In order to improve your holiday in Madrid, it is very useful to browse through the websites specializing in tourism and to plan what you want to see while you spend your time in a nice apartment in Madrid. Do you want to visit museums, go shopping, go out and explore the stunning scenery surrounding the Spanish capital? No matter what your answer to that question is, undoubtedly you should spend at least one or two evenings admiring the architectural and sculptural monuments that define the urban landscape of Madrid. If you want to find the alternatives to what you have already planned, we offer a list and a short description of the sights you cannot miss during your visit to Madrid.
1. The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid is now the official residence of His Majesty the King of Spain. The royal family lives in the Zarzuela Palace which is located on the outskirts of Madrid. However, the Royal Palace is still home of the festivals and official ceremonies. It is commonly called Palacio de Oriente, which is the consequence of confusion due to the proximity of the Plaza de Oriente, located on the east side of the Palace. This is a very old building, which dates back to the ninth century when a fort was built by the Caliph of Toledo, and later, in the sixteenth century, the kings of Castile built the Alcázar in this place. When the Palace was destroyed due to a fire in 1734, King Philip V decided to build a castle worthy of the dynasty. This long history is reflected in both the exterior and the interior, and its exquisite decor is what makes the Royal Palace of Madrid to be considered as one of the finest and most beautiful palaces in Europe. For tourists visiting Madrid, this is a monument that cannot be missed and you may spend up to an hour admiring its architecture before even starting a proper tour inside the palace. Inside, each room has its own story. Particularly spectacular are the Throne Hall and the Royal Armories, sites that show the history of the place. The Armory displays the history of firearms from the fifteenth century, with short and long guns, and even canons. It is advisable to purchase tickets in advance if you want to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid to order to take the most out of the time that you plan to spend on travel this amazing monument.
The official website of the Royal Palace of Madrid: useful for checking schedules, routes and prices.
2. The Puerta del Sol
The Puerta del Sol is perhaps one of the greatest locals emblems. Its long history dating back to the eighteenth century gives meaning to this destination as kilometer zero of the capital and of Spain, i.e. the point where all paths start and converge. It has been the scene of major historical events, such as the start of the rebellion against the Napoleonic invasion on May 2, 1808 and the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931. Closer in time, in 1997, a million of people from Madrid marched there to protest against violence and terrorism. The Puerta del Sol is formed by an oval square surrounded by historic buildings from the eighteenth century. In the center of the square you can admire the famous “El Oso de Madrid”, a statue symbol of the city of Madrid. It is the meeting place and traditional meeting point for all the locals who are used to always welcome the New Year with great festivities on this location.
The official website about Tourism in Madrid, dedicated to the Puerta del Sol
3. The Temple of Debod
This is where ancient Egypt is located in the heart of the Spanish capital. The Temple of Debod is an incredible opportunity to be transported in time and space and take advantage of the presence of an incredible and authentic Egyptian monument in the middle of Spain. This monument, which dates back 2000 years in time, is a site where Pharaohs walked to make offerings to their gods. Visiting the Temple of Debod offers various opportunities, including admiring the city from the viewpoint of the gardens, thanks to its location in the Principe Pio Mountains, from which you can admire much of Madrid’s urban landscape, as well as visiting other exceptional sites located nearby, such as a tour to the mythical rocks that were transported in 1970 to Spain, but were previously located near the Nile river. According to historical records, the shrine was built as a chapel in honor of the god -sun Ammon. Is there a better way to see an amazing sunset Madrid since this ancient Egyptian temple?
The official site dedicated to the Temple of Debod
4. The Puerta de Alcalá
Alcala Gate is a symbol of Madrid, and it is a monument worthy of admiration with its beautiful and smooth neoclassical architecture. It is located in the central area, and it is close to Retiro Park, plus all the ornaments adorning this location make this famous Triumphal gate a place tourists must not pass through during their visit to the Spanish capital.
Tourist information about the Puerta de Alcalá
5. Plaza de la Villa
Speaking of beautiful places, Madrid is undoubtedly one of the most successful cities in this regard. Among these, the Plaza de la Villa is one of the most beautiful. It is surrounded by buildings that exemplify the Spanish baroque of the seventeenth century, recognizable by its use of bricks, rocks and iron. On one side there is the old town hall, an exuberant Baroque style building Habsburg; secondly, there is the House Lujanes with its legendary brick tower. It is said that this is where King Francis I of France was captured in the sixteenth century. Finally, on the other side there is the Casa de Cisneros with Renaissance visual details representing real pleasure. You should round up this tour that takes us to Madrid’s medieval past, with the monument Marino Álvaro de Bazán, worth admiring, located opposite the Casa de Cisneros.
