The Plaza de España (Spain Square) is among the most beautiful spots in Madrid, with a beautiful fountain encapsulating the historical and cultural pride of Spain. Geographically, it marks the beginning of the Gran Vía Street, and behind the eclectic street, you will find residential buildings whose stateliness amazes. Further journeying down the path, travellers would be greeted by the goddess Cybele, reigning over the square that bears her name. Flanked by modernist constructions such as the Palace of Communications and the Bank of Spain, Spain's mixture of the classical and the contemporary is perfectly embodied by her glowing capital.
The ***Plaza Mayor Square*** is the best architectural example of Madrid's Baroque stylings, while the best example of Baroque paintings belongs to the Royal Basilica of San Francisco el Grande (San Buenaventura, 1). Near the two examples above, we can find the Royal Palace (Plaza de Oriente Square), whose interior houses an extensive art collection of paintings and sculptures, among many others.
There are always people on the streets of Madrid, even when the weather conditions are not the best. The people of Madrid love to enjoy its bars and terraces with company: in this city, all public places become recreational spaces. The ***San Miguel and La Cebada Markets*** are a clear example of how life can be thoroughly enjoyed, regardless of the surroundings.
Other popular attractions you cannot miss are the sunsets from the ***Retiro Park***; or perhaps from the Temple of Debod (Ferraz, 1), where you will enjoy one of the best panoramic views of the city at the feet of an Egyptian temple that is more than two thousand years old.
- The Prado Museum houses the best collection of paintings by Velázquez and Goya, as well as works of great artistic importance by Titian, Rubens and Bosch. (Plaza Murillo Square, Unnumbered. Telephone: 913302800. Monday to Friday: 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM; Sundays and Holidays: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM. Admission: € 8-16 depending on the parts of the museum you wish to visit; free Monday to Saturday from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM).
- At the Matadero ("The Madrid Slaughterhouse"), animals were slaughtered to feed the city's inhabitants. In 2007, it was fully remodelled to become a modern-day home for exhibitions and concerts of a varied nature. It also houses the Cantina Restaurant. (Paseo de la Chopera, 14. Telephone: 915177309. Tuesday to Friday: 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM; Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM Prices depend on the event and exhibition).
- The Gijón Café was once an icon and symbol for intellectuals and men and women of letters from the Generation of '27 and the Franco period. Here, some of the most adored Spanish artists and writers had their chats and shared their experiences. (Recoletos, 21. Telephone: 915215425. Daily from 7:30 AM to 1:30 AM).
- Very near the Gijón Café, also on the Paseo de Recoletos Street, tucked away inside a stately building, The Mapfre Foundation offers 1000 m2 of exhibition space mainly dedicated to the fine arts from the end of the 19th Century to the end of the Second World War. (Recoletos, 23. Telephone: 915816100. Mondays from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM; Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM; Sundays and Holidays from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Admission: € 3; Free on Mondays from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM).
- Going out to have a drink at the bars in the Malasaña neighbourhood is an activity that you can't miss. The casual, youthful atmosphere of this neighbourhood's streets will bring us back to the time when euphoria was experienced in the streets after the death of the dictator. El Penta Bar (Palma, 4. Daily: 9:00 PM - 3:30 AM) and La Vía Láctea Bar (Velarde, 18. Daily: 8:00 PM - 3:00 AM) are the stars of this visit.