Spain is full of remarkable architectural sites that will inspire any student of design and architecture. From Roman ruins to edgy modern design - Spain has it all. So it’s only fitting that the capital, Madrid, is one of the best places in the country to witness this fusion of old and new.

We all know that the Iberian Peninsula boasts a wealth of architectural gems from ancient aqueducts to sleek skyscrapers – with everything in between. With such a rich and varied source of architecture inspiration on our doorstep, why confine ourselves to the classroom? At IE University’s School of Architecture and Design, learning happens in the real world.

Located only a short train ride away from the Spanish capital, IEU students have the opportunity to study world-renowned architectural landmarks up close and personal.

Have a look at what we think are the top five architectural sites in Madrid that will help inspire that next design:

1. CaixaForum Madrid Museum

This spectacular structure is a textbook example of innovation.  Situated on El Paseo del Prado, alongside Madrid’s most iconic museums, the CaixaForum Museum is famous for its avant-garde vertical garden: an adjacent wall transformed into an urban green-space made up of 15,000 plants. But don’t let the modern exterior fool you. Inside, this extraordinary building is a cultural spacehome to everything from Greek mythology to music festivals.

Herzog & Meuronthe firm responsible for the museum’s design—mastered four areas of expertise: spatial, physical, experiential and sensorial. At IEU, these areas of design are at the core of our curriculum. With this in mind, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in unique case-studies in a city bursting with cutting-edge talent and historical influences. Our mission is to equip you with the tools to innovate the design trends of tomorrow.

CaixaForum Madrid

2. Cuatro Torres Business Area

Located along Madrid’s famous Paseo de la Castellana, the Cuatro Torres Business Area serves as a stunning example of the city’s modern architecture. Spain’s second tallest building, Torre Cespa, introduced a “hi-tech” style to an old city. The futuristic design is iconic of its architect, Norman Foster, who went on to found Foster + Partners: one of the world’s most innovative international design studios.  

Situated only a short train-ride away, at IE School of Architecture and Design, we encourage students to emulate the award-winning design studios behind these famous landmarks. In our undergraduate and master’s programs students will discover what it’s like to be on a design team, and unlock the skills they need to thrive in the post-grad workforce.

Madrid Cuatro Torres Business Area

3. Parque del Buen Retiro

Madrid’s Buen Retiro Park is one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions—and it’s not exactly hard to see why! Scattered throughout the 350 acres of lush, breath-taking greenery are masterpieces of 19th century design. First opened to the public in 1887, the park has many focal points for architecture enthusiasts, with the most popular of them all being the famous Palacio de Cristal.

This beautiful structure, made entirely of glass, was first used to display different species of flowers indigenous to the Philippines in the 1800’s. Now, it’s used as a cultural venue, home to free modern art exhibits. Block off a Saturday morning to stroll around and admire all the historic constructions, notebook in hand – and an ice cream to boot!

Parque del Retiro

4. Plaza Mayor

The beauty of Madrid lies in its eclectic mix of century-sweeping designs, all of which revolve around its architectural heart: La Plaza Mayor. This well-loved meeting place still buzzes with the same energy it did when it was constructed in 1617. Famous for its distinctive Herrerian-style architecture, La Plaza is enclosed by slate spires and wrought-iron balconies.  

17th century frescoes overlook a space that was once used for public execution under the rule of King Philip III. Nowadays, IE  students often fill the square, taking in the details of the design between mouthfuls of a delicious bocadillo de calamares.

5. Plaza de Toros de las Ventas

Madrid allows us to explore architectural styles from all over the world without ever having to leave the city. This iconic bullring was constructed in the Neo-Mudéjar style which draws from North African influences. Tourists fly in from around the world just to witness this stunning fusion of old and new.

Guided tours of the Plaza de Toros are available daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, so grab your notebook and prepare to be inspired!

IE’s Architecture and Design programs equip students with the tools needed to analyze the world around them and innovate solutions, building the cities of tomorrow. To learn more about our programs, don’t hesitate to get in touch!