Culture, a beach and boundless energy
You'll arrive here if travelling from the UK on Eurostar.
You'll arrive here if travelling from the UK, via Paris.
Tapas, museums, majestic palaces…the Spanish capital is sure to entertain.
One of the largest royal palaces in Western Europe, with over 2800 rooms, it's no wonder the present king chooses to live somewhere a tad more modest. The first room you'll come to is the pharmacy - containing a huge collection of medicine jars and mixing stills, suggesting the royals were a sickly bunch. Head across the Plaza de la Ameria and up the main staircase to the Throne Room, lavishly decorated to say the least. There are so many rooms to visit we can't list them all but don't miss the Gala Dining Room, the Gasparini Room and the Porcelain Room.
Tip: Visit on the first Wednesday of the month, around noon, and you'll see the changing of the guard in full parade dress.
Dividing the districts of Centro, Retiro and Salamanca, the square is one of the most symbolic of the capital. The most prominent of its buildings is the Cibeles Palace (now the City Hall) and opposite this you'll find the Buenavista Palace, built in 1777 by the Duchess of Alba. On the other side of the square is the Bank of Spain - a truly enormous building! Slap bang in the middle of the square sits the majestic Fountain of Cibeles, sculptured back in 1782 and is now one of the iconic symbols of Madrid.
Situated in the Plaza de la Independencia, the Alcala Gate is a national monument and was once the official entrance to the city. Designed by an Italian architect in 1764, it measures 19.5m tall with 3 large archways and 2 smaller rectangular passageways. The façade is elegant to say the least.
The official centre point of Spain, the Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) is an elegant hemisphere of facades and bustling crowds. The square's main building is the Casa de Correos and was the original post office back in 1768. Almost 2 centuries later the clock was added and it is now a New Year's tradition in the city that on the strike of midnight a grape is swallowed on each gong. Bit weird...and a bit tricky.
© Kaos03-Sime, Raccanello Sandra-Sime, AGE, Herbert Kehrer-Bridge, Chris Seba-Mauritius, Calle Montes, Sandra Raccanello-Sime, Guid Albert Rossi-Tips.