The city: Madrid

Madrid, the capital of Spain since 1562, is also the geographical centre of the Iberian Peninsula. Its altitude, on the top of a plateau, and its vicinity in relation to the surrounding mountains, influence its climate, making for hot summers and relatively cold winters.

As one would expect, it is certainly a city offering some impressive, very important monuments; amongst its most notable are an incomparable historic centre, built at a time when the Habsburg dynasty ruled Spain, and from where the name "El Madrid de los Austrias" comes, and of course, one of the world’s most renowned art gallery, the Museo del Prado.

Although its culture alone is worth seeing, it is also an exceptionally lively capital city, offering a wonderful night life; it has for many years enjoyed a reputation for its pubs, cafés, theatres and discos, open well into the early hours. Don't be surprised when you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam at 4 o'clock in the morning on a Sunday, when you can be assured most people will not be going to work.

• Palacio Municipal de Congresos ,Campo de las Naciones - 7 km (30 minutes metro – 10 minutes taxi)
• Palacio de Congresos de Madrid, Paseo de la Castellana – 2.5 km (15 minutes metro – 7 minutes taxi )
• Estadio Santiago Bernabeu – 2.2 Km (15 minutes metro – 7 minutes taxi)
• Museo Thyssen - 3.5 km (20 minutes metro – 10 minutes taxi)
• Museo Reina Sofía - 4.5 km (20 minutes metro– 10 minutes taxi)
• Museo Del Prado - 4 km (20 minutes metro – 10 minutes taxi)
• Clínica San José – 240 m (3 minutes wardern)
• Clínica Ruber - 1 km (10 minutes wardern)
• Clínica San Camilo - 1 km (10 minutes wardern)

What more could you say in few words about one of the largest capital cities in Europe…

Medieval Madrid

Beginning your tour in the Barrio de la Morería, which used to house a historic Arab Courthouse, you then come to the Casa del Pastor, the very first Government building, covering Madrid and Toledo. From here, you are in a brilliant location for exploring the three squares which formed Medieval Madrid: Plaza de la Paja, which was a centre for trading; Plaza de San Andrés, where one of the city's oldest parish churches once stood, and Plaza de Cruz Verde, where the cavalry which used to enter through the "Puerta de Moros" used to stand. Then, passing two Mudejar buildings; San Nicolás de los Servitas and the Torre de San Pedro el Viejo, you arrive at the Casa de los Lujanes, which stands in Plaza de la Villa.

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Austrian Madrid

This is the name given to Madrid from the time when the Habsburg dynasty ruled over Spain. This rule began with Carlos I, who brought sumptuous palaces and monuments to the city. Later, when Felipe II made it the capital of Spain, the city grew significantly. The Renaissance and Baroque buildings of the time are probably among the most picturesque and typical of Madrid.
This tour of Madrid starts at Puerta del Sol, which marks the starting point for measuring distances along Spanish roads. This lively, cheerful square is considered the very heart of Madrid. Continuing along the picturesque, narrow streets, filled with people, you come to the square where the Convento de las Descalzas Reales stands, then, very near the Palacio Real, the Monasterio de la Encarnación and the Capitanía General, then returning down Calle Mayor to Plaza de la Villa, with the Casa de la Villa, Casa Cisneros and the Torre de Lujanes.Just behind is the impressive Plaza Mayor, within which the Casa de la Panadería and Casa de la Carnicería may be admired. Its centrepiece is the statue of Felipe III.A visit to the Catedral de San Isidro is a well-worth detour, before returning to your route to marvel at the beautiful building which houses the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores [Foreign Office] and the Casa de Lope de Vega, on Calle Cervantes.

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Bourbon Madrid

Madrid’s monument and city plan was completed under the Bourbon dynasty, especially during the reign of Carlos III, known as the "Rey Alcalde", (King Mayor). Before beginning the tour, a place of great interest to visit is the Palacio Real, whose importance and beauty warrant a full day of your holiday. From there, you could continue this tour by visiting some of the era's interesting official buildings. Leaving the bustling Puerta del Sol, where you will find the Casa de Correos [post office], continue on to calle Alcalá, passing the Casa de Postas and the Real Casa de Aduanas [customs]. Now in the traditional Calle Alcalá, Madrid's fundamental backbone, we find ourselves by the Real Academia de Bellas Artes, a palace built by Churriguera, where you can also dwell a pause at its splendid cafeteria (entry fee payable). Within very easy reach, at Caballero de Gracia no. 5, you can visit the Oratorio del Caballero de Gracia, one of the best examples of neo-classical architecture, or stay on Calle Alcalá, on the corner with Gran Vía, going round the Iglesia de San José, a prime example of 18th-century Baroque architecture, and, on the corner with La Cibeles, the Palacio de Buenavista, built in 1777 at the request of the Dukes of Alba, which today houses the Cuartel General del Ejercito [Army Headquarters].
In any event, and if you do not have much time, do not forget the next section, one of the most famous in the capital: go through the famous arch of triumph, the Puerta de Alcalá, pass the Salón del Prado and end up at the most famous fountains in Madrid: the Fuente de la Cibeles, the Fuente de Apolo, and the Fuente de Neptuno. This route ends on the Paseo del Prado, built at the time of Carlos III as a planted walkway which was to become the site of a number of buildings dedicated to science. Very near here, you can visit the Jardín Botánico, the Observatorio Astronómico and the Fuente de la Alcachofa, a replica of the original by Ventura Rodríguez which may be found in the Parque del Retiro.

