What to Do and What to See in Madrid

There are so many things to see in Madrid. Here is a list of things not to be missed. It can be visited in this order to optimize your time.


What better place to spend a holiday, in the city of Madrid, the Spanish Capital in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Spanish capital covers an area of 605 square km.,with an altitude of no less than 605 meters above sea level.

Madrid is the most elevated Capital in Europe.

As well as being rich in tourist structures, the metropolitan area of Madrid is formed by a complex network of transport that involves 23 municipalities, among which are:

Madrid is famous throughout the world for its great art and cultural traditions and with its five million inhabitants it is definitely the hub of nightlife.

The city of Madrid is in fact characterized by nights filled with entertainment that light up the narrow streets of the historic center.

The magnificent exhibition spaces of the Paseo del Prado contribute to further enrich the tourist sites, only to attract thousands of tourists from around the world.

From the historical point of view, the Spanish capital began to develop under the reign of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile in the late1400’s and early 1500’s.

But it was Frederick II, who made it the capital of the empire.

The day of splendor began with Philip IV and with the growth of the Baroque figurative that had among its best performers Diego Velazquez, a painter of undoubted talent and fame.

Then it was with the accession to the throne of Juan Carlos de Borbón that the city of Madrid recorded major changes and favorable news.

If you’re Irish, you can take the ferry from Ireland to Spain and then continue by train!

There are so many things to see in Madrid.

Here is a list of things not to be missed, it can be visited in this order to optimize and well manage your time.

Museum of Prado

Museo del Prado

La Calle (street) of Felipe IV, which is located in an area that was known as “Prado Viejo” “or” Prado de los Jeronimos”( Meadow of Geronimi ) because these friars,who resided in the Monastery of Santa Maria del Paso located on the shore of Manzanares River, had moved into this place in 1503 for the intercession of Queen Isabella the Catholic.

Those who love art and decide to visit Madrid even for a weekend, absolutely can not skip a single step within the city: we are talking about the Prado Museum which is one of the largest art galleries in the world.

Inside are jealously guarded, the works of Italian artists, Spanish and Flemish, by Sandro Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rubens, Goya and many others.

In the Spanish language Prado means meadow, a name chosen for the museum because it reminded us of a famous tree-lined promenade known by the citizens as the Paseo del Prado, a place where the people of Madrid pass their leisure time.

The building in which represents the Prado Museum, was built by Charles III in collaboration with the architect Juan de Vukkabyeva. At first, the structure was used for military purposes, which was then to to be completely destroyed with the arrival of the war of independence.

The first exhibition of Pablo Cervetto was established in November of 1819, which was able to showcase some of his best works belonging to the Spanish Royal Collection.

Nowadays the Prado of Museum covers 3 halls with exhibitions with 311 paintings.

The building consists of a main building, flanked by tunnels ending in elongated square canopies with its interior that is round.

Inside the Museo del Prado there is a painting of the, The Glory of Titian, which was picture specially painted for Carlos V.

Other paintings particulary famous are the ones’ of Retrato de la reina Margarita, which was created by Gonzalez, portraying the Queen in triumph along with the two most famous jewels of the entire collection, just as valuable as the diamond of Estanque which is famous in the entire Madrid .

The major works are those of Giovanni Bellini with the ” Madonna with the Child between Saints “and the painting of Dante and Goliath painted by Caravaggio.

Around the monastery, King Felipe IV built the Palace of the Good Retirement, today remaining standing only the “Casona ” that was from the Dance Studio.

The Kings’ Studio was the Museum of the Army and also part of his Gardens, today called the Parco del Retireo.

Carlos III restructured this area and created the Salone del Prado with the fountains of Cibeles, Neptune and the Four Seasons of Apollo and the buildings that today are home to the Prado Museum and the Royal Botanical Garden.

The cultural offer is completed with the Thyssen -Bornemisza Museum National Center of Art Reina Sofia, decorative arts and CaixaForum.

Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcalà

This is the Independence Square Port of Alcala, called so because it was on the way that led to Alcala of Henares.

It was designed by Sabatini in 1788, the city of Madrid was surrounded by a large fence that had a double purpose.

One part was to be able to control that all the products that were introduced in the city would pay correspondent taxes and the other reason was for health purposes in the face of epidemics.

As for the rest of the remains found was a fence made of flint, limestone and bricks where there was a series of doors and passages built.

The first used to close at ten o’clock at night in winter and at eleven in summer, although in all of them there was always a guardhouse.

The steps opened at sunrise and closed at sunset. The fence was demolished in 1868, however, some of the doors remained and were given their monumental character name.

Plaza de Colón

Plaza Colon

The Plaza Colón reunites the Paseo Recoletos, the Castilian and streets of Genoa and Goya.

In the center, stands the monument of the statue of Christopher Columbus: the statue of Geronimo Sunol on the pedestal of Arturo Mélida.

On one side of the square you will find the gardens of Discovery, with some huge sculptures with inscriptions alluding to the Discovery of the Art Centre Theatre, Fernan Gomez.

At the end of the Paseo de Recoletos, you will find the National Library and already in the Paseo de la Castilian, the Towers of Columbus.

Teatro Real

Teatro Real

The Royal Theatre was built on land that occupied the Theatre of LosCanos del Peral which was demolished in 1817.

It was designed as a function of the Reform of the square of the East and was what motivated the irregular hexagon shape.

The project is due to Antonio Lopez Aguado who began the work in 1818. At his death, he took charge of the same guard, Teodoro Moreno.

The East facade of the square is executed according to the designs made by Gonzales Isidro Velazquez.

In 1997, Jose Manuel Gonzalez and Francisco Rodriguez Varcárcel Partearroyo rehabilitated the Theatre, transforming it into a modern opera house that opened its doors again on the 11th of October 1997 with a gala function chaired by the monarchs of Spain and accompanied by the Prince of Asturias by the Infant Donna Elena.

It represented two works of Manuel de Falla : “The Three-Cornered Hat” and “The short life”.

Palacio Real

Palacio Real

On Christmas Eve of 1734, the fortress of Madrid burnt down and once the fire was put out, King Felipe V ordered its reconstruction, therefore in 1735, he invited the architect Filippo Juvarra to Spain but an unexpected disease ended his life in March of 1736, having given only time to draw up the plans. Therefore, his disciple, Sacchetti continued with the project.

The works began in 1738 and finished when Francesco Sabatini took charge of the building and its decoration.

The first king that was invited to live in the new Royal Palace was Carlos III in 1764. Since then and until Alfonso XIII, all the kings of Spain lived there.

King Juan Carlos I used it for official acts however, his residence is in the Palace of the Zarzuela.

Even Manuel Azana, President of the Second Republic made his residence here, now known as the National Palace.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Was rebuilt by Felipe II when it was established by the Court in Madrid and designed by Juan Herrera.

The first building that was constructed was the Bread House, the main ovens of the town.

After several transformations and reforms passed in the hands of the City of Madrid, at the end of the
19th century it now houses the Plaza Mayor Tourism Centre.

In front, there is another building now part of the City which was the House of Butcher from where it was the warehouse that supplied all the meat markets if the city.

Puerta del Sol

Porta del Sol

The square of Puerta del Sol is considered the center of the city of Madrid and even of the entire Spain because this point is at 0 km, the point from which the main streets of Spain begin.

In this square there is also the Royal House of the Mail that today is the seat of the Presidency Community of Madrid.

Without any doubt, the most well-known element of this building is its famous clock whose chimes of bells announce the end the year which was a gift from the famous watchmaker Losada offered to the City Hall of Madrid.

Also in the ascent to the Calle di Alcala, we can see the statue of the bear and the Arbutus, the emblem which is part of the city shield.

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