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Die Almudena-Kathedrale, fertiggestellt 1993, Bild: LucVi / shutterstock

Madrid – Experience a lot in Spain’s capital

Madrid is one of Europe’s most popular city destinations and is ideal for those interested in culture, shopping enthusiasts and generally adventurous people. The capital of Spain with its more than three million inhabitants captivates with magnificent boulevards, imposing squares, numerous parks and several top-class museums. Madrid is located in Castile, in the heart of the country and the panorama in the northwest of the metropolis is characterized by the almost 2500 m high mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama. Madrid itself is located at an altitude of 660 m, so it can be relatively cool here in winter for a southern European city, but summers are often very hot with temperatures well above 30° C.

Madrid, Puerta de Alcalá
The Puerta de Alcalá, Image: LucVi / shutterstock

Although Madrid covers an extensive area, the city offers the advantage that almost all of the points of tourist interest are located within the centre and can be easily reached on foot. If you want to see everything from a bird’s eye view or just want to get to the Casa de Campo city park easily, you can do so with the cable car (Teleférico), which covers the distance of 2457 m in about 11 minutes.

Madrid is a city with numerous squares and parks. One of the green lungs is the 125-hectare Retiro Park with more than 15,000 trees, a large lake, interesting fountains and sculptures. A wonderful oasis to take a deep breath and a venue for an extensive cultural offer for locals and tourists. The Velázquez Palace and the Glass Palace directly in the complex regularly host exhibitions and other events on various topics, which always appeal to a wide audience.

The old town of Madrid

Madrid, Gran Via
The Gran Vía, shopping street in Madrid, Image: Matej Kastelic / shutterstock

Madrid’s old town has often been referred to as the “Madrid of the Habsburgs” since King Philip II moved his seat of power from Toledo here in the 16th century. The Bourbons also left their mark with numerous magnificent buildings. The Plaza Mayor is a huge, rectangular square in the centre of Madrid, considered the liveliest in the whole country and completely surrounded by four-storey buildings. The colonnades of the houses house shops, cafés and restaurants that invite you to stroll and relax.

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In the immediate vicinity is the lively business district “Puerta del Sol”, where countless department stores and shops await shopping-loving locals and guests. Passionate flea market-goers will get their money’s worth on the famous El Rastro in the Embajadores district, where dawdling takes place every Sunday. From antiques to curiosities, everything you can imagine is offered and bought. Of course, two typical Madrid veterans, the waffle seller and the organ player, are not to be missed.

The Royal Palace in Madrid

Madrid, Palacio Real
The Palacio Real (Royal Palace), Image: Rudy Balasko / shutterstock

A visit to the Palacio Real, the official residence of the Spanish king, is of course a must during a trip to Madrid. Some of the more than 2000 rooms can be entered as part of a tour. Highlights of the tour are the throne room and the mirror gallery: impressive examples of baroque interior design. However, the royal family does not live in this castle, which is only used for representative purposes and state acts, but outside the city, in the Zarzuela Palace.

The city’s museums

Madrid offers visitors interested in culture more than 70 museums, three of the most famous of which are located on the Paseo de Prado, in the so-called Museum Triangle. The Prado, the Reina Sofia National Museum and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza are located here.

The Prado is housed in a neoclassical building from 1785 and was opened in 1819. It is mentioned by art experts worldwide in the same breath as the Louvre and houses works by Spanish, Italian and Dutch painters such as Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Titian and Rubens. Since it is impossible to see the more than 8600 paintings and sculptures during a visit, you should limit yourself to the recommended tour of the most important exhibits or plan your stay well in advance.

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Also part of the Art Mile is the Reina Sofia Museum, which specialises in the masters of the 20th century and contemporary art. Among the important exhibits are works by Dalí and Miró. The most famous object is undoubtedly the monumental painting “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso, which was only brought to Madrid from New York in 1981 after the end of the Spanish Civil War.

The third museum in the city that also enjoys a worldwide reputation is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. The collection, which the Spanish state acquired from the family of Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, comprises around 1000 works from seven centuries. Paintings by Rafael, Rubens, Rembrandt, Renoir and Kandinsky are among the exhibits. The museum regularly organizes special events for everyone. Lectures, concerts and workshops are aimed at a wide audience and especially young people.

Going out in Madrid

Madrid, Plaza de Cibeles
The Plaza de Cibeles, Image: dimbar76 / shutterstock

There are six universities and numerous other colleges in the Spanish capital, so that many young people who like to go out naturally live here. The trendy district of Chueca is one of the most important meeting places for the party-loving public. In the cafés, bars and clubs of the district, they turn night into day. As in most southern countries, the range of late-night entertainment on offer is very extensive and there are venues for all tastes both indoors and outdoors.

Madrid is an attractive metropolis that is very suitable for a four to five-day city trip .
Everyone will have an unforgettable stay according to their personal interests. Spring and autumn in particular are suitable for a city trip with an extensive sightseeing programme because of the pleasant temperatures and the beautiful weather.