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Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 1
Statue of the Fallen Angel
(Retiro Park) page 30
Editor´s note… … …
Our team is open to new suggestions and comments from all
readers. If you wish to contact us you can send an email to:
Mundo Guides assumes no responsibility for changes and errors
in the information.
Copyright Notice .….
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form,
except brief extracts for the purpose of review, without written
permission from the publisher and copyright owner.
Javier Molina firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtney Likkel (www.adelante.com)
Layout & Design
What to Visit
Expats´ Stories in Madrid
Last September I packed my bags and said
“hasta luego” to Seattle, anxious to call
Madrid my new home. Little did I know how
much would become infatuated with this
gorgeous city. What I love the most about
Madrid is how alive it is. The vibrant streets
are lined with colorful buildings and filled
with bustling locals. Each neighborhood has
a different personality, and it’s this
captivating variation that makes the city so
full of life. My favorite spot in Madrid is
atop the Círculo de Bellas Artes, where you
can enjoy a glass of wine while admiring
some of the most spectacular views of the
city. Madrid abounds with new places to
discover, as the opportunities for
exploration and enjoyment are endless.
You can follow Courtney´s adventures on
her blog Adelante (www.adelanteblog.com).
Courtney is a Seattle native
living in Madrid and
working as an assistant
English teacher. Besides
venturing around Europe,
she likes drinking tinto de
verano in the sunshine,
embarrassing herself by
trying to speak the local
language, and attempting
to seek out the best brunch
The Royal Palace 18
Almudena Cathedral 21
Plaza Mayor 23
Puerta del Sol 24
Gran Vía Street 25
Cybele´s Square 27
Alcalá Gate 29
Retiro Park 30
Golden Triangle of Art 32
Canovas del Castillo Square 36
Spanish Parliament 38
Plaza España 39
Santiago Bernabéu Stadium 41
Las Ventas Bullring 42
Modern Architecture 51-52
Where to stay
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 2
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adrid offers all kinds of possibilities to suit all budgets,
from uncomfortable seats in a low-cost airline to some of
the most modern high-speed trains in the world. Don´t
think twice and enjoy one of the most attracting cities in Europe!
Spain, along with France, has one of the best High-Speed networks
in Europe. The country is enjoying this modern transportation
system since 1992 when the High speed Train (AVE) Madrid-Seville
Currently many countries (China, U.S., Germany or Russia) are
studying the Spanish growth to imitate the model and develop a
similar system which had been highly successful for Spain.
AVE trains can reach 300km / h, becoming a serious competitor for
airlines companies. In addition, AVE trains have seven passenger
wagons and a bar-cafeteria. During high season, two trains can be
united, multiplying the capacity. In few words: speed, punctuality
and service are the three characteristics that best define these
Talgo 200 trains are cheaper than high speed trains (AVE), but they
are also very comfortable and punctual.
There are as well overnight trains with sleeping cars that connect
different Spanish cities with the Spanish Capital (Tren Estrella).
Madrid has two main Railway Stations:
Atocha Railway Station
Atocha Railway Station, one of
the icons of Madrid with its
magnificent iron and glass
structure, has two distinct areas:
the old station which was
designed in the nineteenth
century and now has been
converted into a beautiful
tropical garden that makes the
wait much more pleasant to
travelers. And the new part of
the station, designed by Rafael
Moneo, that functionally
integrates trains, subway, buses
and commuter trains along with
lots of shops, kiosks, cafes, etc.
Unfortunately Atocha Station gained international relevance for a
tragic event. On March 11, 2004 several bombs placed strategically
at different commuter trains exploded killing nearly 200 people. A
few hours after, radical Islamic terrorist groups claimed
responsibility. The attack shocked Spain, a country used to endure
the terrorist atrocities, and Atocha Station became the epicenter of
global news for several weeks. Upstairs you can visit a small
memorial to the victims. At the same time, in Retiro Park (page 30)
was inaugurated the “Forest of Memory” in honor of the victims of
this despicable act.
