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Guidebook for Madrid

Ludmila

Guidebook for Madrid

Food Scene
It’s not every day that you can eat in the oldest restaurant in the world (the Guinness Book of Records has recognised it as the oldest – established in 1725). The secret of its staying power is fine cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig; €25) and cordero asado (roast lamb; €25) cooked in wood-fired ovens. Eating in the vaulted cellar is a treat.
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Sobrino de Botín
17 Calle de Cuchilleros
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It’s not every day that you can eat in the oldest restaurant in the world (the Guinness Book of Records has recognised it as the oldest – established in 1725). The secret of its staying power is fine cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig; €25) and cordero asado (roast lamb; €25) cooked in wood-fired ovens. Eating in the vaulted cellar is a treat.
Lucio has been wowing madrileños with his light touch, quality ingredients and home-style local cooking since 1974 – think eggs (a Lucio specialty) and roasted meats in abundance. There’s also rabo de toro (bull’s tail) during the Fiestas de San Isidro Labrador and plenty of rioja (red wine) to wash away the mere thought of it.
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Casa Lucio
35 Cava Baja
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Lucio has been wowing madrileños with his light touch, quality ingredients and home-style local cooking since 1974 – think eggs (a Lucio specialty) and roasted meats in abundance. There’s also rabo de toro (bull’s tail) during the Fiestas de San Isidro Labrador and plenty of rioja (red wine) to wash away the mere thought of it.
Taberna La Bola (going strong since 1870 and run by the sixth generation of the Verdasco family) is a much-loved bastion of traditional Madrid cuisine. If you’re going to try cocido a la madrileña (meat-and-chickpea stew; €21) while in Madrid, this is a good place to do so. It’s busy and noisy and very Madrid.
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LA BOLA
5 Calle de la Bola
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Taberna La Bola (going strong since 1870 and run by the sixth generation of the Verdasco family) is a much-loved bastion of traditional Madrid cuisine. If you’re going to try cocido a la madrileña (meat-and-chickpea stew; €21) while in Madrid, this is a good place to do so. It’s busy and noisy and very Madrid.
Casa Labra has been going strong since 1860, an era that the decor strongly evokes. Locals love their bacalao (cod) and ordering it here – either as deep-fried tapas (una tajada de bacalao goes for €1.30) or as una croqueta de bacalao – is a Madrid rite of initiation. As the lunchtime queues attest, they go through more than 700kg of cod every week. This is also a bar with history – it was where the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE; Spanish Socialist Party) was formed on 2 May 1879. It was a favourite of Lorca, the poet, as well as appearing in Pío Baroja’s novel La Busca . It’s the sort of place that fathers bring their sons, just as their fathers did before them.
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Casa Labra
12 Calle de Tetuán
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Casa Labra has been going strong since 1860, an era that the decor strongly evokes. Locals love their bacalao (cod) and ordering it here – either as deep-fried tapas (una tajada de bacalao goes for €1.30) or as una croqueta de bacalao – is a Madrid rite of initiation. As the lunchtime queues attest, they go through more than 700kg of cod every week. This is also a bar with history – it was where the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE; Spanish Socialist Party) was formed on 2 May 1879. It was a favourite of Lorca, the poet, as well as appearing in Pío Baroja’s novel La Busca . It’s the sort of place that fathers bring their sons, just as their fathers did before them.
One of Madrid’s oldest and most beautiful markets, the Mercado de San Miguel has undergone a stunning major renovation. Within the early-20th-century glass walls, the market has become an inviting space strewn with tables. You can order tapas and sometimes more substantial plates at most of the counter-bars, and everything here (from caviar to chocolate) is as tempting as the market is alive. All the stalls are outstanding, but you could begin with the fine fishy pintxos atop mini toasts at La Casa de Bacalao (Stalls 16–17), follow it up with some jamón or other cured meats at Carrasco Guijuelo (Stall 18), cheeses at Stalls 20–21, all manner of pickled goodies at Stall 22, or the gourmet tapas of Lhardy (Stalls 61–62). There are also plenty of places to buy wine, Asturian cider and the like; at Stall 24, The Sherry Corner has sherry tastings with tapas.
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Mercado de San Miguel
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One of Madrid’s oldest and most beautiful markets, the Mercado de San Miguel has undergone a stunning major renovation. Within the early-20th-century glass walls, the market has become an inviting space strewn with tables. You can order tapas and sometimes more substantial plates at most of the counter-bars, and everything here (from caviar to chocolate) is as tempting as the market is alive. All the stalls are outstanding, but you could begin with the fine fishy pintxos atop mini toasts at La Casa de Bacalao (Stalls 16–17), follow it up with some jamón or other cured meats at Carrasco Guijuelo (Stall 18), cheeses at Stalls 20–21, all manner of pickled goodies at Stall 22, or the gourmet tapas of Lhardy (Stalls 61–62). There are also plenty of places to buy wine, Asturian cider and the like; at Stall 24, The Sherry Corner has sherry tastings with tapas.
One of the grand icons of the Madrid night, this chocolate con churros cafe sees a sprinkling of tourists throughout the day, but locals pack it out in their search for sustenance on their way home from a nightclub somewhere close to dawn. Only in Madrid…
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Chocolatería San Ginés hot choc n chorrus
5 Pasadizo de San Ginés
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One of the grand icons of the Madrid night, this chocolate con churros cafe sees a sprinkling of tourists throughout the day, but locals pack it out in their search for sustenance on their way home from a nightclub somewhere close to dawn. Only in Madrid…
Las Bravas has long been the place for a caña (small glass of beer) and some of the best patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce; €3.75) in town. In fact, their version of the bravas sauce is so famous that they patented it. Other good orders include calamares (calamari) and oreja a la plancha (grilled pig’s ear). The antics of the bar staff are enough to merit a stop, and the distorting mirrors are a minor Madrid landmark. Elbow your way to the bar and be snappy about your orders.
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Las Bravas
5 Pje de Matheu
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Las Bravas has long been the place for a caña (small glass of beer) and some of the best patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce; €3.75) in town. In fact, their version of the bravas sauce is so famous that they patented it. Other good orders include calamares (calamari) and oreja a la plancha (grilled pig’s ear). The antics of the bar staff are enough to merit a stop, and the distorting mirrors are a minor Madrid landmark. Elbow your way to the bar and be snappy about your orders.
Finding a good paella in Madrid can be surprisingly difficult, but it's almost guaranteed at this august place opposite the Teatro Real. Paella de marisco (seafood paella), paella de bogavante (lobster paella) and arroz negro (black rice, cooked in squid ink) are the house specialities, but there are plenty of rice dishes to choose from. You'll need a minimum of two for an order.
La Paella Real
2 Calle de Arrieta
Finding a good paella in Madrid can be surprisingly difficult, but it's almost guaranteed at this august place opposite the Teatro Real. Paella de marisco (seafood paella), paella de bogavante (lobster paella) and arroz negro (black rice, cooked in squid ink) are the house specialities, but there are plenty of rice dishes to choose from. You'll need a minimum of two for an order.
One of the grande dames of the Madrid restaurant scene, Casa Ciriaco has witnessed attempted assassinations (of King Alfonso XIII in 1906) and was immortalised by the Spanish writer Valle-Inclán who set part of his novel Luces de Bohemia here. Its legend made, it now puts all its energies into fine Madrileño cooking. Offerings range from seafood and hearty meat dishes such as roast suckling pig to cocido madrileño.
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Casa Ciriaco
84 C/ Mayor
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One of the grande dames of the Madrid restaurant scene, Casa Ciriaco has witnessed attempted assassinations (of King Alfonso XIII in 1906) and was immortalised by the Spanish writer Valle-Inclán who set part of his novel Luces de Bohemia here. Its legend made, it now puts all its energies into fine Madrileño cooking. Offerings range from seafood and hearty meat dishes such as roast suckling pig to cocido madrileño.
This fine old Madrid taberna (tavern) is famous for its croquettes, fine jamón , montaditos de jamón (small rolls of cured ham) and montaditos de bonito (small rolls of cured tuna) in the bar, while out the back the more classic cuisine includes rabo de toro estofado (bull’s tail, served with honey, cinnamon, mashed potato and pastry with herbs; €21). Madrid’s notoriously fussy diners generally accept that the prices here are worth it. The sister restaurant around the corner in Plaza de Oriente, La Mar del Alabardero , is renowned for its high-quality seafood and rice dishes.
