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March 11th, 2004 in Madrid, Spain.
Madrid, Spain
March 11th, 2004
Remember the victims
 Madrid's History & Lifestyle: Then & Now

King Felipe III statue in Plaza Mayor

| Historical | Contemporary Madrid | Food & Wine | Parks | Evening Stroll | NightLife | Sundays |

Madrid: Then & Now

OCCUPYING the geographical center of the Iberian Peninsula and standing at a sea level altitude of 2,200 feet, Madrid is located nearly exactly on the earth's 40th parallel. It enjoys many more clear, sunny days than any other city in western Europe and is noted for her "Velázquez skies" or "Velasqueños", named after the world famous Spanish painter. Situated on the Castillian Meseta, Madrid overlooks the nearby Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range where pine groves purify the air and give the "madrileños" majestic views.

Madrid was made capital of Spain in 1561 by King Philip II who was born there - although some historians argue this year. At this time, "Don Quixote" had already become a familiar figure in the world and one year before its first edition was printed on the street of Atocha on the presses of Juan de la Cuesta. El Río Manzanares, Madrid's small river that carries little water, is crossed by a number of historic bridges including el Puente de Toledo, the beautiful baroque style, now-pedestrian bridge that holds the statue of San Isidro, Madrid's patron saint. Spain's major roads originate from and distances measured from the "Kilometer 0" mark of Puerta del Sol, the popular, energetic gathering place and where many local bus lines start and end.

Madrid has grown at an impressive rate in the past 20 years. The city's population now stands at 3 million (the population of the province of Madrid, called "La Comunidad de Madrid", has 5 million) and is ever "spidering" further outward, covering much more than 607 square meters, overtaking many small towns at its perimeter. "Historic" is only one of many ways to describe Madrid, including Goya's Madrid, the Madrid of the Prado Museum, House of Asturias, Bourbon Madrid, and the Madrid of the Romantics or Isabelline. The city is commercial, financial, and industrial as well as picturesque with the Bull-fighting Madrid; the "Flamenco" Madrid with its singers, dancers and guitarist; El Rastro (a flea market); and the Madrid of antique dealers and artists.

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Medieval Madrid

14TH AND 15TH CENTURIES: Puerta del Sol-Calle Mayor-Plaza de la Villa. There are two buildings in the Plaza de la Villa dating from the Middle Ages: the Casa (house) and the Torre (tower) de los Lujanes (15the century), where King Francis I of France was held prisoner following the Battle of Pavia. The building to the right of it with a Mudejar doorway if the Hemeroteca Municipal, which contains more than 70.000 bound volumes of newspapers printed in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Puerta del Sol-Calle Mayor-Calle del Nuncio-Plaza del Marqués de Comillas. Just beyond the Plaza de la Villa, to the right of the Calle Mayor, there is an alley leading up to San Nicolás de los Servitas, the oldest church in Madrid. It has a Moorish style tower which evokes the days of the Arab occupation. There is another interesting church to the left of the Calle Mayor, beyond the Calle del Sacramento and the Calle del Nuncio: the church of San Pedro el Real or el Viejo, the bell tower of which shows traces of the Mudejar style. Close by the Plaza del Marqués de Comillas. Formerly known as the Plaza de la Paja, a square that was very important in the Middle Ages. The Morería, or old Moorish Quarter, spreads between this square, the Plaza de la Cruz Verde, El Alamillo and the Ronda de Segovia, and ends up at the modern Viaduct.

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Madrid under the Habsburgs

16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES: Puerta del Sol-Plaza Mayor. The Madrid that evokes the reign of the House of Austria is the first part to have achieved any architectural importance. It is centered round the Plaza Mayor, built by Philip III in 1619. There are nine arched gateways leading into this great square which was the hub of life in Renaissance Madrid. The finest building is the Casa de la Panadería ("Bakery"). In the early days bulls were fought on horseback in this square, and tournaments were held on one great occasion when five saints (St. Teresa, St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Isidro and St. Philip Neri) were simultaneously canonized. The square was also the scene of "autos de fe", the public punishments imposed by the Inquisition, and Philip V, Ferdinand VI and Charles IV were each proclaimed King there.