Chamartín Railway Station
This Railway Station was built in 1967 and primarily serves the
northern part of Spain (Barcelona, Leon, Irun, Salamanca, Valladolid,
Hendaye, etc.) and France. Attention! High Speed Train Madrid-
Barcelona departs from Atocha Station.
In 1970 the Station was closed and reformed in order to adapt it to
the new traveler needs: cafeterias, shops, ATM Machines, etc.
Commuter trains comfortably connect Chamartin Station with
downtown (Puerta del Sol and Atocha Station) and metropolitan
areas. At the same time, two metro lines connect directly
Chamartin Station with the city center.
Adolfo Suarez Barajas Airport
(MAD) is one of the world's
most busiest Airports (50
million passengers a year) and
over the years, has become an
important hub between
Europe and South America.
Despite that, Madrid-Barajas is
easy to navigate and pleasantly
efficient. The Airport is 12km
away from the city center but
well connected by metro, bus,
commuter trains and taxi.
Barajas Airport consists of four
terminals of which three are
linked together through
However, the new Terminal 4
is 2 kilometers away. Anyway,
there is a free shuttle bus
(24/7) connecting the different
The Airport, access point for
most tourists, has numerous
information desks, cafes,
restaurants, tax free shops,
pharmacies, banks, car hire,
Christian chapel, luggage
service, parking, etc. Luggage
trolleys and strollers are
abundant and free for all
For disabled passengers and
the elderly, Barajas Airport has
started a service with
individual support for physical
handicap travelers (ask at
The Airport's most important
airlines are Iberia and Air
Europa which connect
numerous European and South
American capitals with Madrid.
Click here and see the full list of airlines operating in Barajas.
Atocha Railway Station
Address: Plaza Emperador Carlos V s/n
Telephone Number: (+34) 902240202
Passengers: 88 million passengers per year
Services: Elevators, Baggage Room, Cafeteria, Restaurants, Shops,
Tourist Information, Parking, ATM Machines, Rent a Car.
Public Transportation: Taxi, Metro , Commuter Trains (C1, C2,
C3, C4, C5, C6, C7, C8, C10). Urban Buses (10,14,19,24,
Attention: Airport Express Bus connects Atocha Railway Station
directly with Madrid-Barajas Airport in about 40 minutes (5€).
Atocha Train Station
Address: Calle Agustín de Foxa, s/n
Telephone Number: (+34) 902240202
Passengers: 30 million passengers per year
Services: Elevators, Baggage Room, Cafeteria, Restaurants,
Shops, Tourist Information, Parking, ATM Machines, Rent a Car.
Public Transportation: Taxi, Metro ( ), Commuter Trains (C1,
C2, C3, C4, C7, C8, C10). Urban Buses (5, T62).
Chamartin Train Station
TAXI: The cost of a trip from
the airport to downtown
should never exceed 30€
(Official Fare). Official licensed
taxis are white with a red
diagonal strip and their official
numbers are indicated on the
Airport Express Bus: it
connects the Airport with
downtown (O'Donnell, Cibeles
and Atocha Station) in 40 min
(5€). These buses are running
24/7 every 15 minutes, plus
special spaces for luggage have
been designed making your trip
to the Airport more
Metro: Line Barajas-Nuevos
The ride from Barajas to
Nuevos Ministerios takes about
15-20 minutes. Once you get
Nuevos Mnisterios, you can
take metro lines and
(lines to reach the historical
center) and commuter trains
which connect with Puerta del
Sol, Atocha Station and
Commuter Train (C1)
The new line (C1) connects the
Terminal 4 with Principe Pio
Station (2.45 €) every 30
Bus: Lines 200, 204, 101
connect the Airport with
Avenida AmericaTransport Hub
and Canillejas (1,50€).
Getting to the Center
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 4
Madrid and Barcelona are
separated by 623 km.
