:

- Hop on a “hop-on hop-off” double-decker and enjoy sightseeing of Madrid from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for both).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – these usually last from 1.5 to 2.5 hours and allow you to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Madrid on a bike tour for 3 hours visiting the most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them (for 5-20 minutes) to get rest, watch the surroundings, and learn much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Satisfy your hunger for historical knowledge and culinary delights of Madrid on a walking tour with food tasting and dinner to experience the unique flavor and culture of the Spanish capital and to soak up its nightlife atmosphere.

- If your passion for food pairs with that for fast-paced choreography, then you definitely may enjoy a night of flamenco dancing at one of the most esteemed flamenco venues in the heart of Old Madrid.

- If you take a keen interest in royal matters and history, consider taking a 3-hour sightseeing and Royal Palace tour of Madrid to explore the city's most important architectural sights and Royal Palace (Palacio Real), learn about Madrid’s Moorish origins, observe its famous Habsburg and modern-day monuments, and see what has shaped the Spanish capital into what it is today.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Madrid, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Toledo, Segovia or a combo of Toledo and Aranjuez. For as little as circa US$60 to US$120 you will get a chance to discover historical highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites being picked up straight from your hotel, or any other place in Madrid, and transported either by train or a comfortable air-conditioned minivan to the destination of your choice and back again. Also, you may wish to take a chauffeur-driven tour of Madrid Wine Region visiting several wineries for a chance to learn about the region's wine making traditions and to taste a dozen of local wines. This excursion will set you back around US$140.