Plaza de Santa Cruz-Calle de Toledo-Plaza de la Villa-Calle de Sacramento. In the Plaza de Santa Cruz, is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was built by Crescendi in 1634. He along with Juan de Herrera, who built the Segovia Bridge over the Manzanares, was responsible for adding a distinct Spanish note to the early Renaissance formulas compounded in Italy. The Cathedral of San Isidro, in the nearby Calle de Toledo, was originally the Imperial Jesuit College. The Madrid Town Hall is set in the Plaza de la Villa and is the work of Gómez de la Mora. Near it is the Casa de Cisneros, built twenty years after the death of the famous Cardinal Regent of Spain. Just round the corner, in the Calle del Sacramento, is the Palacio de los Vargas, a 16th century building also called the House of San Isidro, which contains several curious relics. The Capilla del Obispo (Bishop's Chapel), in the Plaza del Marqués de Comillas dates from the same century and contains one of the finest reredoses produced in the Renaissance. Then, rather more out of the way, in the Avenida de la Ciudad de Barcelona, 1, there is the Basilica of Atocha, which is in the process of being rebuilt.

Puerta del Sol-Plaza de las Descalzas Reales-Plaza de Oriente. Turning off the Calle del Arenal to the right, up the Calle de San Martín, the visitor will find the Plaza de las Descalzas. This little square owes its name to the Convent founded there by Doña Juana de Austria, daughter of the Empeor Charles V. The convent in question is now an interesting museum. The Convent of La Encarnación, standing in the Plaza of the same name, is also open to visitors, and was founded by the wife of Philip III. The architect who built the church was Gómez de Mora (1616). The equestrian statue of Philip IV to be seen in the middle of the Plaza de Oriente is quite the finest piece of sculpture in Madrid. It was cast in bronze by the Florentine sculptor Tacca, from a design by Velázquez; it weights nine tons.

Bourbon Madrid

17TH CENTURY: Puerta del Sol-Alcalá-Fuencarral-San Bernardo-Conde Duque-Puente de Toledo. From the late 17th century until about 1735, the Spanish Imperial or Renaissance style slipped into a period of decadence marked by the appearance of such architects as Churriguera, Ribera, Moradillo and others. Our first Bourbon itinerary is an introduction to Madrid's Baroque architecture, of which the best examples are; the church of San José in the Calle de Alcalá, the portal of the Hospicio in the Calle de Fuencarral, the church of Montserrat in the Calle de San Bernardo, the portal of the Conde Duque Barracks, and a splendid bridge, the Puerta de Toledo over the Manzanares. The aforementioned were all built by Ribera but some of them finished by Moradillo.

Sol-Alcalá. This tour covers the Neoclassical monuments, built during the reign of Charles III, whose architects were Sabatini, Villanueva, and Ventura Rodríguez. The building in the Puerta del Sol, which is commonly known as Gobernación (Ministry of the Interior), is an example of this particular style, and was originally built as the Central Post Office. The tower with its famous clock - as popular a feature with the people of Madrid as Big Ben is with Londoners - was added in the 19th century. The imposing building on the left of the entrance to the Calle Alcalá was once the Royal Customs-House and now houses the offices of the Ministry of Finance or Treasury. The next building up this street is the Royal Academy of San Fernando, and a few yards beyond it, the Church of Calatravas. Further down the Calle de Alcalá the visitor comes to the Fountain of Cibeles, the Goddess of Fertility. This sculptural group by Michel provides the subject for some of the most popular picture postcard views of Madrid. Finally there is the Puerta de Alcalá; a monumental, arched gateway built by the architects Sabatini and Michel in honor of Charles III, in 1778.

Sol-Prado-Jardín Botánico-Retiro. A short distance along the Paseo del Prado there are two lovely fountains known as the Four Seasons and Neptune. The Prado Museum is a little further along on the left. This Neoclassical edifice was built during the reign of Carlos III by Juan de Villanueva, and was originally designed as a Natural Science Museum. Following its completion during the reign of Ferdinando VII it was used as a picture gallery. There is a statue of Goya, by Benlliure, opposite the North front, which is approached up two wide flights of steps crowned by an allegorical group sculpted by Suñol. The façade that gives into the Paseo del Prado has a central arcade with fourteen arches, decorated with various statues and medallions. There is a statue of Velázquez by Marinas in the gardens in front. And set against the South front there is a statue of Murillo opposite the fine gateway that leads through to the Botanical Gardens.