After many steps forward
and a few back, the
Spanish Government and
Iberia Airlines realized the
need to communicate
these two major economic
centers to promote
tourism and business. In
1974 Iberia launched the "Puente Aéreo”
(literally Air Bridge in Spanish) which
connects the two cities every 1-2 hours with special rates if
returning the same day. The flight takes about an hour and a quarter
and it is advisable to purchase your ticket in advance to get better
prices (more info www.iberia.es). Currently the options have
multiplied thanks to the inauguration of the High Speed Train (AVE)
between Madrid and Barcelona (3 hours) but its price is still
excessive when compared to the plane.
Traveling by bus is generally cheaper than train or plane, although
competition from low cost airlines is becoming fierce due to their
aggressive pricing strategies adopted over the past years.
Generally Spanish bus companies have modern and comfortable air-
conditioned buses that will make your trip more enjoyable than
years ago. One advantage of using the bus is that bus companies
connect practically all the country with the capital of Spain.
There are two bus stations in Madrid:
Estación Sur de Autobuses Méndez Álvaro (South Madrid)
It is the largest bus station in Spain and one of the busiest bus
stations in Europe.
Mendez Alvaro was
inaugurated in 1997
and serves a large
number of domestic
Granada, Leon, etc.)
Paris, Kiev, Bucharest,
The bus station, integrated with Méndez
Álvaro Transport Hub, was designed with all modern comforts a
traveler could imagine: extensive docks, cafeteria, kiosks, luggage
room, Free Wi-Fi, etc.
Unfortunately the station is the working place for tens of
pickpockets and thieves who try to cheat and steal absent-minded
tourists. Watch your belongings and stay alert.
If you need a last minute purchase before the trip, there is a large
Department Store (El Corte Ingles and Hipercor) right next to the
Station where you can find whatever you need.
Avenida America Station
This station, organized vertically into different levels, forms part of a
huge intermodal transport hub (Avenida America). The upper floors
are intended for buses and the lower floors for metro trains.
Everything is well connected with escalators and elevators.
From Avenida America you can take daily buses to northern Spain,
Andalusia (Granada) and Aragon (Zaragoza, Tudela, etc.).
There are six motorways
connecting Madrid to
the north, south, east
and west of Spain,
following a practical
At the same time, the
city is surrounded by
four regional highways
that allow you to reach
your destination without
passing through the city
center (M50, M45, M40 and M30).
To drive in Spain you will need the International Driving Permit. If
you are a citizen of the European Union, driving license from your
country will suffice.
Traffic laws in Spain are very restrictive compared to other European
countries, besides the police carry out surprise checks quite often.
The use of seat belts is mandatory both for front seats and rear
seats. The fine for not wearing a seat belt is 300€. Likewise it is
forbidden to use your mobile phone while driving.
Alicante 421 Km
Valencia 352 Km
Barcelona 623 Km
Bilbao 395 Km
Valladolid 352 Km
Toledo 71 Km
Córdoba 400 Km
Seville 538 Km
Granada 434 Km
Lisbon 710 Km
Oporto 600 Km
Connections to Barcelona (BCN)
Address: Calle Mendez Alvaro 83
Telephone Number: (+34) 914684200
Services: Elevators, Baggage Room, Cafeteria,
Restaurants, Shops, Tourist Information, Parking, ATM
Machines, Free Wi-Fi, Police.
Public Transportation: Taxi, Metro (), Commuter
Trains (C1, C5, C7, C10). Urban Buses (8, 102, 113,
Mendez Alvaro Bus Station
Mendez Alvaro Bus Station
Address: Avenida America 9
Telephone Number: (+34) 915624468
Services: Elevators, Baggage Room, Cafeteria, Restaurants,
Shops, Parking, ATM Machines.
Public Transportation: Taxi, Metro (,,,) Urban Buses
(12,29,52,72,73,114,115,122,200,C1,C2). Attention! Take bus
52 to get Old Town (30-35 minutes)
Avenida America Bus Station
M40 Orbital Motorway
Distances in kilometres from Madrid
Travel Guides by Local Experts
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adrid is probably one of the cities with the best public
transport network in Europe, which contributes to the
development of ample green spaces and extensive parks.
