This city is the perfect mixture of a typical old-hearted European city with a modern fresh juvenile spirit.
“Damn city it’s not your best time and you are still beautiful… I have to confess that I’ve missed you… I grab the guitar and sing for you… how good to be home… I returned to Madrid”. These were the words sang by Ismael Serrano in his song “Vuelvo a Madrid”, an anthem that reflects the strong attachment the singer has towards this city.
Surely he is not the only one that fell for Madrid’s beauty. This city is the perfect mixture of a typical old-hearted European city with a modern fresh juvenile spirit, perfect for people who are seeking for sun, marvelous art galleries, large open lush gardens and the most traditional tapas bar for the most authentic Spanish experience.
It impossible to compare Madrid’s vibe to any other European city. The centre of the city pulses with vivid boutiques, delis, cafes and gastro bars, surrounded by the most iconic historical monuments and museums, positioning Madrid in the top rankings of the most visited cities in Europe.
Madrid is scattered with an enormous variety of different colourful neighbours, which all of them should be visited in order to enjoy this experience to the fullest. Despite this, I recommend to absolutely include in your priority list these 5 top iconic places you must experience:
Built during King Philipp III’s reign (1598-1621), Plaza Mayor is situated in the heart of the capital. Currently populated by a variety of bars and restaurants, Plaza Mayor once was used to host different public events such as bullfights, theatre performance, festivals, trials and also inquisitions trials. Surrounding the square you can admire a three-story residential building with 237 unique balconies directly facing the Plaza, making it one of the most unique architectural sites in all the city.
Museo del Prado
Founded in 1819, Museo del Prado currently holds the reputation to be one of the best museums in the world and one of the most visited. It holds one of the finest collections of European art, dating back form the 12th century until the 20th century, which includes nearly 27.000 total works, leaded by more than 900 sculptures and more than 8.000 paintings, even though for space limitations, only 900 of them are exposed. In the museum we can find invaluable collections from painters such as Francisco de Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez. A real sanctuary of classic and contemporary art.
Parque del Retiro
With an area of 125 hectares and more than 15.000 trees, Parque del Retiro holds the reputation to be the lung of Madrid. Its innumerable amount of gardens makes Retiro a perfect destination for locals and tourists to rest or to carry out physical activities. The small lake in the heart of the park gives the option of renting for a certain period of time a small rowing boat for a cheap price, giving the possibility of a more romantic experience, especially for couples. Retiro is also house to incredible buildings, sculptures and especially fountains which gives the perfect touch of a perfect open air historic location.
Palacio Real (The Royal Palace)
Official royal mansion from King Carlos III to Alfonso XIII, The Royal Palace is most probably the strongest proof of the enormous value of the Spanish monarchy history and culture. Even though if currently the monarchy doesn’t reside in the palace, it still belongs to them. Nowadays its use is only limited to state ceremonies, but it also functions as a museum open to the public for a small entrance fee. Once inside you have the privilege to visit the extended 135.000 meters’ square area, enclosing more than 3.000 rooms where you can admire in which way Spanish monarchs use to live their everyday life.
Gran Via is currently the most important street in the entire city. If you are looking for a weekend dedicated to shopping, then this is the right place. Many of the buildings are currently being restored as shopping centres by the most iconic brands in the fashion world. We can find brands such as H&M, Primark, Zara, Cortefiel, Mango and many others. Also, Gran Via is known as to be the Spanish Broadway, enclosing one of the most varied nightlife in Europe. It is indeed, the street that never sleeps.
These top 5 iconic places are the proof of the amazing variety of features this city has to offer. Even though in my opinion these are the top places everyone should visit in their stay in Madrid, I recommend to everyone to buy a guide and spend some times in reading it. I can assure that there are many more treasures to explore and visit in this iconic European capital.