Madrid Things To Do
The focus of busy Madrid life, the historic Plaza Mayor is the main square in the city, and has been the site of bullfights, public executions, coronations and religious celebrations since the 17th century. Flanked by pavement cafes, tapas bars and shops, this square is the main meeting point for most locals, and a must-see for visitors.
The Prado Museum, the Thyssen Museum and the Reina Sofia Arts Centre are home to some of the most astonishing art collections in Europe. The vast Prado has many of the most famous paintings by Velasquez, El Greco and Goya, and incredible works by Hieronymus Bosch. The Thyssen is much broader in scope, offering a very enjoyable mix, while the Reina Sofia hosts cutting-edge contemporary exhibitions. The three galleries are within easy walking distance of each other.
The Prado Museum
The most popular attraction in Madrid, the Prado houses the most prestigious collection of Spanish art in the world, featuring works dating from the 12th century up to the mid 1800's. Welcoming more than 3 million visitors each year, the museum offers plenty to keep all the family interested, with free admission after 5pm.
The Royal Palace
The royal residence of King Juan Carlos, this opulent palace boasts a lavish interior and an equally captivating exterior. Mainly used for state functions, much of the palace is open to the public today, and there are guided tours taking in the priceless tapestries, velvet walls and impressive artwork, as well as grand courtyards, fountains and secluded woodlands, which offer lovely rural views.
The commercial heart of the city, Gran Via is filled with large flagship shops and department stores, and is home to some of the capital's most majestic buildings. Encompassing art nouveau, Romanesque and art deco styles, the street is a delight to stroll along, and ideal for window-shopping and browsing.
The most famous bullring in Spain, the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas is a huge arena accommodating 25,000 spectators, and is worth a visit for its design features alone. You can soak up the real flavour of urban Spanish life, and find out about the history and the significance of the sport in the nation.
Puerta del Sol
Another main city square, Puerto del Sol is well-placed for many of the capitals's major attractions and is the area's main entertainment centre. The most impressive sight is the famous 18th century clock tower, and the square is also famous for the '0km' mark, from which all highways originate.
Madrid's main park, Retiro Park is a green oasis in the centre of the city, and an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of town. A former Royal retreat, the park is a haven for relaxation, sports, festivals and still has a regal ambience in the formal gardens and stately palaces, and a tranquil feel thanks to the shady wooded areas and secluded orchards and lakes.
One of the largest Catholic churches in Spain, the city Cathedral is the main place of worship, and has an almost celestial quality. The Gothic church with 13 chapels has an interesting mix of architectural styles, from modernist windows to medieval statues and pop art paintings.
Templo de Debod
This unique attraction features an Egyptian temple, set in the lush gardens of the Parque del Ouest. Dating back to the 4th century BC, the temple was shipped from the Nile to Spain in 1972 and rebuilt brick by brick. An impressive sight by night, the temple is illuminated and a popular place to enjoy the sunset.