Steps lead up fro the Prado Museum towards the Retiro Park, past the church of Los Jerónimos Reales. This 15th century monastery was considerably restored during the 19th century. Here, in the Gothic nave, the heir to the Spanish throne has traditionally received his title of Prince of Asturias. The Casón del Buen Retiro and the War Museum, both fragments of the old Buen Retiro Palace, are only a yard or two away, and standing next to them is the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language. In the Retiro Park, monumental and neoclassic statues of early kings and queens of Spain flank the avenues. The Madrid observatory, built by Juan de Villanueva en 1790, is situated on the San Blas hill inside the park itself.

Sol-Plaza de Oriente-San Francisco-Princesa. The Royal Palace is undoubtedly the finest example of Neoclassical architecture to be seen in Madrid. The outside is in Italian style, and the interior very French. The Palace was built over the site of the old Alcázar of the Asturias, destroyed by fire in 1734. The ground plans were drawn up by Sachetti, although Ventura Rodríguez collaborated considerably in the final work. It is built of Guadarrama granite and Colmenar limestone. On December 1st, 1764, thirty years after the fire, King Charles III took up residence in a section of the Palace for the first time. it is now considered one of the finest palaces in Europe. Visitors may see: the grandiose staircase, its ceilings painted of Giaquinto: the Hall of Halberdiers, hung with fine Flemish tapestries; the Pillared Drawing-Room, with ceilings by Giaquinto and many paintings and works of art; the King's apartments - three rooms where Charles III first resided: a little drawing-room, the Ante-Chamber and the Gasparini Drawing-Room, the Porcelain Room with decorations and furniture all made of famous Buen Retiro porcelain; the private apartments of the late King Alphonso XIII and his Queen, preserved just as they left them; and finally, the Throne Room, which has a magnificent ceiling painted by Tiepolo (1764) and two bronze lions originally cast to decorate the old Alcázar. The whole palace abounds with paintings and sculptures, Rococo furniture, and Buen Retiro, Severs and Saxony porcelain. The Royal Pharmacy is very interesting, particularly as it has been maintained in its original state. The visitor should also make a point of seeing the Armory, the Museum of Carriages, the Exhibition of Gothic Tapestries, and the Rooms of Queen María Cristina.

The Cathedral of La Almudena is being built to the left of the palace and has a façade in the same neoclassical style as the latter. Following the Calle de Bailén across the Viaduct, which affords some of the finest views to be had from Old Madrid, we come to the Church of San Francisco el Grande. Goya, his brother-in-law Bayeu, Maella, and other 18th century painters decorated the interior of this church, which has a dome about 105 feet in diameter. For some years it was used as a Royal Pantheon. If we return along the Calle de Bailén and across the Plaza de España, we find ourselves in the Calle de Princesa. This street contains two fine buildings designed by Ventura Rodríguez: the Liria Palace, built as residence for the Duke of Alba in 1770, and the Parish Church of San Marcos, just up the Calle de San Leonardo.

Madrid of the romantics

19TH CENTURY. Puerta del Sol-Plaza de Isabel II-Plaza de la Marina Española-Puerta de Toledo. The so-called Romantic or Isabelline architecture of Madrid belongs to the first half of the 18th century. Or, better said, to the thirty years which separate the two civil wars known as "Carlist". Certainly neither the public buildings nor the palace of this period correspond to any one style. All the buildings of that period are mainly influenced by previous styles. The Romanticera in Madrid is better expressed in its furniture, decoration, handicrafts, literature, painting and drama. One of the great buildings erected in the early 19th century was the Teatro Real (Royal Theatre), in the Plaza de Oriente. It was completed in time to be opened, by order of Naváez, on the feast day of St. Elizabeth in 1850. All the great opera singers of those days, from Adlina Patti to Gayarre, were heard in this theater. The old Senate and a Monument to Cánovas, who restored the Bourbon dynasty to the Spanish throne, can be seen in the neighboring square, the Plaza de la Marina Española. The Puerta de Toledo, in the middle of the square of the same name, and erected for King Ferdinando CII, is a further example of a typical period monument.

