Over the years, we have been helping travelers from all over the world experience Madrid in a better, more comfortable way. As a renowned provider of apartments in Madrid, we have the first-hand experience of how travelers see the city and the challenges they might face once they first arrive. Wanting to help all travelers who first arrive in Madrid, we have started our series of guides, which have featured Madrid Travel Guide, Madrid Gastronomic Guide, as well as Madrid City Guide.
The next guide we want to share with you is a cultural guide. Here, you will find the landmarks that hold an exceptional value in the cultural life of the city, making it easier for you to choose the ones to visit.
Museums in Madrid
One of the things Madrid is mostly recognizable for are the museums. The city has a lot of museums you can visit, but most travelers choose to start with these.
The Prado Museum
With the finest works of European art and the pieces from the Spanish Royal Collection, this museum offers one of the largest collections and is the most visited museum in Spain.
Location: Paseo del Prado
The Prado Museum in Madrid
The Reina Sofia Museum
This is a national museum that features collections of the most renowned Spanish artists together with an impressive art library.
Location: Calle Santa Isabel, 52
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Mainly based on the artworks from the privately-owned collection, this museum features contemporary art from Europe and America.
Location: Paseo del Prado, 8
The Museum of America
Spanish colonization of the continent has an important part in the country’s cultural heritage, hence the collection that features items brought from the American content during that period.
Location: Avenida de Los Reyes Católicos, 6
The Naval Museum
Offering a glimpse into the history of the Spanish Navy, the Naval Museum is a place that focuses on sharing historical heritage while educating the visitors.
Location: Paseo Prado 5
The Royal Palace of Madrid
Even though it is an architectural site you want to visit and admire its exterior, the Royal Palace actually features an indoor museum with beautiful design, luxurious furniture, and decorations that originate from the Spanish royals.
Location: Calle Bailen
The best way to plan your visit to one of these museums is to check out the website and find out the opening hours, entrance fee, and if the museum offers guided tours. Most of the museums offer free entrance on a particular day or period of the day, which is a great option to explore cultural offer in Madrid even if you are traveling on a budget.
If you want to find out more Madrid museums worth visiting, take a look at this article: Museums to Visit in Madrid.
Numerous historical sights are scattered around the center of Madrid, highlighting the cultural value of the past. Different epochs have left a trace that cannot be erased. The traces of everyday life, court life, as well as a general spirit of the time can be seen in those sights. Regardless if we talk about artistic expression, amazing craftsmanship or style, the cultural value of these sights is priceless.
Basilica de San Francisco El Grande
Built in the Neoclassical style, this Roman Catholic basilica is a representative of a style rich with murals and paintings. It is known to have the largest Christian dome except for the dome in Rome, which makes it quite extraordinary construction. It is built in the 18th century, with several restorations over the past few centuries.
Location: Calle San Buenaventura, 1
Palacio de Cibeles
This architectural sight is a part of the modern Spanish culture, being first opened in 1919. It has become an important monument and a part of city life, now serving as the seat of the Madrid City Council. It also offers a modern art exhibition inside the palace.
Location: Plaza Cibeles 1
The Neptune Fountain
Representing a blend of the religion and history, the Neptune Fountain is a part of the cultural heritage that still plays an important part in the life of the locals. It was built in the 18th century in honor of Neptune, God of the sea.
Location: Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo, s/n
The Neptune Fountain in Madrid
The House Museum of Lope de Vega
The house of the well-known Spanish writer Lope de Vega is another part of the cultural offer in Madrid. The house is from the 16th century, and it now serves as a museum. The house is located in the part of the city which is known as Literary Quarter in Madrid. The guided tours are available for free but should be scheduled in advance.
Location: Calle Cervantes, 11
The Convent of Las Descalzas Reales
Translated as the Monastery of the Royal Barefooted, this sight is a royal monastery from the 16th century. Today it houses a museum with rarities such as artworks, portraits of the royal children, relics, tapestries, etc.
Location: Plaza de las Descalzas
Temple of Debod
The reason why this temple is a part of historical sights is precisely the fact that it represents the crossover between different cultures. With its distinguishable design, the Temple of Debod is not a landmark typical of the Spanish culture. In fact, it was a gift from Egypt, so the style is something unique for Madrid’s landscape. It is a remarkable piece of architecture that combines religious motives with the ancient Egyptian style.
