How many Madrids are hidden in Madrid? Madrid is a city with a rich past but, at the same time, it is a modern metropolis which looks to the future while keeping its traditions and customs. Madrid offers a huge variety of culture, commerce, gastronomy and leisure and is a city in constant renovation. It is a city of leading museums, with the majestic Prado or the modern Reina Sofia Museum. A city of simple, traditional cuisine –with the cocido madrileño (a chickpea stew), as its flagship dish- and, at the same time, it is open to the new arts of the culinary avant-garde. Madrid is cosmopolitan on the Gran Via, intimate and quiet in Chamberi, frenetic in Huertas, Chueca and Malasaña and elegant in Jeronimos and Salamanca.
Madrid invites you to live and enjoy a multitude of experiences that it offers. We are sure that this visit will make you want to return to Madrid in the future. And that is our greatest wish.
THE RASTRO, A STREET MARKET WITH 400 YEARS OF HISTORY
Every Sunday and on public holidays, in the popular La Latina district, this famous 400-year-old market fills the streets. The main thoroughfare of this popular bazaar is Ribera de Curtidores, beginning in Plaza de Cascorro and stretching as far as Ronda de Toledo.
To get to know a city like Madrid, with over thousand years of history, takes some time. A first basic itinerary would be through a world of painting, architecture and nature, in one of the most emblematic areas of Madrid: the Paseo del Prado. Here you can enjoy a pleasant stroll which take you not only to the Botanical Gardens, but also to three of the world’s leading museums: the Prado, considered by many to be the best art gallery in the world, the Reina Sofia National Museum and Arts Centre, home of Picasso’s Guernica, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the most important private collection of art in the world. The walk continues to Plaza Mayor. This striking porticoed plaza has been the centre of the city since the times of Philip II and was built to meet a number of different needs: a theatre venue, civic centre, a market, etc.
And where would Madrid be without the Puerta del Sol, the true focal point of the city? There is probably no other spot that better represents the mixture of cultures and the image of an open, cosmopolitan space that characterises this city. When you arrive here, you will realise how many symbols have come to congregate in this plaza over the years: the clock that strike the chimes of 31 December, the famous statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree and Kilometre Zero, the point from which distances are measured on the main highways of Spain.
The sky of Madrid is one of its icons and it offers spectacular sundowns. You can watch the sunset from the Temple of Debod, in the Parque del Oeste, from the dome of the Almudena Cathedral, from Vistillas Park or the slopes of the Cerro del Tio Pio Park.
Discover another symbol of the city, the Plaza de la Cibeles, one of the most beautiful, central and best-known spots in Madrid, presided over by the magnificent fountain, an emblem of the city which, together with the Apollo and the Neptune Fountains, form part of the decoration of the Paseo del Prado. And then there is the Cibeles Palace, today the City Hall and an interesting cultural centre which also has a terrace from which to view Madrid from on high.
But if there is one street which is representative of the city, that is, without doubt, the Gran Via. Walk down this bustling street and feel the true Madrid, almost a kilometre and a half of shops, restaurants, cinemas and theatres. And, following this urbanite legacy of the capital, don’t miss another essential route, and submerge yourself in the Castellana, with its grand emblematic buildings which make up the financial centre of the city.
To all of this must be added the numerous parks and gardens. Take a walk through parks like El Retiro, the most important historical-artistic green zone in the city and one of the most beautiful urban parks in the world, gardens such as the Campo del Moro, or see Madrid Rio, the new space in Madrid created on the banks of the River Manzanares, a can’t-miss visit.
Madrid has two main stations, Atocha and Chamartin. All long-distance lines arrive at one of these two stations. Atocha is the main terminal of the AVE high-speed train, whose destinations today are Cordoba, Seville, Toledo, Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona, Barcelona, Huesca, Malaga, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Albacete and Valencia. The high-speed trains to Segovia and Valladolid leave from Chamartin Station.
