Madrid Travel Guide
Introduction to Madrid
Boasting a reputation for being a globally significant centre of art and architecture, Madrid is a city that has much to offer travelers.
Combine that with a nightlife culture that only serves to promote the Spanish as one of the world’s most liveliest folk, and you have a destination that will prove to be the perfect start to your adventure in the Iberian Peninsula.
Cultural Experiences in Madrid
Madrid is well known throughout the world for the quality of its museums. There are so many that an enthusiast could easily spend a week going to all of the prominent ones, but if you are pressed for time, at least make sure that you find some room for Museo del Prado in your schedule.
Its collection of European art is rivaled by few other institutions around the world, with pieces dating back to the 12th century, which unsurprisingly includes some of the best pieces from Spain’s best painters and sculptors.
The likes of Francisco de Goya, El Greco and Diego Velázquez are well represented here, and with over 10,000 pieces in its collection, you won’t be in any rush to leave if the fine arts is one of your top interests.
While the Spanish royals once called this sprawling estate home (they have since taken up residence in a more humble palace further away from the city centre), the Royal Palace of Madrid still retains its importance as a key centre for state functions, and as a top tourist attraction in Madrid.
While there are parts of the grounds that are off-limits to the public, places like the Royal Pharmacy and Armory, the Sabatini Gardens, and a vast grand plaza that rolls out before the main entrance can all be explored by visitors.
Art lovers will enjoy the many works of fine art on the walls here, as well as frescoes that can be found on various ceilings throughout the complex.
Back in the mid 20th century, a big modernization drive was sweeping Egypt. Unfortunately for the past history of this proud country, plans of the Aswan Dam was slated to swamp large swathes of the Nile Valley.
This put many ancient temples in jeopardy, a fact which caused nations like Spain to spring into action. Spurred on by UNESCO, Spain moved to help save the Temple of Debod from the rising waters that the new mega dam would create, an act that would later result in Egypt donating the whole structure to the state of Spain in 1968.
Today, this ancient treasure can be found in Parque del Oeste, and is arranged in a manner that makes for excellent views at sunset.
Other Attractions in Madrid
Built in the early 15th century to serve as a central meeting point in Madrid, Plaza Mayor is the best place in the entire city for those that love to people watch.
There is plenty of fascinating architecture, such as the Casa de la Panaderia, which features murals on its exterior, and a bronze statue of King Phillip the III at its centre.
There are many cafes and restaurants with patio seating along its edges, which allows you to watch the locals and other tourists go about their day in this beautiful place.
Out of all the markets in Madrid, few are spoken or written about as much as El Rastro has in the past. This flea market features crafts, clothes, food and other things that are not typically found at your local mall, or in exclusive boutiques.
Given Spain’s proximity to Africa, the influence from this continent can be felt here, giving those visiting a chance to pick up some souvenirs from these cultures.
Easily one of Madrid’s grandest and largest parcels of green space, Buen Retiro Park should find its way into your plans when the weather is at it finest in Spain’s capital city.
The lush nature of its greenery, and the exquisitely crafted monuments won’t come as a surprise when you learn that this place used to be the property of the Royal Family until the latter portion of the 19th century, when it was given over to the people of Madrid.
There is also a greenhouse (Palacio de Cristal) and an art gallery (Velázquez Palace) for those looking to get out of the sun during their time in the park.