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Alternative touristic attractions in Madrid

Madrid is an amazing city for tourism. It has beautiful landscapes, historic monuments, and structures which were declared a world heritage site. Options are almost infinite, that is why it is impossible to get bored in Madrid, even if people go more than once. Nonetheless, there are places and sites of great touristic value which go unnoticed, as if they were hidden.

They are alternative tours and visits in the city which have a great cultural and touristic value. Madrid offers a wide range of options for tourists, even for locals who do not know all the secrets of the city.

Temple of Debod

It is an Egyptian temple originated in 2nd century after Christ and it is currently found in Parque del Cuartel de la Montaña, an area which is close to Plaza de España. This monument was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government to avoid its flooding during the building of the Asuán dam.

Temple of Debod

The building of the temple was carried out by Adikalamani king, which ended up being a chapel dedicated to the Amón and Isis gods. A few years later, kings of the Ptolemaic dynasty built new stays next to the original building. Finally, when Egypt was incorporated to the Roman Empire, the emperors Augustus and Tiberius finished building and decorating the temple.

When Nubia converted to Christianism, in the 6th century, the temple was abandoned. When the dam was built during the 20th century, the Egyptians decided to give the building to Madrid. In order to do so, it was carried stone by stone and reconstructed in the same way. It was finished in 1972, the year which it was opened to the public. Inside it, many audiovisual materials are displayed, together with videos and models, to show the details of its decorations and meaning.

Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida

This historical place was built in honor to San Antonio de Padua, by order of Carlos IV. It was built by Francisco de Fontana and it has a central space with a big dome which is illuminated with a lantern. However, this monument achieved greater importance because of the historical ensemble made by Goya in the 18th century.

In 1905, the building was declared a National Monument while in 1928, it was decided to build an identical temple by its side to preserve the original as Museo de Goya. It has always been a priority to preserve this place. Precisely, the original temple serves to keep the painter’s remains since 1919.

Parque El Capricho de la Alameda de Osuna

This green space belongs to the artistic-natural heritage of the city. It is located in Alameda de Osuna and it is highlighted for its beauty and for being little known. It was created in 1784, by María Josefa de la Soledad Alonso Pimentel duchess. The most prestigious gardeners of the period worked there and it was visited by well-known figures.  However, with the death of the duchess, the park began to decline until it was almost forgotten. In 1974, the Council of Madrid bought this green space and started its restoration which was finished in 1999. The park recovered its beauty and has a high level of botany, sculpture and art. Inside it, pavilions and chapels can be found as well as fonts, plazas and the dukes’ palaces.

The garden has three different styles: firstly, the French garden, which extends from the west of the garden. Secondly, the Italian garden, located in the lowest and oldest part of the place. Finally, the English landscape, which extends along the park.

 El Ángel Caído

Madrid City can claim that it is the only one which has a monument to the devil. More precisely, it is about a statue which represents the moment in which the fallen angel was expelled from Eden.

The font is found in Parque de El Retiro, and it was acquired by the Council of Madrid, which ordered a pedestal design from the architect Francisco Jareño. The original work is from Ricardo Bellver. The font was inaugurated in 1885 and it is located 666 meters above the sea level.

Búnkeres de la Guerra Civil

Parque del Oeste has a surface close to 100 hectares. In one of its zones, more precisely in an area located between Seneca Avenue and Paseo de Ruperto Chapí, elements of the dark past of Spain are found. There, three bunkers for machine guns used during the Civil War can be found. During those times, twenty bunkers were built, but only three remain.

Panteón de Hombres Ilustres

In the cloister of Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha, Panteón de Hombres Ilustres is found, a place where politicians and personalities of the 19th century remain buried.

The historic architecture and the funerary sculpture, two of the most present elements at the end of the 19th century, are found in this building. Renowned sculptors were in charge of building the graves for those important figures of the Spanish political and military history. Some of the most distinguished names which rest inside this place are: Palafox, Canalejas, Ríos Rosas and Cánovas, among others.

