Destination Spain: Why Not Choose… Madrid?
Come and explore Madrid, a cosmopolitan city that harmoniously blends ultra-modern infrastructures with its immense cultural and artistic heritage, bestowed by several centuries of captivating history. Welcome to one of the most joyful and welcoming cities in the world!
Fascinating Discoveries All Around the City
Start your exploration of Madrid at kilometre zero and the traditional main meeting point: the Puerta del Sol or more precisely its endearing Oso (bear). In the heart of the city, this sunny and cheerful esplanade connects to all the main areas in the centre. Stop to indulge your taste buds at the Chocolatería San Ginés and savour a cup of the smoothest hot chocolate, served with delicious churros!
Now, immerse yourself in the city's history by heading for Plaza Mayor, to marvel at its arcades, its ochre façades decorated with forged iron, and its frescoes. Just a short walk away, the Palacio Real, official residence of the Kings of Spain, awaits your visit.
Next on your list is a trip to see Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza on Plaza de España. This monument pays tribute to Cervantes. On either side of the square, the Torre de Madrid and the Edificio España form one of the most interesting architectural ensembles in the capital.
Don't hesitate to stop for caña y tapa (beer and tapas), to give you energy for the rest of your programme: next, you'll be walking down the city's biggest avenue, the Gran Vía. On the way, make time to check out the adjoining streets, particularly the Calle Fuencarral, which is full of shops, each more enticing than the last. Make the most of this little detour to discover Chueca, Madrid's gay neighbourhood, where all kinds and people and all generations mix!
You will soon find yourself on Plaza de Cibeles. With its splendid fountain and its Communication Palace, it is one of the most beautiful squares in the city.
Next, walk along the Paseo del Prado to the Prado Museum, which is absolutely not to be missed. Not far from here are other equally magnificent museums: the Reina Sofía Museum and the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum.
For a memorable night out, head for the Huertas neighbourhood, which is famous for its night-life. There are plenty of pubs and nightclubs on Calle Huertas, Calle de la Cruz and the Plaza de Santa Ana. For a fiesta you'll never forget!
Top 10 Must-Sees
The Puerta del Sol: the central, lively Puerta del Sol is one of the emblems of Madrid. Its semicircular shape is the point where the historical streets converge, and it is one of the most frequented places in the city. It combines several of the elements most representative of Madrid, including the Casa de Correos clock, and the statue of the Bear and the Arbutus: the symbols of the city.
The Plaza Mayor: this square surrounded by arcades is the heart of Madrid de los Austrias , a historical neighbourhood of the city, and one of the most charming areas. In particular, it contains the Casa de la Panadería, an important monument built at the end of the 16th century. Its façade is composed of frescoes telling the story of the Plaza Mayor. Today, it is home to the Madrid tourist information office.
The Palacio Real: the residence of the Spanish kings from Charles III to Alfonso XIII, the Royal Palace of Madrid is open to all those who wish to step back into Spain's past. Although the current monarchs do not live there, the building is the official residence of the Kings of Spain. After your visit, linger for a moment on the magnificent Plaza de Oriente and enjoy its gardens.
The Gran Via: this must-see avenue is one of Madrid's main streets. Built between 1910 and 1931, it marked the beginning of the modernisation of the capital, with the construction of the country's first skyscrapers. The result is a magnificent collection of buildings, including the famous Metrópolis, the Telefónica building, the Casino Militar, the Capitol building and the Callao Cinema.
Chueca: as well as being one of the most cosmopolitan neighbourhoods of Madrid, Chueca is even more buzzing by night than it is in the day. Bistros, cafés offering many musical styles, avant-garde cocktail bars and even a few cabarets with transvestite shows promise fun for all. Every day of the week, without exception, you're guaranteed a party until dawn in this neighbourhood which welcomes everyone, young or old!
The Plaza de Cibeles: one of Madrid's most famous and most spectacular squares. In the centre of the square, the Cibeles fountain features Cybele, goddess of nature and protector of the people. It is a true symbol of Madrid. The Communication Palace, currently home to the Municipal Council of Madrid, is an architectural wonder.
The Prado Museum: this museum has the most complete collection of Spanish paintings in the world. Here, you can admire Velázquez's "Meninas" our Goya's "Fusilamientos del tres de mayo", as well as masterpieces from the Spanish, Italian, French and Flemish schools: Rembrandt, Bosch, Rubens, Poussin, Titien, Raphaël, Murillo, Van Dyck, Botticelli, etc.
Retiro Park: 125 hectares and over 15,000 trees forming a true green oasis in the heart of Madrid. It is not only one of the green lungs of the city, but also a culture, leisure and sports destination for both locals and visitors. Take a boat trip, visit the Crystal Palace, or simply admire the many remarkable statues and Fountains in this huge park.
El Rastro: always packed with locals and tourists, this is the place to be for visitors on Sundays and public holidays. You will find all kinds of items there, including artisan crafts, clothes and accessories, second-hand journals, pets and objects new and old.
The Plaza del Dos de Mayo: the picturesque Plaza del Dos de Mayo is the absolute heart of the Malasaña neighbourhood. Its name evokes the revolts of 2 May 1808, when the people of Madrid rebelled against Napoleon's occupying troops. Dotted with bars and cafés offering outdoor terraces, at aperitif, lunch or dinner time, it spills over with young people and families.
Specialities for All Hours
At any point in the day, you can treat yourself to cañas y tapas (beers and tapas). However, for a real meal, you absolutely must try tortilla de patata, or another speciality of Madrid, cocido madrileño, a chickpea stew with meat and vegetables.
At dawn, what could be better than dipping churros in a smooth hot chocolate to get over a night of partying? And if you fancy an indulgent snack, the famous Mallorquina patisserie offers an exceptional choice of home-made cakes and turrón.
Restaurants, taverns, bars and gastro-bars, food shops and delicatessens offer tastings or mouthwatering culinary treats.
May-June: Feria de San Isidro
Every year, Madrid remembers its patron saint, Isidore, with an explosion of music and colour. For several weeks, there are ferias and festivities: bull-runs, horseback corridas, shows, concerts, dances and more.
June: Fiesta de San Juan
In Spain, St John's Eve is still very popular, celebrating the longest day of the year and the summer solstice. With Christian, pagan and Iberian roots, it is celebrated in all countries, particularly with bonfires.
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