Madrid is a top tourist destination due to the beauty of its urban area and the great variety of things visitors can see and do. Recognized as one of the cities with more sightseeing options in the world, Madrid’s historical legacy and cultural value make it a unique city to visit.
From monuments to museums, from parks to palaces and from squares to ancient churches, there’s something interesting to see at any point of the huge Madrid. Here comes a list of the attractions that are a must when visiting Madrid:
City Walls: Madrid's original city walls (murallas) built by the moors on the 9th century can still be seen in the Parque del Emir Mohamed I, just behind the Cathedral. The remains include portions of the original Arab walls and later added portions that date from the 12th and 13th centuries.
The remains of Madrid’s city wall were declared a National Monument in 1954 which helped to conserve these historic pieces.
Alcala's Door: Located in Plaza de la Independencia, La Puerta de Alcala is the first symbol that comes to one’s mind when thinking about Madrid. This monumental city door was built in 1769 by King Carlos III who wanted a most impressive door than the original one which had been built in 1599 to honor Margarita de Austria (Felipe III’s wife) and was demolished in 1764.
Its historical value, its architectural beauty and its central location near the most important streets and places of cultural interest such as Retiro Park and the museums, made the Puerta de Alcala a symbol of Madrid and a strong part of its identity being theme for famous songs and poems.
Rastro Market: With more than 3000 stalls, El Rastro is Madrid’s larger flea market and probably the largest in all Europe. On this Middle Age street market everything can be found from clothes to antiques, either new or used. El Rastro flea market attracts thousands of people to Madrid’s historic center every Sunday. The environment here is nice and funny, but it is a place that attracts pickpocketers, so watch your belongings carefully.
Puerta del Sol: This is Madrid's most famous and most central square as well as Spain’s Kilometer Zero. Here many sculptures such as the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, which is the symbol of the City of Madrid, can be found. Former location of one of the city doors, this square is nowadays an important commercial centre and a social meeting point full of bars and restaurants.
The Debod Temple: This authentic Egyptian temple from the 2nd century BC is a gift by the Egyptian government to Spain in recognition of the aid provided to save the sacred buildings of Abu Simel on 1960’s. The temple is a magnificent ancient art piece and there is a museum with pictures that illustrates its history.
La Gran Vía: The Gran Vía is Madrid's most famous street together with the Paseo de la Castellana, and is a reference place if you are looking for Madrid’s commercial movement. Along this way of aristocratic character, several shops, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and hotels have their headquarters. The Gran Vía is an excellent place to stroll while watching the windows of world famous designers such as Carolina Herrera or Valentino.
Royal Palace: The Palacio Real is the largest Royal Palace in Western Europe and one of the most beautiful buildings in Madrid. Its construction was initiated in 1737 to house Felipe V’s court.
Its location next to Plaza de Oriente provides a beautiful scenario for a stroll around the palace while taking a photographic session. It can also be visited inside, by taking one of the guided tours where visitors could admire its amazing furniture and art decorative items such as works by Goya, Velázquez and other masters.
Other important attractions in Madrid are the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (home of the Real Madrid), Cibeles Square, Neptune Square, Retiro Park (ideal for a relaxing stroll or for a family picnic next to its lakes), Madrid’s Cathedral, Puerta de Toledo, Palacio de las Cortes, Plaza Mayor (site of the famous New Year celebrations), Plaza de Oriente and Plaza Colón.
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