Botín

The oldest restaurant in Madrid, it is located in Cuchilleros street in the heart of Madrid. This place was founded in 1725 by a French cook called Jean Botín, together with his wife of Asturian origin. It is recognized as the oldest restaurant in the world in the Guiness World records.

Currently, this restaurant is administered by the fourth generation of the González family who are the successors of the founding family. The environment of the original inn is kept up until today since it is reflected in its wood-fire oven which was used at the moment it was founded, almost 200 years ago. The restaurant is an enormous place; it covers the four floors of the building.

Ten Things to Do in Madrid

When you first arrive to the capital city of Spain, you might face a great dilemma when it comes to which places to visit and what things to do in Madrid. Since the city is such a popular tourist destination, you might have some general idea on which places are the most visited in Madrid, but it is always helpful to have a quick guide to discover things you need to experience in Madrid.

As a provider of apartments in Madrid, we have met a lot of tourists from all over the world, coming to the city eager to explore it and learn about its culture and customs, and we have come to know the most popular places every tourist would love to see. We are going to highlight the most commonly visited places, and if you are visiting Madrid, this is a great list of the things you could do while in the city.

Visit the museums

Famous center of culture and art, Madrid is a place one could not leave without visiting at least one museum. The abundance of museums scattered around the city provides all sorts of exciting collections and exhibitions which will satisfy all sorts of travelers. The most popular area is certainly in the Paseo del Prado, with the Prado Museum being located there. As the most visited museum in the city, it stands out as the place most tourists are eager to visit. The main reason for this is the rich collection owned by the museum and displayed in an impressive interior as you are exploring different epochs and enjoy the works of art created by both local and international artists. Two other museum located close by include Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Together, all three of them make the famous Golden Triangle of Art, a common point of interest for all art lovers visiting the city. Convenient location and impressive collections make these three the most visited museums in Madrid, but the city has so much more to offer. If you are interested in more ideas on which museums to visit in Madrid, here are some suggestions: Museums to Visit in Madrid.

Have coffee at the plaza

Squares in Madrid are known as plazas, and they have historically been places of great interest for the local life. They usually were the places where local celebrations, fairs and other public events took place, but today they are still essential part of the city, where you will meet a lot of people, find a lot of shops and cafes. Nice weather and great company are enough reasons for you to decide to enjoy a cup of coffee in one of those cafes at the plaza in Madrid. While there, you will enjoy the view and perhaps plan some impromptu shopping adventure nearby.

Go for shopping adventure

Traveling is a great way to experience new places and meet new traditions, but for all shopaholics out there, this is also a great opportunity to scout some new stores and check out the latest items that have just found their way into the stores. When it comes to shopping in Madrid, the central area is the best way to start, as most stores are located in this part of the city. Of course, if you prefer indoor shopping, which is particularly recommended during the bad weather conditions, you might want to visit one of the shopping malls. While in Madrid, make sure you check out some of the famous Spanish brands, such as Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Sfera, etc. Although you might have these stores in your home town, it is always nice to visit the stores in the Spanish capital, where these brands originated from.

Walk around the Retiro Park

Although there are so many wonderful parks around Madrid, the Retiro Park is certainly the most famous one in the city. It is also the largest one, with so many activities for the visitors, which is the reason why we include this landmark in the list of ten things to do in Madrid. Walking around the park and enjoying the nature is an amazing way to spend an afternoon in Madrid. Of course, if you are up for some sightseeing, the Crystal Palace, the Monument to Alfonso XII and Rosaleda del Retiro are some of the places you will find worth visiting while in the park. Depending on the time of the year you visit, you might come across book fairs, exhibitions, street performances, fireworks and other entertaining activities organized for the park visitors.

 

Retiro Park

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/input-park-removal-madrid-door-1523566/

Enjoy the view from the cable car

It might be an unusual way to explore the city, but when in Madrid you will have a unique opportunity to see the city from the cable car going above the buildings and houses from the Paseo del Pintor Rosales street over the River Manzanares and into the Casa de Campo park. The cable car, called el Teleférico, was built as a part of the amusement park Parque de Atracciones. It reaches the height o 40 meters above the ground and this exciting ride takes around 10 minutes from start to finish, with the route being approximately 2.5 kilometers long. As you reach the top at the Casa de Campo park, you will get to enjoy panoramic view of the city, so prepare yourself to take lots of cool photos.

