Sightseeing guide for Madrid

Palacio Real

The royal palace is no longer inhabited by the royal family but it is used as a touristic attraction. Nevertheless, not all rooms are available to the public, but only the most important ones. The palace gardens are very interesting to visit and are the Jardines del Moro and the Sabattini gardens. The palace is decorated with frescos by Tiepolo and paintings by Velazquez, Goya, Rubens, El Greco, Juan de Flandes and Caravaggio.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

A cultural center containing a permanent collection of Spanish contemporary art and offering a wide variety of temporary exhibitions covering diverse modern artistic disciplines such as painting, sculpture, video, photography, films, etc. The second half of the 19th century is the focus of the museum's collection and boasts painting, sculpture and multimedia exhibits straight up through the 21st century. The museum's 2nd and 4th floors hold the permanent collection, accessible by exterior windowed elevators. A striking red addition designed by Jean Nouvel was completed in 2005 and holds an auditorium, library, bookstore, and space for temporary exhibits. You'll find the earlier half of the permanent collection on the 2nd floor. Cubism and surrealism are widely represented by works like Picasso's "Guernica," Dali's "El gran masturbador," Bunuel's "El perro andaluz" and Juan Gris's paintings.

Museo Thyssen Bornemisza

This museum houses a splendid collection ranging from primitive Flemish to contemporary works. More than 800 paintings and sculptures, carvings, tapestries and other items are displayed. Organized in chronological order from the 8th to 20th century, the Thyssen allows you to wander through the entire trajectory of Western art history. On the 2nd floor with primitive Flemish and Italian art, you will see the evolution of perspective as you enter the Renaissance, to the Italian Baroque, the German and Flemish masters and on to Rococo and Neoclassicism, phase into the 19th century Romanticism and Realism and to Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, and finally pop art.

Museo del Prado

Located in an 18th century building designed by Juan de Villanueva, the Prado is considered one of the most important art galleries in the world. It houses masterpieces by Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, Zurbaran, Ribera, Titian, Raphael, Botticelli, Fra Ang?lico, Rubens, Bosch, Van der Weyden, Poussin, Lorrain, Watteau, Rembrandt, Duerer and Mengs. The building is enormous, yet it is only capable of holding about 14% of the museum's stock. Rennovations are underway to enlarge the building and find a home for thousands of stowed away masterpieces. The permanent collection is divided into 8 main categories on 2 floors: Spanish painting, Italian painting, Flemish painting, French painting, German painting, sculpture, decorative arts and drawings and prints. Highlights include early Flemish works by Van der Weyden and Hieronymous Bosch, enormous paintings from the Venetian Renaissance school and the amazing quantity of representations by El Greco, Velazquez and Goya. Highlights of its collections are "Las Meninas" by Velazquez, Goya's series of "Pinturas Negras" and Bosch's "El Jardin de las Delicias".

Archaeological Museum

The collection of this museum houses works of art as well as documentation on people that have inhabited Iberia from prehistoric times to the 19th century. Highlights include the "Dama de Elche," a beautiful bust of a woman dating to the 4th century BC. You can also enter a partial reproduction of the fascinating Altamira Caves.

Parque del Retiro

This is Madrid's biggest and most beautiful park. More than 15.000 trees in 130 hectars are planted in this park. The entrances to the park are Plaza de la Independencia, Calle de Alcala, Calle de O'Donnell and Calle de Alfonso XII. In the middle of the park there is a big artificial lake where you can rent a boat. Moreover the Palacio de Velazquez and Palacio de Cristal are located here.

Puerta del Sol (Gate of the sun)

This is the dowtown square of Madrid where hundreds of people meet daily. From here on you can visit all main attractions of the city as well as reach the shopping streets and regions of Madrid. Today, the square has tha shape of a half moon and it was only until the 19th century that it was formed into a square with lots of coffee places. At the south side of the square, there is a red-brick building that was built by Charles the third in 1760. This is were the post office was housed but in 1847 became the head of the Internal Affairs Ministery of Spain. The clock tower was added in 1866. Nowadays, the building houses the Town Hall of Madrid.

Cathedral of Madrid

The construction of Madrid's cathedral began in 1879 and finished in 1993 when it was sanctified by the Pope. Its design is based on different architects ideas since the construction was fully stopped during the civil war. Nevertheless, the white, neo-gothic facade reminds someone of the Royal Palaces facade that are nearby.

Plaza de Toros de las Vedas

Whatever your opinion may be regarding the bull fights, this bull fighting arena is one of the most beautiful in Spain. Bull fights take place from May to October. There is also a museum devoted to the history of bull fights right next to the arena. In the museum the most popular attraction is the blood covered suit of Manolette during the fatal for his life bull fight in 1947.

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