Generally public transport is cheap in Spain and Madrid is no an
exception, especially compared to other European capitals where it
is much more expensive in comparison with the cost of living.
Madrid bus service (www.emtmadrid.com) is really complete with
over 300 bus lines which run from 06:00 to 23:30. Plus, there are 26
night bus lines departing from Cibeles Square (23:30 to 06:00).
The price of a simple ticket bus is 1,50€ and is sold directly by the
driver. Try to pay the exact money as bus drivers don´t accept notes
for operational reasons.
If you plan to take several buses we recommend you to buy a 10-trip
ticket (12,20€), which
can be used in Metro
too. This ticket, called
“Bonometro”, is sold
located in every
metro station and is
validated when you
get on the bus. At the
same time there is a
new bus-only ticket
(10 trips-18,30€) that allows you to change the
bus line within 60 minutes, saving up to 25%.
Buses don’t stop automatically so put your hand out when you see
yours coming. All buses are equipped with wheelchair ramps.
Recently the urban buses of the Spanish capital have been equipped
with free Wi-Fi, something very useful for foreign tourists.
City buses are always a good way to see the city and save some
money. To enjoy a short tour you can take the following lines:
Line 5 (Puerta del Sol - Chamartin Station)
Line 2 (Manuel Becerra - Reina Victoria)
Line 27 (Embajadores - Plaza Castilla)
Line C1 and C2 (circular route)
There is a special bus, Airport Express, which connects the city
center and Atocha Train Station with Barajas Airport (5€). These
buses are running 24 hours every 15-20 minutes.
Madrid can proudly say that its metro network is one of the best in
the world. The
figures speak for
metro lines, 300
of railways, 1700
more than 500
trains run from
Despite what many people may think, riding the
Metro in Madrid is absolutely secure. Hundreds of
cameras and security guards try to ensure the safety of citizens and
rarely crimes are committed inside metro stations. Anyway watch
your belongings, especially the wallet, luggage, cell phone and
camera which are the favorite prey by metro thieves.
The cost of a one-way ticket depends on your final destination: up to
5 stations 1,50€, between 5-10 stations you have to add 0,10€ per
each station. More than 10 Station 2€. To know the exact amount to
pay you have to indicate your destination on the touch screen and
the machine will calculate the exact price.If you want to save some
money, there is a 10-trip ticket (12,20€). Tickets can be bought at
ticket offices (most ticket attendants don't speak English) and
through automatic vending machines which accept Credit Cards and
are available in several languages (English, French, Italian and
In major metro stations you will find shops, cafes and bars where
you can buy a sandwich or a coffee to go. In some outlying districts
there is a tram service (Metro Ligero) which was inaugurated in
Despite the inauguration of numerous bike lanes, it is still very
difficult to move around the city center by bicycle. One of the major
drawbacks is the lack of awareness of citizens. Aggressive driving
behaviors of “madrileños” do not help too much.
Anyway something is changing in Madrid. With the intention of
facilitating the mobility of people, you can go by Metro with your
bike during off-peak hours: Monday to Friday (10:00-12:30 and
21:00-01:30) and Weekends (the whole day). Some companies offer
bike tours, a great alternative to know the city from a different point
of view (www.trixi.com). If you prefer to rent a bike and discovering
Madrid by yourself (www.busvision.net).
In Madrid there are 15,500
taxis running 24/7. Official
taxis can be identified easily in
white color with a red
diagonal strip. The official
number is indicated on both
Given the large number of
taxis, finding a taxi is never a
problem in the Spanish
capital: there are taxi spots
everywhere and you can also
hail from street at the same
Available taxis have a green
light on the top. If the taxi is
busy you will see a weak
Calling a taxi is an option as
well, mention to the operator
if you want to pay by credit
card, as not all taxis have card-
Within the city, the driver
must always turn on the
taximeter and the customer
only pays the amount that is
shown on the taximeter.
