Madrid has many calling cards: relentless nightlife, exceptional live music, astonishing art galleries, fine tapas bars and restaurants and locals who truly live the good life. Other cities may have some of these things, but Madrid is overflowing with them all. Often called the most passionate city in Europe, Madrid’s energy is welcoming, friendly and wonderfully alive. Life is celebrated nearly around the clock in the cultural crossroads with an infectious appetite for epicurean delights, music and art.
While the slightly flashy main arteries of the Paseo de la Castellana and the Gran Via certainly draw tourists, the real Madrid is found in the village-like byways that wind through the city and in the downtown area. This part of Madrid is a jumble of twisting alleys, beautiful and broad avenues, stately gardens, grand museums and intimate taverns, creating a rich urban tapestry that is best enjoyed by exploring on foot.
Introduce yourself to the city at the Plaza Mayor, one of the largest public squares in Europe and one of Madrid’s greatest highlights. The plaza is more than a just a square outlined by beautiful buildings; it feels like a living, breathing entity. It’s where locals relax at outdoor cafes, students sprawl out on the cobblestone when the sun is out and where street musicians serenade the city with sweet melodies. It has also been the site of the canonization of saints, royal marriages, public burnings of heretics, masked balls, bullfights and other historical events since its creation in 1620. The plaza is cut off from motorized traffic, making it the perfect place to sit and watch Madrilenos, as the locals are called. Visit on a Sunday morning to browse the coin and stamp market, or come during the Christmas season when the plaza is transformed into a magical holiday market.
One of Madrid’s most impressive museums is the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, home of Picasso’s Guernica and works by other important Spanish artists. It’s the city’s premier contemporary art collection, spanning the 20th century until the 1980s. Guernica alone is worth the admission, but other highlights include pieces by Braque, Gris and Miro, whose work become an icon of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The surrealist extravaganzas of Salvador Dali are also well represented.
If you still haven’t satiated your thirst for Spanish art, visit the Museo del Prado, one of the world’s premier art galleries. More than 7,000 paintings call the museum home, offering a window into the Spanish soul. Works by Velazquez, El Greco, Goya and other Spanish artists are its brightest jewels, but you can also see masterpieces by Dutch, German, Flemish and French artists. Plan on spending at least a day uncovering the wonders of the Prado, and spend as much time there as you can to really soak in the Spanish spirit.
Madrid’s lavish Royal Palace “Palácio Real” is a true jewel box of treasures. Official tours take visitors through fantastic rooms that hold incredible artifacts, including five Stradivarius violins, a decent number of Goya paintings and over 200 extraordinarily ornate clocks.
Madrid is even more alive at night. Once the sun sets, head to the Malasana district for live alternative music, have a drink with the locals in the Plaza de Dos de Mayo or catch a dazzling flamenco performance in the La Latina district. For all of the above and more, take in the Huertas district which is brimming with bars, nightclubs, lounges and restaurants that cater to nearly every taste. You will find cheerful and enthusiastic crowds everywhere you go because Madrid is truly a city that never sleeps.
Madrid Geographical Location
Madrid is located in the center of the country and is the largest city in Spain. It is also the third largest city in the European Union with a population of 6,500,000 people in the metropolitan area.
Spanish is the official language of Madrid and Spain while Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Aranese have official status in certain regions.
Madrid Predominant Religion
- 84% Roman Catholic
- 10% Non-Religious
- 6% Other
As evident by Madrid’s many cathedrals, Catholicism is the leading religion although most Spaniards proclaim they do not participate in regular religious worship.
The Euro is the official currency of Spain.
Madrid can become quite hot in the summer but the temperatures year-round tend to be pleasant. Rainfall is rare during the summer, usually only a few days a month with the number increasing as winter enters.
Madrid Main Attractions
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
- Prado Museum
- Retiro Park
Other Attraction in Madrid
- Royal Palace of Madrid
- Queen Sofia Arts Center
- Plaza Mayor
- Plaza Del Toros