Madrid is one of the main centers of tourism in Europe. This ancient and modern city is visited annually by millions of Spaniards and tourists from around the world, thanks to the developed tourist infrastructure and a huge number of interesting cultural and historical sites.
Top 17 Madrid attractions
Madrid took off in the 16th century, during the Bourbon dynasty that reigned in Spain. It was then that magnificent palaces, cathedrals and monasteries, beautiful squares and parks, monuments and monuments appeared in this city, which formed the old part of Madrid.
In front of you the main attractions of Madrid with photos, name and brief description.
This palace to this day is the official residence of the King of Spain. It was built on the orders of King Philip V of Spain in the 18th century on the site of the burnt-out Habsburg Palace, who wanted Madrid to be his residence, like Versailles in France. In fact, the decoration of the palace lasted a century.
The Royal Palace has an interior of extraordinary beauty: the walls are covered with frescoes by old Italian, German and Spanish masters and Flemish tapestries, its rooms are furnished in the neoclassical style, etc. There are regular guided tours of the palace.
Cibeles Square and Fountain
The Cibeles Fountain was erected at the end of the 18th century in the square of the same name in Madrid. It is a sculptural composition in the neoclassical style in the form of the Spanish goddess of agriculture and fertility Cybele on a chariot, harnessed to two lions. The fountain was conceived as a resting place for Madrid residents on hot summer days.
The goddess Cybele and the lions are marble; the rest of the fountain is made of stone. Today the Cibeles Square and Fountain is one of the trademarks of modern Madrid, close to the world-famous Prado Art Museum and a gathering place for tourists from all over the world.
“Gateway to Europe.”
And this is a relatively modern landmark in Madrid that is in the top 10: the two twin towers. They were built in 1994, with each tower having 26 floors and a height of 114 meters. In Spain in the Canary Islands, there are a couple more twin towers, but they are a bit taller. The “Gateway to Europe” is inferior to its island counterparts by several meters.
Experts call the architectural style of the “Gateway to Europe” postmodern. Their peculiarity lies in the fact that they are both inclined towards each other, and this method of building skyscrapers for the first time in the world. That is why the “Gateway to Europe” is a unique attraction of Madrid and its surroundings.
This street is unofficially considered by the people of Madrid to be the main street in their city. The Gran Via began to be built at the beginning of the last century. At the same time they began to massively demolish the buildings and structures that hindered the passage of the avenue. And to commemorate the centennial of this street in 2010 there were celebrations and festivities with the participation of the King of Spain.
When deciding what to see in Madrid, be sure to walk down Gran Vía, here you will find many objects closely related to the history and culture of Spain. For example, Europe’s first skyscraper, Telefónica. Interestingly, the Gran Via at the end of the thirties of the last century was called Russian Street, and then – Street of the Soviet Union.
It is one of the capital’s main squares, located in an area called the Austrian Madrid. This is what Lope de Vega once called “the navel of Spain. It looks luxurious, in the late Baroque style. At one time Plaza Mayor was called the Royal Square. Later, as the constitutional order changed, it was Republic Square and then Constitution Square.
The Plaza Mayor is quite an old landmark in Madrid, it was opened in 1620 to a reading of Lope de Vega’s poems. Later there was the first specially equipped place for bullfighting in the city, which was decorated by Goya himself at the end of the 18th century. In this same square, Spanish kings were once crowned and the fires of the Holy Inquisition burned.
Puerta del Sol Square
It is one of the most famous attractions of Madrid and its surroundings. In the Middle Ages, near this square were the eastern gate of the fortress wall, they were called Sunny, hence, according to historians, the name of the square. At the beginning of the 16th century, the gate was removed, and the square itself increased in size.
In the Puerta del Sol you can see an ancient fountain with bronze masks and a marble Venus. In its center stands the statue of Charles III. This is the zero point of Spain, from which all distances to other settlements of the country are counted. Here appeared the first gas lantern in Madrid, then electric lighting, the first horse, then the streetcar, the car, etc.
Parque Buen Retiro
The city park Buen Retiro (Good Retreat) is centrally located and must be seen with your own eyes while in Madrid. It is not only a famous landmark, but also a place of rest for residents and visitors to the capital of Spain. There was once the palace of Philip IV next door, and the park was used for balls and theatrical productions.
And at the end of the 19th century, two palaces were built in the Buen Retiro Park, made of brick and crystal, where various exhibitions are held to this day. There is also a small lake in the middle of the park where you can go boating. There are many green alleys, fountains, neoclassical buildings and other beauty.
Museo del Prado
The Prado is one of the greatest art museums in the world. In its vaults you can find unique collections of paintings that are valued by experts more expensive than the collections of the Louvre. The Prado Museum is truly the most famous sight in Madrid and all of Spain.
Here painting lovers and connoisseurs can see a large collection of paintings by Bosch, Velazquez, Goya, Murillo, El Greco, works of Italian Renaissance painting, samples of Flemish, Spanish, German, English, French art, antique sculptures, etc.
Royal Academy of Fine Arts San Fernando
This public academy is located in the center of Madrid. It is known to all art historians of the world for its richest gallery of paintings. Established in the mid-18th century at the behest of King Ferdinand VI of Spain, the academy was first dedicated to three arts: painting, sculpture, and architecture.
