From Madrid to Heaven 'desde Madrid al Cielo', that's how the locals see their city and certainly as a short city-break destinations, Madrid may well have it all. Walking around the city you will come across the atmospheric and cosmoplitan regions around Plaza Mayor, some fabulous architecture and art galleries.
1. MUSEO NACIONAL DEL PRADO
This elegant museum is considered to be one of the greatest in the world. Inside is one of the oldest, and widely considered, greatest collections of art in the world. Most of the pieces were collected by the Spanish royal family and other avid buyers over the last 200 years. Collections include Spanish, Italian, Flemish, German, Dutch and British paintings.
Address: Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23. Tel: +34 91 330 2800
Museo Prado website
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 9am-8pm including public holidays
From 9am-2pm 24 December, 31 December and 6 January
Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time
Entry: 6 euros. Free on Sunday
2. THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA MUSEUM
Built up by the Thyssen-Bornemisza family and housed in this neo-classical palace, this is an amazing collection of Western art from the 13th century to today. Included are paintings by Dürer, Titian, Raphael, Degas and Kandinsky.
Address: Palacio de Villahermosa, Paseo del Prado 8, Tel 00 34 (0)91 369 0151
Thyssen-Bornemisz museum website
Open: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-7pm
Entry: 6 euros
3. EL RASTRO MARKET
This bustling flea market, thought to be the biggest in Europe, opens up early on Sunday morning. You can't miss it as it takes over Madrid's centre, snaking its way through the city's winding streets. It was a meat market in the 18th century, today the main street is primarily stall holders selling clothes but the side streets could turn up some real gems in art and crafts, antiques and second hand books.A little bargaining may come in useful.
Warning: beware of pickpockets.
Address: Calle Ribera de los Curtidores, Lavapiés. It is located between Plaza Mayor, La Latina and Puerto de Toledo
Open: Sunday 7am-2.30pm
4. PALACIO REAL - Royal Palace
This 18th century palace located near the Manzanares river and Plaza de España is the largest in Europe. It is an impressive palace but is only occasionally used by the Spanish royals. It has over 2000 sumptuously decorated rooms but only 50 of those can be visited. One of those rooms is the 400m2 dining room, the Sala de Porcelena (china room) and the Salón del Trono (throne room) with red velvet walls.
Address: Bailen s/n
Open: Monday to Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm, Sunday and holidays 9am-2pm.
Guided tours are available.
5. TELEFRICO - Madrid Cablecar
Get a birds-eye view of Madrid by catching the Madrid Teleferico - cablecar. It was originally built as part of a fairground attraction (Parque de Atracciones) in 1969. Pick it up at Paseo Pintor Rosales at the eastern edge of Parque del Oeste. You'll see the city from a height of 150ft and travel 2.5km during an 11 minute ride. The cityscape looks great from this height and you will take in the Aeronautical museum, Egyptian temple, Plaza de España and eventually arrive at the Casa de Campo park. Dine at the restaurant or eat al fresco with a picnic.
Address: Paseo del Pinto Rosales, s/n Tel: 00 34 91 541 74 50
Open: Monday to Sunday: Spring/Summer 11am to sunset, Autumn/Winter noon-nightfall.
6. MADRID BULLFIGHT
Can a trip to Madrid be complete without a visit to the buillring? Whatever your feelings about the sport, the famous San Isidro Fiesta shows the Spanish passion for it still burns bright.
The towering bullring itself was designed by Espeliú in the Mozarabic style. It seats a staggering 25,000 expectant spectator. The show is heralded with drums and trumpets and the atmosphere is electric.
The bullfighting season starts in March and ends in December, and are celebrated everyday during the famous San Isidro Fiesta. Festivals start with novillos (young bulls), rejones (bullfights on horseback) and Goyesca fights (in period costume). Bullfights start at 4pm or 7pm and last up to three hours.
Address: Calle de Alcala 237 Tel: 00 34 91 356 22 00
You can buy tickets online: www.ticketstoros.com/ingles/venta.html
Prices: Varies but start from 57,90 euros.
7. PLAZA MAYOR
This is Madrid's main square in the Los Austrias neighbourhood. Anyone enjoying the alfresco drinking or eating at this popular, arcaded, rectangular shaped square would find it hard to imagine the public executions "autos de fe" of heretics that took place here during th Spanish Inquisition. Since its completion in 1617 it has also been used as a market place, bull fights and royal coronations. Hemming the square are a motley mix shops and cafes and the square is today used for celebrations for San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid.
Incidentally, if you enjoy feasting on Tapas, then get here for 12pm and enjoy a staggering choice of tapas eateries.
Address: Plaza Mayor, Sol
8. GRAN VIA
Shoppers, culture vultures and lovers of architecture should not miss coming to Gran Via. Just make sure you look up every now and again and take in the ornately decorated buildings. The most famous is the Edificio Metrópolis or Metropolis building where a statue of a winged Goddess Victoria looks like she is preparing to fly off the roof. The small square, the Plaza del Callao, is home to a clutch of cinemas, notably the Capitol located in a handsome Art Deco building.
9. PARQUE DEL RETIRO
As soon as the sun comes out so do the Madrilenian families heading straight for this park. Street musicians, artists, fortune tellers, jugglers and all sort of performers provide the entertainment. There are two lakes. The larger one - the Estanque del Retiro, is man made but if you have the energy you can rent a rowing boat. The other lake is by the Palacio de Cristal, once used to house exotic plants but now is home to temporary exhibitions. Probably the most remarkable part of the park is the Rosaleda - its rose garden - not because of the flowers but because of the El Angel Caído - a statue dedicated to Satan.
Address: Plaza de la Independence
10. PLAZA DE ESPANA
The Plaza de España is one of Madrid's largest and most popular squares. Take a walk any sunny day and join in with the bustle of the street vendors, tourists and sunbathing locals.
Plus: check out the PALACIO DE COMUNICACIONES
Feast your eyes on this cathedral-like architectural extravaganza. The landmark was built between 1905 and 1917 by Antonio Palacios. Boringly it is the central post office but aptly it is in the Palace of Communications.
Address: Plaza de Cibeles
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