Madrid is known for its culture and a city which is full of life. It is the most artistic city in Europe with the best art museums on the continent. The museums have masterwork pieces of the renaissance and 20th century period. These pieces of art will captivate you.
Madrid is a city with enthralling historic sights. Here you will get to know the amazing background of the Spanish Empire that ruled during the 16th and 17th century. There are many other things that will make your trip to Madrid memorable. Relaxing in the café con leche in a stately square, drinking at the rooftop bar, or just wandering through the Retiro or Casa de Campo on bright sunny day, are few things to do here. Below is a list of best things to do in Madrid to explore the city.
The Prado is among the best and the most popular art museum in the world. It has an overwhelming collection of masterpieces made by renaissance and baroque masters. Velazquez and El Greco represent Spain in their work. Rembrandt, Brueghel, Van Dyck, and Rubens’s art depict the low countries. Titian, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Tintoretto’s work form the Italian contingent.
There are many wonders of art in Madrid but the two most beautiful things which you cannot miss while visiting the place are Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and David with Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. At Prado, you will see the work of Spanish Romantic Goya the most. There are 14 Black Paintings of this artist which show the Spanish cultural reference point.
Retiro Park is Madrid’s green heart and is full of elegant gardens. The park is few steps east from the Prado. Till the 19th century, the Retiro Park was a royal property and then eventually, it was opened to the public for their visit. Many of the original features have been restored which makes this place a remarkable place to visit as a sightseer. This is an incredible place to relax in a quiet spot. You can also see some impressive statues and monuments unexpectedly which makes this park even more wonderful.
If you are visiting the park with children, then paddle on the Grand Pond which is next to the monument of Alfonso XII. On a sunny afternoon, it is a fun option to spend some time paddling. In 1887, iron and glass pavilion were built to house the Philippine Exhibition. It is a magnificent structure. In front of this building there is a pond where bald cypresses and strange swamp trees grow that turn lovely golden during summer. Few steps away from the park, you will find the oldest tree in the city, Montezuma Cypress. It was planted in 1633 and is ringed by an iron fence.
Royal Palace was built in mid 1700s for King Philip V. It was built on the site of Madrid’s Moorish Alcazar fortress palace which was burned down in 1734. In the western Europe, Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest. The palace has the blend of baroque and neoclassical styles. To have a great experience and to explore the palace, you must go inside as the royal collections and frescoes are magnificent.
The palace has works of great artist like Goya, Caravaggio, and Velazquez. Watches, tapestries, porcelain, and silver in the display are stunning. The only string quartet of Stradivarius instrument in the world is displayed here. You can also see the Royal Armoury including the personal weapons which was used by Charles V in the 16th century.
Whether you are in favor of a club or not, one truth that remains is that Real Madrid are Europe’s most successful football team and have a record-breaking 11 European Cups to their name. So, a football fan should consider this gargantuan 85000-seater stadium as a pilgrimage because history was created here in this stadium many times down the seasons.
A tour of the stadium will include the panoramic views of the stadium, visiting the dressing room, the dugouts, and all sorts of interesting bits including the trophy collection, press room, and presidential box.
Visiting the National Archaeological Museum will give you a glimpse of Spain’s rich history. The museum has invaluable pieces gathered from across Spain. The wealth of magnificent items from the Roman Empire is the surprising factor of the museum. There are few Iberian treasures and sculptures which are 2500 years old but still look new. This museum was founded by Isabel II of Spain in 1867 to preserve the past of the country. The Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports spent 65 million euros on its renovation between 2008 and 2014.
The headdress and coils over the ears of Lady of Elche is incredibly detailed. Another impressive piece of art is the Treasure of Guarrazar, a Visigothic srt of crosses and votive crowns, which dates back to the 600s. Few of the other famous objects on display includes the Mausoleum of Pozo Moro, the Lady of Baza, the six crowns that make up the Treasure of Guarrazar, the Staue of Livia, the Harsomtus-Em-Hat Statue, and the Estela de Nebsumenu.
Pureta Del Sol is a grand square which is next to the Casa de Correos. It is a popular meeting place and is suffused with the meaning for both city and country. It is from this place that he five most historic routes of the country originated. They stretch to all corners of the country. Pureta del Sol is the heart of Madrid where every national celebration takes place. Madrid’s emblem, the statue of a bear and Madrono Tree, lie within the Puerta del Sol.
The clock at the top of the Casa de Correos is recognizable by almost every Spanish person. On the eve of New Year, this clock is televised during countdown. People of Madrid believe in this tricky ritual of eating a grape with every chime for good luck. There is a statue of El Oso y El Madrono in the square which is a symbol for Madrid since the Middle Ages.
A superb way to start exploring the city of Madrid is through a walk along the Gran Via. It is a buzzing avenue and one of Madrid’s entertainment and cultural centers. There are many shopping centers too to shop from. The place is full of life until dawn. During the day, Gran Via is filled with shoppers shopping at malls, high-street stores like H&M and Zara and other luxury boutiques.
In the evenings, many couples can be seen walking arm-in-arm and visiting the box office or a musical show. At night, the street pulses with many of Madrid’s top nightclubs. Other remarkable thing in this street includes the vast Telefonia Building. It was built in 1928 and is an early example of a skyscraper.