Notice that there are some extra charges in the following cases:
Madrid Showground (IFEMA or Congress Palace)
Night Service (from 21:00 to 06:00)
Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays
Airport Express Bus
If you take a Taxi at the airport, pay
special attention. Some
unscrupulous taxi drivers try to
overcharge tourists. Never pay more
than 30€ (Official Fare) for a ride
from the Airport to downtown.
If you have any problem, ask for a
receipt and don’t forget the official
taxi number written on the door.
Then you can go to the nearest
Police Station and report.
If your final destination is near the
Airport, some taxi drivers refuse the
service. This refusal may lead to an
uncomfortable and unpleasant
situation. By law, taxi drivers are
obliged to accept the service
regardless of the distance.
Given this situation you can go to
the airport Police Station.
Never take pirate taxis, their prices
are higher and can even be
Taking a Taxi at the
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 7
MADRID METRO MAP
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 8
Commuter trains (Cercanías) makes life easier for millions of
madrileños every day, connecting the metropolitan area
with the city center. The commuter rail network has more
than 80 stations and 370 km of railways, making it one of
the most extensive urban rail networks in Europe.
All trains are equipped with the latest traveler information
systems: bilingual public address system (Spanish –
English), screens showing the route, time and outside
Atocha Train Station, right in the city center, is the real
heart that centralizes the whole commuter train network.
The 9 commuter lines stop at Atocha Station.
These trains are especially interesting for tourists who want
to visit places like El Escorial (3.95€) where is located the
majestic Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. This
monastery was built by King Felipe II in 1584 and is seen by
many as one of the eight wonders of the world. Commuter
trains also connect Madrid with Aranjuez (3.95€), a small
town declared a World Heritage Site where the Spanish
Royal family spent long periods, especially during the
summer. The line C -1 connects the financial district
(Recoletos and Nuevos Ministerios) with Barajas Airport (T -
Opening Hours: The first commuter trains start around
05:00 and keep running until 24:00. The frequency of trains
depends on each line, approximately 10-15 minutes. There
are screens indicating the estimate time of arrival at each
Where to buy tickets: Tickets can be purchased at every
station (ticket vending machines). The commuter rail
network is divided into seven areas and the ticket price
depends on your destination. Use the vending machines as
most of the staff do not speak English.
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 9
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 10
hen someone visits a city for the first time is always
important to take into account certain basic information
that will help you during your stay.
Spain's official language is Spanish, also known as “Castellano”.
Generally Spaniards don’t have a high level of English so it would be
convenient if you could minimally express yourself in Spanish or
have a travel dictionary with basic phrases and expressions.
Young people often have a level of English a little more acceptable
than middle-aged people so it will be easier communicate with
Spanish is spoken by over 450 million people. However, the
language spoken in South America is a bit different from the Spanish
spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. In South America the accent is
softer and more delicate and they use different words and
expressions than in Spain. Despite these minor differences, both can
understand each other with no problem.
The climate of the
Spanish capital can be
Continental, which is
characterized by low
humidity and wide
Winter is cold (average
temperature around 5°).
Overnight frosts are
common and sometimes
snow makes appearance,
creating traffic chaos in a
city famously unprepared
On the contrary, summer
is really hot (average
temperature 25°) and
very dry. On certain occasions
temperature can reach 40°, something really unpleasant to those
not accustomed to it.
Definitely the best season to visit Madrid is autumn and spring. The
temperature is quite nice and the streets, parks and bars are full of
people enjoying the good weather. Some years are especially rainy
during the fall, so we recommend bringing a small umbrella or a
raincoat. It is better to be prepared for what may happen.
What to take to
During the summer it is advisable
to wear light clothing and sandals
as the temperature may rise up to
40°. The thermal sensation may be
even higher because of the
Winter is cold in Madrid so do not
forget your winter gear (gloves,
anorak, warm footwear and winter
cap). Spring and autumn are mild,
but we recommend bringing a
jacket or a sweater as the
mornings and evenings are cold.
