Travel Guides Spain | Sights in Madrid

Sights in Madrid

What to do and see in Madrid?

Places to visit:

  • Teatro Real de Madrid: Plaza de Oriente. This theatre opened its doors in 1850 during the reign of Isabel II. In 1966 it was used as a concert hall until 1988 when it started being used as an opera house. In 1991 it was remodelled and equipped with all the latest technology, opening its doors once again in 1997.

  • Teatro Español: c/ del Principe, 25 (Tel: 91 429 62 97). This is Spain's oldest theatre - performances started as far back as 1583 when it was called 'Corral del Principe'. In 1802 it was totally renovated and the present building, used today, was built by Juan de Villanueva. The facade is neoclassic and the names of Spain's most important playwrights are inscribed on its walls.
  • Templo de Debod: Paseo de Pintor Rosales. Located in the Parque del Oeste. It was built in the 4th century B.C. by the Egyptians who gave it to the Spanish government for Spain's help in the excavation work in the Nubia Valley. From its location you get pretty views of the park and the city.

  • Plaza de Toros de las Ventas: c/ Alcalá, 237 (Tel: 91 356 22 00). One of Spain's most important bullrings, built in 1929 in a neomudéjar style. Its exterior consists of arches. There are also statues in honour of Antonio Bienvenida and José Cubero. The bullfighting season starts in May and lasts until October. The bullfighting museum is attached to the bullring.

  • Madrid Congreso de los Diputados: Plaza de las Cortes (Tel: 91 390 60 00). This is Spain's parliament building. It is a 19th century building - the two statues of lions at the entrance are interesting. They were made from melted down bronze from cannons captured during the African war.

  • Café Gijón: Paseo de Recoletos, 21 (Tel: 91 521 54 25). This is a cafe frequented by journalists, writers and intellectuals. Its terrace is always busy in summer. It is an old cafe whose decoration has hardly changed since it opened in 1900. It became well known for its literary discussions which took place regularly from the beginning of the 20th century until the civil war.
  • Ateneo de Madrid: c/ del Prado, 21 (Tel: 91 429 17 50). This is a private institution, formed in 1835, whose members are mostly well known writers, intellectuals and scientists. Its decor is classic and there are many pictures of famous Spanish characters hanging on its walls.

  • Casino de Madrid: c/ Alcalá, 15 where it meets the Gran Vía. Founded in 1836. It was declared a Monument of Cultural importance in 1993. It has some spectacular crystal chandeliers, antique furniture, pictures, scultpures, antique clocks...A popular place for weddings and special celebrations.

Important Streets:






  • Calle Serrano: Located in the neighbourhood called Madrid de los Borbones, Calle Serrano is one of the most elegant streets in the city. It goes from calle Alcalá hasta la plaza Ecuador, crossing the whole of Barrio de Salamanca: It has all sorts of shops from big department stores to smaller more exclusive boutiques as well as the Lázaro Galdiano museum. It crosses a number of other streets (Ortega Gasset, Jorge Juan, Hermosilla...) all of which are full of designer shops. Calle Claudio Coello runs parallel to calle Serrano and has mostly furniture and interior design shops, calle Velázquez, is also full of exclusive shops.

  • Paseo de la Castellana; Paseo de Recoletos; Paseo del Prado: pulse aquí para leer lareseña.

  • Calle Alcalá: Located in Madrid de los Borbones, in the Barrio de Salamanca. During the reign of Charles III it was considered to be one of the most beautiful and elegant streets in Europe. There are a number of emblematic buildings on this street such as The Finance Ministry, la Aduana (Customs) built by Sabatini in 1796, the Academia de San Fernando de Bellas Artes, the Casino de Madrid, the Calatravas church as well as a lot of banks.

  • Gran Vía: Located in the neighbourhood known as the Barrio de Madrid Antiguo, opened in 1910, it goes from calle de Alcalá until the Plaza de España. You can find many typically Spanish and Neoclassic buildings on this street. This is also where you can find a great number of Madrid's cinemas and theatres. It is a busy commercial street with a lot of pedestrians and traffic.