Plaza Mayor should be on the top of your list of the places to visit in Madrid. It was built in early 1600s during the reign of Philip III and is a handsome renaissance square. At the center of the square is a bronze statue of Philip III on a horse. This statue was placed in 1848 and is 400-year-old. It was during his reign when the Spanish Empire was at its height. It is completely sequestered by historic three-story high residential buildings. The square has nine entrance gates and within the porches which are at the bottom of the buildings are several cafes.
The coffee at these cafes is quite overpriced because of the location but you can order a cup at an outdoor table and enjoy watching people living the city life at Madrid. Plaza Mayor is famous among the tourists for shopping, walking around, eating, and enjoying in the outdoor. There are many multitudinous events which takes place here. Many bullfights and soccer games have been hosted here. Every Sunday, Plaza Mayor hosts stamp collection and coin collection market in the mornings.
Few steps away from the Plaza Mayor is a gorgeous art nouveau marketplace called Mercado San Miguel. It was built during 1916. It is a gastronomic destination to purchase what Spain has best to offer like cava, pimento, and saffron. A bit of fresh produce is also sold here in the few grocery stalls. There are many tapas bars here which serve all the favorites like patatas bravas, gambas al ajillo, and boquerones with a fresh glass of beer, rioja, or vermouth.
If you wish to shop food like a real Madrileno, then head towards the vast Mercado de Maravillas in Cuatro Caminos. This market in Europe’s largest municipal market with around 200 stalls.
On Sundays, the entire city flocks on the Ribera de Coritodores and Plaza de Cascorro. There are 3500 stalls there and people hawk over pretty much anything one can think of. It is one of the largest flea markets in Madrid and the busiest one. It is advisable to show up there early to have a great experience. In this flea market you will find different articles, craft work, clothes, accessories, kitchen equipment, second-hand magazines, toys, and many other objects from different time periods.
Even on Sundays, the antique shops on the streets near Ribera de Cortidores is open. There are a lot of cafes in these streets. After wading through the crowds, you can visit these cafes to enjoy a cup of warm coffee and relax.
After visiting the Prado, if you still have an appetite for art, you should visit Thyssen Bornemisza Museum. This museum is also a part of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art. You will be awestruck on seeing the attractions in the Triangle as they compliment each other. The attractions cover major schools and periods which you will not find in any other museums. The schools at the Thyssen-Bornemisza represent work from English and German artists like Hans Holbein, Hans Baldung Grien, and Albrecht Durer.
The artwork at this museum is accompanied by pieces from other renaissance master like Tintoretto, Veronese, Rembrandt, van Dyck, and many other famous artists from that period. You will also find a big collection of American abstract expressionism there. The museum is a host to impressionist and post-expressionist pieces by the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Degas.
The Golden Triangle has many other museums too to visit. The third museum which you should visit there is the Reina Sofia Museum which has an incredible art collection. In this museum you will see more of Spanish art. It is modern museum when compared to others. A visit to Reina Sofia, a fantastic cultural institution, is rewarding and memorable in its own way. Here you will discover some of Madrid’s finest modern art collections.
The reason why you should visit this museum is here you will get to see many artworks by the 20th century artists by Picasso and Dali. One of the Picasso’s masterpiece epoch-making, Guernica, is on display. You should definitely not miss the opportunity to see it. Joan Miro, Juan Gris, and abstract sculptor, Eduardo Chillida, are among the other Spanish artists whose art is displayed in this Rena Sofia museum.
While visiting Puerta del Sol, one should not miss the opportunity to visit Chocolateria San Gines. This café has been serving churros and hot chocolate since 19th century like any other joint in the city. During the winter months, you will get a luxurious feeling while tasting the Spanish hot chocolate.
The hot chocolate served here is so rich and thick that you might need a spoon to drink it. It goes perfectly with sugary churro. It is a piped dough and deep-fried. If you do not get a chance to visit San Gines then you can have it from one of the many stalls in the street which get lined up during cooler months of the year.
During the summer, many bars and restaurants spill out on the Madrid’s pavements and squares. This makes the city lively. People go out and socialize in the city. On a pleasant summer evening, at Plaza de la Cebada, it will be difficult for you to walk your way through the crowd. The rooftops of the terraces are totally different there. You will get to see and enjoy the jaw-dropping views of the city. This is the best place to enjoy the sunset.
The Hat is few steps away from the Plaza Mayor. Like many other bars in the city, The Hat too does not give much of an indication about what you will find on the rooftop. The tables are seated beneath a glass canopy where you can enjoy the view of Madrid’s cityscape.
Flamenco was originated in Andalusia, Murcia, and Extremadura. Although Flamenco is not a native dance form of the Madrid city, you will get to see many famous tablaos in the country. These tablaos cropped up in the 1960s. They have a special hall for the performance and her you can enjoy the show while having a candlelight dinner with sangria.
While visiting these tablaos you can enjoy both, the Spanish specialties, like jamon iberico, migas which is a fried bread seasoned with paprika, and a roasted suckling pig, and see the country’s most famous dance form which is performed and expressed by some of the best flamenco dancers in the world.