Madrid printable map of top tourist attractions & city travel guide
Map of top 10 attractions in Madrid
The typical top ten attractions are listed below. You can find the detailed locations of these places on the maps above.
- Royal Palace (Palacio Real) - Madrid's fabulous Royal Palace, inspired by Bernini's designs for the Louvre in Paris, is one of Europe's outstanding architectural monuments. More than half of the state apartments are open to the public, each sumptuously decorated with silk wall hangings, frescoes and gilded stucco, and crammed with priceless objets d'art. The palace's setting is equally breathtaking. Laid out before the visitor in the main courtyard (Plaza de Armas) is an uninterrupted vista of park and woodland, stretching from the former royal hunting ground of Casa de Campo to El Escorial and the majestic peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
- Prado Museum (Museo del Prado) - One of the greatest art museums in the world, the Prado contains a fabulous array of work from greats such as El Greco, Titian, Bosch, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya. The Prado is one of Madrid's top tourist attractions. At its core is the fabulous Royal Collec tion of mainly 16th- and 17th-century paintings, transferred from palaces around Madrid. The Prado's strongest suit is Spanish painting, the pick of the artists including Goya with 140 paintings and Velázquez with 50. Highlights of the Italian collection include masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian and Tintoretto. The Prado owns over 100 works by Rubens and can vases by other leading Flemish and Dutch ar tists. The wing designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo in the restored cloister of the Jerónimos church hosts temporary exhibitions and Renaissance sculpture from the permanent collection.
- Plaza Mayor - Madrid's most famous square was built on a grand scale. Capable of holding up to 50,000 people, it was intended to impress and still does. Nowadays it's a tourist attraction first and foremost: a place for relaxing over a drink and watching the world go by. Originally known as Plaza de Arrabal ('Outskirts Square') because it lay outside the city walls, Plaza Mayor was completed in 1619. Following a fire in 1791, Juan de Villanueva (architect of the Prado) redesigned the square, adding the granite archways that now enclose it. During its history, Plaza Mayor has been a market, an open-air theatre, a bullring, a place of execution, and a backdrop for tournaments. Its buildings are now mainly used by the city government.
- Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales - As you climb the staircase, look right and you'll see another trompel'oeil feature. On the 'balcony' are Felipe IV and his family – Mariana of Austria, the Infanta Margarita Teresa and the Prince of Asturias, Felipe Próspero. The prince dates the painting by Antonio Pereda, as he died, aged four, in 1661. This award-winning museum is also a working convent – a haven of peace and quiet after the noise and bustle of Puerta del Sol and the Gran Vía nearby. The building started out as a palace, owned by the royal treasurer, Alonso Gutierrez, but in 1555 he sold it to the sister of Felipe II, Juana of Austria, who founded the convent four years later. The nuns were Franciscans, but became known, because of their aristocratic backgrounds, as the 'Barefoot Royals'. The convent is crammed with works of art – paintings, frescoes, sculptures, tapestries, tiles, woodcarvings, embroidered vestments, liturgical gold and silverware – donated by the nuns' wealthy relatives. The church (rarely open to the public) contains the tomb of Juana of Austria.
- El Rastro - This colourful street market in one of the city's oldest working-class neighbourhoods has been going for well over 100 years. The word rastro means 'trail' and refers to the animal innards that were dragged through the streets in the days when this was the site of the main abattoir. The artist Francisco de Goya immortalized the street types here in paintings such as Blind Man with Guitar, while earlier it had been the backdrop for comic satires by playwrights of the Golden Age. Among the most exotic inhabitants were the amazonas, a team of horsewomen who performed at royal receptions in the 16th century and are remembered in Calle Amazonas. The Rastro is best known for its flea market, the most famous in Spain, but there are also dozens of stalls selling new clothes, furniture and antiques.
- Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - One of the most important art collections in the world, the Thyssen- Bornemisza focuses on European painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries and is the perfect complement to the Prado and Reina Sofía. Wealthy industrialist Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza began acquiring Old Masters in the 1920s for his villa in Switzerland. After the baron's death in 1947 his son, Hans Heinrich, added modern masterpieces, including French Impressionists, German Expressionists and the pick of the Russian Avant-Garde, to the collection. This outstanding collection assembled by the Thyssen-Bornemisza dynasty that provides an unprecedented excursion through the history of Western art. In 1993 the state bought the collection for the knock-down price of $350 million.
- Centro de Arte Reina Sofía - The Reina Sofia's collection of 20th- and 21st-century Spanish art is exciting and challenging by turns. The museum, set in a converted hospital, was inaugurated by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía in September 1990 and, besides the permanent collection, stages outstanding temporary exhibitions from around the world. The organization is thematic and chronological, beginning with the Basque and Catalan schools of the early 1900s. While most visitors home in on the rooms exhibiting the great masters of the interwar period – Juan Gris, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, whose Guernica is the centrepiece of the gallery – lesserknown Spanish painters and sculptors are worth seeking out. Works by the European and American avant-garde provide an international context.
- Parque del Retiro - The Retiro is the city's green lung and the madrilenos' favourite weekend retreat. The aristocracy was first admitted to the former royal grounds in 1767 but it was another century before the gates were opened to the general public. Visitors can enjoy not only the decorative features, which include statues and sculptural arrangements, follies, a formal French garden, lakes and ponds, but the numerous amenities which make the Retiro such a prize attraction. Children make a beeline for the puppet theatre (Sunday performances start at 1pm), while adults may prefer the concerts at the bandstand. There are rowing boats for hire on the lake. Sunday, when there is almost a carnival atmosphere, is the best day to enjoy everything from circus acts and buskers to pavement artists and fortune tellers.
- Museo de America - Often overlooked by visitors, this is one of Madrid's best museums. The collection comprises more than 25,000 items recovered from the Americas, including textiles, ceramics, tools, paintings and sculptures. The star of the show, by general consent, is the fabulous Quimbayas treasure, presented to the museum by the Colombian government in the 19th century. The exhibition is organized in five themed areas: how America was perceived in Europe from the Age of the Discoveries to the 18th century; the reality; the evolution of the native societies; religion; and communication between the nations.
- Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial - Enjoying a suitably majestic setting in the southern foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama, the El Escorial was commissioned by Felipe II as a mausoleum for the tomb of his father, Carlos I. The name commemorates the victory over the French at St Quentin on the Feast of St Laurence, in 1557. Building began in 1563 and, from the outset, the king took a keen interest in the smallest details of the project, even down to the choice of site. The complex was finally completed in 1595 and comprised a basilica, a royal palace, a monastery, a seminary and a library. This stupendous granite monument to the king's personal aspirations and to the ideals of the Catholic Counter-Reformation still inspires awe, if not always affection.
- Plaza de Santa Ana & Night-Time Huertas - 10 Nights around the Plaza de Santa Ana and neighbouring barrio (district) of Huertas are long, loud and illed with variety. The plaza is both epicentre and starting point of so many epic Madrid nights, with outdoor tables a fabulous vantage point from which to take the pulse of the night and plan your journey through it Within a short radius of the square, live-music venues, old-style sherry bars and sleek rooftop lounge bars for sybarites will get your night going, with legendary Madrid nightclubs nearby.
What are some interesting facts about Madrid?
Madrid Card - This card gives you free entry to several museums as well as unlimited travel on the Madrid Vision tour bus and other discounts. 24-, 48- or 72-hour cards are sold at tourist offices, on Madrid Vision buses or over the internet.
Public Transport - Madrid is a compact city when compared with other European capitals. although most of it can be easily explored on foot, if time is tight don't hesitate to make use of the metro as cross-city trips are rarely more than four or five stops. Buy the economical Metrobus ticket, valid for 10 journeys, or the Tourist Travel Pass. Keep track of the number of rides you've done, to avoid running out (ticket machines indicate how many journeys are left).
