The Puerta del Sol is the center of Madrid and thus the center of all of Spain. Here is the zero point "Kilómetro Cero", from which the distances from Madrid are measured. Most of Madrid's shopping streets start at the square Puerta del Sol. The east gate of the medieval city fortifications stood here until 1570. In the morning the sun shone into the city through this gate. From this the name Puerta del Sol "Gate of the Sun" evolved. The largest building on the Puerta del Sol is the Casa de Correos with the bell tower, which was built in 1768 as a post office. The bell rings in the New Year with twelve strikes on New Year's Eve. Today the Comunidad de Madrid, the administration of the Madrid region, is located in the Casa de Correos. The uniform, semicircular facade of the square was built in 1862. In the middle of the square is the equestrian statue of Carlos III.
The coat of arms of Madrid, the bear (Oso) with the strawberry tree (Madroño), stands on a pedestal at the Puerta del Sol. The four meter high statue "Estata del Oso y el Madroño" was created in 1967 by the sculptor Antonio Navarro Santafé. The Oso y Madroño statue is one of the most popular selfie subjects in Madrid.
The pedestrian street "Calle de Preciados" connects the "Puerta del Sol" square with the "Gran Via". At the elegant shopping street you will find many stores of international brands and the famous spanisch departmentstore El Corte Ingles.
The Palacio Real is the official seat of the Spanish royal family. The Royal Palace is located on the slope between the Manzanares River and the old town of Madrid. The Emir of Cordoba built an Alcazar here in the 9th century, a castle that also served as a palace. In 1085 the Moorish Magerit (Madrid) was conquered by the Spaniards and from 1309 the nobles met here. From 1560 the Alcazar was expanded into a palace. After the Alcazar fell victim to a fire in 1734, today's Palacio Real was built in 1764, based on the design of the architects Juan Bautista Sachetti, Francesco de Sabatini and Ventura Rodriguez. The baroque palace with around 2,000 rooms served as the king's seat of government until 1931. The chapel is located under the dome on the north side. The square structure of the palace faces the Santa Maria Cathedral, in between is the Plaza de la Armeria with the Museum of the Royal Armory (Real Armeria). Next to the armory is the royal collection of paintings, Galeria de Pinturas del Palacio Real.
The Palacio Real is the most famous attraction of Madrid and can be visited as the royal family lives in the Palacio de Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid.
The Madrid Opera House opened in 1850. The same gray stone was used for the opera as for the Palacio Real just opposite. The Teatro Real de Madrid became world famous thanks to the "El Gordo" Christmas lottery which is held here every year on December 22nd. Children draw wooden balls with numbers, which are then read out while singing.
The Mercado de San Miguel was built in 1915 next to the Plaza Mayor. The former market hall has developed into a gourmet temple. You won't find fruit and vegetables here. Most of the stalls offer fine specialties. There are tapas, oysters and other culinary delights in a pleasant atmosphere. The prices are high but you can try a lot of delicious things that you can only find in the Mercado de San Miguel.
The Plaza Mayor is a rectangular square with a uniform facade designed by Juan de Mora in 1619. The elegant square was created on a market square outside the former city walls. Bullfights and executions took place on the square. During the time of the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), witch burnings also took place here. Today the Plaza Mayor is a popular meeting place with many cafes and restaurants. The equestrian monument of Felipe III, who built the Plaza Mayor, stands on the square. The Plaza Mayor is the most beautiful square in Madrid with many tourists and costumed actors who can be photographed for money. The most famous building on the Plaza Mayor is the Real Casa de la Panadería (Royal Bakery) with the two turrets on the north side of the square. Today the Madrid Tourist Information Office is located here.
Between "Plaza Santa Ana" and "Puerta del Sol", there are many tapas bars, often with tiled façade on the ground floor. The most beautiful ones are in the "Callejón de Álvarez Gato", "Calle de Barcelona" and "Calle de Cádiz".
The monastery of "Santa Ana", founded in 1586, stood here until 1810. Napoleon's brother demolished the monastery and built this beautiful square in the "Huertas" quarter. The "Reina Victoria Hotel" on the west side of the square was built in 1916.
The insurance company La Union y el Fénix decided in 1905 to build this magnificent office building on the corner of Gran Via. In 1911 the "Edificio Metropolis" was opened. The landmark building on the corner of the Gran Via has become the landmark of Madrid.
The Casa de Correos y Telegrafos was built in 1917 according to the plans of the architects Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi. The building in the neo-renaissance style stands on the famous Fuente de Cibeles. Cibeles is the Greek goddess of fertility. The Fuente de Cibeles is the place where the fans of Real Madrid celebrate their victories and block the roundabout with their cars. The Casa de Correos y Telegrafos is an architectural masterpiece that not only impresses from the outside but also has a monumental inner courtyard that is spanned by a glass roof structure. On the roof there is the "Terraza Cibeles", a bar with a view of the famous fountain.
The Gran Vía is a major street breakthrough projected by the city of Madrid in 1910. Built in three sections, the boulevard was completed in 1927. On Gran Via you will find the most magnificent buildings in Madrid.
When the construction of the Aswan High Dam began in 1960, important temples had to be relocated. Spain supported Egypt in this effort and received this temple as a gift. The temple of Debot stood on the bank of the Nile and would have been flooded by the reservoir. It was dismantled and brought to Madrid in 1970. It was reassembled at this site until 1972. The temple of Debot was built in the 2nd century BC by Ptolemy IV for the goddess Isis. You can visit the temple, entry is free.
President Bernabéu of Real Madrid came up with the idea of building the largest stadium of Spain to earn the highest revenue, creating the best football club in the world. In 1947 the "Estadio Santiago Bernabeu" was opened with 75,000 seats, the biggest stadium in Spain. In 1957 Bacelona built the "Camp Nou" stadium with 99.300 seats. Today the "Santiago Bernabeu" stadium has 81.000 seats, still No. 2 in Spain.
Salamanca is the noble district of Madrid. Here are the most expensive boutiques, restaurants and designer shops of the city. Tip: Don't show this part of town to your girlfriend.
Welcome to Madrid
The Spanish capital is 667 m above sea level, in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula. As a result, the climate here is relatively cool in winter and very hot and dry in summer because of the distance to the sea. With around 3.2 million inhabitants, Madrid is the biggest city in Spain. There are many beautiful buildings and squares in the city center. Numerous restaurants and bars lure visitors to the old town in the evening and to nice squares in the districts north and south of the center.
In addition to the sights, Madrid also has a lot of culture to offer. The Prado is one of the most famous museums in the world. The famous painting "Guernica" by Pablo Picasso hangs in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Treasures from the "New World" are exhibited in the Museo de America.
Madrid also has many beautiful green areas, the most famous park in the city is the wonderful Parque del Buen Retiro. The Real Jardin Botanico is highly recommended in spring. To the west of the center is the Casa de Campo wooded area, which is connected to the center by a cable car in Calle Rosaleda. The Casa de Campo park can also be reached by underground (Lago station).
Architecture in Madrid
Many international architects have also immortalized themselves in Madrid. Sir Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel, MVRDV, Herzog & de Meuron and Philip Johnson to name a few.