  • Calle Callao: Located in the Barrio de Madrid Antiguo. This is a commercial street which goes from la Puerta del Sol.

  • Calle de la Princesa: A commercial street located on the outskirts of the Barrio del Madrid Antiguo. You can find all sorts of shops here as well as the Corte Inglés (Spain's most famous department store) and the Palacio de Liria.

  • Calle Alfonso XII: Located in Madrid de los Borbones, in the Barrio de Salamanca. It has a number of palaces which border the Retiro Park.

Important Squares:

  • Plaza de Cibeles: Located in the neighbourhood Madrid de los Borbones. This is one of the most emblematic and pretty squares in Madrid. The Paseo de Recoletes crosses the square and then becomes the Paseo del Prado. All of the buildings surrounding the square are specatcular: the Post office Headquarters, in a gothic style built in 1905, The Bank of Spain's Headquarters in a Italian renaissance style built in 1884, the old Palace of the Marqueses de Linares, which accommodates the Casa de América (the Iberoamerican art museum); and the Buenavista Palace built in 1777. During the restructuring of the city under Charles III Ventura Rodriguez and José Hermosilla were given the task of designing the square and the sculptors Francisco Gutierrez y Roberto Michel were given the honour of creating the statue of the Diosa Cibeles.

  • Plaza Colón: Located in Madrid de los Borbones. The Paseo de la Castellana which becomes the Paseo de Recoletos cross the square. The National Library and the Archeological Museum are located on the Southern side of the square. You also have the gardens known as los Jardines del Descubrimientos and a statue of Christopher Columbus. On the other side of the square running parallel to the Paseo de la Castellana you have the Calle Serrano.

  • Plaza de la Paja: Located in the area known as el Barrio de la Latina, which is an old medieval neighbourhood. You have the San Pedro church in a Mudéjar style dating back to the 14th century, the Bishop's chapel, 14th century in a gothic-renaissance style and the Basilica San Francisco El Grande. There are a number of narrow streets which go out from the square and lead to other smaller squares and which make up the Arabic neighbourhood el barrio árabe.

  • Puerta de Alcalá; Located in Madrid de los Borbones. Neoclassic in style, built by Sabatini in 1769 under the orders of Carlos III. It consists of 3 arches and two doors decorated with military motifs. It was once one of the entrances to Madrid which was closed at night. It now overlooks the plaza de la Independencia. The calle Alcalá leads to this square and las calles de Alfonso XII, Serrano y Olózaga start form this square. It is right next to the main entrance to the Retiro Park.

  • Plaza Mayor: Located in Madrid Antiguo, not very far from the Palacio Real. This large, rectangular square with its columns and arches around the border was built by Juan Gómez de Mora and dates back to 1617. This square has been used for many public events over the years including bullfighting. At Christmas it has a very good market. In the centre of the square you can see a statue of Charles III. There are a lot of authentic, old shops around the square from bread shops to shops selling hats and decorative fans as well as a number of bars and pubs where you can enjoy some tapas and a drink. You can reach the Rastro from this square by going down the Arco de Cuchilleros.

  • Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo: Located in Madrid de los Borbones. In the centre of this square you have the Fuente de Neptuno (Neptune fountain), by Juan Pascual de Mena, under the orders of Carlos III.

  • Puerta del Sol: Located in Madrid Antiguo. This large square is right in the centre of Madrid and is the starting point for roads leaving Madrid. On one corner (calle del Carmen) you can see a sculpture of the Oso del Madroño , the symbol of Madrid. The Automomous Government of Madrid is located in a building on the square, built by Ventura Rodriguez en 1760. The streets Arenal, Mayor, Callao, Alcalá, Preciados, Montera all leave from this square. This is where Madrid celebrates the incoming of the new year and from where the 12 bell rings are broadcast to the rest of the country.

