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Sights and museums

There is a lot to see in Madrid. Every year millions of visitors are attracted by the versatile offer of leisure and entertainment of the Spanish metropolis, which is the third largest city in the European Union after London and Berlin. Cultural and artistic offers in more than fifty museums, theatres, a richness of historic buildings as well as destinations at the periphery and beautiful parks are some of the many highlights you can’t miss out on.

Of course it is almost impossible to see all of it, therefore we created a list of the most important sights. If you want to give your feet a rest, you can take a trip with the bus turístico, a double-decker tourist bus, where you have the opportunity to see a lot and hop on and off, in case you want to explore a place.

Paseo del Prado – Prado street
Along the Paseo del Prado you will find the so-called triangle of museums; there is only a few meters of walk between three of the most important museums of the world: Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and Museo de Arte Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Museo del Prado
The Museo del Prado is one of the largest and most significant art museums in the world. In 1814 Ferdinand VII wanted to erect a pinacotheca following the example of the Louvre. On November 19, 1819 the museum, built by Juan de Villanueva, was inaugurated under the name of Museo Real de Pintura y Escultura (royal museum of painting and sculpture). Today you can see artworks of Hieronymos Bosch, Botticelli, Dürer, Goya, Rubens and Velázquez, amongst others.

Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday and holidays: from 9 till 20 o’clock (except holidays that are on a Monday); December 24 and 31, January 6: from 9 till 14 o’clock
Closed: Mondays (also holidays that are on a Monday), New Year, Mai 1st, December 25 and Good Friday
Prices: Normal price: 6 Euros, reduced price: 3 Euros (students outside of the EU under 25, holders of the Carné Joven, members of cultural organisations pre-approved by the director)
Free entrance: Persons under 18 and over 65, disabled and unemployed people from EU countries, students from EU countries under 25, tour guides..., Sundays between 9 and 19 o’clock, October 12, December 6, Mai 2nd and Mai 18
Website: http://museoprado.mcu.es/ihome.html

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
Named after the Spanish Queen Sofía, this musum complements the collection of the Prado with many of the most important paintings and sculptures from well-known artists of modernity from the 20th century, e.g. Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Juan Grís, etc. as well as exhibitions of current art like paintings, sculptures, videos, pictures and movies.

Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: from 10 till 21 o’clock, Sunday: from 10 till 14.30
Closed: Tuesdays, December 24, 25 and 31, January 1st and 6, May 1st and 15, September 9 and November 9
Prices: Normal price: 6 Euros, reduced price: 3 Euros (students, holders of a Carné Joven)
Free entrance: Persons under 18 and over 65, unemployed persons, tour guides, journalists, museum personnel..., Saturdays from 14.30 till 21 o’clock, Sunday from 10 till 14.30, October 12, December 6, May 18
Website: http://www.museoreinasofia.es/museo/portada/portada_ING.php

Museo de Arte Thyssen-Bornemisza
This museum is one of the most important private collections in the world with paintings from the 14th century onwards. More than 800 paintings and sculptures, carvings, tapestry and other things are on display.

Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday : from 10 till 19 o’clock. December 24 and 31 : from 10 till 15 o’clock.
Closed: Mondays, New Year, May 1st and December 25.
Prices: Normal price : 6 Euros, reduced price : 4 Euros (persons over 65 and students)
Free Entrance : Children under 12 in company
Website: http://www.museothyssen.org/thyssen/home.html

You can also purchase an art pass for 14,40 Euros or an annual ticket for
36,06 Euros in order to visit various museums throughout the year.

More museums:

Casa de Velázquez

Museo Arqueológico Nacional

Museo Cerralbo

Museo de América

Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

Museo Pedagógico de Arte Infantil

Museo Sorolla


Museo del Jamón

Museo de Cera


Puerta del Sol
Plaza de la Puerta del Sol is the centre of the city and of entire Spain. Here you can find the so-called “Kilómetro Cero”, the traditional starting point of the six radial national streets. The emblem of Madrid, el oso (the bear) is also to be found here. The Puerta de la Sol is also a very popular meeting point of young people, who fill the numerous bars and clubs at night, whether they spend a cosy night in a bar with tapas and sangria or party the night away in the clubs and discos. Sol is also a shopping paradise and offers a lot of terraces in order to give your feet some rest and have a coffee.

Plaza España
Plaza España is an ample square in 1920s style and represents as well a prime example of early high rise architecture. The place lies in the middle of skyscrapers, like “Torre de Madrid” and “Edificio España”, which make it one of the most famous squares of the city between the old town and modern Madrid. Plaza de España is composed of spacious greens, a fountain and a huge monument, the Plaza Cervantes, built in 1928. It shows the Spanish history of Don Quijote, Sancho Panza and their creator Miguel de Cervantes on the monument. You can have a rest on one of the benches after a stroll or a shopping spree in Gran Vía, one of Madrids boulevards, and watch the hustle and bustle around you. Gran Vía used to be the largest and most important shopping street of Madrid until the 60s and you can still see numerous boutiques, cinemas, ice cream parlours and the most famous theatres of Spain.

Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor remains the most lively place of Madrid until today. It developed in the 15th century as market place and since then it has been the setting of social highlights. Today you can see a lot of sidewalk cafés, which are only removed for concerts. Plaza Mayor is located in the centre of the old town and is known as famous meeting point of the population. Here you can simply sit on the floor like most of the „madrileños“, watch artists and enjoy the atmosphere.

Plaza Cibeles
At Plaza Cibeles you can find three of the most important sights of Madrid: Cibeles fountain, Palacio de las Comunicaciones and Banco de España. Fans and the team of the football club Real Madrid use this place to celebrate championships. The square is also located in the end of the Prado street, so you can combine a visit of the museums with a stroll to the fountain.

Palacio Real – the royal palace
The palace was built in the 18th century on the premises of the former Alcazar, the ancient Muslim palace-castle. You can visit numerous rooms like the Salon de los Espejos (mirror room), Cuarto del Rey Carlos Tercero (room of King Charles III) or the Salon de Alarderos (halberd room) and many more. Apart from ceremonial rooms you can also admire paintings from Velazquez, Goya, Rubens, El Greco and Caravaggio. The gardens of Sabatini and Campo del Moro are further attractions of the palace.

Opening hours: October 1st until March 31: 9.30-17.00 o’clock. Sundays and holidays: 9.00-14.00 o’clock. April 1st until September 30: 9.00-18.00 o’clock. Sundays and holidays: 9.00-15.00 o’clock.
Closed: During official events, January 1st and 6, May 1st , December 25 and 31.
Prices: Basic rate: 10 € (guided tour plus painting museum); 9 € (guided tour); 8 € (without guided tour).
Reduced entrance: 6 € (groups of tour operators).
Minimal rate: 3,50 € (persons over 65 J., retirees, pensioners, disabled persons, Carné Joven, groups from educational institutions and members of the ICOM, students and children between 5 and 16 years from the EU with ID).
Free entrance: Wednesdays for EU citizens, children up to 5 years and visits from educational institutions by arrangement. The free entrance ticket is not valid for the museum of paintings.
Services: audio guide, info service, visit with guided tour
Website: http://www.patrimonionacional.es/preal/preal.htm

Plaza de Toros, Ventas
Las Ventas is a famous bullfighting arena in Madrid and at the same time one of the best known arenas for bullfights in the Spanish-speaking world. Located in the district of Salamanca, it has been inaugurated solemnly on June 17, 1931. It has seating capacity for almost 25.000 people. The arena is a very beautiful building and it is worth dropping by on a Sunday afternoon, then you can also take the opportunity to watch a bullfight. The prices vary widely and depend on your seating area.
More information about prices and schedules in Spanish at: http://www.las-ventas.com/

Estadio Santiago-Bernabéu
The stadium of Santiago-Bernabéu is the competition site of the Spanish football club Real Madrid. It is located in the centre of Madrid in the district of Chamartín. After the latest refurbishment in the year 2005 it holds 80.354 spectators. More information about games of Real Madrid at: http://www.realmadrid.com/portada_esp.htm
Close to the football stadium and the train station of Chamartín you can find the twin towers of Puerta de Europa, which are probably the most famous modern skyscrapers in Madrid. They have been built in 1996 by the KIO (Kuwait Investment Office) and the American architects Philip Johnson and John Burge. Each of the two builidings is 115 meters high and 15 degrees inclined.

Estadio Vicente-Calderón
The Vicente-Calderón stadium is home of the football club Atlético Madrid, directly situated at the river Manzanares. The stadium holds 54.851 spectators and has been added to the five star-category by the UEFA, which means that it is qualified for e.g. holding of European championship finals like the Champions League final. It is one of the most modern stadiums in the world due to its unusual architecture. Madrids city highway runs directly under the covered main tribune. That is the reason for the open corners at this point, which is pretty unusual for football stadiums. More at: http://www.clubatleticodemadrid.com/es/index.asp

Estación de Atocha – Train station of Atocha and Palm garden
The train station of Atocha is located, unlike the nothern train station of Chamartín, in the centre of the city, at Plaza Emperador Carlos V, close to the botanical garden and the Prado. Various suburban railway lines (Cercanías) of the region as well as line 1 of the Metro Madrid stop in Atocha next to long-distance and high speed trains from the south of Spain as well as regional trains. The old train station is famous for its large art noveau roof construction made of cast iron and glass. Since the opening of a new train station to the south of the old one in 1992, the large arches of the old building contain a tropical palm garden, which is used as waiting hall and meeting point. You really feel like in the tropes. Unfortunately, the train station was setting of the terrorist attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004 during the rush hour in the morning.

Faro de Moncloa
The tower of Moncloa is a 100 m high transmitter tower with a viewing platform at Plaza de Moncloa in Madrid. It has been built in 1992 and attracts attention due to its eccentrically arranged viewing platform. Its worth to climb this tower (with an elevator), to enjoy the nice view.
Opening hours: June - Sept.: 11.00 - 13.45 / 17.30 -20.45 Tuesday till Sunday
Sept. - May: 10.30 - 14.00 / 17.30 - 19.45 Tuesday till Sunday
Price: 1.20 Euro