Puerta del Sol-Carrera de San Jerónimo-Felipe IV-Plaza de la Lealtad-Cibeles-Recoletos. Another fine Isabelline building is the "Palacio del Congreso". If we go along the Paseo del Prado we reach the Calle de Felipe IV where the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language is situated. Just off the Paseo del Prado on the left side of the Plaza de la Lealtad there is a Monument to the Heroes of 2 May, the leaders of the Spanish uprising against Bonaparte. Beyond is the Bolsa or Stock Exchange, built in the style of a Greek temple towards the end of the las century. The imposing building on the left corner of the Paseo facing the Cibeles fountain is the Bank of Spain; on the right of the Paseo we have the Headquarters of the Navy and the General Post Office buildings. The Banco Hipotecario, in the Paseo de Recoletos, was once the mansion of the Marquis of Salamanca, who founded the district that bears his name. This tour ends with the most important building constructed in the days of Queen Isabella II: the Palace of Bibliotecas y Museos, opened in 1892 to commemorate the fourth centenary of the Discovery of America. It is still, to this day, one of the most magnificent buildings in Madrid. It houses the Archaeological Museum, the National Library and Art Galleries.

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Contemporary Madrid

Atocha-Prado-Alcalá-Gran Vía-Plaza de España-Moncloa-Ciudad Universitaria-Paseo de la Castellana, Madrid has undergone countless changes over the last fifty years, not only in the extension of its buildings, but also in its way of life. Prior to the "Gay Twenties" Madrid was a Castilian town both in appearance and in its customs. But, since the 1914-18 war, a luxury architecture began an uncertain style. during the last years, Madrid has been suffering from a continual growing crisis. We will mention a few buildings: the old Ministry of Agriculture in Atocha, the Banco Central Hispanoamericano and Fine Arts Club (Bellas Artes) in the Calle Alcalá, the Telephone Exchange and the Carrión Building in the Gran Vía, the Torres de Jerez in the Plaza de Colón, the two skyscrapers in the Plaza de España, the Neo-Herrera style Air Headquarters and the monumental Triumphal Arch in the Plaza de la Moncloa, from where the Velázquez landscape of the Casa de Campo can be admired. The Plaza Picasso on the Casteliana and the Vaguada are two interesting examples of contemporary architecture.

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Food and wine

The morning's round of sight-seeing and museum-touring over, the visitor's appetite is whetted for something to eat and drink. Besides the up-to-date restaurants that have very dish under the sun on their menus, there is the very varied Spanish cooking. To begin with, Madrid has a few famous old restaurants, some having been in existence for over two hundred years, where the most typical dishes of the Madrid and other regional Spanish favorites can be savored: typical restaurants where regional dishes can be enjoyed such as "paella valenciana" (rice, colored with saffron and mixed with different types of shell-fish, chicken and other ingredients), "bacalao a la vizcaina" (cod, tomato, thyme, red pepper, bayleaf, onion, garlic and fried croutons), "Pollo a la chilindrón" (chicken fried in oil and garlic and served in a sauce made of onion, pimientos, tomatoes, slices of ham and various other ingredients), "fabada" (a stew made of excellent haricot beans, Galician ham, pigs' ears, a special kind of black sausage, fresh bacon, smoked bacon and other ingredients), "cochinillo a la segoviana" (sucking ping roasted either in the oven or over a wood-fire and basted with lard and seasoning until the skin is golden brown) or a "gazpacho" (an Andalusian specialty: cold raw vegetable soup served in summer and best described as a liquid salad). The visitor will also find German, Italian, Swedish, French and Chinese restaurants, as well as from other countries.


Local custom demands that we should have an aperitif or appetizer before lunch or dinner, and then a coffee afterwards, out of doors when the weather allows, in one of the capital's many cafés and bars. Although only a few of the old-time cafés have survived, one can have an aperitif anywhere. There are certain bars, round the Puerta del Sol, San Jerónimo, Victoria, Cruz, Espoz y Mina, Núñez de Arce, Correo, Tetuán and other little streets in the neighborhood, which are particularly well-famed for the shell fish they serve with their drinks.