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19TH - Century Madrid

During this period, Madrid underwent a complete transformation, begun by José Bonaparte, who wanted to expand the internal network by building a wide avenue,. This was continued by Isabel II, who remodelled the Puerta del Sol, creating boulevards and establishing the districts of Salamanca and the Ciudad Lineal. This tour can start out in Plaza de Oriente with a visit to the Teatro Real, then crossing Puerta del Sol, and reaching Calle del Prado, where Ateneo - the capital's literary and artistic centre - can be found, the Congreso de los Diputados, the Teatro de la Zarzuela and the Banco de España. This route leads to the Museo del Prado, whose art gallery is one of the largest in the world. Visiting it can take a whole day.At this point you reach the most beautiful of the many parks found in Madrid, the Parque del Retiro, whose most notable sights include the Palacio de Cristal, the Palacio de Velázquez and its large lake, which can be crossed on hired boats.

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20th - Century Madrid

It is in Paseo de la Castellana that you can obtain the best view of Madrid's 20th-century architecture. The Jardines del Descubrimiento are located in Plaza de Colón and contain a monument to Christopher Columbus and gigantic sculptures which crown the entrance of the Centro Cultural de la Villa with a waterfall. This is a place where you can enjoy concerts and events every night. From here, continuing northwards along Paseo de la Castellana, you will notice on both sides tall, interesting skyscrapers such as the Torres de Colón, the Edificio de la Unión y el Fénix, the Edificio Bankunión, La Adriática, the Compañía de Seguros de Occidente, La Caixa, and the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones. The Museo de Esculturas al Aire Libre, located beneath the bridge over the Paseo de la Castellana, is of particular interest. The renovations carried out between 1980 and 1990 form a very special chapter and include the Mercado de la Puerta de Toledo located in the old the central fish market, the Glorieta de la Estación de Atocha, whose iron and glass structure has been supplemented with a new one; and in front of it, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, created by remodelling the former Hospital de San Carlos and adding glass structures to its façades. And last but not least, a few metres away, we find an interesting group of constructions: la Torre Picasso, designed by Yamasaki, 150m tall; the Edificio Sollube, most original and aesthetically pleasing; and the Torre Europa, really eye-catching, both in terms of the structure of its façade and its metal ornaments.But we cannot draw these pages to a close without mentioning a bizarre "human monument" from modern-day Madrid, both contemporary and traditional; El Rastro, a street market which has sold anything and everything for over five centuries, and which takes place on Sunday mornings at the Ribera de Curtidores, extending through many streets in the old town. This is an interesting trip, an absolute must for anyone seeking to discover the "real Madrid". The same is true of the Plaza de Toros de "Las Ventas", one of the largest and most traditional bullrings in Spain, where the best bullfighters perform every year. It is also one of the most beautiful bullrings, with a splendid, very elegant neo-Mudejar façade.

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Fiestas de San Isidro

On 15th May, the Fiestas de San Isidro – patron saint of the city - take place with many a typical festivity, including fairs, gatherings and the year's best bullfights. Rock and jazz concerts also take place, alongside plays and craft fairs.

Veranos de la Villa

On July and August see the Veranos de la Villa, a campaign based on theatre, cinema, fairs and musical spectacles organised by the government.

Verbena de la Paloma

From 6th to 15th August, the city hosts one of its most authentic festivals: the Verbena de la Paloma. This festival is characterised by its colours and the great optimism it creates in the streets. People taking part dress up in typical, Madrid "chulapa" and "chulo" costumes, with "chotis" dances and lovely embroidered silk shawls, all based on Madrid folklore.

Chrismtas Exhibition

December brings the year to a close with the exhibition and sale of Christmas trees and Nativity scenes at traditional stands located in Plaza Mayor, a real spectacle of light and colour with all the delights and romanticism that characterize traditional festivals.