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Explore Madrid - Explore Madrid

A Guide to Madrid
Madrid, with its cultural traditions rooted in centuries of religious and royal history and updated over the years with infusions of cosmopolitan urbanity, is one of the most vibrant capital cities in Europe, with art, music and epicurean delights sufficient to rival those of London or Berlin.

Much of the city’s energy comes from its citizens, the Madrileños, who frequent the city’s numerous bars until well after daybreak, capping off the night’s revelries with a decadent breakfast of chocolate con churros.

Historic Madrid
The modern city has sprawled beyond all confines of the original city, into the Barrio de Salamanca to the east and Chamberí and Chamartin to the north. It continues to grow, with some of the world’s most respected modern architects leaving their imprint on the city’s skyline.

Nearly all the most famous baroque landmarks and other must-see sights can be found in the city’s historical center; Puerta del Sol in the middle, Plaza Mayor a bit to the south, Palacio Real to the west, and Plaza de Colón to the north-east. Some of those hot spots spread up past the Gran Via, one of the main streets in Madrid (though it is smaller than Alcalá Street and the Paseo de la Castellana).

For the full experience, though, it’s best to take to foot and explore the city’s central and oldest quarter, between the Royal Palace and the Parque del Buen Retiro, and from Plaza de Lavapiés to the Glorieta de Bilbao.

Here you will find the real Madrid, a richly textured jumble of grand museums, twisting alleys, tiny tavernas and sculpted gardens, all giving you the true flavour of the city. Take care to mind your belongings when you’re here, as Madrid’s cut-purses have a reputation for relieving obvious tourists of their trappings.

A Haven for the Arts
With its renowned collection of classic paintings in the unmissable Prado Museum, and contemporary and eclectic collections at the Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, and smaller galleries such as the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, the Convento de las Descalzas Reales, the Sorolla Museum, the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, and the CaixaForum, Madrid is home to enough art to satisfy even the most ardent appreciator.

If performance art is more appealing, keep an eye on the weekly Guía del Ocio or the arts listings and supplements in any of the leading newspapers, for news of the latest in contemporary artists and performers who flock to Madrid for its appreciative audiences.

The Festival de Otoño, from late September to late November, sees a plethora of concerts, poetry readings, flamenco, and ballet and theater from world-renowned companies. Other annual events include festivals of film, contemporary art, and salsa, jazz, African and rock music.

Other Popular Districts
To get a feel for modern Madrid, visit Malasaña, an alternative area crammed with pubs, bars, cafés and small shops, and where the clubs play mainly rock and punk music.

The city’s gay district, Chueca, offers trendy shops, cool cafés and the beats of pop and electronic music. For a blend of cosmopolitan and hippy chic, visit Lavapiés. Very nearby, you will find La Latina, the place to be for tapas and on Sunday mornings, host to the most popular flea market in Madrid.

Salamanca offers an upper cut in shopping, with plenty of boutiques, department stores and a string of unique shops. At the other end of the spectrum, you have the student-dominated Moncloa.

Literature aficionados will want to visit the Barrio de las Letras, home to some of Spain’s most famous writers.


Why? Accommodations in Madrid dont get more luxurious than the opulence that greets guests at the Ritz more »

Why? Overflowing with extravagant details, perfectly located on a charming plaza in the centre of Madrid more »

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