Salamanca Walking Tour (Self Guided), Madrid

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 or 2.1 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Plaza de Colon
  • Biblioteca Nacional
  • Centro Cultural de la Villa
  • Museo Arqueologico Nacional
  • Mercado de la Paz
  • Lavinia
  • Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre
  • Museo Sorolla
  • National Museum of Natural Sciences
1
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.

Tip:
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
2
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
3
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.
4
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.

Tip:
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
5
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

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.
7
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
8
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).

Tip:
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
9
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

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