Strategically located in the centre if the Iberian Peninsula, the city of Madrid lies 650 metres above sea level on a series of hills and gullies that form the Manzanares River Basin. The mountains of the nearby Sierra de Guadarrama have a decisive influence over its climate, helping to make Madrid one of the healthiest cities in Europe, with pleasant temperatures in spring and autumn.
The entire population of Madrid metropolitan area (urban area and suburbs) is calculated to be 5.85 million. The city spans a total of 607 km².

Monuments

Royal Palace

Colossal yet elegant, this official residence of the Royal spanish family dates back to the 18th century and is one of the largest of its kind in Western Europe. With over 3000 rooms it almost doubles the size of the Buckingham in England and Versailles in France. Nowadays only used for official ceremonies, the interior is notable for its wealth of art and hosts an impressive collection including works of artist such as Caravaggio, Velázquez and Goya and the world’s only complete Stradivarius string quartet.

Royal Theatre

Being Spain’s leading Opera House and chaired by the spanish King and Queen, it is one of the most important cultural institutions of the country. Built only in the beginning of 19th century, the location had been home to theatre practices ever since the early 18th century when a group of travelling actors made their home here and founded a theatre.


Temple of Debod

This authentic Egyptian temple of over 2000 years old was donated to Spain at the end of the 1960’s. The temple was dismantled, shipped to and rebuilt at the highest point of Madrid’s Parque del Oeste. It is one of the few works of ancient Egyptian architecture that can be seen outside of Egypt (and the only one in Spain) and a perfect place to watch the sun set behind Madrid’s mountains.

Puerta de Alcalá

A late 18th century entry gate, once one of the five that gave access to the city of Madrid. Of similar architecture to the old roman triumphal arches, it is one of the most emblematic monuments in town. The gate is located right at the entrance of the Retiro Park, and at the edge of the classy Salamanca neighbourhood.

Plaza de Cibeles

The fountain at the centre of the square is now a well known monument amongst football fanatics (it is the place where Real Madrid’s victories are being celebrated) but had long been an important source of drinking water for the Madrileños. The fountain is surrounded by important buildings such as Banco de España (Bank of Spain), Palacio de Cibeles (Cibeles’ Palace), and Casa de América and it surely is a place you can’t miss.

Squares

Plaza Mayor

No doubt the city’s most characteristic square. Once being used to host bullfights and carry out public executions during the Inquisition, it is now the beating heart of town where you can savour a glass of spanish wine on one of the terraces, go shopping at the yearly christmas market or enjoy one of the many concerts and festivals throughout the year.

Puerta del Sol

A place you can’t miss and home to the famous ´Km 0´: the centre of the radial network of Spanish roads. Over-crowded on a New Year’s Eve because of the famous clock whose bells announce the traditional Grape Eating, a tradition that marks the end of an old and the beginning of a new year.

Plaza de Santa Ana

Created by Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother José I and nowadays the beating heart of the famous Barrio de las Letras (The Literary Quarter).
Visit the bars where once Hemingway enjoyed his cañas (small beers), travel back in time with a performance of Spain’s most famous theatre plays in the Teatro Español or watch the sunset from the rooftop bar of the classy ME Reina Victoria Hotel.

Plaza de la Villa

The heart of medieval Madrid and home to a group of impressive historical buildings, such as Casa y Torre de los Lujanes, being the one of the city’s highest towers back in the 15th century, the Casa de Cisneros palace dating from the 16th century and the former town hall La Casa de la Villa.

Parks

Madrid Río Park

The result of a massive project constructed between 2003 and 2011 which consisted of tunnelling the entire western part of Madrid’s ring road and rising a brand new park along the banks of the Manzanares river. Modern architecture, green space, sport facilities and interesting art exhibitions (at Matadero Madrid), all are to be found at this amazing place.


Casa de Campo

Initially founded as a royal hunting ground, this extensive park is five times bigger than New York’s Central Park and even much bigger than Madrid’s own city centre. Casa de Campo is an ideal place to practice sports such as running and cycling, have lunch in one of the grill restaurants by the lakeside or to take a dip in the public swimming pool. Easy access by metro, bicycle or cable cars (Teleférico de Madrid) from Parque del Oeste.

Parque del retiro

Once being part of the royal gardens that belonged to the Palacio del Buen Retiro, it is now the most popular park in town. Royal, green and cultural, the park has got much to offer and is without any doubt the best place to ‘retire’ after a long day walking or cycling around. Visit an exhibition in the Palacio de Velázquez, watch a puppet show by the side of the pond or escape the heat of the day by sleeping a well deserved siesta under one of its many trees.

Markets

El Rastro (flea market)

Even for those not particularly interested in shopping, Madrid’s Sunday morning flea market El Rastro in the La Latina neighbourhood is a must visit. It’s a perfect place to try some local tapas in one of the many bars, search for curiosities and bargains (go early!) or simply stroll around and soak up the atmosphere. Street music, arts, gastronomy, antiques, second hand clothing, you can find it all at the Rastro.
The tradition goes back as far as 1740, when the Rastro started as a kind of clandestine bazaar where mainly second hand objects were sold. Nowadays the market holds up to as many as 3500 stands and is one of the biggest in Europe, selling nearly everything.
Every Sunday and public holiday from 10AM to 3PM.

Mercado de San Miguel

Madrid is all about food. And where better to try all those fresh products than in one of the city’s most famous mercados (markets)? Built in the art-nouveau style of the early 20th century, this traditional market has had an interesting makeover, now not only offering the possibility to buy fresh ingredients to take home, but also to taste them right on the spot. Whether it is to try gulas, have a bit of paella or taste one of the delicious spanish wines, a visit to this market is a must have on your list.

Mercado de San Fernando

The ‘local’ version of the San Miguel market, located in the upcoming but yet undiscovered Lavapiés neighbourhood. Try some home made food, buy ecological veggies from local farmers or zip a locally brewed beer while listening to a live band in this authentic and multicultural place.

Mercado de San Antón

The modern brother of the San Miguel market, located in one of the hippest neighbourhoods in town: Chueca. With a traditional market on the first floor offering top quality products, tapas stands on the second and a restaurant on the rooftop, it is a great place to see and to be seen.

Art

Círculo de Bellas Artes

A private, non-profit cultural organization founded in the late 19th century that plays a major role in the field of artistic creation and cultural diffusion. Apart from exhibition rooms, a cinema, a theatre and concert halls it owns one of the most stunning rooftop terraces in town with an almost 360⁰ view of the city.

Prado Museum

Located in an historical building dating back from the late 18th century and holding a magnificent collection of great international value, the Prado Museum is one of Spain’s most important museums. Over 2.5 million people visit the museum each year to contemplate the outstanding paintings of Velázquez, El Bosco, El Greco, Rubens and Goya, which are only a handful of the many masterpieces you will find here.

Reina Sofía Museum

The Reina Sofía exhibits the state collection of modern and contemporary art and is home to Picasso’s famous Guernica (and many of his other works) and other famous Spanish artists of the 20th century such as Dalí and Miró. Its building being an interesting combination of 18th and 21st century architecture, the museum also hosts an impressive collection of cubist, expressionist and surrealist artworks by various international artists.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Van Gogh, Degas, Chagall, Van Eyck, Monet, Hopper, Kirchner, Dalí, Gauguin… these are only a few names that can be found in one of the most extended private collections of the country. The museum is currently housing two permanent collections and displaying almost one thousand works of art, being a great representation of the history of European painting from the 13th to the late 20th century.