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Buen Retiro Park

You may like to go for a stroll afterwards in one of the big parks. The largest and most beautiful of all Madrid's parks is the Retiro. It has 130 hectares of woodland which form a green, tree-clad island in the middle of an asphalt sea. One may enter it through any of the fine gateways. These are located in the Plaza de la Independencia, the Calle de Alcalá, the Calle de O'Donnell, and the Calle de Alfonso XII. White stone figures of the Kings and Queen of Spain peep out from the avenues of lofty tees and thick bushes, and just inside the park there is a large artificial lake where row-boats can be hired. The park also has its rose garden, as well as the Cecilio Rodríguez gardens and many delightful secluded nooks where strollers can enjoy a little privacy. In the middle of the park there are two buildings known as the Palacio de Velázquez and Palacio de Cristal, where art exhibitions are sometimes held.

The Botanical Garden

The entrance to the Botanical Gardens is the Glorieta de Murillo right beside the Prado Museum. These gardens, which contain about 30.000 different species of trees and plants from all over the world, were founded by Charles III for the Faculty of Totany. The different sections are divided by magnificent avenues and each tree and plant is labeled with its Latin name and species.

Rosales and the Parque del Oeste

On the Western fringes of Madrid and sloping down towards the River Manzanares there are two extensive parks called Rosales and the Parque del Oeste (West Park). They are an ideal playground for children, with their spacious stretches of lawn, their shady trees and sandy paths. There is a large rose garden at the bottom of the hill, where a rose show is held each spring, with international awards given for the finest blooms.

The Sabatini Gardens, Campo del Moro and Plaza de España

Not far from the Royal Palace there are several gardens: the children's playground in the Plaza de Oriente, the enclosed Sabatini Gardens on the northern side of the Palace, which are entered from the Calle de Bailén and have benches and well kept hedges and borders; and the so-called Campo de Moro entered from the Cuesta de la Vega. There are gardens, too, in the Plaza de España, at the end of the Gran Vía.

The Casa de Campo Park

It is an extensive estate, bought by Philip II, and reforested at his orders in 1559. The present park not only has a lot of woodland, but also a large lake where boats can be hired and a municipal swimming pool.

There is a large Amusement Park and a Zoo, serviced by several bus lines or the Batán metro stop. Both attractions are situated on ample grounds and the Zoo has species of African, Asiatic, European and Australian wildlife. A telpher links the Paseo del Pintor Rosales with the Casa de Campo.

The Dehesa de la Villa is another municipal park; it is set among fragrant pine woods and has numerous refreshment stalls.

Other gardens in the city

In addition to such gardens, parks and tree-lined avenues as the Prado, Recoletos, and the Castellana, there are gardens for children to play in to be found in very district. They include the garden of Arquitecto Ribera in the Calle de Fuencarral, Jardín de Eva Perón in the Calle de Francisco Silvela, the Plaza de la Villa de París in the Calle del General Castaños, the Fuente del Berro, that of Carlos Arias, in the south, and several others.

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The afternoon is a good time, especially for tourists visiting Madrid, to have a look round the big stores and saunter down the main streets in the shopping center. In Madrid one may acquire artistic products of rich and varied Spanish handicraft: rugs, tapestries, fans, cloaks, porcelain, ceramic ware, cast iron, wooden statues, objects of gold and silver, among many more; high fashion articles, "ready to wear", perfumes, jewelry and costume jewelry, leather goods - shoes, handbags, luggage, gloves - antelope and suede, etc. Sporting goods of all kinds - rackets, firearms, boats, etc. - all fulfill two important shopper requirements; superb quality at a moderate price.


Five Academies

Madrid has five great academies: the Academy of the Spanish Language (Calle de Felipe V), History (León, 21), Exact Science (Valverde, 22), Medicine (Arrieta, 12) and the San Fernando Fine Arts Academy (Alcalá, 13). There are also Academies of Jurisprudence and the so-called "Ciencias Morales y Politicas" (Academy of Moral and Political Sciences). The Associations of Writers and Artists (Leganitos, 10); of Painters and Sculptors (Infantas, 30); and the Economic association of Fiends of the Countryside (Plaza de la Villa) organize interesting cultural and artistic events.

The University cities

Madrid has three major Universities; Complutense, Autonomous, & Polytechnic. The Complutense is located on and old estate known as La Moncloa, to the West of Madrid. All the Faculties and Colleges are housed in modern, functional buildings, surrounded by gardens and avenues. There are also various Residential Colleges and sports facilities of all types connected to the University City.

The Autonomous University is of more recent construction, and is at Canto Blanco, 15 kilometers along the Colmenar road.