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Taberna del Alabardero de Madrid
6 Calle de Felipe V
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This fine old Madrid taberna (tavern) is famous for its croquettes, fine jamón , montaditos de jamón (small rolls of cured ham) and montaditos de bonito (small rolls of cured tuna) in the bar, while out the back the more classic cuisine includes rabo de toro estofado (bull’s tail, served with honey, cinnamon, mashed potato and pastry with herbs; €21). Madrid’s notoriously fussy diners generally accept that the prices here are worth it. The sister restaurant around the corner in Plaza de Oriente, La Mar del Alabardero , is renowned for its high-quality seafood and rice dishes.
The outdoor tables of this distinguished old cafe are among the most sought-after in central Madrid, providing as they do a front-row seat for the beautiful Plaza de Oriente, with the Palacio Real as a backdrop. The building itself was once part of a long-gone, 17th-century convent and the interior feels a little like a set out of Mitteleuropa. It’s the perfect spot for a coffee when the weather’s fine.
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Café de Oriente Palacio Real
2 Plaza de Ote
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The outdoor tables of this distinguished old cafe are among the most sought-after in central Madrid, providing as they do a front-row seat for the beautiful Plaza de Oriente, with the Palacio Real as a backdrop. The building itself was once part of a long-gone, 17th-century convent and the interior feels a little like a set out of Mitteleuropa. It’s the perfect spot for a coffee when the weather’s fine.
This graceful old cafe has been serving coffee and meals since 1888 and has long been favoured by Madrid’s literati for a drink or a meal – all of Spain’s great 20th-century literary figures came here for coffee and tertulias . You’ll find yourself among intellectuals, conservative Franco diehards and young madrileños looking for a quiet drink.
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Café Gijón
21 Paseo Recoletos
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This graceful old cafe has been serving coffee and meals since 1888 and has long been favoured by Madrid’s literati for a drink or a meal – all of Spain’s great 20th-century literary figures came here for coffee and tertulias . You’ll find yourself among intellectuals, conservative Franco diehards and young madrileños looking for a quiet drink.
Everything Else
One of the most distinguished tablaos (flamenco venues) in Madrid, drawing in everyone from the Spanish royal family to Bill Clinton, Café de Chinitas has an elegant setting and top-notch performers. It may attract loads of tourists, but flamenco aficionados also give it top marks. Reservations are highly recommended.
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Café de Chinitas
7 C/ Torija
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One of the most distinguished tablaos (flamenco venues) in Madrid, drawing in everyone from the Spanish royal family to Bill Clinton, Café de Chinitas has an elegant setting and top-notch performers. It may attract loads of tourists, but flamenco aficionados also give it top marks. Reservations are highly recommended.
This fine old church is one of the few remaining windows on post-Muslim Madrid, most notably its clearly Mudéjar (a Moorish architectural style) brick bell tower, which dates from the 14th century. The church is generally closed to the public, but it’s arguably more impressive from the outside; the Renaissance doorway has stood since 1525. If you can peek inside, the nave dates from the 15th century, although the interior largely owes its appearance to 17th-century renovations. The church is the focus of important Good Friday celebrations. Along with the Iglesia de San Nicolás de los Servitas , the Iglesia de San Pedro El Viejo is one of very few sites where traces of Mudéjar Madrid remain in situ. Otherwise, you need to visit Toledo, 70km south of Madrid, to visualise what Madrid once was like.
San Pedro el Real, Madrid
14 Calle del Nuncio
This fine old church is one of the few remaining windows on post-Muslim Madrid, most notably its clearly Mudéjar (a Moorish architectural style) brick bell tower, which dates from the 14th century. The church is generally closed to the public, but it’s arguably more impressive from the outside; the Renaissance doorway has stood since 1525. If you can peek inside, the nave dates from the 15th century, although the interior largely owes its appearance to 17th-century renovations. The church is the focus of important Good Friday celebrations. Along with the Iglesia de San Nicolás de los Servitas , the Iglesia de San Pedro El Viejo is one of very few sites where traces of Mudéjar Madrid remain in situ. Otherwise, you need to visit Toledo, 70km south of Madrid, to visualise what Madrid once was like.
Tucked away behind the Museo del Prado, this chapel was traditionally favoured by the Spanish royal family, and King Juan Carlos I was crowned here in 1975 upon the death of Franco. The sometimes-sober, sometimes-splendid mock-Isabelline interior is actually a 19th-century reconstruction that took its cues from the Iglesia de San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo; the original was largely destroyed during the Peninsular War. What remained of the former cloisters has been incorporated into the Museo del Prado.
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San Jerónimo el Real
4 Calle de Moreto
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Tucked away behind the Museo del Prado, this chapel was traditionally favoured by the Spanish royal family, and King Juan Carlos I was crowned here in 1975 upon the death of Franco. The sometimes-sober, sometimes-splendid mock-Isabelline interior is actually a 19th-century reconstruction that took its cues from the Iglesia de San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo; the original was largely destroyed during the Peninsular War. What remained of the former cloisters has been incorporated into the Museo del Prado.
A block south of Plaza de la Cibeles, this museum will appeal to those who always wondered what the Spanish Armada really looked like. On display are quite extraordinary models of ships from the earliest days of Spain’s maritime history to the 20th century. Lovers of antique maps will also find plenty of interest, especially Juan de la Cosa’s parchment map of the known world, put together in 1500. The accuracy of Europe and Africa is astounding, and it’s supposedly the first map to show the Americas. Also of interest is the wall-sized map showing Spanish maritime journeys of discovery from the 15th to 18th centuries. Statue of Don Blas de Lezo (3 February 1689 – 7 September 1741) one the Greatest Admirals of all time and unfortunately one of the most unknown Spanish heroes well deserves a visit - it is located at Plaza de Colon.
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Naval Museum of Madrid
5 Paseo del Prado
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A block south of Plaza de la Cibeles, this museum will appeal to those who always wondered what the Spanish Armada really looked like. On display are quite extraordinary models of ships from the earliest days of Spain’s maritime history to the 20th century. Lovers of antique maps will also find plenty of interest, especially Juan de la Cosa’s parchment map of the known world, put together in 1500. The accuracy of Europe and Africa is astounding, and it’s supposedly the first map to show the Americas. Also of interest is the wall-sized map showing Spanish maritime journeys of discovery from the 15th to 18th centuries. Statue of Don Blas de Lezo (3 February 1689 – 7 September 1741) one the Greatest Admirals of all time and unfortunately one of the most unknown Spanish heroes well deserves a visit - it is located at Plaza de Colon.