Try local specialties

When traveling to new places, one of the must-do things is embracing the local tradition and trying specialties that are typical for the cuisine of the country you are visiting. Madrid and the Spanish cuisine are well-known around the world, so you have probably heard about the dishes such as paella, tortillas, croquetas, huevos rotos, curros con chocolate, etc. Even though you might have tried these dishes, there is nothing better than visiting one of the local restaurants and coffee shops to taste dishes prepared based on traditional, decades-old recipes that actually created specialties that have been replicated in many restaurants around the world.

Information about which places to visit is available in this gastronomic guide, with tips and recommendations for choosing some of the best and the most popular restaurants, pastry shops and tapas in Madrid.

Explore the city on a bike

Hop on/hop off buses and similar city tours are part of every large city tourist offer, as they are popular and convenient way to explore large part of the city more efficiently. However, bike tours are growing in popularity, being a more eco-friendly solution, as well as healthier and more interesting option for travelers. If you are in a good shape, and if you are comfortable riding a bike for great lengths (usually up to a couple of hours, with breaks), exploring the city on a bike is a perfect choice for you. You can rent a bike and come up with your own route of famous landmarks, but it is more advisable to join a group of travelers exploring the city on their bikes, with a guide, knowing just which streets to avoid and how to safely reach a specific destination.

Admire the architecture

Wherever you go around Madrid, you will be able to see plenty of notable buildings designed under many art influences throughout the city’s rich history. Many of those centuries-old buildings are preserved nowadays as remnants of the turbulent past and city life that has been present in the central areas for centuries now. The Royal Palace of Madrid and the Royal Theatre are two architectural landmarks worth visiting as notable buildings of historic importance and great cultural value. The Gran Vía is also great place to visit when it comes to admiring the architecture as it showcases patterns ranging from Vienna Secession style, Plateresque, Neo-Mudéjar, Art Deco and other styles influencing the final outcome we know today.

 

Madrid - Architecture

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/spain-madrid-architecture-capital-985372/

Visit the Mercado de San Miguel

A covered market located in the central area of Madrid, the Mercado de San Miguel has become one of the greatest symbols of the city’s tradition and one of the places you need to visit when in the city. The food market is designed to showcase the amazing dishes of Spanish cuisine in pleasant surroundings. Variety of different specialties offered is what attracts so many tourists turning this into a landmark worth visiting.

Relax with a glass of sangria

Regardless if you would rather drink wine, or if you prefer the sweet taste of sangria, Madrid is the place to be for all fond of a glass of wine in the evening. When in Madrid, visit a cafe or a bar where you will be provided with the finest selection of local wines or sangria. In some bars, you will be able to order tapas with wine, making this a typical evening out in Madrid. Most popular places are located in the center of the city, which makes it very convenient to visit them. And since you are on vacation, relaxing with a glass of sangria or wine is what makes this visit even more complete.

Once you get back to your apartment in Madrid, you are left with a unique experience as you finished a fulfilled day of sightseeing. As the impressions start to pile up, you will get to sum up everything and plan the next day of your Madrid adventure.

10 things to do in Madrid

If you are in the process of planning a trip, we have a perfect guide that features 10 things to do in Madrid. We all know that organizing a trip on your own can be a bit challenging, as you have to make sure that the process of booking tickets and finding accommodation, such as apartments to rent in Madrid, goes as planned. You must not leave anything to chance, and you have to be certain that everything is ready for you to embark on your travel.

Here comes the part where you actually start thinking about spending your time in Madrid. Once you get to the city and feel comfortable in your cozy apartment in Madrid, you are ready to experience all of those amazing things Madrid is famous for. Whether you are in town for two days or for two weeks, here are some things you simply must do while in Madrid.