The city also offers sightseeing bus tours on the Madrid City Tour, stopping at the most important museums and monuments. The city also has one of the biggest underground railway networks in the world, making travel within the city very easy. City bus routes cover the whole of Madrid.
Few cities in the world can boast a cultural life as intense as Madrid, as can be seen throughout the city. The agenda is full of activities for all tastes. Performances by the leading artists of music and stage are always on offer in the city, but there are also an enormous number of small venues to enjoy more experimental music and theatre.
Some say that the best thing about Madrid is its people. Without them, all of this cultural dynamism could not exist. And if there is one thing that defines the city perfectly, that is its lifestyle. A lifestyle defined by the streets, plazas, bars, restaurants, street cafes… The people of Madrid, the madrileños, are welcoming by definition and they love to enjoy life.
In neighbourhoods like Chueca, Malasaña, Lavapies, the Austrias, La Latina, Conde Duque and Las Letras, each boasting its own special personality, can be found that lifestyle that has earned Madrid world fame.
The nightlife is one of the main attractions of the city. Tapas, bars, discotheques, jazz bars, music cafes, flamenco shows and establishments of every type can satisfy a public of all tastes and ages.
Madrid has been a city in constant renewal in recent years. To understand the dynamism of this city, take a walk along the new Madrid Rio, an area that has emerged from what was, until a few years ago, an urban motorway, which has now been diverted through tunnels, and which has given way to an immense 7-kilometre-long park which is ideal for cycling or walking, and where you can find everything from a place to cool down in summer, to areas to relax or take part in sports, leading cultural facilities, such as the now-transformed old municipal slaughterhouse, the Matadero, today one of the most avant-garde centres in Europe.
In Madrid, gastronomy is culture, leisure and business. There is an incredibly varied culinary offer: you can enjoy not only home cooking in Madrid, but also the most daring, innovative cuisine. This city has international cuisine from all over the world and the best food produce. Some of the most surprising dishes of modern gastronomy come from the kitchens of Madrid.
Among its 3,000 establishments are to be found everything from the most elegant restaurant to taverns famous for their tapas. And enjoying tapas is one of the great attractions of our city. Don’t miss the opportunity to try a fried squid roll in one of the bars around the Plaza Mayor or to be tempted by the surprising innovations at some of the new gastrobars.
And for those who prefer traditional flavours, you cannot leave without trying the most traditional local dish: cocido madrileño. This chickpea stew has the peculiarity of being a complete meal made up of three dishes: soup as a starter, vegetables and chickpeas as the second dish and meat to finish.
Madrid today is an essential stop for shopping. Here, you can find practically anything. Shoppers come in search of the very specific, sophisticated or just plain eccentric. Variety is a feature of the shops in Madrid: from the most luxurious in the Salamanca district, to the most alternative clothing in Calle Fuencarral. Madrid transcends fashion – its style cannot be defined. It is the sum of all of its tendencies, an astonishing, living pastiche.
The Salamanca district with its famous Golden Mile shines even brighter today after the remodelling of Calle Serrano. Wider pavements so as to enjoy at greater leisure the shop windows of the leading Spanish and international brands.
The most popular fashion labels and prestigious jewellers are to be found on the Gran Via. If there is any adjective to define the shops of Chueca, Calle Fuencarral, Malasaña and Triball, it must be avant-garde. Here the youngest and most modern fashion firms come together with many of the most important young designers.
The Salesas district is a true fashion show, bringing together all of the most chic designs of the day. More traditional commerce is to be found around the Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor with many shops that are over a hundred years old and where you can find anything from a unique fan to a beautifully embroidered Manila shawl.
But as well as this, you must not miss the new San Miguel and San Anton markets, where you can buy and try the finest gourmet produce at the many food stalls, accompanied by a glass of excellent wine or a beer served as they only serve it in Madrid.
The Madrid Card is an essential tool to enjoy everything in the city, giving you access to the services of all the companies participating in the scheme, including access to more than 50 museums and with discounts in shops, restaurants, hotels, leisure centres, hire cars, etc.