Planning a vacation is not always easy. When planning your trip to Madrid, you have to consider so many things, such as booking the tickets, finding the accommodation, such as an apartment in Madrid, as well as how to get from the airport or station to the accommodation of your choice. Then you have to think about what you are going to bring to your vacation.
With all of these thoughts on your mind, you might overlook one important thing. You should plan how to spend days on your vacation, in order to be able to visit a lot of different places. Having an organized and well-planned vacation will help you get the most out of your visit. When it comes to your vacation in Madrid, it is great idea to devote at least one day to visit Madrid’s most famous boulevard, the Paseo del Prado.
There are a lot of places in Madrid that are worth visiting, but the Paseo del Prado is certainly one of the highlights of the city, with lots of Madrid’s landmarks located along the street.
Starting from the Plaza de Cibeles, this wide boulevard leads to the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V, also known as the Plaza de Atocha. The street occupies the central area of the city. The Paseo del Prado is densely populated by trees on both sides of the boulevard, with wide pedestrian area, which makes this location perfect for a walk in the center of the city of Madrid.
You will first start from the Plaza de Cibeles. The Plaza de Cibeles is a memorable symbol of Madrid. A square built in neo-classical style with sculptures is in front of the Cybele Palace. You will also see the fountain of Cybele, which is devoted to Phrygian goddess. It comes from cult in Rome, but it became an important symbol of Madrid, with the statue of the goddess inside the chariot, which is pulled by two lions.
Here you will find two very popular Madrid’s restaurants. Garcia de la Navarra, a restaurant perfect for trying out delicious Spanish cuisine, is quite near the Cybele Palace. Condumios Taberna Madrid, with combination of Japanese and Spanish cuisine is also quite near.
This area of the city is also a home to a museum. Although not as famous as other museums in this part of the city, the National Museum of Decorative Arts (the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas) is one of the oldest museums in the city. It focuses on minor art and it presents the evolution of industrial design. Therefore, furniture, ceramics, and textiles are some of the exhibits in the collection of this museum. Most of the pieces inside the museums’ collection are from the 16th and the 17th century.
As you start from the Plaza de Cibeles, the first building you will see is the National Central Bank of Spain, Banco de España. Behind the bank, you will find Círculo de Bellas Artes, an art and cultural center with movie theatres, live performances and exhibitions. Besides the tour of the center, Terrazas Circulo Bellas Artes, is the place to visit, as it is located at the top of the center, with an amazing view of the city landscape. This place is often recommended for taking memorable pictures, as the view is magnificent. There is a cafe and a restaurant on the top. So if you would like to enjoy your meal or drink while sitting on a terrace as you overlook the city’s streets and roof tops, this is the place to visit.
The next nearest attraction is Teatro de la Zarzuela, a theatre in Madrid devoted to zarzuelas, traditional Spanish musical theatre genre. Featuring concerts, recitals, exhibitions and other cultural performances, the theatre nurtures Spanish culture and tradition. Located in the impressive building, in both interior and exterior, the theatre was first opened in 1856. Some parts of the original design were destroyed during renovations in the beginning of the 20th century, but the building is now declared the National Memorial and it is considered to be an important landmark of Madrid’s cultural life.
On the opposite side of the street, you will see the Naval Museum of Madrid (Museo Naval de Madrid), with a huge collection of weapons, navigation instruments and maps from Spanish navy.
The next notable landmark in the Paseo del Prado is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, an art museum featuring a private collection, which is considered to be the second largest private collection in the world. The museum features several collections, including the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo painters. Besides Spanish artists, the works of Italian, German, and North American painters are displayed in the museum as well. The artworks date from the 14th century onwards, with contemporary artworks also being part of this impressive collection.
As you pass the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, you get to the Fountain of Neptune (Fuente de Neptuno). The fountain is located on the Plaza de Canovas del Castillo and it is built in the glory of the sea god, Neptune. The fountain was built in the 18th century, with Neptune standing in the chariot pulled by sea horses. The chariot is surrounded by dolphins and seals. The fountain is an amazing architectural peace, which makes even greater spectacle at night, when the fountain is lit.
If you up for a little break at this point, there are some cafes and restaurants around the fountain, which might be perfect for having rest from an exciting walk. Souvenirs are sold here, so if you want to buy them for your friends and family, or if you want some souvenirs for yourself, this is the place to buy them.
