Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a cosmopolitan city that combines the most modern infrastructures and the status as an economic, financial, administrative and service centre, with a large cultural and artistic heritage, a legacy of centuries of exciting history.
Strategically located in the geographic centre of the Iberian Peninsula at an altitude of 646 m above sea level, Madrid has one of the most important historic centres of all the great European cities.
Near the Plaza Mayor–inaugurated in 1620 and one of the most popular and typical sites in Spain- is the area known as the “aristocratic centre” where the jewel in the crown is the Royal Palace, an imposing building dating from the 17th century featuring a mixture of Baroque and classicist styles. Beside it is the Plaza de Oriente square, the Teatro Real opera house, and the modern cathedral of La Almudena which was consecrated in 1993 by Pope John Paul II. The Puerta del Sol square is surrounded by a varied and select area of shops and businesses, and the “Paseo del Arte” art route –whose name derives from its world-class museums, palaces and gardens– are further elements in an array of monuments which includes particularly the Bank of Spain building, the Palace of Telecommunications, and the fountains of Cibeles and Neptune.
Art and culture play a key role in Madrid’s cultural life. The capital has over 60 museums which cover every field of human knowledge. Highlights include the Prado Museum, one of the world’s most important art galleries; the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, with over 800 paintings ranging from primitive Flemish artists through to the avant-garde movements. And the Reina Sofía National Art Centre, dedicated to contemporary Spanish art and containing works by Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Juan Gris, among others.
Madrid’s extensive and beautifully maintained parks and gardens –like the Retiro park, formerly the recreational estate to the Spanish monarchs, the Casa de Campo and the Juan Carlos I park– offer inhabitants and visitors the chance to enjoy the sunshine, stroll, row on its lakes or feed the squirrels, in one of the greenest capitals in Europe.
But if there’s one thing that sets Madrid apart, it must be its deep and infectious passion for life that finds its outlet in the friendly and open character of its inhabitants. Concerts, exhibitions, ballets, a select theatrical offering, the latest film releases, the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of the best Spanish and international gastronomy, to savour the charms of its bars and taverns… all these are just a few of the leisure options on offer in Madrid.