By Soren Rivero
It’s no secret that Spain holds an expansive collection of attractions full of history and excitement just waiting to be discovered – and what better way to dive deep into the cultural richness of Spain than exploring the capital, Madrid, which also serves as the country’s art and financial center? If you’re in need of some inspiration, here are 10 top-rated attractions to visit in Madrid!
Be ready to be walking for quite some time, as this highly-rated attraction is enormous in size! Commissioned by Philip V back in the late 18th century, this palace has long been used as a resting spot for the monarch of Spain. Part of the palace is used as a museum similar to that of Versailles in France. However, the monarch still occasionally uses the palace as a temporary residence and some official events are even held here.
Madrid is home to dozens of plazas spread all across the country, which are used for many activities and events such as social gatherings, shopping, and eating. Ask any local (or passionate tourist) about which one is the most popular to visit and they’ll probably recommend Plaza Mayor. This plaza dates back to the 1600s, where it was used outside of official city walls to host bullfights and executions during the Spanish inquisition.
Museo Arqueológico Nacional
If there’s one thing you can’t leave Madrid without visiting, it has to be at least one of the spectacular museums. While there’s many to visit, Museo Arqueológico Nacional should definitely be on your list! Within this museum you’ll find tons of artworks, artifacts, and historical items. Some of them are ancient and hold very important historical significance, such as the Lady of Elche bust.
Originally planned to be built back in the 14th century, this famous cathedral would not see the light of day until 1879 and wouldn't be fully finished until 1993. Aside from its long awaited debut, the cathedral boasts a vast history and controversy, mainly because of the royal families that lived there. Regardless, the cathedral is a beautiful sight to see with it’s gothic-style exterior and multiple ringing bells. It also houses the largest crypt in all of Spain!
Puerta del Sol
Another popular spot for people to gather and mingle, Puerta del Sol is one of Madrid’s prettiest highlights. The name Puerta del Sol translates to “gate of the sun", and is a destination where flocks of people go on New Year’s Eve to welcome in the new year. Be sure to take pictures of the Strawberry Tree and the great Bear statue when you go — they’ve become symbols of Spain over the years!
Temple of Debod
Temple of Debod is a peculiar sight, to say the least. It rests in el Parque del Oeste which is just a few minutes away from the Royal Palace. The Temple is one of its only kind in Spain, in that it’s an Egyptian temple dedicated to the Egyptian princess, Isis. Originally, the temple was placed on the banks of the Nile River, but with Egypt building the Great Dam of Aswan, the temple (and other monuments) had to be moved. Spain offered their help with the process and was rewarded with the temple back in the 1960s.
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
What’s one thing you think of when you hear about Spain? Probably fútbol (or soccer), right?
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is the home stadium to the city’s world famous team, Real Madrid. A visit here will allow you to take tours throughout the stadium, where you can see dozens of trophies, artifacts, and marvelous views. If you’re lucky, you might even get a spot to watch El Clasico, an annual match hosted at the stadium!
Basílica de San Francisco el Grande
Designed by Francisco Cabezas, the same designer of the great Church of Santa Maria in Rome, the Basílica de San Francisco el Grande is an enormous church with paintings lining almost every wall of the entire building. The church stands tall (over 55 meters high), and within, you’ll find plenty of paintings and religious artifacts.
Mercado de San Miguel
Need a break from history? Head over to el Mercado de San Miguel near the Royal Plaza! Here, you’ll see dozens of stalls selling an assortment of fruits, vegetables, antiques, and more. If you’re a night owl, don’t shy away from visiting the market late in the evening. The entire market stays open until around 2:00 AM, and has slowly become a hotspot for nightlife activities including concerts, late-night munchie runs, and private parties.
Gran Via is what some refer to as a New York City equivalent, done in Spanish-style. The city is practically erupting in an array of multi-colored neon lights. All across the street are different shops, restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Much like NYC, Gran Via is also known as the ‘city that never sleeps.’
Which ones will you visit on your trip to Madrid?