Welcome to Madrid – the capital of Spain, the third-largest city in the EU, and home to one of the worlds’ greatest football teams.
If you only have a day spare in Madrid, here are some of our top recommended must-see sights!
A Bit of History
Up until the 19th century, Madrid was surrounded by walls. Puerta Del Sol, or “Gate of the Sun”, is one of the gates left behind from those walls. These days, it’s one of the city’s busiest public squares.
Plaza Mayor Square was built during the Habsburg period of Philip III’s reign. It still forms part of many religious and cultural events in Madrid today.
The plaza has an interesting, and varied history – it was used for bullfights, theatre performances, Inquisition trials, and executions! Today, it’s a favourite for sunbathers and tourists alike.
La Almudena Cathedral was inspired by French 18th century Gothic architecture. It’s the only Spanish cathedral to be consecrated by a Pope.
Below lies the crypt – which is considered to be the largest in Spain. It features over 400 columns, 20 chapels, multiple stained-glass windows, and many ornate artworks.
The Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple dating back to the 2nd century BC, was a gift from Egypt to the city of Madrid. It was given to Madrid to save it from being flooded by the Nile.
Transported to Madrid in the 20th century, it was reconstructed in its original orientation – from East to West.
Some Time Outdoors
Enjoy a warm Spanish afternoon, in Parque del Buen Retiro.
This stunning 19th-century park, previously owned by the Spanish Monarchy, is a favourite of locals.
While you’re there, why not cross the beautiful, man-made lake in your very own row-boat? If you need a quick break, you can stop on the steps of the monument to Alfonso XII.
A short stroll away is arguably the parks’ most beautiful structure – the magnificent Palacio de Cristal.
Designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco in 1887, the structure is over 22 metres high and made almost entirely of glass! It was designed in such a way, that it can be taken apart and relocated.
Puerta de Alcalá is regarded as the first modern, post-Roman triumphal arch to be built in Europe. Designed in 1778 by Italian architect, Francesco Sabatini, it was once the main entrance to the city.
The Royal Palace of Madrid stands on the site where the Alcazar of Madrid – the medieval fortress was transformed into the official residence of the Spanish Monarchy.
Make sure you also check out the beautiful gardens that surround the Royal Palace – Jardines de Sabatini.
And located just east of the Royal Palace, you’ll find the stunning Plaza de Oriente Gardens. These 1.6-hectare gardens are lined with statues of Spanish monarchs – 44 in total. These were originally designed to sit on top of the Palace.
A Piece of Culture
If you’re a fan of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium tour is not to be missed!
You’ll walk in the footsteps of some of the worlds’ most talented athletes, take a glimpse at the team’s impressive trophy room, and stand on the field where history is made.
For something a little different, head to the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. Originally built for bullfighting, it’s hosted many other events including tennis, theatre, and concerts!
Museo Nacional Del Prado is located just outside Parque de El Retiro. It’s thought to have one of the world’s finest collections of European art, dating back to the 12th century.
If you’ve got a spare moment, take a quick stroll down Madrid’s famous Gran Via – it’s one of the city’s main shopping strips.
A Bite to Eat
After all that sightseeing, you’re bound to have worked up an appetite!
Head to Mercado De San Miguel – the city’s gastronomical temple. You’ll find a variety of flavours – including tapas, fresh fruit and veggies, caviar, and chocolate!
The site where the market now stands used to be the Iglesia de San Miguel de Los Octoes church – which was destroyed in a fire in 1790. While it was restored, the remaining structure was demolished less than 20 years later.