1. Visit the Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor is one of the most famous squares in the historic center of Madrid. The square was built in the 17th century on the old square the Plaza del Arrabal, where once stood the most popular market in Madrid. Favorite meeting point of the locals for centuries, this square has become one of the most famous landmarks of Madrid, with its impressive design and three-storey buildings surrounding the square completely. You can use one of the nine entrances to enter the square and then find a great spot to have coffee in one of the cafes scattered around the square. The equestrian statue of Felipe III is placed in the center of the Plaza Mayor square.

Plaza Mayor en Madrid
The statue of Felipe III located in the center of the Plaza Mayor in Madrid
http://www.gothereguide.com/plaza+mayor+madrid-place/

 

2. Walk along the Gran Vía Street

Walking along the most famous boulevard in Madrid is a great place to meet the center of this urban city and explore the busy life of the locals. The Gran Vía Street is famous for shops, bars and restaurants located along this wide, more than a kilometer long avenue. The architecture is just as impressive, as the street is said to best showcase the movements from the early 20th century, including Art Deco, Vienna Secession style, Neo-Mudéjar and others. The street has often been compared to New York’s Broadway, as it was home to many old cinemas, most of which are now closed or turned into shops. Starting from Metrópolis building, a walk will take you down to the street’s end between the Torre de Madrid and the Edificio España, where you will reach the monument to Miguel de Cervantes.

The Gran Via Street

The Gran Vía Street during the night
http://www.layoverguide.com/2014/11/madrid-layover.html/gran-via-street-main-shopping-street-in-madrid

 

3. Spend morning at El Rastro

One of the favorite meeting place of the locals is the most famous flea market in Madrid – El Rastro de Madrid. The market is located in the center of the city, which is why a lot of tourists include this sight into one of the things to visit in Madrid. The market is open from 9 am until 3 pm, but the best atmosphere is to be found in the morning, when most people arrive to sell the things they no longer need, and many more come to find perfect items to bargain for. If you are interested in antique items and rare pieces missing in your collections, this might just be a perfect place to find them, as the variety of items for sale is so diverse that you can pretty much find anything.

El Rastro

A photo of the atmosphere at the Rastro flea market
http://www.elrastro.org/galeria%20%20fotos/galeria-12.htm

 

4. Stop by the Retiro Park

One of those places Madrid is recognizable for would certainly have to be the Retiro Park, the largest park in Madrid occupying 1.4 square kilometers filled with gardens, monuments, historic buildings, and a lake. Suitable for visitors of all age, the Retiro Park is a perfect place to stop by and relax in the place so secluded from the city noise and hustle, even though the park is actually in the center of Madrid. Offering an opportunity to visit exhibitions, fairs, firework shows, street performances or simply have a picnic under the shade of a tree, the Retiro Park is one of the best rated landmarks of Madrid.

retiro-park-004
Monument to Alfonso XII of Spain located next to the lake at the Retiro Park
http://www.travelandtransitions.com/our-travel-blog/madrid-salamanca-segovia-2010/spain-travel-madrid-sightseeing/2/

5. Visit a museum

Exploring the art in Madrid is one of the best ways to learn about the city’s history and get to see in person some of the most impressive pieces of world’s art. The Museo del Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, collectively known as the Golden Triangle of Art, are certainly most famous museums in the city and the ones that most visitors choose when it comes to visiting museums in Madrid. However, the city has many smaller museums, specializing in various different fields, including the aviation museum, fashion museum, etc. In fact, you can even organize your own art tour of Madrid. Therefore, if you are fond of art, you should be aware that when it comes to visiting Madrid, you will always have some interesting places to visit or exhibitions to attend, in one of the city’s museums or numerous art galleries.

prado-museum-005

The front view of the Prado Museum
http://www.madridsensations.com/paseo-del-prado/

 

6. Watch flamenco

Internationally widespread dance, flamenco has its roots in Spain, especially Madrid, which has nurtured some of the most successful artists specialized in this type of dance. Therefore, if you are a tourist, this would be an attraction you would not want to say no to. An evening out with dinner and flamenco show in one of the local taverns and bars is a perfect way to plan your evening in Madrid. As you enjoy wonderful local food, you will get to enjoy local music and artistic expertise of flamenco dancers. With their colorful outfits, loud, cheerful music and swift movements, flamenco has been known to charm everyone. As you watch an impressive performance, you will be transfixed with the dance skills displayed by the dancers on stage.