Later, the Royal Academy began to focus more on music, photography, film, and even television. This cultural attraction in Madrid offers the opportunity to view the paintings of great painters: Rubens, Correggio, Bellini, Murillo and Goya. The latter was head of the academy itself for a long time. Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and other celebrities of the 20th century also studied here.
Triumphal Arch of La Puerta de Alcala is not just a landmark of Madrid, but its calling card. It stands on Independence Square, not far from Buen Retiro, and architecturally it is a mixture of Baroque and Classicism, since it is a mixture of Baroque and Classicism. two of the best designs were combined in their construction.
The Alcalá Gate stands on the site of the old gate, which was the main gate in the fortress wall that surrounded medieval Madrid. The new gate was built on the orders of Charles III in the late 18th century, who dreamed that the Alcalá gate would become the main monument and symbol of this city.
They are made of granite, have five spans, many columns, three arches, decorated with various sculptures. All decorations are made of limestone. The Alcala Gate was created by various sculptors and architects, so some experts see some disharmony in its overall appearance.
It is a real temple from Ancient Egypt, which was presented in the middle of the last century by the Egyptian authorities to the Spanish king for his help in saving other ancient Egyptian temples during the construction of the famous Aswan Dam. The temple of Debot was moved to Madrid’s West Park, where today it can be seen by all who wish to see it.
The temple was built in the 4th century BC. in honor of the god Amon, but later the goddess Isis was worshipped there. And in the 20th century it was disassembled into stones in Aswan, and then reassembled again in Madrid. This is such an unusual sight in the capital of Spain, which you can look at for free.
This cathedral is near the Royal Palace and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It began to be built at the end of the 19th century, when Madrid became a diocese of the Vatican. During the 20th century the project was changed several times, and in 1993 the cathedral was finally completed and consecrated. The result was a mixture of neoclassicism and neo-baroque on the outside, while the interior was exquisite neo-Gothic.
This cathedral often hosts lavish services, weddings of the great and the powerful, and festive masses dedicated to Spanish saints. It is open to tourists, like a museum, and can be visited without disturbing the service. Here you will learn what modern Spanish Catholicism is and how important it is to Spaniards.
This main opera house of Madrid is close to the Royal Palace. It was built in the mid-19th century at the behest of Isabella II. A few years later, the Madrid Conservatory moved into the opera house. At one time the great Verdi himself presented his operas at the Royal Theater, and Nijinsky, Stravinsky, and others were here.
In 1925 the Royal Theater became dilapidated and fell into disrepair; it was not restored until 1966. After the restoration, the theater was turned into a concert hall. And in the 1990s it was remodeled again and turned into an opera house. These are the kinds of transformations that have happened to this cultural landmark of Madrid.
What is there to see around Madrid? An excellent choice: the monastery of Escorial, located an hour’s drive from the Spanish capital. It was once the residence of Philip II, who wanted to combine the power of the king and the church in this monastery to demonstrate Spanish absolutism.
The Escorial was founded in the mid-16th century and was under construction for more than two decades. In creating it, Philip II sought to get rid of medieval architecture and emphasize Renaissance ideas. The inner chambers of the monastery are decorated with filigree wood carvings and marble sculptures. The best craftsmen, artists and sculptors of the time took part in the decoration of the monastery.
Today almost all the kings of Spain are buried here. In addition, Escorial has a huge library, second in size only to the Vatican library, with ancient manuscripts, books and paintings. There is also a functioning monastery and two museums. If you’re thinking about what to see near Madrid, then feel free to go to the Escorial.
Jamon Museum Cafe Shop
There are also less sublime but no less interesting places in Madrid. For example, “Museum of Ham”, where you can go as a family. Jamon is a variant of ham cooked in a special way. This is the famous Spanish national product, which appeared in the days of ancient Rome.
This cafe store is located on Calle de Alcala, it is invariably popular with tourists and has many visitors every day. Here you can have a tasty meal and have a great time in good company. In addition to jamon, visitors are offered a variety of delicious local cheeses, wines, etc.
Warner Brothers theme park
If you want to have fun with your kids around Madrid, come to this theme park for the day. As you know, it is dedicated to the heroes of the films and cartoons of this film company. You will meet in the park Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo the dog, Bugs Bunny, Batman, Superman, etc.
Warner Brothers Park is divided into several themed areas. It starts with Hollywood Boulevard, where you can buy souvenirs and sit in a cafe or restaurant. Next is the Cartoon Village with many great rides for the little ones. Followed by Superhero World (roller coaster), Movie Studio World (blockbusters), Wild West (the world of cowboys, Indians, and sheriffs).
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
This is the famous Madrid soccer stadium, which is the home arena for Real Madrid. Sometimes the Spanish national team trains and plays its matches there. Santiago Bernabeu was built in the late forties of the last century, has the highest UEFA category and can accommodate more than 80 thousand spectators.
Santiago Bernabeu is one of the best European stadiums, it hosts the finals of the World Cup, the European Championship and the Champions League. So if you are fortunate enough, be sure to go to this stadium and watch a soccer game. Spain has a lot of high quality players and soccer teams, you will not regret it.
Video overview of sights in Madrid
Modern Madrid also has something to show the sophisticated tourist. The city does not stand still, it is rapidly evolving with the rest of Europe, building new arenas, and soccer fields, hotels and water parks, museums, theaters and concert halls.