Buying a map - It's worth equiping yourself with a good city map before exploring the town. One of the best and most detailed is the Michelin version, which sells at around 6€ in the travel sections of large stores like the Corte Ingles, FNAC, or Casa del Libro (the latter's located near the Gran Via metro stop). The free maps given away by tourist offices and hotels are generally less detailed, giving a mere outline of the fascinating maze of little streets that form the labyrinthine center.
Geography - Five and half million people live in the Madrid Region (Comunidad de Madrid), with approximately three million concentrated in the metropolitan area. This region is situated at the geographical centre of mainland Spain, and is bordered by Castile & Leon, whose domains extend northwards as far as the Cantabrian Range and westwards to nearby Portugal. Stretching away to the south and east are the plains of Castile-La Mancha, which convey the traveller down to the beaches of the Mediterranean. Madrid stands on the Castilian high plateau or tableland (meseta) at a height of 646 metres (2,119 ft.) above sea level, where Barajas Airport is one of the most popular focal points for the forty-nine million tourists who flock to Spain every year. Radiating out from the city's inner hub is a complex rail and road network that speeds travellers to any corner of Spain, to neighbouring France and Portugal, or to the sea frontier with North Africa.
For free - Most of Madrid's world-class attractions have admission fees, and these have, for the most part, been rising steadily over recent years. Even so, a significant number of attractions – from parks and churches to museums and art galleries – remain free, regardless of when you decide to visit. With careful planning, the combination of free attractions and specific times when major sights offer free entry enables you to see the best the city has to offer without burning a large hole in your pocket.
Neighborhoods - Madrid can be divided into two main zones of real interest to visitors: the old traditional Center, with the Puerta del Sol and Gran Vía at its heart and surrounding 17th-century Austrias, and Castizo (traditional) Arguelles, Chueca, Malasana, Chamberí, Sol, Heurtas, Salamanca, and Lavapies districts; and the newer Ensanche (extension) refers to all parts of Madrid built outside of the old city walls from the 18th century onward. This area includes the wide cosmopolitan Castellana Avenue, with its business offices and classy hotels; the grid-planned, once mansion-filled Salamanca barrio, home of some of Madrid's best shops and restaurants; and northern Chamartín district, with its easier-going residential atmosphere.
Orientation - West of the Paseo del Prado is the neighborhood known as Huertas, a traditional literary haunt and home to numerous cafes and tapas bars. Huertas merges with the crowded Puerta del Sol, which is the heart of the city and, for that matter, the country, with roads radiating off in all directions and people doing the same. From here, a number of pedestrian streets funnel crowds northward between department stores and boutique shops to the Gran Vía. This main commercial street runs east-west with theaters and less-than-appealing eateries spanning the length of it. Immediately north of the Gran Vía are the trendy, trashed areas known as Malasana and, just east of it, Chueca, both loaded with raging clubs, hip sipping spots and cheaper shopping choices than that of Sol or Salamanca. To the south and west of the Puerta del Sol is the area generally referred to as Hapsburg Madrid, with its ever-popular Plaza Mayor. South of it is La Latina, full of character and creativity and within sight of El Rastro flea market, along with many of Madrid's most traditional restaurants. Farther south is the white-collar barrio called Lavapies. Northwest of the Plaza Mayor is the oldest district of Madrid, originally a Moorish quarter known as Morería and, finally, the Palacio Real, the grandest vestige of Habsburg Madrid in the area known as Opera.
Nightlife - 7 The legend of Madrid's hedonistic nights was born in the narrow, innercity streets of Malasana and Chueca In gritty and grungy Malasana, hard-living rock venues share punters with elegant 19th-century literary cafes Next door in Chueca, a cool and predominantly gay clientele ills bars and nightclubs to capacity most nights. More than anywhere in the city.
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