Sightseeing
Spain's lavish Palacio Real is a jewel box of a palace, although it's used only occasionally for royal ceremonies; the royal family moved to the modest Palacio de la Zarzuela years ago. When the alcázar burned down on Christmas Day 1734, Felipe V, the first of the Bourbon kings, decided to build a palace that would dwarf all its European counterparts. Felipe died before the palace was finished, which is perhaps why the Italianate baroque colossus has a mere 2800 rooms, just one-quarter of the original plan. The official tour (self-guided tours are also possible and follow the same route) leads through 50 of the palace rooms, which hold a good selection of Goyas, 215 absurdly ornate clocks, and five Stradivarius violins still used for concerts and balls. The main stairway is a grand statement of imperial power, leading to the Halberdiers' rooms and to the sumptuous Salón del Trono (Throne Room), with its crimson-velvet wall coverings and Tiepolo ceiling. Shortly after, you reach the Salón de Gasparini , with its exquisite stucco ceiling and walls resplendent with embroidered silks. Outside the main palace, visit the Farmacia Real (Royal Pharmacy) at the southern end of the patio known as the Plaza de la Armería (or Plaza de Armas). Westwards across the plaza is the Armería Real (Royal Armoury), a shiny collection of weapons and armour, mostly dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
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Madrid Kraliyet Sarayı
s/n Calle de Bailén
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Spain's lavish Palacio Real is a jewel box of a palace, although it's used only occasionally for royal ceremonies; the royal family moved to the modest Palacio de la Zarzuela years ago. When the alcázar burned down on Christmas Day 1734, Felipe V, the first of the Bourbon kings, decided to build a palace that would dwarf all its European counterparts. Felipe died before the palace was finished, which is perhaps why the Italianate baroque colossus has a mere 2800 rooms, just one-quarter of the original plan. The official tour (self-guided tours are also possible and follow the same route) leads through 50 of the palace rooms, which hold a good selection of Goyas, 215 absurdly ornate clocks, and five Stradivarius violins still used for concerts and balls. The main stairway is a grand statement of imperial power, leading to the Halberdiers' rooms and to the sumptuous Salón del Trono (Throne Room), with its crimson-velvet wall coverings and Tiepolo ceiling. Shortly after, you reach the Salón de Gasparini , with its exquisite stucco ceiling and walls resplendent with embroidered silks. Outside the main palace, visit the Farmacia Real (Royal Pharmacy) at the southern end of the patio known as the Plaza de la Armería (or Plaza de Armas). Westwards across the plaza is the Armería Real (Royal Armoury), a shiny collection of weapons and armour, mostly dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Legend has it that St Francis of Assisi built a chapel on this site in 1217. The current version was designed by Francesco Sabatini, who also designed the Puerta de Alcalá and finished off the Palacio Real. He designed the church with an unusual floor plan: the nave is circular and surrounded by chapels guarded by imposing marble statues of the 12 apostles; 12 prophets, rendered in wood, sit above them at the base of the dome. Each of the chapels is adorned with frescoes and decorated according to a different historical style, but most people rush to the neo-plateresque Capilla de San Bernardino, where the central fresco was painted by Goya in the early stages of his career. Unusually, Goya has painted himself into the scene (he’s the one in the yellow shirt on the right). A series of corridors behind the high altar (accessible only as part of the guided visit) is lined with works of art from the 17th to 19th centuries; highlights include a painting by Francisco Zurbarán, and another by Francisco Pacheco, the father-in-law and teacher of Velázquez. In the sacristy, watch out for the fine Renaissance sillería (the sculpted walnut seats where the church’s superiors would meet).
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Basílica de San Francisco el Grande
1 Calle de San Buenaventura
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Legend has it that St Francis of Assisi built a chapel on this site in 1217. The current version was designed by Francesco Sabatini, who also designed the Puerta de Alcalá and finished off the Palacio Real. He designed the church with an unusual floor plan: the nave is circular and surrounded by chapels guarded by imposing marble statues of the 12 apostles; 12 prophets, rendered in wood, sit above them at the base of the dome. Each of the chapels is adorned with frescoes and decorated according to a different historical style, but most people rush to the neo-plateresque Capilla de San Bernardino, where the central fresco was painted by Goya in the early stages of his career. Unusually, Goya has painted himself into the scene (he’s the one in the yellow shirt on the right). A series of corridors behind the high altar (accessible only as part of the guided visit) is lined with works of art from the 17th to 19th centuries; highlights include a painting by Francisco Zurbarán, and another by Francisco Pacheco, the father-in-law and teacher of Velázquez. In the sacristy, watch out for the fine Renaissance sillería (the sculpted walnut seats where the church’s superiors would meet).
Yes, that is an Egyptian temple in downtown Madrid. The temple was saved from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in southern Egypt when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser built the Aswan High Dam. After 1968 it was sent block by block to Spain as a gesture of thanks to Spanish archaeologists in the Unesco team that worked to save the monuments that would otherwise have disappeared forever. No matter which way you look at it, there’s something incongruous about finding the Templo de Debod in the Parque de la Montaña northwest of Plaza de España. Begun in 2200 BC and completed over many centuries, the temple was dedicated to the god Amon of Thebes, about 20km south of Philae in the Nubian desert of southern Egypt. According to some authors of myth and legend, the goddess Isis gave birth to Horus in this very temple, although obviously not in Madrid. The views from the surrounding gardens towards the Palacio Real are some of Madrid’s prettiest.
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Debod Tapınağı
1 Calle Ferraz
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Yes, that is an Egyptian temple in downtown Madrid. The temple was saved from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in southern Egypt when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser built the Aswan High Dam. After 1968 it was sent block by block to Spain as a gesture of thanks to Spanish archaeologists in the Unesco team that worked to save the monuments that would otherwise have disappeared forever. No matter which way you look at it, there’s something incongruous about finding the Templo de Debod in the Parque de la Montaña northwest of Plaza de España. Begun in 2200 BC and completed over many centuries, the temple was dedicated to the god Amon of Thebes, about 20km south of Philae in the Nubian desert of southern Egypt. According to some authors of myth and legend, the goddess Isis gave birth to Horus in this very temple, although obviously not in Madrid. The views from the surrounding gardens towards the Palacio Real are some of Madrid’s prettiest.
Madrid's grand central square, a rare but expansive opening in the tightly packed streets of central Madrid, is one of the prettiest open spaces in Spain, a winning combination of imposing architecture, picaresque historical tales and vibrant street life coursing across its cobblestones. At once beautiful in its own right and a reference point for so many Madrid days, it also hosts the city's main tourist office, a Christmas market in December and arches leading to laneways leading out into the labyrinth. Ah, the history the plaza has seen! Designed in 1619 by Juan Gómez de Mora and built in typical Herrerian style, of which the slate spires are the most obvious expression, its first public ceremony was suitably auspicious – the beatification of San Isidro Labrador (St Isidro the Farm Labourer), Madrid’s patron saint. Thereafter it was as if all that was controversial about Spain took place in this square. Bullfights, often in celebration of royal weddings or births, with royalty watching on from the balconies and up to 50,000 people crammed into the plaza, were a recurring theme until 1878. Far more notorious were the autos-da-fé (the ritual condemnations of heretics during the Spanish Inquisition), followed by executions – burnings at the stake and deaths by garrotte on the north side of the square, hangings to the south. These continued until 1790 when a fire largely destroyed the square, which was subsequently reproduced under the supervision of Juan de Villanueva, who lent his name to the building that now houses the Museo del Prado .These days, the plaza is an epicentre of Madrid life. The grandeur of the plaza is due in large part to the warm colours of the uniformly ochre apartments, with 237 wrought-iron balconies offset by the exquisite frescoes of the 17th-century Real Casa de la Panadería (Royal Bakery). The present frescoes date to just 1992 and are the work of artist Carlos Franco, who chose images from the signs of the zodiac and gods (eg Cybele) to provide a stunning backdrop for the plaza. The frescoes were inaugurated to coincide with Madrid’s 1992 spell as European Capital of Culture.
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Plaza Mayor
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Madrid's grand central square, a rare but expansive opening in the tightly packed streets of central Madrid, is one of the prettiest open spaces in Spain, a winning combination of imposing architecture, picaresque historical tales and vibrant street life coursing across its cobblestones. At once beautiful in its own right and a reference point for so many Madrid days, it also hosts the city's main tourist office, a Christmas market in December and arches leading to laneways leading out into the labyrinth. Ah, the history the plaza has seen! Designed in 1619 by Juan Gómez de Mora and built in typical Herrerian style, of which the slate spires are the most obvious expression, its first public ceremony was suitably auspicious – the beatification of San Isidro Labrador (St Isidro the Farm Labourer), Madrid’s patron saint. Thereafter it was as if all that was controversial about Spain took place in this square. Bullfights, often in celebration of royal weddings or births, with royalty watching on from the balconies and up to 50,000 people crammed into the plaza, were a recurring theme until 1878. Far more notorious were the autos-da-fé (the ritual condemnations of heretics during the Spanish Inquisition), followed by executions – burnings at the stake and deaths by garrotte on the north side of the square, hangings to the south. These continued until 1790 when a fire largely destroyed the square, which was subsequently reproduced under the supervision of Juan de Villanueva, who lent his name to the building that now houses the Museo del Prado .These days, the plaza is an epicentre of Madrid life. The grandeur of the plaza is due in large part to the warm colours of the uniformly ochre apartments, with 237 wrought-iron balconies offset by the exquisite frescoes of the 17th-century Real Casa de la Panadería (Royal Bakery). The present frescoes date to just 1992 and are the work of artist Carlos Franco, who chose images from the signs of the zodiac and gods (eg Cybele) to provide a stunning backdrop for the plaza. The frescoes were inaugurated to coincide with Madrid’s 1992 spell as European Capital of Culture.
