Madrid has been inhabited since the Stone Age, but its rise as an essential city within Spain began in the 1500s, and it became the country's capital in 1606. The city population grew rapidly over the centuries, but most notably in the early 1900s around the time of a civil war. Madrid underwent many changes since going from a politically oppressed town to today's booming and prosperous city.
Here are several of the top adventures that await you in Spain's central capital.
1. Prado Museum
The Prado is not only Madrid's most famous museum, but it is one of the most popular in the world. Filled with paintings and sculptures, the museum showcases Spanish, Italian, and Flemish styles of art.
2. Plaza Mayor
This renaissance square dates back to the early 1600s and surrounds you with cafes and bars where you can enjoy a drink while admiring the beautiful architecture and atmosphere.
3. El Retiro Park
This luscious park offers activities for the whole family. Enjoy walking among formal gardens, including a rose garden filled with over 4,000 roses. Let the kids enjoy the playgrounds and take the entire family on a paddleboat ride.
4. Puerta del Sol
This area is the heart of Madrid, where the city's culture and life can be experienced. Nightly it is filled with parties at nightclubs and makes for a perfect place to wander and enjoy street performers.
5. Royal Palace
This luxurious palace was home to kings of Spain for almost 200 years and includes 3,000 rooms, some of which are open to the public. Enjoy a display of royal armory and Spanish artwork.
6. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art
If you're looking to experience more art, this museum offers more than just Spanish works. View renaissance paintings by artists such as Rembrandt and impressionist pieces from Monet and Degas.
7. Gran Via
Another top spot for experiencing life in Madrid, enjoy popular shopping spots during the day or nightclubs after dark. It is also filled with architecture dating back to the early 1900s.
8. Bernabeu Stadium
Soccer fans will adore a tour of this gigantic stadium filled with the history of the great successes of the famous team Real Madrid. Enjoy panoramic views and visits to the players' dressing rooms and dugouts.
9. Casa de Campo
As the largest public park in Madrid, Casa de Campo boasts more than just open space for picnics and relaxation. Enjoy the amusement park, zoo, and cable car rides.
10. Queen Sofia Arts Center
The third excellent art museum in Madrid focuses on modern and contemporary art. The 21,000 pieces of art include work by Salvador Dali and Picasso.
11. Flamenco Tablaos
Flamenco is Spain's most famous dance, and though not native to Madrid, it is best experienced in the Tablaos here. You can even enjoy some Spanish food while taking in the performance.
12. Mercado de San Miguel
Food lovers will enjoy this vast marketplace that offers drinks like coffee and cocktails, tapas, fruit, meat, and seafood.
13. Matadero Madrid
At this cultural center art has taken over an old slaughterhouse, filling it with dance performances and vendors of art, crafts, and fashion pieces.
14. Plaza de Cibeles
Considered the most famous plaza in Madrid, Cibeles is home to some of the best architecture, including a palace and a Roman goddess's fountain.
15. El Rastro Market
This market is a giant flea market offering everything from art, souvenirs, antiques, and household items. Experience live music as you browse the massive variety.
Whether you're into architecture, art, or Spanish food, you will find many sights to see in this city of elegant boulevards and beautifully manicured green spaces. When you are ready to plan your next visit to Spain's central capital, we will be here to help you plan all of the details.
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