  • Plaza de España: Located in Madrid Antiguo, at the end of Gran Via and near to calle Bailén and the Palacio Real. It is the most important square in this neighbourhood and is the central point for commercial and leisure activities. It is a meeting point for people going to the theatres and cinemas in Gran Via.The calle de la Princesa, which leaves from the square and the Gran Via going towards the Puerta del Sol are also busy shopping streets. It is also an area where you can find many bars and restaurants...You can see statues of Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote and Sancho Panza in the gardens in the middle of the square.

  • Madrid Plaza de Oriente: Located in Madrid Antiguo. The Palacio Real and its gardens are in this square as well as the Campo del Moro, and the Parque de Atenas. The Teatro Real de Madrid (Madrid's Opera House) is also located here. There is also a sculpture of king Felipe IV, by the Italian sculptor Pietro Tacca.

  • Plaza de la Villa: There are 3 historically important buildings here - La Torre de los Lujanes 15th century, La Casa de Cisneros 1537 which is joined to the Ayuntamiento (townhall) by a corridor, built in 1640 by Juan Gomez de Mora. It has been added to and remodelled over time - its entrance and coat of arms are baroque from 1670 (Teodoro Ardemans) and the neoclassic colonnade is by Juan de Villanueva.

  • Plaza de Callao: Located in Madrid Antiguo. This is a very well known square which is on the Gran Via and connects to the Puerta del Sol through calle Preciados and calle del Carmen; and also la Plaza Santo Domingo.

Important neighbourhoods:

  • Barrio del Madrid Antiguo: also known as Madrid de los Austrias, , because it was built during the Austrias dynasty in an attempt to escape from medieval, Muslim Madrid where the Royal palace had been previously located. Noblemen followed by building their palaces around the new Royal palace. The Plaza Mayor, the Plaza de la Villa, the Puerta del Sol, the Plaza de Oriente and the rest of the neighbourhood were built in the 17th century. The Teatro Real, the Catedral de la Almudena, the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, the Monasterio de la Encarnación, the Collegiate church de San Isidro, the Iglesia de San Nicolás and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes are also located in this neighbourhood.
  • Madrid Madrid de los Borbones: also known as Barrio de Salamanca. In the 16th century there was only one palace built by Felipe IV and of which only the gardens remain (the present day Retiro Park). King Charles III took it upon himself to rebuild and develop this area of Madrid. He built the Retiro Park, the Paseo del Prado with its large squares, fountains and elegant buildings. In this neighbourhood there are some of Madrid's most important streets such as calle Alcalá, Serrano, Goya, Lagasca, Velázquez, Paseo Castellana, Paseo de Prado, Plazas de Cibeles, Colón, Puerta de Alcalá and Cánovas del Castillo, as well as Madrid's most well known museums and galleries.
  • Barrio de Malasaña: Near the calle Fuencarral, calle San Andrés and the Plaza Dos de Mayo. This area has become a very fashionable and lively place to go out for an evening meal or a few drinks for Madrid's young people, also popular with Madrid's gay community.
  • Barrio de la Latina and the Barrio de Lavapiés: These are two of the most authentic and oldest neighbourhoods in Madrid consisting of narrow, winding, steep streets with old arabic style houses which were once part of the arabic neighbourhood in Madrid. Some things to look out for are La Puerta del Moro which was the entrance to the arabic neighbourood; the Basílica de San Francisco El Grande, located on the Carrera de San Francisco, the Plaza de la Paja, where the Iglesia de San Pedro (14th century) can be found, also the Bishop's chapel la Capilla del Obispo (16th century Gothic-renaissance style). The famous second hand market El Rastro is also in this neighbourhood, you can reach it by going from the Plaza Mayor along the calle Cuchilleros. There are also a number of well known restaurants: Casa Botín, Casa Lucio...


