Madrid is a city that is ideal for walking. The sunshine of the Iberian Peninsula keeps it a long-lasting vitality. Flamingo’s flaming red dress has made Madrid always being optimistic and enthusiasm for more than 400 years. Take a walk and a closer look to see around from the exquisite carvings on the old buildings to the awesome sculptures in the squares; from the tens of thousands of great art collections in the Prado Museum to the whimsy hidden in street shops. Follow me to see the top 10 most popular attractions in Madrid.
1. Madrid Prado Museum
The Prado Museum is juxtaposed with the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum. They are known as the Four Major Museums in the World. It is the most visited attraction in Madrid. It collects the best work in the history of Spanish art from the 16th to the 19th centuries, such as the works of Velasquez, Goya and Greco. Of course, a large number of works by foreign painters during the Renaissance period have been collected, such as Titian of the Venetian School, Rubens of the Baroque, Jeronimos Boss of the surrealist and so on. The total number of works in the museum is now 27,509, of which 7,825 are oil paintings.
2. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
Visiting the Bernabeu Stadium – home of Real Madrid is definitely something that fans can’t miss. If you come here during the season, you can buy a ticket to see the match and worship Real Madrid’s superb skills. The Bernabeu has a magical power that makes people crazy and you are already excited when you enter. You can just visit the stadium if you come here during the time when there isn’t games. The visits include: the prize showroom, the president’s office, the news center, the locker room and the player pass, and the bench where the players sit down.
3. Madrid Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest royal palace in Western Europe with 3,418 rooms inside and each room has its own character. There are a lot of beautiful oil paintings, collectibles, weapons, porcelain, watches, gold and silver items. One of the most important works is the five-piece violin made by Antonio Stradivari – one of the greatest string instrument makers in history, which is exhibited in the concert hall of the Royal Library. In addition, there are also paintings by the famous Spanish painter Velazquez and Goya, and the paintings of the famous Baroque painter Caravaggio of Italy.
4. Retiro Park
Located in the heart of Madrid, the Retiro Park covers an area of 118 hectares with nearly 15,000 trees and two artificial lakes. It is the “lung” of the city of Madrid. Not only is there a lot of travelers, but it is also a great place for the citizens of Madrid to spend their time. The Retiro Park was built in 1630 in order to establish a resort for the king not far from the suburbs, and they established the Retiro Theatre, the Kingdom Ballet Hall and the Retiro Royal Palace at the same time. After several years, King Carlos III allowed the public to visit one corner of the park. The attractions worth visiting in the park are as follows: Statue Avenue, Port of Spain, Rose Garden, King Alfonso XII Monument and Glass Palace.
5. Sofia Queen Art Center
The Sophia Queen Art Center houses nearly 18,000 pieces of art from the 19th century to modern times. The most important works are from 20th-century Spanish painters: Picasso, Dali and Miro. The most worth visiting is Picasso’s “Guernica”. This giant painting is about 8 meters long and about 4 meters wide, which was created by Picasso in 1937 for depicting a view of the small town of Guernica in the Basque Country of Spain after the bombing of the German and Italian Air Forces during the Spanish Civil War. The painting combines cubism, realism and surrealism, which shows the suffering and the yearning for freedom and peace of innocent people under the fascist atrocities. There are only black, white and gray in the whole painting, which not only highlights the war atmosphere of tension and terror, but also expresses the condolences to this human tragedy.
6. Madrid Puerta del Sol
The square originated as a gate of Madrid in the 15th century, which is named the Sun Gate because the city gate faces the direction of the rising sun. The earliest building on the square was the old postal building of the 18th century, which is now the government building of the Madrid Autonomous Region. It may be worthwhile to pay attention to the semi-elliptical dark windows in the lower part of the building and it was the prison for the recidivism against Franco. There are two important sights on the square. One is the statue of Carlos III. He was the king of Spain during the Bourbon dynasty that was born in Madrid. During his reign, he built the public facilities of Madrid. He has been always called as Madrid’s greatest mayor until now. Another statue is the “Bear and Wild Strawberry Tree” that is the city emblem of Madrid.
7. Madrid Plaza Mayor
The main square also known as Plaza Mayor is the central square of the Madrid that was built during the Habsburg dynasty. The shape is rectangular and it’s 129 meters long and 94 meters wide. It is surrounded by a three-story residential building with 237 balconies facing the square. It has 9 entrances. The main building of the main square is the home of the bakery with municipal and cultural functions and its exterior walls are covered with murals.
8. Gran Via
Gran Via is a gorgeous upscale shopping street in the heart of Madrid starting from Alcala in the east and to Spanish Square in the west. The shops are lined up on both sides with the distinctive building, and the two rows of trees on the side of the road, which is very impressive. This lively street is one of the most important shopping areas in the city with a large number of hotels and large cinemas. Most theaters are now replaced by shopping malls. In the mid-19th century, Madrid’s urban planners decided to build a new road connecting Alcala and Spanish Square. The project demolished many buildings in the city center and was known as the “ax on the map.” After decades of planning, the construction project has not yet begun, so the media cynically called it the “great road.”
9. Cibeles Square
The Cibeles Square is also known as the Land Goddess Square. Surrounded by neoclassical buildings, marble sculptures and fountains, it is a symbol of Madrid. The fountain on the square depicts the goddess Cibeles (the goddess of the earth in Roman mythology) sitting on a chariot drawn by two lions. The fountain was built during the Carlos III period and was designed by Ventura Rodriguez between 1777 and 1782. The goddess and chariot are the works of Francisco Gutierrez, and the lion is the work of Robert Michel. This fountain was originally adjacent to the Buena Vista Palace and was relocated to the center of the square in the late 19th century.
10. Cathedral of Our Lady of Amudna
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Amudna is located on the west side of the city center of Madrid. It’s bordered by the Armed Square in the north and opposite the Royal Palace. The main saint of the church is the Madonna of Amudna who is also the chief saint of Madrid. From a distance, the baroque vault and the two bell towers are striking. In the middle of the top is the statue of the Virgin of the Amudna wearing a crown with four Spanish saints on either side. There is a square window of ten square meters in the middle of the balcony below, which still depicts the Virgin with the statues of the four Gospel writers on the two sides.