Madrid is a great place to shop (recently the city has been awarded
as the second best European city for shopping, only surpassed by
London). Consider carrying a suitcase with enough space to fill it
with your purchases in Madrid. The vast mayority of the hotels offer
basic hygene products (shampoo, gel, soap, toothpaste, etc) which is
really useful. Attention! Do not forget to photocopy your
documentation and plane tickets; it could be very useful in case of
Emergency Services & Pharmacies
Phone number for all emergency services is 112, as in others
European Union countries.
Depending on the nature of your problem, you should indicate the
department (English spoken): Police, Fire Department or Emergency
SAMUR (Servicio de Asistencia Municipal de Urgencia y Rescate) is
responsible for responding to medical emergencies with its
ambulances and other response vehicles.
Terrace of a bar in summer
La Vaguada Shopping Centre
Local Time: Central European (Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, etc.)
Official Language: Spanish
Local Currency: EURO (€)
Measurement System: Metric System
Religion: Secular State. 70% of the population is Catholic.
Dialing Code: (+34) 91
Electricity Supply: 220V
Emergency Telephone Number: 112
Downtown Police Stations: Comisaría Distrito Centro
(Address Calle Leganitos, 19. Tel: 915487985) Policia Municipal
Distrito Centro (Address: Calle Montera, 16. Tel:915234594)
Comisaría Distrito Retiro (Address: Calle Huertas,
76-78. Tel: 913221027).
Taxes: 21% (Shopping) 10% (Hotels & Rest).
Tourist Offices: Plaza Mayor 27 (Tel: 915881636) Atocha
Station (Tel: 915284630) Plaza Colón (Tel: 913087143) Plaza de
Callao (Tel: 915 88 16 36) Barajas Airport (Tel: 915881636).
Official Web: www.turismomadrid.es/en/
Madrid Card: Discounts in Sights, Museums, Public Transport
etc. More information www.madridcard.com/
Guided Tours: Trapsatur (Address: Calle San Bernardo 7. Tel:
951416321). OgoTours Free Walking Tour, more info visit:
Train Station: Atocha Station (Address: Glorieta de Carlos V.
Tel: 902240202) Chamartín Station (Address: Calle Agustín de
Foxá s/n Tel: 913231515).
Old Town Post Offices: Address: Paseo del Prado 1. Tel:
91523094) / Plaza de Callao 2 (inside Corte Ingés 2
Tips: Not compulsory.
Bank Holidays: January 1
, January 6
, March 19
Thursday, Good Friday , May 1
, May 2
, August 15
, November 1
, December 6
, December 8
Opening Hours: Malls & Departments Stores every day from
10:00 to 22:00. Small shops from 10:00 to 13:30/14:00 and
from 16:30 /17:00 to 21:00 (Closed on Sundays).
Banking Hours: Monday-Friday from 8:00/08:30 to 14:00.
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 11
The ambulance must arrive at the required location within an
average of eight minutes.
For small medical problems the pharmacist can help without having
to visit the doctor. The Pharmacies are open Monday to Saturday
during business hours.
Pharmacies on duty (“Farmacias de Guardia”) are posted on
the door of all the pharmacies.
There are several pharmacies in downtown open 24 hours.
• Calle Mayor 59
• Calle Goya 89
• Calle Toledo 46
• Calle Atocha 46
• Calle Conde de Peñalver 27
Smoking & Alcohol
Spain is a country with zero tolerance for smokers. Since the
implementation of the
latest anti-smoking law,
smoking is prohibited in
any public area
Stations, Hotels, Cafes,
The new law created a
great controversy in the
country among smokers
and detractors. Despite
that the Government
approved the law and
decided to apply it firmly.
The sale of alcohol is
prohibited to persons
under 18 years old and is
quite common that the
shop staff asks for your ID
card to verify your age.
