Apart from the fascinating sights, visitors of Madrid are able to experience astonishing culinary delights, leading art performances and Spain’s largest and most updated market. One of the liveliest European capitals, the city offers a vigorous nightlife for all tastes, from underground bars to chic restaurants to notorious clubs.
Paseo del Arte
Paseo del Arte means Art Avenue and is Madrid’s museum district, housing three of the capital’ superb art museums and Caixa Forum. A combined ticket allows you to visit El Prado, Reina Sofia Museum of Art and Thyssen Museum once each at any time within a year.
Occupying a neo-classical building from 18th century, Prado is probably Madrid’s most famous attraction. Initially established in 1819, Prado was one of world’s first art museums, featuring the royal art collection. Having gone under several expansions during the years, today it hosts a fascinating collection of paintings from Spanish and international artists. From Goya and Velazquez to Titian and Bosch, you are in for a treat if you are interested in Renaissance art.
Mostly focusing on Spanish modern artists, Reina Sofia Museum of Art hosts an excellent collection of modern paintings, including names such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. Come here to take an up-close look at famous Guernica. Brilliant paintings of international artists, including Henry Moore and Francis Bacon, are also exhibited in Reina Sofia.
Opened in 1992, Thyssen Museum is housed in a 19th-century building and features the, once privet, collection of Baron Thyssen. Hundreds of fascinating paintings and sculptures, from 13th century up to modern times, are displayed in ideal lighting. Look for the impressionist collection to admire works of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas, Monet and Renoir.
Recently established, in 2007, Caixa Forum houses artistic events and exhibitions. Visit even if you are not aiming for a specific happening, to peer at the unique architecture of this structure. One side of the building is covered by a vertical garden featuring 15,000 plants!
Puerta del Sol and Los Asturias
Puerta del Sol features “kilometro cero”, the zero point from which Madrilènos start measuring distances. Being the absolute city centre, it naturally became the most popular meeting place for the locals, whether they meet to go on a date, or they meet to organise a manifestation.
North-eastern from Puerta del Sol and between lively Plaza Major, Plaza de la Cabada and the Royal Palace, spreads Los Asturias. Featuring medieval buildings and scenic narrow lanes, Asturias is Madrid’s oldest section. The last few years the area has begun to gain attention, with chic restaurants and sophisticated bars popping up like mushrooms.
Salamanca and Retiro
Separated from the greenery of Retiro Park, Salamanca and Retiro districts represent two different faces of Madrid. Visit Salamanca for upscale designer shopping, contemporary architecture and charming museums. Then move south to Retiro to dive in the capital’s old-fashioned manners, with nostalgic walks in the park, locals chatting outdoors and children enjoying puppet shows.