What not to miss
Recent trends in art and fashion all originate in Madrid. The Spanish city has become a playground for architects and avant-garde stylists, a delightful mixture of culture and urban rituals.
Lets begin from the three world-ranking museums: the Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation, all concentrated within a few hundred metres of plaza de Cibeles, the city’s monumental crossroads.
The Prado (Paseo del Prado) with its 100-plus rooms, hosts masterpieces from the Spanish School with works by Goya, Velazquez and El Greco. Italian art is also predominantly exhibited with works by great artists such as Titian, Fra Angelico, Raphael, Caravaggio, Veronese, Tiepolo, and Tintoretto. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Santa Isabel, 52) displays Picasso’s famous “Guernica” as well as a host of the best works of Spanish and international contemporary artists. Lastly, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum (Paseo del Prado, 8), established in 1992, offers more than 800 works from the collection of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Madrid gleams beneath blue skies, and its streets have made this city famous for their intense rhythm which continues throughout the day and night.
One cannot help but admire Plaza Mayor: the elegant porticos provide shelter for the always crowded cafés and the plaza’s main building, Casa De La Panadèria, is frequently used as a stage by street artists and for concerts held at Carnival and the Feast of Saint Isidro. This is where Calle Mayor, one of the city’s primary streets, begins with its multitude of small shops, cafés, bars and is lined with some of the city’s most lovely and evocative buildings.
Plaza Puerta del Sol is one of the city’s most important centre and the location of “kilometre zero” the survey marker from which all the road distances in Spain are calculated. This plaza is the site of the famous statue of 'El Oso y El Madroño' (the Bear and the Strawberry tree) the symbol of the city of Madrid, and the Casa del Carreas, famous the world over the New Year’s Eve celebration and the bell which marks the start of the new year. Then there is, Plaza de Oriente location of the Royal Palace, where the official receptions are held for State visits. Not far away is the Teatro Real, which offers one of Europe’s most prestigious theatre programmes. A statue of Cervantes is situated in Plaza de Espana, this square marks the starting point of one of Madrid’s most important streets, the Gran Via.
The famous corrida is held in Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. There is also a museum dedicated to bull-fighting relics for lovers of the genre.
The La Latina quarter is not to be missed: the enchanting Plaza de la Villa, with its mixture of architectural styles including the Baroque extravagance of the Basilica de San Miguel and San Isidro, and the splendid decadence of San Francisco el Grande.
The city of Madrid has recently launched a service of guided tours known as Descubre Madrid, which offers walks in the city centre. There are two Italian tours offered: “the traditions of Madrid” and “Madrid through the centuries”. The former promises a voyage into “ the history, gastronomy and life philosophy of Madrid” while the latter, a bit more traditional, is aimed at those would like to learn about the history of Madrid by visiting the city’s most important monuments and centres.