As a consequence of high alcohol prices in pubs and clubs and the
low budget of young people, a new phenomenon (popularly known
as “botellón”) was born. Teenagers used to buy drinks and gather in
parks and small squares drinking until late at night. The
concentration of young people, many of them drunk, annoyed the
neighbors and complaints and quarrels were constant. This is the
reason why Madrid Government recently has banned drinking
alcohol in the streets.
Personal Space & Communication Skills
In Spain personal space is much smaller than in other European
countries, especially in northern and central Europe (Sweden,
Germany, England, Austria, etc.): when two people hold a
conversation in Spain, the space between them is relatively small.
Do not be intimidated by that, in Spain is perfectly normal.
At the same time all over southern Europe people speak in a high
tone voice and express themselves using their hands even while
speaking on the phone. Spain is not a exception to the rule.
Usually Spaniards greet in a much more tactile manner than in other
countries: men embrace and pat each other on the shoulder and
women kiss each other twice on the cheeks to say hello.
Madrid is one of the European capitals with a higher level of air
pollution: the high density of cars and dry climate are primarily
responsible for this unfortunate phenomenon.
During the last years the Government's efforts have intensified (bike
lanes, parks, municipal electric vehicles, promotion of public
transport, etc.) but it seem insufficient.
Pollution levels are so high that from outside the city you can see a
dark cloud covering the city, popularly known as "boina" (beret).
If you have breathing problems, you can buy a facemask that filters
out pollution, especially useful for bicycling.
The official currency in Spain is EURO (€). The country adopted euro
in 2001, together with its European partners. This currency is used in
other 15 European countries, which means that more than 300
million people use it every day. In the coming years it is scheduled
that others countries will join the Euro Zone such as Bulgaria,
Romania or Poland. Previously Spaniards used the local currency,
called “peseta” (pts), 1€=166,39 pts. If you talk with some local
people, you will realize that many of them long for the return of the
“peseta” as the arrival of the EURO meant a general increase in
In Spain you won’t need to
carry large amounts of cash
as there are many Cash
Points all around the city
and most shops accept
credit cards. The most
common Credit Cards in
Spain are VISA and
MasterCard. The major
banks give cash through
these credit cards.
When using your credit
card in shops or
restaurants employees can
ask for your ID card or
Passport to verify your
identity. On occasions it is
necessary to type the secret number.
If you have more than one credit card not bring them all together,
try to take them separately. Attention! If your Credit Card is stolen
it´s necessary to cancel it as soon as possible by calling VISA (900 99
11 24) MasterCard (900 97 12 31) or American Express (902 375637)
and report the loss to the nearest Police Station.
In Madrid you will find telephone boxes throughout the city without
any problem. Phone cards can be purchased at newstands and small
tobacco shops “Estanco”.
You will find different
phone cards according to
prices, number of minutes,
Another way to make
cheap call oversees is to go
to a “Locutorio”. These
places are very popular
among inmigrants as they
can make long distance
phone calls more
affordable than from a
phone booth on the street.
Plus here you can make
calls using Internet and
even send money.
Calls from your Hotel's
room are usually much
more expensive than from a public phone.
All telephone numbers in Spain have 9 digits (including area codes).
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 12
If the phone number starts with 9 indicates that it is a landline. If it
starts with 6 is a mobile phone. The phone numbers starting with
803, 806 and 807 indicate that they are much more expensive than a
common call. Numbers beginning with 800 or 900 are free of charge.
The telephone country code for Spain is (+34). There are different
international calling rates depending on the destination of your call:
European Union, other European countries, North Africa, America
and Rest of World.
The Spanish Postal
Service has improved
quickly in recent
years, matching the
Postal Service of
Post offices are open from 08:00 to 21:00 Monday to Friday, and
Saturday from 09:00 to 17:00.