Having resumed the walk down this enchanting boulevard, we get to the highlight of the avenue, the most commonly visited place in the Paseo del Prado. That is the Prado Museum (Museo del Prado). Prado Museum is the main museum in Spain, with one of the finest collections of European artworks in the world. The artworks date from the period between the 12th and the 19th century, with painters like Diego Velázquez, El Greco, Francisco de Goya, being featured in the exhibitions of the museum. The building of the museum was constructed in the 18th century, and it is surrounded by a beautiful garden. The Prado Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world, so your walk along the Paseo del Prado should include a visit to this museum. Even though there are several museums along this Madrid’s boulevard, you should visit at least this one, as it features an amazing collection of internationally famous artists, with some of the most valuable artworks in the world.
The Fountain of Apollo (La Fuente de Apolo) is located in the garden outside the Prado Museum. The monumental fountain is also called the Four Seasons, because of the pedestal sculptures at the bottom, which represent four seasons. The central part of the monument features effigy of Apollo, the god of light and art. The construction of the fountain was completed in 1802.
You should continue your walk along the avenue and next landmark you will see is the Plaza del Murillo, a nice square dedicated to the painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo from Seville. It is located next to the Prado Museum. Passing the Plaza del Murillo, you get to the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid (Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid).
The garden occupies around 8 hectares and it was founded in the 18th century. A different location was chosen at first, but in 1774, it was decided that the garden would be placed next to the Prado Museum. The goal of with having botanical garden in the capital city of Spain was not only to exhibit different species from around the world, but also to teach about nature, to promote science and to enhance the desire for exploration. The garden evolved and expanded over time, with the collection of plants, flowers and trees constantly expanding. Today, the garden is divided into seven outdoor sections and five greenhouses, which house a grand collection of over 90.000 species from all over the world, as well as a herbarium with over million specimens preserved inside. The interior of the garden is wonderful spectacle, especially having in mind that you are actually in the center of an urban zone. However, you will not feel like that with all that plants and flowers around you, as you walk around the garden.
Villanueva pavilion is a remarkable building in the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid. Having been constructed in the 18th century, the building represents an amazing addition to the garden. It has been recently renewed and it features a large lobby, two halls and one lecture hall.
Opposite the Prado Museum, there is another frequently visited landmark of Madrid. CaixaForum Madrid is a cultural center with exhibitions and performances organized as part of the center’s activity. The interior of the center with stainless steel walls and stunning staircase houses different kinds of exhibitions. Outside the building, there is a vertical garden, which is often considered to be the highlight of the building. There is a nice little gift shop inside, where you can buy souvenirs and a coffee shop at the top of the building, which is a great place to take a break from sightseeing.
The walk ends with the Plaza de Atocha, or the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V, as it is commonly called. The most notable landmark on this square is certainly the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Spanish national museum featuring artworks from the 20th century. Although mainly devoted to Spanish art, with Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, being the most famous representatives of the Spanish art, the collection also includes some works by international artists. Since the museum is mainly devoted to national history, besides paintings, it houses a large collection of books, recordings and videos, which are related to art and history of the art.
The reason why the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V is commonly known as the Plaza de Atocha is the vicinity of the largest train station in the city, Madrid Atoch (Estación de Madrid Atocha). The station is serving commuter trains that connect different parts of the city, as well as regional trains and high-speed trains. The building that exists today is the product of renovation in the 19th century, after the original building was destroyed by fire. The name Atocha comes from the basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Atocha, which is located nearby.
By the time you get to Atocha, you must be quite tired from walking down the Padeo del Prado, which is why you should have some rest in this area. There are a lot of restaurants and cafes in this part of the city. Cafetería Dunkin’ Coffee Madrid is a perfect choice if you are up for hot or cold drinks. If you want a traditional Spanish lunch with specialties such as tortillas, Restaurante Sanabria is also located nearby. Since Spain is internationally famous producer of ham, called jamon in Spanish, there is a restaurant with this specialty on the menu. The restaurant is called Restaurante Museo del Jamón.
Even though you might not be able to see all of the places we recommend here, as one day in the Paseo del Prado is not enough to see all the beauties of this boulevard, this is a great guide for you not to miss some places, that might deserve your attention, being important parts of Madrid’s cultural and urban life. As you walk along the Paseo del Prado, you will also see a lot of shops where you can buy, not only souvenirs, but clothing, shoes, accessorize, etc. The central area is everything you want it to be. A true representative of city’s history with magnificent pieces of architecture, monuments and buildings centuries’ old, as well as urban hub of a cosmopolitan city such as Madrid.