The intimate Plaza de la Villa is one of Madrid’s prettiest. Enclosed on three sides by wonderfully preserved examples of 17th-century barroco madrileño (Madrid-style baroque architecture: a pleasing amalgam of brick, exposed stone and wrought iron), it was the permanent seat of Madrid’s city government from the Middle Ages until recent years when Madrid’s city council relocated to the grand Palacio de Comunicaciones on Plaza de la Cibeles. On the western side of the square is the 17th-century former ayuntamiento (town hall), in Habsburg-style baroque with Herrerian slate-tile spires. On the opposite side of the square is the Gothic Casa de los Lujanes , whose brickwork tower is said to have been ‘home’ to the imprisoned French monarch François I after his capture in the Battle of Pavia (1525). The plateresque (15th- and 16th-century Spanish baroque) Casa de Cisneros , built in 1537 with later Renaissance alterations, also catches the eye.
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Plaza de la Villa
5 Plaza de la Villa
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The intimate Plaza de la Villa is one of Madrid’s prettiest. Enclosed on three sides by wonderfully preserved examples of 17th-century barroco madrileño (Madrid-style baroque architecture: a pleasing amalgam of brick, exposed stone and wrought iron), it was the permanent seat of Madrid’s city government from the Middle Ages until recent years when Madrid’s city council relocated to the grand Palacio de Comunicaciones on Plaza de la Cibeles. On the western side of the square is the 17th-century former ayuntamiento (town hall), in Habsburg-style baroque with Herrerian slate-tile spires. On the opposite side of the square is the Gothic Casa de los Lujanes , whose brickwork tower is said to have been ‘home’ to the imprisoned French monarch François I after his capture in the Battle of Pavia (1525). The plateresque (15th- and 16th-century Spanish baroque) Casa de Cisneros , built in 1537 with later Renaissance alterations, also catches the eye.
Although not as expansive or as popular as the Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid’s botanical gardens are another leafy oasis in the centre of town. With some 30,000 species crammed into a relatively small 8-hectare area, it’s more a place to wander at leisure than laze under a tree, although there are benches dotted throughout the gardens where you can sit. In the centre stands a statue of Carlos III, who in 1781 moved the gardens here from their original location at El Huerto de Migas Calientes, on the banks of the Río Manzanares, while in the Pabellón Villanueva , on the eastern flank of the gardens, art exhibitions are frequently staged – the opening hours are the same as for the park and the exhibitions are usually free. There are Spanish-language guided visits to the gardens; reservations by phone are essential.
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Real Jardín Botánico
2 Plaza de Murillo
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Although not as expansive or as popular as the Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid’s botanical gardens are another leafy oasis in the centre of town. With some 30,000 species crammed into a relatively small 8-hectare area, it’s more a place to wander at leisure than laze under a tree, although there are benches dotted throughout the gardens where you can sit. In the centre stands a statue of Carlos III, who in 1781 moved the gardens here from their original location at El Huerto de Migas Calientes, on the banks of the Río Manzanares, while in the Pabellón Villanueva , on the eastern flank of the gardens, art exhibitions are frequently staged – the opening hours are the same as for the park and the exhibitions are usually free. There are Spanish-language guided visits to the gardens; reservations by phone are essential.
The grim plateresque walls of the Convento de las Descalzas Reales offer no hint that behind the facade lies a sumptuous stronghold of the faith. The compulsory guided tour (in Spanish) leads you up a gaudily frescoed Renaissance stairway to the upper level of the cloister. The vault was painted by Claudio Coello, one of the most important artists of the Madrid School of the 17th century and whose works adorn San Lorenzo de El Escorial. You then pass several of the convent's 33 chapels – a maximum of 33 Franciscan nuns is allowed to live here (perhaps because Christ is said to have been 33 when he died) as part of a closed order. These nuns follow in the tradition of the Descalzas Reales (Barefooted Royals), a group of illustrious women who cloistered themselves when the convent was founded in the 16th century. The first of these chapels contains a remarkable carved figure of a dead, reclining Christ, which is paraded in a Good Friday procession each year. At the end of the passage is the antechoir, then the choir stalls themselves. Buried here is Doña Juana, Carlos I's widowed daughter who, in a typical piece of 16th-century collusion between royalty and the Catholic Church, commandeered the palace and had it converted into a convent. A Virgen la Dolorosa by Pedro de la Mena is seated in one of the 33 oak stalls. In the former sleeping quarters of the nuns are some of the most extraordinary tapestries you're ever likely to see. Woven in the 17th century in Brussels, they include four based on drawings by Rubens. To produce works of this quality, four or five artisans could take up to a year to weave just 1 sq metre of tapestry...
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Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
3 Plaza Descalzas
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The grim plateresque walls of the Convento de las Descalzas Reales offer no hint that behind the facade lies a sumptuous stronghold of the faith. The compulsory guided tour (in Spanish) leads you up a gaudily frescoed Renaissance stairway to the upper level of the cloister. The vault was painted by Claudio Coello, one of the most important artists of the Madrid School of the 17th century and whose works adorn San Lorenzo de El Escorial. You then pass several of the convent's 33 chapels – a maximum of 33 Franciscan nuns is allowed to live here (perhaps because Christ is said to have been 33 when he died) as part of a closed order. These nuns follow in the tradition of the Descalzas Reales (Barefooted Royals), a group of illustrious women who cloistered themselves when the convent was founded in the 16th century. The first of these chapels contains a remarkable carved figure of a dead, reclining Christ, which is paraded in a Good Friday procession each year. At the end of the passage is the antechoir, then the choir stalls themselves. Buried here is Doña Juana, Carlos I's widowed daughter who, in a typical piece of 16th-century collusion between royalty and the Catholic Church, commandeered the palace and had it converted into a convent. A Virgen la Dolorosa by Pedro de la Mena is seated in one of the 33 oak stalls. In the former sleeping quarters of the nuns are some of the most extraordinary tapestries you're ever likely to see. Woven in the 17th century in Brussels, they include four based on drawings by Rubens. To produce works of this quality, four or five artisans could take up to a year to weave just 1 sq metre of tapestry...
Arts & Culture
After spending €100 million-plus on a long rebuilding project, the Teatro Real is as technologically advanced as any venue in Europe, and is the city’s grandest stage for elaborate operas, ballets and classical music.
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Teatro Real
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After spending €100 million-plus on a long rebuilding project, the Teatro Real is as technologically advanced as any venue in Europe, and is the city’s grandest stage for elaborate operas, ballets and classical music.
In addition to Picasso’s Guernica, which is worth the admission fee on its own, don’t neglect the artist’s preparatory sketches in the rooms surrounding Room 206; they offer an intriguing insight into the development of this seminal work. If Picasso’s cubist style has captured your imagination, the work of the Madrid-born Juan Gris (1887–1927) or Georges Braque (1882–1963) may appeal. The work of Joan Miró is defined by often delightfully bright primary colours, but watch out also for a handful of his equally odd sculptures. Since his paintings became a symbol of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, his work has begun to receive the international acclaim it so richly deserves – the museum is a fine place to get a representative sample of his innovative work. The Reina Sofía is also home to 20 or so canvases by Salvador Dalí, of which the most famous is perhaps the surrealist extravaganza that is El gran masturbador (1929). Among his other works is a strange bust of a certain Joelle, which Dalí created with his friend Man Ray (1890–1976). Another well-known surrealist painter, Max Ernst (1891–1976), is also worth tracking down. If you can tear yourself away from the big names, the Reina Sofía offers a terrific opportunity to learn more about sometimes lesser-known 20th-century Spanish artists. Among these are Miquel Barceló (b 1957); madrileño artist José Gutiérrez Solana (1886–1945); the renowned Basque painter Ignazio Zuloaga (1870–1945); Benjamín Palencia (1894–1980), whose paintings capture the turbulence of Spain in the 1930s; Barcelona painter Antoni Tàpies (1923–2012); pop artist Eduardo Arroyo (b 1937); and abstract painters such as Eusebio Sempere (1923–85) and members of the Equipo 57 group (founded in 1957 by a group of Spanish artists in exile in Paris), such as Pablo Palazuelo (1916–2007). Better known as a poet and playwright, Federico García Lorca (1898–1936) is represented by a number of his sketches. Of the sculptors, watch in particular for Pablo Gargallo (1881–1934), whose work in bronze includes a bust of Picasso, and the renowned Basque sculptors Jorge Oteiza (1908–2003) and Eduardo Chillida (1924–2002).