Location: Calle Ferraz, 1
Temple of Debod at sunset
Designed as a display of the 21st architecture, the Espacio is a unique building that brings modern architecture to the spotlight. It combines the artistic style of the interior with the exhibition of the technology and its rapid development throughout the 20th century.
Location: CalleFuencarral, 3
The National Library of Spain
Not only is it the largest library in Spain, but it is also one of the largest libraries in the world with over 26 million items. These primarily include books, as well as other items such as manuscripts music, newspaper, etc. This makes the collection an endless source of information that has been gathered throughout the centuries. This way the cultural value of the past is preserved for the generations to come which can fully explore the life of the past hidden inside printed books. Exhibitions and guided tours are part of the activities available in the library.
Location: Paseo de Recoletos, 20-22
Estación de Chamberí
It is no accident that a metro stop is on the list of cultural activities. In fact, the metro ride taking you to Estación de Chamberí will prove to be an amazing cultural experience. The historic metro station from the early 1920s with its platform 0 has been closed since 1966. Now, it offers a historic experience with original ceramics, billboards and the furniture, that will take you back in time to see the origin of the Madrid Metro.
Location: Plaza de Chamberí, s/n
World Heritage Sights
A lot of World Heritage Sites are located in Spain, acknowledging the cultural and historical value of those sites. Three of them are located in Madrid area.
Monastery and Site of the Escorial
Its cultural value lies in the fact that it has been a residence of the royal family. Constructed in the 16th century, the Monastery and the site were meant to highlight the role of Spain and its culture.
Location: Av Juan de Borbón y Battemberg, s/n
Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
Another remnant of the royal life that has become a part of cultural heritage is the area around the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. The design of the Aranjuez Cultural Landscape spread throughout three centuries, but it represents an exclusive insight into the royal life. It introduces some innovative horticultural ideas, which have been opened to public in the 19th century.
Location: Aranjuez, a part of the Community of Madrid
University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares
The University of Alcalá was founded as a type of planned university city, a concept that has later been accepted as a model for universities in Europe and America. It was introduced in the 15th century in the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, perhaps the most famous person to bring Spanish literature to the global popularity.
Location: Plaza de San Diego, s/n
Other cultural activities
While the monuments and sights represent the most important part of the cultural offer in Madrid, you can find many other activities that will help you get to know the culture and the life of the locals. Make sure you check out the events scheduled in Madrid for the period during which you will be visiting and choose the ones to attend. Here are a couple of suggestions:
Organized for the ninth time in 2018, Gastrofestival Madrid is a perfect choice for all the gastronomy enthusiasts and those looking to explore the local cuisine in the original setting. A series of events supporting this festival includes food and wine tastings, lectures, discussions, workshops, guided tours, culinary training, etc. Numerous restaurants all over the city join this event offering these activities. Gastroculture is a part of the festival where the local museums also take part in the event. Exhibitions of the old kitchens, tastings of hot chocolate and other traditional Spanish dishes, as well as photography exhibitions are also part of the program that brings food and culture together for this festival.
It is impossible to talk about Madrid’s cultural offer without mentioning flamenco, the dance that has been identified with the nation with a good reason. Followed by the folkloric music from the Southern Spain, the style of flamenco impresses the people worldwide. Its popularity has grown tremendously, to the point that it is taught in many countries around the world. However, watching flamenco in Madrid is certainly an experience you will never forget. Not only does the dance and music represent a perfect blend of tradition, but the entire setting provides an immersive experience.
Flamenco dance originated in Spain
One of the most cheerful events, highly anticipated by the locals, Madrid Carnival is an event that brings together tradition, cultural heritage, and cultural life. The activities during the Carnival include fancy dress completion, music band performances and competition, colorful costumes worn by the participants, etc. The grand parade is the highlight of the Carnival. It starts from the Retiro Park and ends at the Plaza de Cibeles. The festival is organized in February with the cultural program that lasts five days.
Regardless of the time you choose to visit Madrid, you will find a lot of cultural activities in the city.