The capital of Spain is located almost in the center of the Iberian peninsula. The city is among the highest European capitals, being located at 668 meters above sea level on the Meseta plateau. Industrial pole of the country together with Barcelona, the capital is also the most populated city in Spain with a population of 3,230,000 inhabitants (5,560,000 in the urban area). Madrid was chosen by Philip II in 1561 as the capital of Spain to replace Toledo. The city, in recent years, has had a significant development in infrastructure and its cultural offer, there are important museums, the most famous of which is the Prado Museum.
WHAT TO SEE: MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF MADRID
Among the main attractions of Madrid are the Palacio Real, the Puerta del Sol, the nearby “Plaza Mayor” where the numismatic market takes place every weekend and, during the Christmas period, the Christmas market. The Buen Retiro Park is very beautiful. To visit the Teatro Real and the Plaza de Colón with the monument to Christopher Columbus.
Among the museums the most important is certainly the Prado Museum, which houses one of the most important art collections in the world. Including “Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez, “La Maja Vestida” and “La Maja Desnuda” by Francisco de Goya, and masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli, Caravaggio, El Greco, Artemisia Gentileschi, Rembrandt, Pieter Paul Rubens etc.
Other high-level museums are the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which is an important art gallery. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a museum of modern art where the famous “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso is located. The Museo Arqueológico Nacional de España, with a rich archaeological collection.
HISTORICAL BUILDINGS AND NIGHTLIFE
Other places to visit in the city are the Monastero de las Descalzas Reales, the Monastero de la Encarnación. Then the Museo de Ciencias Naturales, the Museo Nacional del Ferrocarril, the Museo Municipal. While in the vicinity of the city are: the palace-monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos and the cities of Toledo, Segovia, Ávila and Aranjuez.
The city of Madrid is particularly known for its nightlife, or movida madrileña, and for its clubs and discos. One of the most vital areas of the night city is located in the “Barrio de las Letras”, in the center, around the square of Santa Ana and the streets Huertas and Echegaray. Other lively areas are the Malasaña district, with an alternative audience of young people, and the Lavapiés district, a multi-ethnic area, where music is played until dawn.
HOW TO MOVE: UNDERGROUND AND URBAN TRANSPORT
The city of Madrid has one of the largest metro lines in the world (Metro de Madrid), which with the addition of the line that serves the southwest suburbs called “Metrosur”, is now the second largest metro system of Europe, second only to the London Underground. In fact, the Madrid network extends for over 310 km. The metro has 316 stations and 13 lines.
The area around Madrid is also served by an extensive rail transport network called “Cercanías”. There is also a city bus network managed by the Empresa Municipal de Transportes.
HOW TO GET THERE: FLIGHTS TO MADRID
Madrid airport is the Madrid Barajas International Airport (IATA: MAD), located in the north eastern part of the city. This airport is the most important Spanish airport and one of the most important in Europe and the world. Madrid airport is connected with frequent flights with all the most important European airports and with numerous non-European countries. South America is particularly well served.