When you travel to such a large metropolis, with so many things to see, as is Madrid, you can feel a bit overwhelmed and not quite know where to start. However, there is no reason to feel like this because, unlike other major capitals of the world, most of the major monuments and places to visit during your trip to Madrid are in the city centre, and there is not a lot of distance between them. So here’s your list of what you absolutely must see in Madrid.
The “Golden Triangle of Art”
Madrid is a city with many interesting museums, but there are three in particular that attract the attention of the majority of tourists and visitors, three grandiose museums that are among the best in the world and that form the so-called “Golden Triangle of Art”.
The first vertex of this triangle is the Prado Museum, one of the most important art galleries in the world where we can admire, among other works, “Las Meninas” de Velázquez or “La Maja Desnuda” de Goya; In contrast, the Reina Sofia Museum is the largest museum of Spanish contemporary art, where the legendary Picasso’s “Guernica” hangs. The perfect complement for these two museums is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, located in the Villahermosa Palace, on the Paseo del Prado. In itself, this abundance of art is a compelling reason to take a trip to Madrid.
The Puerta del Sol
Without a doubt, this is one of the most emblematic spots in the Spanish capital, considered by many to be the real heart of the city. Not in vain is it that here that we can find the famous “Kilometre Zero” that marks the starting point from which all the major roads in Spain radiate out. Other famous monuments at the Puerta del Sol are the equestrian statue of Carlos III (the king who was called «the best mayor of Madrid») and the iconic statue of “El Oso y el Madroño” (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree), which appear on the city’s coat of arms. Honouring its position as a major meeting point for both locals and those visiting the city, it should be noted that Puerta del Sol also boasts a Post Office Clock, from which the New Year’s Eve chimes ring out for the whole country, in the midst of a festive atmosphere the likes of which few other cities ever see.
The Buen Retiro Park
This is another of the great wonders that you simply cannot leave off your itinerary during your visit to Madrid. Much more than a simple park, El Buen Retiro is one of the most beloved places for locals to go, and one of the city’s great attractions. It has endless groves, paths and ponds, such as the Estanque Grande (or Grand Lake), where you can enjoy a pleasant boat ride. It also houses some outstanding historic buildings, such as the Crystal Palace, as well as numerous other statues and monuments. El Retiro is the best corner of Madrid for when you need to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while, or simply take a short breather before continuing on your tour. Unmissable!
The Royal Palace and the Almudena
One of the most majestic buildings in Madrid has to be the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Spanish royal family, although their usual residence is the Palacio de la Zarzuela. This palace, built in the 18th century for the greater glory of the Spanish monarchy, blends Baroque and classical elements in its architecture. It is a huge building, comprising no less than 135,000 square metres, and contains beautiful gardens, halls and art galleries. A fascinating, essential visit. Next to the Royal Palace, on the other side of the Plaza de la Armería, is the Almudena Cathedral, the most important religious building in Madrid. Built at the end of the 19th century, its interior offers a surprising aspect, very different from that of other cathedrals. Without a doubt, a unique world monument that will make your trip to Madrid all the more worthwhile.
The Gran Vía
The most famous street in Madrid, always full of people and pulsing with life at any time of day, any time of year. Its construction at the beginning of the 20th century changed the layout of the urban nucleus of the Spanish capital forever. The Gran Vía offers visitors a wide range of leisure and entertainment prospects, with numerous cafes, restaurants and bars, shops of all kinds and popular shopping centres. But if this street is known for anything, it must be because it holds the top theatres and concert halls in Spain. So much so, that this avenue has deservedly earned itself the title of «the Broadway of Madrid».