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Arzábal - Museo Reina Sofía
52 Calle de Santa Isabel
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In addition to Picasso’s Guernica, which is worth the admission fee on its own, don’t neglect the artist’s preparatory sketches in the rooms surrounding Room 206; they offer an intriguing insight into the development of this seminal work. If Picasso’s cubist style has captured your imagination, the work of the Madrid-born Juan Gris (1887–1927) or Georges Braque (1882–1963) may appeal. The work of Joan Miró is defined by often delightfully bright primary colours, but watch out also for a handful of his equally odd sculptures. Since his paintings became a symbol of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, his work has begun to receive the international acclaim it so richly deserves – the museum is a fine place to get a representative sample of his innovative work. The Reina Sofía is also home to 20 or so canvases by Salvador Dalí, of which the most famous is perhaps the surrealist extravaganza that is El gran masturbador (1929). Among his other works is a strange bust of a certain Joelle, which Dalí created with his friend Man Ray (1890–1976). Another well-known surrealist painter, Max Ernst (1891–1976), is also worth tracking down. If you can tear yourself away from the big names, the Reina Sofía offers a terrific opportunity to learn more about sometimes lesser-known 20th-century Spanish artists. Among these are Miquel Barceló (b 1957); madrileño artist José Gutiérrez Solana (1886–1945); the renowned Basque painter Ignazio Zuloaga (1870–1945); Benjamín Palencia (1894–1980), whose paintings capture the turbulence of Spain in the 1930s; Barcelona painter Antoni Tàpies (1923–2012); pop artist Eduardo Arroyo (b 1937); and abstract painters such as Eusebio Sempere (1923–85) and members of the Equipo 57 group (founded in 1957 by a group of Spanish artists in exile in Paris), such as Pablo Palazuelo (1916–2007). Better known as a poet and playwright, Federico García Lorca (1898–1936) is represented by a number of his sketches. Of the sculptors, watch in particular for Pablo Gargallo (1881–1934), whose work in bronze includes a bust of Picasso, and the renowned Basque sculptors Jorge Oteiza (1908–2003) and Eduardo Chillida (1924–2002).
The Thyssen is one of the most extraordinary private collections of predominantly European art in the world. Where the Prado or Reina Sofía enable you to study the body of work of a particular artist in depth, the Thyssen is the place to immerse yourself in a breathtaking breadth of artistic styles. Most of the big names are here, sometimes with just a single painting, but the Thyssen’s gift to Madrid and the art-loving public is to have them all under one roof. Begin on the top floor and work your way down. Second Floor The 2nd floor, which is home to medieval art, includes some real gems hidden among the mostly 13th- and 14th-century and predominantly Italian, German and Flemish religious paintings and triptychs. Unless you’ve got a specialist’s eye, pause in Room 5 where you’ll find one work by Italy’s Piero della Francesca (1410–92) and the instantly recognisable Portrait of King Henry VIII by Holbein the Younger (1497–1543), before continuing on to Room 10 for the evocative 1586 Massacre of the Innocents by Lucas Van Valckenberch. Room 11 is dedicated to El Greco (with three pieces) and his Venetian contemporaries Tintoretto and Titian, while Caravaggio and the Spaniard José de Ribera dominate Room 12. A single painting each by Murillo and Zurbarán add further Spanish flavour in the two rooms that follow, while the exceptionally rendered views of Venice by Canaletto (1697–1768) should on no account be missed. Best of all on this floor is the extension (Rooms A to H) built to house the collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Room C houses paintings by Canaletto, Constable and Van Gogh, while the stunning Room H includes works by Monet, Sisley, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas. Before heading downstairs, a detour to Rooms 19 through 21 will satisfy those devoted to 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters, such as Anton van Dyck, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Rubens and Rembrandt (one painting). First Floor If all that sounds impressive, the 1st floor is where the Thyssen really shines. There’s a Gainsborough in Room 28 and a Goya in Room 31 but, if you’ve been skimming the surface of this overwhelming collection, Room 32 is the place to linger over each and every painting. The astonishing texture of Van Gogh’s Les Vessenots is a masterpiece, but the same could be said for Woman in Riding Habit by Manet, The Thaw at Véthueil by Monet, Renoir’s Woman with a Parasol in a Garden and Pissarro’s quintessentially Parisian Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon . Room 33 is also something special, with Cézanne, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas, while the big names continue in Room 34 (Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani) and 35 (Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele). In the 1st floor’s extension (Rooms I to P), the names speak for themselves. Room K has works by Monet, Pissaro, Sorolla and Sisley, while Room L is the domain of Gauguin (including his iconic Mata Mua ), Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. Rooms M (Munch), N (Kandinsky), O (Matisse and Georges Braque) and P (Picasso, Matisse, Edward Hopper and Juan Gris) round out an outrageously rich journey through the masters. On your way to the stairs there’s Edward Hopper’s Hotel Room . Ground Floor On the ground floor, the foray into the 20th century that you began in the 1st-floor extension takes over with a fine spread of paintings from cubism through to pop art. In Room 41 you’ll see a nice mix of the big three of cubism, Picasso, Georges Braque and Madrid’s own Juan Gris, along with several other contemporaries. Kandinsky is the main drawcard in Room 43, while there’s an early Salvador Dalí alongside Max Ernst and Paul Klee in Room 44. Picasso appears again in Room 45, another one of the gallery’s standout rooms; its treasures include works by Marc Chagall and Dalí’s hallucinatory Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, One Second Before Waking Up . Room 46 is similarly rich, with Joan Miró’s Catalan Peasant with a Guitar, the splattered craziness of Jackson Pollock’s Brown and Silver I, and the deceptively simple but strangely pleasing Green on Maroon by Mark Rothko taking centre stage. In Rooms 47 and 48 the Thyssen builds to a stirring climax, with Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, Henry Moore and Lucian Freud, Sigmund’s Berlin-born grandson, all represented.