Amazing House Lujanes
6. Monastery of Barefoot Royals
It is impossible to list the monuments of Madrid without mentioning a sacred or religious monument. In this case, we will speak of the Monastery of Barefoot Royals. This monastery dates back to 1559. Originally inhabited by women of high aristocracy, it was filled through the centuries with treasures such as jewelry, paintings and religious relics. Thanks to these treasures, the convent was rich. Yet, for the mid-twentieth century, the inhabitants were very poor women. Despite the wealth contained in the convent, the nuns were forbidden to benefit from these treasures. The Spanish State intervened and as a result, the convent was opened as a museum since the early sixties. This mysterious space is still inhabited by nuns barefoot and silent, but you can admire pieces containing relics of the Holy Cross and bones of St. Sebastian. Also, you can admire paintings by different artists, plus tapestry inspired by drawings Rubens. A monument to the once sacred and aesthetic wealth is a complete visit.
Tourist information of the Monastery of Barefoot Royals
7. Bank of Spain
An amazing monument and an example of nineteenth-century Spanish architecture, is undoubtedly the building of the Bank of Spain. This building is a landmark and it has been enlarged several times. It features a French style, especially visible in front, but its successive restorations (1884, 1891, 2003, 2006) have given a monumental air, and although it can only be admired on the outside, you might enjoy elements of Carrara marble and stained glass windows, besides the ornaments that discreetly refer to Mercury, the God of Commerce.
The headquarters of the Bank of Spain
8. The Four Towers
When it comes to exploring the urban landscape and monuments in Madrid, not all of the recommendations are the ancient monuments. We also have stunning works of modern architecture, for example, the complex colloquially called The Four Towers in Madrid. This set represents the modern and futuristic side of Madrid. Its construction began in 2004 and the towers were opened between 2004 and 2009, reaching its highest capacity occupation in 2010. That same site was occupied by the former Ciudad Deportiva of Real Madrid, and now in addition to the four impressive constructions, you can enjoy different gardens and green areas. We will specify the characteristics of each tower and those are:
La Torre Sacyr is a unique work of Spanish architect involved in the project, Carlos Rubio Carbajal. It is 236 meters high and it is a building with many uses. Its structure is noted for its brilliant blackness and cylindrical form. It has 53 floors, 17 of which are used as offices and two thirds that are closer to the ground floor are occupied by the Eurostars Madrid Tower.
La Torre Espacio was designed by Pei Cobb Freed, and it has a futuristic design with geometric curves and radial segmentation. It is 230 meters tall and it has 57 floors, all dedicated to offices of great stature and embassies.
La Torre Caja Madrid is 250 meters high which makes it the tallest building in Spain. Its facade is made of some Lego blocks and this makes it unique and special. It was designed by Foster & Partners, with a rectangular arch structure and highly efficient in energy issues. Thanks to its location from its windows you can see breathtaking scenery of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
La Torre de Cristal, built by renowned architect Cesar Pelli, is 249 meters tall and it has 52 floors, plus a beautifully twisted obelisk. Both its form and glossy exterior gives a special aura, so it seems as a long glittering diamond sculpture against the sky. It has the largest vertical garden in Europe, and it is also building focused on energy efficiency.
The official Blog of The Four Towers of Madrid
9. The Equestrian Statue of Philip IV
As we already mentioned, there are numerous charming places in Madrid that are a delight for any lover of the monuments and the urban landscape. In one of these squares, at the “Plaza Oriente” (which in fact is not on the east side of town, but on the contrary), located opposite the Royal Palace, there is a sculptural monument which defines Madrid, almost as much as famous statue of Cibeles, where fans of Spanish soccer team celebrate their team victories. We are talking about the Equestrian Statue of Philip IV. What is special about this sculpture is that the Italian artist Pietro Tacca, the manager of the transaction, created it by echoing the portrait of the monarch that had been made by Diego Velázquez, and which can be seen in the Museo del Prado. The intent of King Philip IV, when ordering such work was to exceed such sculpture bearing the likeness of his father. A competition of greatness that was his intention resulted in beautifying Madrid.
More information about this Equestrian Statue on the blog “Art and Iconography”
10. Sculpture by Fernando Botero
Again demonstrating the cosmopolitan character of the city of Madrid, we have decided to close this selection of monuments with sculptures of famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. After his 1994 exhibition of the Paseo de la Castellana, the city of Madrid decided to preserve some of the exhibits by renowned sculptor. These works are “The Hand” located in the center of the Castellana, the “Woman with Mirror” on Genoa Street and the “Man on a Mule” in Plaza Colón. These sculptures, with the traditional and majestic volume given by Botero, adorn Madrid along with many other monuments. The truth is that it is impossible to limit the list to only ten, since it is a city that shines with its urban landscape and works of architects and sculptors who have enriched the city over the centuries.
Woman with the Mirror by Botero, a renowned outdoor sculpture that adorns Madrid