The Higher Council for Scientific

The Higher Council for Scientific Research is at 117 Calle de Serrano and includes all the different cultural institutes for which it acts as the coordinating center. The modern buildings contain large lecture halls which are used for international conferences, libraries for each specialty, and residences in which the research workers live. Well known artist and sculptor Salvador Dalí was known to spend time here as well.

The four most important public libraries

Although there are something like a hundred libraries in Madrid, the visitor who is not looking for some special information, but the kind which can easily be obtained by private inquiries, should be satisfied if he gets round to seeing the four most important ones. First of all there is the National Library, Paseo de Recoletos, 20. It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is situated on the first floor of the Library and Museum Building. It is considered to be the best library in Spain, and contains about two million volumes, twenty-one thousand of which are manuscripts, two thousand five hundred incunabula, and forty-six thousand particularly rare books. There are also many books from the Golden Age of Spanish literature - the 16th century.

The second most important library is the Biblioteca Municipal, at number 78, Calle de Fuencarral. There are about a hundred and twenty thousand books in the library, many of them very rare. More than four thousand of them are devoted to Madrid. The Ateneo, at Calle del Prado, 21, also has a good library. It is open from 9 a.m. to one o'clock in the morning, except on Sunday, when it shuts at 10 p.m. The fourth of our libraries is the Biblioteca Real, which is located on the ground-floor of the Royal Palace. (It is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays). The library contains 250.000 volumes, many in manuscript form, some exceedingly rare and others quite unique. The chief treasures are nevertheless the Books of Hours; there is one particularly fine specimen which belonged to Queen Isabella the Catholic. This library has a rich display of magnificent bindings of all styles and periods.


Madrid is good place for buying antiques. There are a number of places where they can be found, although the most popular is probably the Rastro. This is a sort of flea market with its stalls down both sides of the street, and curiosity shops and antique dealers behind. Some of these shops have now become quite large store and good bargains can sometimes be picked up by connoisseurs. Madrid has one street which is almost entirely devoted to antique dealer's shops; the Calle del Prado. There are also a number of curiosity shops in the neighboring Plaza de las Cortes, Carrera de San Jerónimo and others. Some of these dealers specialize in paintings, others in woodcarvings, books, china or glassware, ivory, furniture, religious sculpture, etc. In each there is a little of everything.

Exhibitions of painting and sculpture and artists' studios

Apart from the galleries of Old Masters or the permanent exhibitions of ancient works of art, there are nearly forty galleries where the works of contemporary painters are exhibited. The most outstanding are: the Dirección General de Patrimonio Artístico, Archivos y Museos, an officially sponsored body for fostering the Fine Arts, with its headquarters in the Palacio de Bibliotecas y Museos, the Ateneo, and the Círculo de Bellas Artes. The names and addresses of leading painters now working in Madrid can be obtained at any of these galleries.


Madrid has magnificent painting museums where the visitor can admire some of the most famous works of art by classic and contemporary masters. There are also museums dedicated to sculpture, archaeology, science and other areas.

Without a doubt, the most important is the Prado Museum. The thousands of visitors who visit the museum very year can see marvelous works of Spanish and European painting from the 12th to the 18th century.

Picasso's famous "Gernica" which was recently returned to Spain by New York's Modern Art Museum, is currently on show in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía National Museum with all of its preliminary sketches and drawings.

Be sure to read through the Madrid's Museums page

Madrid, convention city

Madrid offers magnificent facilities for holding conventions. Notable among them is The Campo de las Naciones: The Town Hall has created a large suburban park called The "Juan Carlos I" and an exceptional services area, The Campo de las Naciones, on the former Olivar de la Hinojosa site where the Madrid Exhibition Centre grounds is now located. It is in this magnificent setting that the fair and convention facilities are situated. A congress hall, a major hotel, an international business center and every kind of facilities for sports and leisure activities will be located in the "Campo de las Naciones".

The other is the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones with its up-to-the-minute technical facilities. It has two auditoriums, one with capacity for 2000 attendants and the other for 1000. They can be combined to form an auditorium for 3000 people. There are several rooms for smaller gatherings. Several large hotels also have special rooms for conventions.

Madrid's city cultural center

Underneath the gardens of the Plaza del Descubrimiento, the Madrid City Cultural Center is installed, with a surface of more than 40.000 square meters, suitable for concerts, ballet performances, theater and cinema projections, which can accommodate about 1.000 spectators. Also included in the same area, there is a Conference Hall for 400 persons.

