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Salamanca Walking Tour (Self Guided), Madrid

Madrid is a vibrant metropolis made up of 21 districts. This walk brings you to and around Salamanca, one of the wealthiest and most expensive neighborhoods of the Spanish capital, home to Madrid's Golden Mile with stylish boutiques and upscale venues, and many other prominent historical and cultural attractions. To see what makes Salamanca a famous destination, take this self guided tour 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: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Plaza de Colon
  • Biblioteca Nacional
  • Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum)
  • Platea
  • Mercado de la Paz (Peace Market)
  • Lavinia (Wine Shop)
  • Calle de Serrano (Serrano Street)
  • Museo Lazaro Galdiano
1
Plaza de Colon

1) Plaza de Colon (must see)

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

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

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

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

Tip:
Check out the huge Spanish flag, the world's biggest (worth €400.000) and one of the most eye-catching features of this square.
Beside the plaza, you will find Platea (Calle Goya, 5-7), a new gastronomic site with some 20 outlets serving tapas and lots of other delicacies.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Biblioteca Nacional

2) Biblioteca Nacional

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

This wonderful public library was founded in 1712 by King Philip V who issued a decree whereby a copy of each book printed in Spain thenceforth was to be given to the library. The Crown passed ownership of the library to the government in 1836 and, in 1896, the library was opened to the public with a new reading room for 320 seats added. In 1931, the General Reading Room was opened for students and researchers.

Inside this repository, if you care, and have the time, to count them all, you will find over 26 million volumes, including 15 million books in Spanish and other languages, 30,000 manuscripts, over 500,000 maps, and 600,000 sound recordings – from the first gramophone records to MP4 – plus more than 500,000 music scores. Luckily, you don’t have to wander around looking for what you want there forever, but simply consult the librarian catalog on one of the computers in the reading room.

In 1986, the library became the Sate Repository of Spain’s Cultural Memory and, in 1990, an Autonomous Entity attached to the Ministry of Culture.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 9:30am-8pm; Sunday & holidays: 9:30-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Platea

4) Platea

If you're looking to pause on your shopping route through the Salamanca district, there's hardly a better place than Platea. Artfully transformed from the ornate Carlos III cinema in Plaza de Colón into a dynamic culinary scene, Platea offers a unique gastronomic leisure experience. Part of Madrid's Golden Mile, this food hall covers almost 6,000 square meters of space distributed in five different sections: two floors and three boxes, housing 12 restaurants, three gourmet food stores and cocktail bars.

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

A combination of spectacle and gastronomy, Platea is also a show, featuring live performances, from aerobatics to flamenco. Complete with great acoustics and a selection of best DJs in the country, this is a perfect source of entertainment and a special place you will always want to return to for a bit of fun with family and friends, or to merely take some refuge from the cold in winter or the heat in summer!
5
Mercado de la Paz (Peace Market)

5) Mercado de la Paz (Peace Market)

Despite its high-end location in Barrio de Salamanca, Mercado de la Paz (Peace Market) is rather moderate in terms of prices, and is a great place to visit in Madrid. It sits in the building designed in the late 19th century by none other than Gustave Eiffel himself, and has been a market since 1943.

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

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

There are also two very good restaurants in this market serving Spanish specialties, so why not stay for lunch and try the local chorizo, smoked with paprika and red chili peppers, or empanadas – a Cornish pasty look-alike, stuffed with tuna or sardines, tomatoes and garlic. And if you are really brave, you can order criadillas – bull’s testicles – which is another Spanish specialty!
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Lavinia (Wine Shop)

6) Lavinia (Wine Shop)

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

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 10am-9pm.
7
Calle de Serrano (Serrano Street)

7) Calle de Serrano (Serrano Street)

City-chic fashion and shoes, luxury watch and jewelry, everything (lots of) money can buy is within reach inside the fancy shops of Barrio Salamanca – if you have deep pockets, that is. But even if don't, window shopping is no crime and a nice excuse to wander around Calle de Serrano, commonly known as Madrid's Golden Mile, home to every luxury brand you can possibly think of. Cartier, Chopard, Bulgari, Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera, Prada, Gucci and the likes, not to mention Spain’s largest department store chain El Corte Inglés, have all established their presence on this 2km-long thoroughfare running through the heart of Salamanca. Originally, the street got its name after the military leader and politician, Francisco Serrano y Dominguez, who lived here in 1868.

When it comes to shopping, Calle Serrano is like The 5th Avenue of New York, The Champs Elysee of Paris, or Bond Street of London, and as such, deserves to be high on the must-visit list of every genuine shopaholic. Whether you're in Madrid for a day trip, a long weekend or a fortnight holiday, you will surely find a perfect souvenir at one of the many local high-end boutiques, albeit at the expense of maxing out your credit or debit card, mind you. So proceed with caution!

Otherwise, you can simply enjoy walking and soaking up the atmosphere without fear of getting hungry, for there is plenty of cute restaurants around, as well.
8
Museo Lazaro Galdiano

8) Museo Lazaro Galdiano

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

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

Galdiano, who died in 1947, bequeathed the house and the entire collection, featuring nearly 13,000 pieces of art, 20,000 books and manuscripts, to the city. A good quarter of it are now on display, spread over the ground and two upper stories, featuring works from the prehistoric period to the nineteenth century. The key focus is on Iberian, mainly Spanish masters, such as El Greco, Goya, Madrazo, Velazquez, Murillo and Zurbaran, plus there are some works by foreigners as well, including Reynolds, Bosch, Constable, etc. A true jewel of the collection is the superb "Young Christ" painting by Boltraffio, a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci. The paintings are interspersed with a great number of statues, ancient books and jewelry, among which are the pieces specifically acquired for the collection and Paula Florido's personal items.

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

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

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