Flamenco

A glimpse of the flamenco performance
http://www.flamencotickets.com/las-tablas-madrid

 

7. Eat churros con chocolate

There is no one able to resist a mug of warm dripping chocolate with churros, a type of tasty fried bread. This delicious treat is one of the best known in the Spanish cuisine and your trip to Madrid will not be complete without enjoying one of this delicious treats. Available in many areas around the city, churros con chocolate are a perfect snack for you during your day of sightseeing. If you do happen to be near the Sol central station and near the Plaza Mayor, there is a place serving churros for over one hundred years. Chocolatería San Ginés is the one of the most popular places to visit if you want to taste the traditional recipes based on which the churros are made.

churros-007

Having churros con chocolate in one of the oldest chocolatería in Madrid
http://chocolateriasangines.com/

 

8. Shop at the Market of San Miguel

A historic and monumental market located in the center of Madrid is one of the best places to shop in Madrid, as the area combines the genuine local spirit, cultural surrounding, decades of tradition with endless shops where enthusiastic locals greating you cheerfully as you browse through the displayed goods. This is also a must see place for all the gourmands around the world, as the market is considered to be the center of culinary culture, where shopping is mixed with restaurants and freshly prepared food around the market. The Market of San Miguel is opened every day from 10 am until midnight or 2 am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The busiest time is usually around the lunch time.

mercado-san-miguel-008

Visiting the Market of San Miguel in Madrid
http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/en/the-market/

 

9. Enjoy a walk along the Paseo de la Castellana

Paseo de la Castellana is the longest and widest avenue in Madrid. Starting at Plaza de Colón, the avenue goes through several districts until its end at North Junction. For travelers interested in enjoying a walk along the city, this place is perfect, as it showcases some of the most remarkable buildings, including Torre Europa, Puerta de Europa and Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The modern design of the street has been the product of recent renovations and new constructions that have taken place along the street in the past few decades. The Paseo de la Castellana is also a great place to go shopping. Starting from ABC Serrano shopping mall, there are plenty of opportunities to shop, both international and domestic brands. Apart from the shopping mall, where a great variety of products can be found, there are other shops, scattered along the avenue. This is also a great place to have lunch, as some of the best restaurants in the city are located along in the Paseo de la Castellana.

Paseo de la Castellana

An evening view of the Paseo de la Castellana with La Puerta de Europa (The Gate of Europe) in the background
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paseo_de_la_Castellana_%28Madrid%29_32.jpg

 

10. Plan a trip to Toledo

Even though most tourists tend to stay around the city center when visiting Madrid, one should definitely go out and explore the outskirts of Madrid. Located around 70 kilometers south of Madrid, Toledo has been declared a World Heritage Site due to its cultural and monumental heritage. The town is an amazing example of coexistence of several cultures including Christian, Muslim and Jewish. The cultural and historic importance of Toledo has long been neglected, but this greatly changed over the past few decades. With many interesting sights, including castles, churches, museums, monasteries and bridges, the town preserves a lot of the time during which the constructions where built, as well as a trace of the cultures that had major impact on the town’s faith at that point in history. As such, this place treasures the ancient spirit and represents a place stuck in past, away from all the urbanization plans and modernization. The town can be reached by car using the freeway, while there are also buses and trains that regularly go to the town and back. One of the fastest ways to get there is using AVE high-speed train, which usually takes around half an hour from Madrid’s Atocha station to the town of Toledo.

Toledo

A view of Toledo town near Madrid
http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Spain/Madrid/Madrid/Toledo/photo1155444.htm