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It is essential for anybody who wants to enter into the spirit of Madrid life to have a stroll before dinner. Just as it is the custom to have an aperitif at one of the smart bars or cafés, so one is called upon to go on a pub-crawl through the heart of Madrid from eight o'clock in the evening until dinner-time, which here means any time from ten until eleven. The thing to ask for is a "chato", a small glass of red or white wine, which is accompanied by "pinchos" or "tapas" - tidbits of fried fish, veal, prawns (either plain or fried in butter), fish in oil and vinegar, cheese, mussels or slices of sausage.

The best places to go to are the bullfighters taverns in the Calle de la Victoria, Espoz y Mina, Cruz Núñez de Arce and other picturesque little streets called San Ricardo, Cáiz, del Pozo and Alvarez Gato. Another taverns district centers around the Calle de Echegaray and the Travesía de Fernández y González. These streets are all very crowded and gay at this time of the evening. There is another stroll one might take, through the old-world Madrid of Galdós (the Spanish Dickens), along the Calle de Postas, San Cristóbal, and the little streets round the Plaza Mayor. There are a number of taverns in the square itself, and under the steps that lead down to the Arco de Cuchilleros.

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Madrid is quite different from any other European capital after dark. This is mainly because people here do not only go to theaters, cinemas, and night-clubs; they also sit in cafés after dinner and have a coffee or a beer, or they may go for a walk. All this means that the streets in the center of Madrid are bustling with people until the wee small hours of the morning. Nightowls can take their choice among several nightclubs both in the city center and on the outskirts that have cosmopolitan floor shows.


Gypsy dancing and singing, or Andalusian Flamenco, has many supporters in Madrid. In addition to the theaters that specialize in Flamenco, and the cabarets and nightclubs that always have a Flamenco number in their floor-shows, there are certain special clubs where the real connoisseurs go. These include the "Casa Patas", "Corral de la Morería", "Café de Chinitas", "Corral de la Pacheca", "Las Carboneras, and a number of others.

Young Madrid

Arguelles, Salamanca, Malasaña, the Plaza Mayor, Paseo de la Castellana and surrounding streets are the districts of Madrid where Spanish youth can have a good time. Especially popular are the nostalgic or traditional cafés, beer pubs, typical "tascas" (bars) and taverns, discotheques, all kinds of pubs (disco pubs, piano pubs, gallery pubs, etc.), or night spots dedicated to all sorts of music: folk, jazz, rock, South American or classical. All this is profusely distributed throughout the parts of Madrid we mentioned before.

If you prefer the theater, opera, concerts

There are many large and comfortable cinemas in the center of Madrid, where it is possible to see the latest Spanish and foreign films.

There are about twenty theaters well worth a visit. The María Guerrero, the Español and Zarzuela Theaters are government sponsored. Both the Español and the María Guerrero often put on plays by Calderón, Lope de Vega and other Spanish classical authors or translations of widely acclaimed international successes. There are theaters which alternate various Spanish comedies and tragedies as well as translations of foreign plays and these are the theaters: Lara, Cómico, Ariequín, Goya, Club, Marquina, Beatriz, Bellas Artes, comedia, Figaro, Infanta Isabel, Reina Victoria and Valle-Inclán. The Teatro Real of Teatro de la Opera is dedicated exclusively to concerts. The Zarzuela Theatre covers especially the opera, ballet and "Zarzuela" (Spanish light opera) seasons. Other theaters put on reviews varying in quality; Alcázar, Martín and La Latina. The Calderón and Maravillas Theaters are mainly used for musical shows.

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There are three places that both tourists and thousands of residents in Madrid often go to in order to assuage their curiosity on fine Sunday mornings: the Rastro, the Stamp Market in the Plaza Mayor, and the second-hand bookstalls on the Cuesta de Claudio Moyano.

The Rastro

Every bit city in the world has its "flea market". Here in Madrid it is called the "Rastro". It is a very picturesque place, and every kind of article can be bought there, including the oddest of odds and ends. The Rastro is divided into two parts: antiques, and second-hand goods. The observant buyer may pick up a good painting, a Gothic statue or a piece of period furniture. Another may find the household utensil he needs or a bullfighter's second-hand "suit of lights". A Sunday morning spent in the Rastro is quite a unique experience, both entertaining and quaint. Few come away empty-handed for there is always something that catches one's fancy among the unwanted jumble.