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Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
8 Paseo del Prado
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The Thyssen is one of the most extraordinary private collections of predominantly European art in the world. Where the Prado or Reina Sofía enable you to study the body of work of a particular artist in depth, the Thyssen is the place to immerse yourself in a breathtaking breadth of artistic styles. Most of the big names are here, sometimes with just a single painting, but the Thyssen’s gift to Madrid and the art-loving public is to have them all under one roof. Begin on the top floor and work your way down. Second Floor The 2nd floor, which is home to medieval art, includes some real gems hidden among the mostly 13th- and 14th-century and predominantly Italian, German and Flemish religious paintings and triptychs. Unless you’ve got a specialist’s eye, pause in Room 5 where you’ll find one work by Italy’s Piero della Francesca (1410–92) and the instantly recognisable Portrait of King Henry VIII by Holbein the Younger (1497–1543), before continuing on to Room 10 for the evocative 1586 Massacre of the Innocents by Lucas Van Valckenberch. Room 11 is dedicated to El Greco (with three pieces) and his Venetian contemporaries Tintoretto and Titian, while Caravaggio and the Spaniard José de Ribera dominate Room 12. A single painting each by Murillo and Zurbarán add further Spanish flavour in the two rooms that follow, while the exceptionally rendered views of Venice by Canaletto (1697–1768) should on no account be missed. Best of all on this floor is the extension (Rooms A to H) built to house the collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Room C houses paintings by Canaletto, Constable and Van Gogh, while the stunning Room H includes works by Monet, Sisley, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas. Before heading downstairs, a detour to Rooms 19 through 21 will satisfy those devoted to 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters, such as Anton van Dyck, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Rubens and Rembrandt (one painting). First Floor If all that sounds impressive, the 1st floor is where the Thyssen really shines. There’s a Gainsborough in Room 28 and a Goya in Room 31 but, if you’ve been skimming the surface of this overwhelming collection, Room 32 is the place to linger over each and every painting. The astonishing texture of Van Gogh’s Les Vessenots is a masterpiece, but the same could be said for Woman in Riding Habit by Manet, The Thaw at Véthueil by Monet, Renoir’s Woman with a Parasol in a Garden and Pissarro’s quintessentially Parisian Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon . Room 33 is also something special, with Cézanne, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas, while the big names continue in Room 34 (Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani) and 35 (Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele). In the 1st floor’s extension (Rooms I to P), the names speak for themselves. Room K has works by Monet, Pissaro, Sorolla and Sisley, while Room L is the domain of Gauguin (including his iconic Mata Mua ), Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. Rooms M (Munch), N (Kandinsky), O (Matisse and Georges Braque) and P (Picasso, Matisse, Edward Hopper and Juan Gris) round out an outrageously rich journey through the masters. On your way to the stairs there’s Edward Hopper’s Hotel Room . Ground Floor On the ground floor, the foray into the 20th century that you began in the 1st-floor extension takes over with a fine spread of paintings from cubism through to pop art. In Room 41 you’ll see a nice mix of the big three of cubism, Picasso, Georges Braque and Madrid’s own Juan Gris, along with several other contemporaries. Kandinsky is the main drawcard in Room 43, while there’s an early Salvador Dalí alongside Max Ernst and Paul Klee in Room 44. Picasso appears again in Room 45, another one of the gallery’s standout rooms; its treasures include works by Marc Chagall and Dalí’s hallucinatory Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, One Second Before Waking Up . Room 46 is similarly rich, with Joan Miró’s Catalan Peasant with a Guitar, the splattered craziness of Jackson Pollock’s Brown and Silver I, and the deceptively simple but strangely pleasing Green on Maroon by Mark Rothko taking centre stage. In Rooms 47 and 48 the Thyssen builds to a stirring climax, with Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, Henry Moore and Lucian Freud, Sigmund’s Berlin-born grandson, all represented.
Welcome to one of the world's premier art galleries. The more than 7000 paintings held in the Museo del Prado’s collection (although only around 1500 are currently on display) are like a window onto the historical vagaries of the Spanish soul, at once grand and imperious in the royal paintings of Velázquez, darkly tumultuous in Las pinturas negras (The Black Paintings) of Goya, and outward looking with sophisticated works of art from all across Europe. Spend as long as you can at the Prado or, better still, plan to make a couple of visits because it can be a little overwhelming if you try to absorb it all at once. Entrance to the Prado is via the eastern Puerta de los Jerónimos , with tickets on sale beneath the northern Puerta de Goya . Once inside, pick up the free plan from the ticket office or information desk just inside the entrance – it lists the locations of 50 of the Prado’s most famous works and gives room numbers for all major artists. History The western wing of the Prado (Edificio Villanueva) was completed in 1785, as the neoclassical Palacio de Villanueva. Originally conceived as a house of science, it later served, somewhat ignominiously, as a cavalry barracks for Napoleon’s troops during their occupation of Madrid between 1808 and 1813. In 1814 King Fernando VII decided to use the palace as a museum, although his purpose was more about finding a way of storing the hundreds of royal paintings gathering dust than any high-minded civic ideals – this was an era where art was a royal preserve. Five years later the Museo del Prado opened with 311 Spanish paintings on display. Goya Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Goya) is found on all three floors of the Prado, but we recommend starting at the southern end of the ground or lower level. In Room 65, Goya’s El dos de mayo and El tres de mayo rank among Madrid’s most emblematic paintings; they bring to life the 1808 anti-French revolt and subsequent execution of insurgents in Madrid. Alongside, in Rooms 67 and 68, are some of his darkest and most disturbing works, Las pinturas negras; they are so called in part because of the dark browns and black that dominate, but more for the distorted animalesque appearance of their characters. There are more Goyas on the 1st floor in Rooms 34 to 37. Among them are two more of Goya’s best-known and most intriguing oils: La maja vestida and La maja desnuda . These portraits, in Room 73, of an unknown woman, commonly believed to be the Duquesa de Alba (who may have been Goya’s lover), are identical save for the lack of clothing in the latter. There are further Goyas on the top floor. Velázquez Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (Velázquez) is another of the grand masters of Spanish art who brings so much distinction to the Prado. Of all his works, Las meninas (Room 12) is what most people come to see. Completed in 1656, it is more properly known as La família de Felipe IV (The Family of Felipe IV). The rooms surrounding Las meninas contain more fine works by Velázquez: watch in particular for his paintings of various members of royalty who seem to spring off the canvas – Felipe II, Felipe IV, Margarita de Austria (a younger version of whom features in Las meninas ), El Príncipe Baltasar Carlos and Isabel de Francia – on horseback. Spanish & Other European Masters Having experienced the essence of the Prado, you’re now free to select from the astonishingly diverse works that remain. If Spanish painters have piqued your curiosity, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, José de Ribera and the stark figures of Francisco de Zurbarán should be on your itinerary. The vivid, almost surreal works by the 16th-century master and adopted Spaniard El Greco, whose figures are characteristically slender and tortured, are also perfectly executed. Another alternative is the Prado’s outstanding collection of Flemish art. The fulsome figures and bulbous cherubs of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) provide a playful antidote to the darkness of many of the other Flemish artists. His signature works are Las tres gracias (The Three Graces) and Adoración de los reyes magos . Other fine works in the vicinity include The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel, Rembrandt’s Artemisa, and those by Anton Van Dyck. And on no account miss the weird and wonderful The Garden of Earthly Delights (Room 56A) by Hieronymus Bosch (c 1450–1516). No one has yet been able to provide a definitive explanation for this hallucinatory work, although many have tried. And then there are the paintings by Dürer, Rafael, Tiziano (Titian), Tintoretto, Sorolla, Gainsborough, Fra Angelico, Tiepolo…
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Prado Müzesi
s/n Paseo del Prado
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Welcome to one of the world's premier art galleries. The more than 7000 paintings held in the Museo del Prado’s collection (although only around 1500 are currently on display) are like a window onto the historical vagaries of the Spanish soul, at once grand and imperious in the royal paintings of Velázquez, darkly tumultuous in Las pinturas negras (The Black Paintings) of Goya, and outward looking with sophisticated works of art from all across Europe. Spend as long as you can at the Prado or, better still, plan to make a couple of visits because it can be a little overwhelming if you try to absorb it all at once. Entrance to the Prado is via the eastern Puerta de los Jerónimos , with tickets on sale beneath the northern Puerta de Goya . Once inside, pick up the free plan from the ticket office or information desk just inside the entrance – it lists the locations of 50 of the Prado’s most famous works and gives room numbers for all major artists. History The western wing of the Prado (Edificio Villanueva) was completed in 1785, as the neoclassical Palacio de Villanueva. Originally conceived as a house of science, it later served, somewhat ignominiously, as a cavalry barracks for Napoleon’s troops during their occupation of Madrid between 1808 and 1813. In 1814 King Fernando VII decided to use the palace as a museum, although his purpose was more about finding a way of storing the hundreds of royal paintings gathering dust than any high-minded civic ideals – this was an era where art was a royal preserve. Five years later the Museo del Prado opened with 311 Spanish paintings on display. Goya Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Goya) is found on all three floors of the Prado, but we recommend starting at the southern end of the ground or lower level. In Room 65, Goya’s El dos de mayo and El tres de mayo rank among Madrid’s most emblematic paintings; they bring to life the 1808 anti-French revolt and subsequent execution of insurgents in Madrid. Alongside, in Rooms 67 and 68, are some of his darkest and most disturbing works, Las pinturas negras; they are so called in part because of the dark browns and black that dominate, but more for the distorted animalesque appearance of their characters. There are more Goyas on the 1st floor in Rooms 34 to 37. Among them are two more of Goya’s best-known and most intriguing oils: La maja vestida and La maja desnuda . These portraits, in Room 73, of an unknown woman, commonly believed to be the Duquesa de Alba (who may have been Goya’s lover), are identical save for the lack of clothing in the latter. There are further Goyas on the top floor. Velázquez Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (Velázquez) is another of the grand masters of Spanish art who brings so much distinction to the Prado. Of all his works, Las meninas (Room 12) is what most people come to see. Completed in 1656, it is more properly known as La família de Felipe IV (The Family of Felipe IV). The rooms surrounding Las meninas contain more fine works by Velázquez: watch in particular for his paintings of various members of royalty who seem to spring off the canvas – Felipe II, Felipe IV, Margarita de Austria (a younger version of whom features in Las meninas ), El Príncipe Baltasar Carlos and Isabel de Francia – on horseback. Spanish & Other European Masters Having experienced the essence of the Prado, you’re now free to select from the astonishingly diverse works that remain. If Spanish painters have piqued your curiosity, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, José de Ribera and the stark figures of Francisco de Zurbarán should be on your itinerary. The vivid, almost surreal works by the 16th-century master and adopted Spaniard El Greco, whose figures are characteristically slender and tortured, are also perfectly executed. Another alternative is the Prado’s outstanding collection of Flemish art. The fulsome figures and bulbous cherubs of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) provide a playful antidote to the darkness of many of the other Flemish artists. His signature works are Las tres gracias (The Three Graces) and Adoración de los reyes magos . Other fine works in the vicinity include The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel, Rembrandt’s Artemisa, and those by Anton Van Dyck. And on no account miss the weird and wonderful The Garden of Earthly Delights (Room 56A) by Hieronymus Bosch (c 1450–1516). No one has yet been able to provide a definitive explanation for this hallucinatory work, although many have tried. And then there are the paintings by Dürer, Rafael, Tiziano (Titian), Tintoretto, Sorolla, Gainsborough, Fra Angelico, Tiepolo…
Perhaps the most impressive of the grand edifices erected along the Paseo de los Recoletos in the 19th century, the 1892 Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) dominates the southern end of Plaza de Colón. Downstairs, and entered via a separate entrance, the fascinating and recently overhauled museum is a must for bibliophiles, with interactive displays on printing presses and other materials, illuminated manuscripts, the history of the library, and literary cafes. One of my favourites exhibits are the 1626 map of Spain and Picasso’s Mademoiselle Léonie en un sillón in the Sala de las Musas.
