10 Must-See Attractions in Madrid

Metro Madrid, with well over 5 million people, is one of the most diverse, eclectic and vibrant communities in Europe. Barcelona, and to a lesser extent, Sevilla, gets all the hipster buzz when it comes to Spanish destinations but lest we forget, the cosmopolitan and nocturnal capital city is abuzz with tourist charm.

Madrid was a settlement as far back as prehistoric times, although the first records from the city date back to the 9th century, when Muhammad I of Cordoba made a rather notable architectural mark on the landscape. Today of course, Madrid is replete with beautiful and iconic structures, world class art museums and famously, a nightlife that ranks among the most feral in Europe.

Here are ten must-see landmarks in the city that everyone should discover – or rediscover again.

10. Plaza de Cibeles

A paramount symbol of Madrid, Plaza de Cibeles is where fans of soccer dynamo Real Madrid go to celebrate major tournament wins. The Plaza’s most remarkable feature is a fountain built between 1777 and 1782 in front of the fabulous Palacio de Comunicaciones, now Madrid City Hall.

9. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

As part of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art, with the Prado and Reina Sofia, the Thyssen-Bornemisza is a special museum. The facility’s private collection of Impressionists, Expressionists and works from the late 20th century was once second only to the British Royal Collection.

8. Royal Palace of Madrid

Though the official residence of the King of Spain, the current monarch, King Juan Carlos, actually lives in the Palace of Zarzuela outside of Madrid. Nonetheless, that does not diminish the appeal of what is the foremost palace in Europe in size. While a vast portion of the 2,800 rooms are not open to visitors, tours of the interior do include the Throne Room, Hall of Columns and Gala Dining Room.

7. Biblioteca Nacional de España

The National Library of Spain contains terrific architecture, interior design and of course, a collection of superb historic works. The facility’s collection runs well over 28 million items, from music scores to maps, graphic materials to newspapers. A walkabout the library is a must.

6. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Open since 1992, Spain’s national museum of modern art is a superb attraction. The country of course, was a notable hotbed for 20th century creative pioneers, from Dali to Picasso and Mir? to T?pies. The Reina Sof?a features all the masters of the era and has a wonderful art library for visitors to peruse.

5. Parque del Buen Retiro

One of the best public parks in the world, the Parque del Buen Retiro hosts many events and festivals throughout the year and as such, is integral to civic life in Madrid. The park’s history dates back about 500 years and El Retiro contains many gorgeous fountains, sculptures and the brilliant Palacio de Cristal.

4. Teatro Real

Since 1850, the Teatro Real has been one of the premier opera houses in Europe. Tours that highlight the historical importance of the theater run throughout the week but of course, the best way to experience the Teatro Real, is to take in a live performance.

3. Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas

The bull is the foremost symbol of Spain and while controversial in some circles, the Plaza de Toros is where the national spectacle of tauromachy unfolds. No matter how you feel about what takes place in the bullring, a visit to Las Ventas is essential if you happen to be in Madrid.

2. Plaza Mayor

The dynamic Hapsburg era gave rise to ornate architecture throughout Europe, of which the central plaza in Madrid is a wonderful example. Together with nearby Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor is a prime congregation spot in the city and hosts numerous events.

1. Museo del Prado

One of the most famous museums in the world and part of a select few with household name status, the Prado’s collection of art is spectacular. Works span the 12th century up to the 19th century and include masterpieces by Velázquez, Goya, Rembrandt, Titian and El Greco.

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