Leisure Parks other attractions:

  • Zoo-Acuarius: Located in the Casa de Campo, on the road to Extremadura. (tel: 91 512 37 70). It consists of 20 hectares. It has a dolphin pool, an aviary, wild animal enclosures (lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, monkeys etc) a reptile house, an aquarium and more. In total: approx 250 different species of animals.
  • Planetario: Located in the Parque Tierno Galván (Tel: 91 467 34 61). It has everything related to the cosmos including an observatory, astronomy room and planetarium.
  • Faunia: Avenida de las Comunidades, 28 (Tel: 91 301 62 10) on the road to Valencia, Km. 6. This is theme a park with animals, where each animal is shown in their natural habitat.
  • Leisure Parks: Located in the Casa de Campo, on the road to Extremadura. (Tel: 91 463 29 00). It has lots of rides to go on and about 30 restaurants all with different types of food.
  • Warner Bros Park: 30 kms from Madrid, on the N-IV, Km 22 in San Martín de la Vega. (Tel: 91 821 12 34). It consists of 25 hectares. It is a theme park wit 25 different rides to go on. You aren't allowed to take your own food but there are a lot of restaurants to choose from.
  • Madrid Xanadú Park : In Arroyomolinos, on the N-V, Km 23. This is a pleasure park with 18,000 m2 of artificial ski slopes, a covered go-kart area, cinemas, shops and restaurants.

Shopping in Madrid:

  • The best markets: El Rastro, a second hand market. Located in the Barrio de la Latina. You can find virtually everything in this market from antiques and ornaments to clothes and antique furniture...near the plaza del Cascorro you can find stalls selling accessories and handmade jewellery; The Plaza Mayor Sunday market: On Sunday mornings there is a market selling stamps, coins, antique train sets, second hand books and comics...
  • Fashion: the best fashion shops are located mainly in the Barrio de Salamanca in calles Serrano, Ortega y Gasset, Jorge Juan, Goya, Claudio Coello, Lagasca, ...Although there are hundreds of small boutiques all over Madrid which sell the latest fashions, some of the best are in calle Preciados, la calle Almirante, la Gran Vía, the Arguelles area...Madrid also has some large department stores and shopping centres:El Corte Inglés, el Centro ABC, la Galería del Prado, el Jardín de Serrano, the Vaguada shopping centre, el Centro de Arturo Soria, el Centro de la Moraleja (on the road to Burgos approx 10 kms from the centre of Madrid), ... For the latest fashions at very reasonable prices look out for national chains such as: Zara, Mango, Cortefiel, Beruska, Stradivarius, Woman's Secret, Sphera, Punto Roma, Sprinfield, Máximo Dutty,...
  • The best areas to look for antiques and art are around the following streets: Claudio Coello, Serrano, Prado, Huertas and the Rastro market.
  • Interior design and furniture shops: Try the following chains: La Oca, Bo Concept, La Casa, Domus, la Mueblería, Muebles La Fábrica, La Fáctoría, Roche Boubois.
  • Delicatessens: Try the following for great cheese, meat, wine, cakes and pastries and ready made meals: Semón, Bait, Mallorca, Embassy, Mariano Madrueño, Horno de San Onofre, Mantequerías Leonesas,

For smaller independant shops selling everything from religious art to decorative fans go to the areas around the Plaza Mayor, Arcos de Cuchilleros, Barrio de Lavapiés, Huertas..


Travelling to Madrid? The following links may also be useful
Guides provinces bordering with Madrid and beautiful places in Spain nearby
Travel guides to Spain Travel guides to Spain
Guide to Alicante Guide to Almeria
Guide to Avila Guide to Barcelona
Guide to Caceres Guide to Castellon
Guide to Cuenca Guide to Girona
Guide to Guipuzcoa Guide to Lerida
Guide to Murcia Guide to Tarragona
Guide to Valencia Guide to Zamora
Búsqueda personalizada
comments powered by Disqus
Compartir en Facebook