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Biblioteca Nacional
22 Paseo de Recoletos
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Perhaps the most impressive of the grand edifices erected along the Paseo de los Recoletos in the 19th century, the 1892 Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) dominates the southern end of Plaza de Colón. Downstairs, and entered via a separate entrance, the fascinating and recently overhauled museum is a must for bibliophiles, with interactive displays on printing presses and other materials, illuminated manuscripts, the history of the library, and literary cafes. One of my favourites exhibits are the 1626 map of Spain and Picasso’s Mademoiselle Léonie en un sillón in the Sala de las Musas.
Parks & Nature
The glorious gardens of El Retiro are as beautiful as any you’ll find in a European city. Littered with marble monuments, landscaped lawns, the occasional elegant building (the Palacio de Cristal is especially worth seeking out) and abundant greenery, it’s quiet and contemplative during the week but comes to life on weekends. Put simply, this is one of my favourite places in Madrid. Laid out in the 17th century by Felipe IV as the preserve of kings, queens and their intimates, the park was opened to the public in 1868 and ever since, whenever the weather’s fine and on weekends in particular, madrileños (people from Madrid) from all across the city gather here to stroll, read the Sunday papers in the shade, take a boat ride or nurse a cool drink at the numerous outdoor terrazas (open-air cafes). The focal point for so much of El Retiro’s life is the artificial lake (estanque ), which is watched over by the massive ornamental structure of the Monument to Alfonso XII on the east side, complete with marble lions; as sunset approaches on a Sunday afternoon in summer, the crowd grows, bongos sound out across the park and people start to dance. Row boats can be rented from the lake's northern shore – an iconic Madrid experience. On the southern end of the lake, the odd structure decorated with sphinxes is the Fuente Egipcia : legend has it that an enormous fortune buried in the park by Felipe IV in the mid-18th century rests here. Hidden among the trees south of the lake is the Palacio de Cristal , a magnificent metal-and-glass structure that is arguably El Retiro’s most beautiful architectural monument. It was built in 1887 as a winter garden for exotic flowers and is now used for temporary exhibitions organised by the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Just north of here, the 1883 Palacio de Velázquez is also used for temporary exhibitions. At the southern end of the park, near La Rosaleda (Rose Garden) with its more than 4000 roses, is a statue of El Ángel Caído . Strangely, it sits 666m above sea level… In the same vein, the Puerta de Dante , in the extreme southeastern corner of the park, is watched over by a carved mural of Dante’s Inferno. Occupying much of the southwestern corner of the park is the Jardín de los Planteles , one of the least-visited sections of El Retiro, where quiet pathways lead beneath an overarching canopy of trees. West of here is the moving Bosque del Recuerdo , an understated memorial to the 191 victims of the 11 March 2004 train bombings. For each victim stands an olive or cypress tree. To the north, just inside the Puerta de Felipe IV, stands what is thought to be Madrid’s oldest tree , a Mexican conifer (ahuehuete ) planted in 1633. In the northeastern corner of the park is the Ermita de San Isidro , a small country chapel noteworthy as one of the few, albeit modest, examples of Romanesque architecture in Madrid. When it was built, Madrid was a small village more than 2km away.
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Retiro Parkı
7 Plaza de la Independencia
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The glorious gardens of El Retiro are as beautiful as any you’ll find in a European city. Littered with marble monuments, landscaped lawns, the occasional elegant building (the Palacio de Cristal is especially worth seeking out) and abundant greenery, it’s quiet and contemplative during the week but comes to life on weekends. Put simply, this is one of my favourite places in Madrid. Laid out in the 17th century by Felipe IV as the preserve of kings, queens and their intimates, the park was opened to the public in 1868 and ever since, whenever the weather’s fine and on weekends in particular, madrileños (people from Madrid) from all across the city gather here to stroll, read the Sunday papers in the shade, take a boat ride or nurse a cool drink at the numerous outdoor terrazas (open-air cafes). The focal point for so much of El Retiro’s life is the artificial lake (estanque ), which is watched over by the massive ornamental structure of the Monument to Alfonso XII on the east side, complete with marble lions; as sunset approaches on a Sunday afternoon in summer, the crowd grows, bongos sound out across the park and people start to dance. Row boats can be rented from the lake's northern shore – an iconic Madrid experience. On the southern end of the lake, the odd structure decorated with sphinxes is the Fuente Egipcia : legend has it that an enormous fortune buried in the park by Felipe IV in the mid-18th century rests here. Hidden among the trees south of the lake is the Palacio de Cristal , a magnificent metal-and-glass structure that is arguably El Retiro’s most beautiful architectural monument. It was built in 1887 as a winter garden for exotic flowers and is now used for temporary exhibitions organised by the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Just north of here, the 1883 Palacio de Velázquez is also used for temporary exhibitions. At the southern end of the park, near La Rosaleda (Rose Garden) with its more than 4000 roses, is a statue of El Ángel Caído . Strangely, it sits 666m above sea level… In the same vein, the Puerta de Dante , in the extreme southeastern corner of the park, is watched over by a carved mural of Dante’s Inferno. Occupying much of the southwestern corner of the park is the Jardín de los Planteles , one of the least-visited sections of El Retiro, where quiet pathways lead beneath an overarching canopy of trees. West of here is the moving Bosque del Recuerdo , an understated memorial to the 191 victims of the 11 March 2004 train bombings. For each victim stands an olive or cypress tree. To the north, just inside the Puerta de Felipe IV, stands what is thought to be Madrid’s oldest tree , a Mexican conifer (ahuehuete ) planted in 1633. In the northeastern corner of the park is the Ermita de San Isidro , a small country chapel noteworthy as one of the few, albeit modest, examples of Romanesque architecture in Madrid. When it was built, Madrid was a small village more than 2km away.