The numismatic-stamp market in the Plaza Mayor

Every Sunday from around eleven o'clock until about one, the Stamp and Coin Market throbs with life under the arcades of the Plaza Mayor. Stamps from all over the world change hands, while schoolboys rub shoulders with experts in search of bargains. Indeed there are many who have turned this innocent pastime into a large-scale international gamble.

What to see on Sunday afternoons

There are three types of entertainment available on Sunday afternoons. The most popular is the bullfight, held in the Plaza Monumental de las Ventas. The season begins in early spring and goes on until mid-autumn. Bullfights call for good weather and have to be canceled when it is bad.

The soccer (a.k.a. "football" or "fútbol" in Spanish) matches that are played in either of the big stadiums provide the second kind of entertainment on a Sunday afternoon. Madrid's 2 MAJOR soccer teams are Real Madrid (matches played in the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu) & Atlético de Madrid (matches played in the Estadio Vicente Calderon). Thirdly, we have horse racing at the Hipódromo de la Zarzuela near the Puerta de Hierro.

Golf, horse racing, tennis, pigeon shooting and Jarama car track

Madrid is one of the capitals best equipped for the keen golfer. It has courses located in beautiful countryside and excellently conditioned. Perhaps special mention should be made of the courses of the Real Club de Puerta de Hierro (where polo can also be played), a 36-hole course located 4 kilometers from the capital, and the one belonging to the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, also four kilometers from Madrid. Both have played host to the most important international championships. The other golf courses are: that of the Club Jarama Race, with 18 holes, magnificently located with the Monastery of El Escorial in the background; the Club de Golf Lomas-Bosque in Villaviciosa de Odón; the Nuevo Club de Golf de Madrid in Las Matas; the Campo de Golf of Somosaguas; that of La Moraleja, designed by the famous American player, Jack Nicklaus; that of Valdeaguila and that of the Central Deportivo del Barberán" with 9 holes, ten kilometers from Madrid.

Horseback riding is widely practiced in Spain. The Hipódromo de La Zarzuela is the scene of many international competitions. Jumping contests are held in the grounds of the Club of Campo and are attended by the most renowned international specialists. There are also many riding academies where, for a moderate fee, amateurs may enjoy a ride on horseback. Likewise, tennis fans will find fine courts to practice this sport in Madrid. For those who prefer pigeon shooting, the Club de Campo, where international competitions are held, offers its superb facilities. Car racing is suitably accommodated at the Jarama track where clocked trials are held for the World Championship.

Hunting and fishing

Madrid is a first-rate hunting center for its splendid location near many major sporting areas. Red partridge is the most abundant species within the category of small game, especially in the region of La Mancha. As for big game, mention should be made of the Gredos National Preserve in the province of Avila, where, with the proper permit, one may hunt capra hispanica (Ibex), a beautiful and highly prized trophy.

Also found near Madrid, in the province of Ciudad Real, is the Tablas de Damiel National Preserve, a superb center for hunting water fowl: geese, duck, mud hen, pigeon, among other species, are found in this picturesque spot.

In the environs of Madrid there are numerous rivers ideal for fishing. The most abundant species are common trout, pike, black bass, royal carp and bowfin. The major trout streams are the Lozoya, Jarama, Manzanares, Alberche, Tormes, Júcar, Tajo, Eresma and Estena, where there are numerous preserves. Pike may be found in the Tajo, and the most abundant catch of bowfin is to be had in the Henares, Tajo, Fresnedas and Tajuña Rivers. There are also fishing lakes, such as Burguillo - trout and black bass - Gasset - pike - Alarcón - bowfin and black bass - and Entrepeñas - pike, black bass and royal carp.

Hotel capacity

The capital city and the province of Madrid have a total of 70,300 beds for the visitor spread out among 4 five-star hotels, 55 four-star, 43 three-star, 14 two star, and 4 one-star hotels. It also has a total of 50.000 beds in Apartment-hotels. These include 3 four-star establishments, 1 three-star, and 2 one-star. Other lodging facilities include 6250 beds in 43 different apartment complexes and 11,783 places for accommodation in 21 camping sites.

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