Hey GoCar Readers, this is a guest post from our friends over at Trip101. We hope you enjoy their overview of Madrid points of interest!
As the capital city of Spain, Madrid has a lot of hype to live up to when it comes to tourism. But while it has modernized in the past decades, this well-preserved city still retains its old-world charms. It has an abundance of historic sites that will surely keep travelers on their toes. The blend of culture and modernism has brought Madrid to new heights and any history buff who visits will be on an adventure that is unlike any other. With Renaissance architecture, majestic churches, grand city centers, the capital of Spain has a lot to offer than most. Let’s get to know some notable sites that should be included in everyone’s itinerary every time they come for a visit.
The Royal Palace
One would say that this is the most majestic place in Spain. The white Baroque-style exterior, extravagant interiors, and just an overall grand vibe, this is one of those sites that you should not miss during your visit to Madrid. This was the official residence of Spain’s royal family dating back to the 18th century. Although now, some of the rooms are mostly used for state dinners and official visits since the royal family has opted to stay in the much humbler Zarzuela Palace. Join a tour in this palace and you will get to see the famous Throne Room. It’s one of those experiences that will make you wonder how opulent monarch’s lifestyles were back in the day.
Museo Nacional del Prado
This is the biggest national art museum in Spain and it features one of the best collections. Some artifacts can be dated back to the 12th century and these are well preserved, good enough to be featured in this museum for everyone to see. That inner history buff in you will go wild while seeing these and learning the details about each one. It’s no wonder this is one of the most frequented museums in the world. Notable works of artists like Francisco Goya are exhibited here. With over 10,000 pieces comprising of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and old printed documents, you can spend the whole day here and never get bored.
Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
Going back to the 16th century when this was built, much of the structure is still preserved. Over the years, this place, literally translated as the Convent of the Barefoot Royals has been home to various noblewomen who have had their religious calling, and with their dowries in tow, there is no question as to how they were able to amass great fortunes over the years. As of the present, there are still a few nuns living there, but the whole structure is mainly used as a museum and a church. Religious paintings and artifacts like the bones of San Sebastian is laid here, which is one of its biggest attractions.
Parque del Retiro
Amidst the Baroque architecture and modernized buildings, Madrid has managed to retain some green space within the city, and it has paid off quite well. Tourists and locals alike go to Retiro Park to relax and chill after a long day of travelling. Whether it’s a weekend breather or an afternoon siesta, you cannot go wrong while visiting this park. It features hectares of green space featuring well-manicured lawns that are reminiscent of Spanish gardens from old times. There is a lake in the middle of the park where visitors can try out boating and if you time it right, you might even get a chance to experience some carnivals and fairs that are celebrated during special fiestas.
If there is something that Spain is known for, it’s for having grand city centers. Within the vicinity, there will most likely be a church, a museum, and official government buildings that are all within easy access from the city square. This is what you will get upon your visit to Plaza Mayor. Of course, everything will be on a grander scale since this is Madrid we’re talking about. You’ll see the famous statue of King Felipe III riding his trusted horse, and in the background is the panoramic view of the four-story Casa de la Panaderia, Madrid’s municipal building. True to its history, some special events are still held here like the annual Christmas market. It still is the best place to gather the citizens for anything significant.
Basilica de San Francisco el Grande
Among the churches of the world, this one is known for having one of the biggest domes. It was built around the 18th century with Neoclassical style of architecture, and although restoration has been done quite a few times, it is still pretty much preserved from that day. There are murals and paintings from Spanish artists like Francisco Goya which also serve as one of the main attractions. Today, it is quite famous a National Monument and is only operational as a church when there are special religious services. This museum is mostly open for all visitors who want to check and browse the art collection that is featured.
There is no doubt that Spain has cemented itself as one of the historical centers of the world. One can only see a glimpse of what once was when they visit the museums and preserved sites in Madrid, but this is usually enough to keep them hooked. Approximately 7 million visitors make their way to this city every year and it does not disappoint. With the classical vibe, bullfighting, delicious food, and booming nightlife, it is one of the most versatile places that has something for everyone.
History buff or not, take your time to explore all the best parts of the capital city of Spain. Did we mention that almost every corner is also a picture-perfect background? Whether you are alone, with friends, or with family, take that camera and visit all the sites that will seemingly bring you back through time during the glory days of Spain. For more tips and destination guides, visit Trip101.