Entertainment & Activities
This amusement park in the Casa de Campo has the usual collection of high-adrenaline rides, shows for the kids and kitsch at every turn. In the Zona de Máquinas are most of the bigger rides, such as classic roller-coasters, the Lanzadera (which takes you up 63m and then drops you in a simulated bungee jump), La Máquina (a giant wheel that spins on its axis) and the favourite, the Tornado, a kind of upside-down roller-coaster that zips along at up to 80km/h. After all that gut-churning stuff, you’ll be grateful for the Zona de Tranquilidad , where you can climb aboard a gentle Ferris wheel, take a theme ride through the jungle or just sit back for a snack. Of course, tranquility is relative – El Viejo Caserón (haunted house) is not for the nervous among you (in fact it’s the adults who get spooked!). La Zona de la Naturaleza (Nature Zone) offers, among other things, dodgems and various water rides. Finally, in the Zona Infantil , younger kids can get their own thrills on less hair-raising rides, such as a Ford-T, the Barón Rojo (Red Baron) and Caballos del Oeste (Horses of the Wild West). The park has all sorts of timetable variations, so it is always a good idea to check before committing yourself, and it's always cheaper to buy your entrance ticket online. Long queues form on weekends, both at the rides and to get in, so either get here early or come another day if you can. Whether you are visiting Madrid with kids or not, Parque de Atracciones it's definitely worth a visit
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yerel halk öneriyor
Parque de Atracciones de Madrid
41
yerel halk öneriyor
This amusement park in the Casa de Campo has the usual collection of high-adrenaline rides, shows for the kids and kitsch at every turn. In the Zona de Máquinas are most of the bigger rides, such as classic roller-coasters, the Lanzadera (which takes you up 63m and then drops you in a simulated bungee jump), La Máquina (a giant wheel that spins on its axis) and the favourite, the Tornado, a kind of upside-down roller-coaster that zips along at up to 80km/h. After all that gut-churning stuff, you’ll be grateful for the Zona de Tranquilidad , where you can climb aboard a gentle Ferris wheel, take a theme ride through the jungle or just sit back for a snack. Of course, tranquility is relative – El Viejo Caserón (haunted house) is not for the nervous among you (in fact it’s the adults who get spooked!). La Zona de la Naturaleza (Nature Zone) offers, among other things, dodgems and various water rides. Finally, in the Zona Infantil , younger kids can get their own thrills on less hair-raising rides, such as a Ford-T, the Barón Rojo (Red Baron) and Caballos del Oeste (Horses of the Wild West). The park has all sorts of timetable variations, so it is always a good idea to check before committing yourself, and it's always cheaper to buy your entrance ticket online. Long queues form on weekends, both at the rides and to get in, so either get here early or come another day if you can. Whether you are visiting Madrid with kids or not, Parque de Atracciones it's definitely worth a visit
Madrid’s zoo, in the Casa de Campo, is a fairly standard European city zoo and is home to about 3,000 animals. Exhibits range from white Siberian tigers to mambas, Atlas lions, zebras, giraffes, rhinoceroses, flamingos, koalas and celebrity pandas. There’s also an aquarium with shows, but remember that animal welfare groups suggest interaction with dolphins and other sea mammals held in captivity creates stress for these complex creatures. The 3,000-sq-metre Aviario (aviary) contains some 60 species of eagle, condor and vulture. Spend long enough here, however, and the Disneyfication of the zoo will start to grate. Arriving by bus is the best option as it leaves you right at the door; if you take the metro to Casa de Campo, you’ve a 15-minute walk from the station, or you can take bus 37 from the station for one stop. Weekends can be busy, so try and visit during the week, although check the opening hours online before setting out. It might also be worth checking online the program for the day (for shows) and planning your visit accordingly. And it's considerably cheaper if you book online.
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yerel halk öneriyor
Madrid Zoo Aquarium
s/n Casa de Campo
41
yerel halk öneriyor
Madrid’s zoo, in the Casa de Campo, is a fairly standard European city zoo and is home to about 3,000 animals. Exhibits range from white Siberian tigers to mambas, Atlas lions, zebras, giraffes, rhinoceroses, flamingos, koalas and celebrity pandas. There’s also an aquarium with shows, but remember that animal welfare groups suggest interaction with dolphins and other sea mammals held in captivity creates stress for these complex creatures. The 3,000-sq-metre Aviario (aviary) contains some 60 species of eagle, condor and vulture. Spend long enough here, however, and the Disneyfication of the zoo will start to grate. Arriving by bus is the best option as it leaves you right at the door; if you take the metro to Casa de Campo, you’ve a 15-minute walk from the station, or you can take bus 37 from the station for one stop. Weekends can be busy, so try and visit during the week, although check the opening hours online before setting out. It might also be worth checking online the program for the day (for shows) and planning your visit accordingly. And it's considerably cheaper if you book online.
One of the world’s most horizontal cable cars (it never hangs more than 40m above the ground), the Teleférico putters out from the slopes of Parque del Oeste. The 2.5km journey takes you into the depths of the Casa de Campo , Madrid’s enormous green open space (although more a dry olive hue in summer), to the west of the city centre. The views on the way are splendid and there's a decent children's playground near the Casa de Campo station. Try to time it so you can settle in for a cool lunch or evening tipple on one of the terrazas along Paseo del Pintor Rosales.
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Teleferico de Madrid - Country House Station
9
yerel halk öneriyor
One of the world’s most horizontal cable cars (it never hangs more than 40m above the ground), the Teleférico putters out from the slopes of Parque del Oeste. The 2.5km journey takes you into the depths of the Casa de Campo , Madrid’s enormous green open space (although more a dry olive hue in summer), to the west of the city centre. The views on the way are splendid and there's a decent children's playground near the Casa de Campo station. Try to time it so you can settle in for a cool lunch or evening tipple on one of the terrazas along Paseo del Pintor Rosales.
Drinks & Nightlife
The only things guaranteed at this grand old Madrid dance club (housed in a 19th-century theatre) are a crowd and the fact that it’ll be open (it claims to have operated every single day for the past 29 years). The music and the crowd are a mixed bag, but queues are long and invariably include locals and tourists, and even the occasional famoso (celebrity). Every night’s a little different. Tuesday is about glamour and house music, Wednesday's R&B and hip hop, Thursday is Epic with an international focus while the weekend is all about the best the Madrid has to offer. There's even the no-alcohol, no-smoking ‘Joy Light’ on Saturday evenings (5.30pm to 10pm) for those aged between 14 and 17. Throw in occasional live acts and cabaret-style performances on stage and it’s a point of reference for Madrid’s professional party crowd. Admission is €12 to €15.
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Joy Eslava Madrid
11 Calle del Arenal
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yerel halk öneriyor
The only things guaranteed at this grand old Madrid dance club (housed in a 19th-century theatre) are a crowd and the fact that it’ll be open (it claims to have operated every single day for the past 29 years). The music and the crowd are a mixed bag, but queues are long and invariably include locals and tourists, and even the occasional famoso (celebrity). Every night’s a little different. Tuesday is about glamour and house music, Wednesday's R&B and hip hop, Thursday is Epic with an international focus while the weekend is all about the best the Madrid has to offer. There's even the no-alcohol, no-smoking ‘Joy Light’ on Saturday evenings (5.30pm to 10pm) for those aged between 14 and 17. Throw in occasional live acts and cabaret-style performances on stage and it’s a point of reference for Madrid’s professional party crowd. Admission is €12 to €15.
One of the most famous megaclubs in Madrid, this seven-storey venue has something for everyone: from cocktail bars and dance music to karaoke, salsa, hip hop and chilled spaces; there's even a 'Kissing Room'. Admission from €15. It’s such a big place that a cross-section of Madrid society (VIPs and the Real Madrid set love this place) hangs out here without ever getting in each other’s way.
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Kapital
125 Calle de Atocha
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yerel halk öneriyor
One of the most famous megaclubs in Madrid, this seven-storey venue has something for everyone: from cocktail bars and dance music to karaoke, salsa, hip hop and chilled spaces; there's even a 'Kissing Room'. Admission from €15. It’s such a big place that a cross-section of Madrid society (VIPs and the Real Madrid set love this place) hangs out here without ever getting in each other’s way.
Just have a look here http://www.opiummadrid.com/ :)
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Opium Discoteca
56 Calle de José Abascal
9
yerel halk öneriyor
Just have a look here http://www.opiummadrid.com/ :)