Royal Palace. Located on Calle de Bailen near the Plaza de Oriente square is Madrid’s largest and most popular historical building, the Palacio Real. This 18th century baroque-style building is recognized as the official residence of the King of Spain but is now used for state ceremonies as well as a museum and repository of important Spanish artworks and artifacts. Visitors can also walk around the Campo del Moro, the surrounding palace gardens.
El Parque de Retiro. The “Park of the Pleasant Retreat” which is just a stone’s throw away from the Prado Museum is a popular place for the locals to walk around or just enjoy the weekend. Covering a massive area of 350 acres, the park has several interesting monuments and sculptures, a boating lake, a rose garden, a duck pond and a glasshouse used as a venue for exhibitions. The park is also used for open-air events such as concerts and festivals.
La Plaza de Cibeles. Named for the iconic landmark which can be found in the square center, the Plaza de Cibeles is also the sight of four historical buildings: the Palacio de Comunicaciones, Banco de Espana, Palacio de Linares and the Palacio de Buenavista. The Cibeles fountain which features a sculpture of Cybele, the Roman goddess of nature sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions has come to be the sight of victory celebrations for the Real Madrid football team.
Puerta del Sol. The “Sun Gate” is the center of the roads in Madrid and one of the busiest squares in the city. A popular tourist destination, it has several historic buildings and monuments such as the clock tower, the Case de Correos, the monument to King Charles III, the plaque bearing the “Kilometro Cero” mark and the city’s insignia, “El Oso y El Madrono (the bear and the strawberry tree).
Puerta de Alcala. Standing majestically at Plaza de la Independencia is the Alcala Gate, a monument built during the reign of King Charles III. This baroque, neoclassical archway served as the boundary to the east of Madrid and a gateway to Aragon. Now a national monument, it was popularized in a Spanish song of the same title.
Royal Botanical Garden. Spread out over 20 acres of green space in Plaza de Murillo is the Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid. Founded on 1755, the garden houses over 30,000 species of plants and flowers as well as over 1,500 trees. Aside from the wide variety of plants and flowers, visitors and locals alike enjoy the garden as a picnic area, a walking path or a cool place to while the time away.
Templo de Debod. An ancient Egyptian temple, it was originally erected at the village of Debod in the island of Philae but had to be rebuilt in the Parque del Oeste in Madrid when it faced threats of being ruined in the 1960s. The only one of its kind in Spain, the temple is now a popular destination in Madrid and an important city landmark.
Gran Via. Impressive early 20th century architecture and a bustling cosmopolitan vibe make the “Great Way” one of Madrid’s most visited areas. It is home to a number of retail establishments – hotels, shopping stores, movie theaters and restaurants line this lively street. Noteworthy landmarks include the Edificio Grassy, Edificio Metropolis and the Torre de Madrid.
Plaza Mayor. Just a stroll away from Puerta del Sol is another important square in Madrid, the setting of a number of events, festivals, bullfights and many other historical events. The Plaza Mayor is a rectangular square right in the heart of the city which is a popular tourist destination.
Golden Triangle of Art. If you can only visit three museums in Madrid, these are the places to go: The Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. These national museums display the best and the most extensive collection of Spanish and European art, with famous artworks from great masters like Goya, Rembrandt, Titian, Picasso and many others.