From the post offices you can send registered letters, telegrams and
There are also mailboxes through the city which are yellow. The
rates for shipping depend on destination: there is a different price
for European Union countries, Rest of Europe, America and Rest of
To send or receive money you should use an urgent Money Order
(“Giro Telegrafico urgente” in Spanish). Packages must be properly
wrapped and sealed to be sent. The price depends on weight and
The opening hours in Spain are really longer compared to other
European countries. Generally small businesses open their doors at
9:30/10:00 until 13:30/14:00 when they take a break for lunch. Then
they return to work at 16:30/17:00 and stay open until 20:30/21:00.
On Saturday afternoon and
Sunday the immense majority of
small shops close.
This Spanish habit is not practiced
by large shopping centers which
are open Monday to Sunday from
10:00 to 22:00 without
interruption. With regard to
restaurants, they begin lunch
service from 13:00 until
15:30/16:00. Dinners are served
from 20:30 to 22:30. Many
monuments and museums are
closed on Monday (staff day off).
The vast majority of commercial
banks work from 09:00 to 14:00
and close during the evenings,
except some banks which open
on Thursday afternoon.
Spain has a long list of TV channels. TVE and La2 are the national
public broadcasters. Telemadrid is the public television station in
Madrid but unfortunately it suffers record-low audience figures.
Besides these channels, there are numerous private TV stations:
Antena 3, Telecinco, La Sexta, Neox, FDF, etc.
At the same time there are also multiple pay-TV channels which
offer sports, Sitcoms, movies, etc. (Fox, Canal Historia, Discovery
Channel, Viajar, etc.).
Newspapers: El Pais and El Mundo are the two most widely read
newspapers in Spain. El Pais, one of the most credible newspapers in
Europe, is known for its liberal thought and information rigor. On
the contrary El Mundo defends a more classical and less liberal
As and Marca are the most popular sport newspapers in Spain.
Everyday football fans can read rumors and news about the Spanish
and European teams. In recent years the city, as many other capitals
in Europe, has been inundated by free newspapers which are
distributed early in the morning near crowded places. Some of them
are 20 Minutos, Qué or Metro.
In any press shop, newsstand or hotel you will find the major
international newspapers and publications (Financial Times, The
New York Times, Le Monde, Le Figaro, Bild, The Economist, etc.).
The Schengen Treaty, signed by most member states of the
European Union (including Spain), entered into force in 1995. From
January 1995 the Schengen citizens can travel freely
without completing any special formalities.
However, thanks to special agreements of cooperation, the citizens
of the following countries can also visit Spain without a visa
(maximum stay three months): Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil,
Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, USA, Guatemala,
Honduras, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua,
Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, , Republic of Korea, San
Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, , Uruguay, Venezuela, special
administrative regions of the Republic of China ( Hong Kong and
If you are not from any of these countries you will need to apply for
a tourist visa through the Spanish Embassy in your country.
More information: www.maec.es/en/
As in any big city, to prevent thefts or bad experiences watch your
bags, camera and passport and don’t take much money in cash with
you, especially at the Airport and Metro.
If you come back late at night to your hotel take an official taxi.
At night it´s better to avoid the triangle formed by Gran Via, Puerta
del Sol and Callao as during the night is frequented by pickpockets,
prostitutes, pimps, drunk people and homeless.
If you have been victim of a theft, go to the nearest Police Station.
Montera Police Station is the nearest to downtown. Tel: (+34)
915234594 (English speaking).
Madrid is a city fully adapted for disabled people. Most of the
restaurants, hotels, cafes, offices, schools etc. are equipped to make
life easier for disabled people.
At Plaza Mayor Tourist Office visitors can find maps and other
information in Braille. More information on www.esmadrid.com
Public transportation also contributes to the integration of disabled
people: urban buses have special low floor and there are special
seats for elderly and disabled.
Most Metro stations have lifts and more than 50% of the stations
are fully adapted for wheelchairs. If you need a wheelchair
accessible taxi, call to EuroTaxi (24h 915478200/915478500).
The city traffic lights emit a sound when they are green to warn
people with visual difficulties. The streets are well graded and you
will find ramps in almost every corner.
If you need to rent or buy a wheelchair during your stay in Madrid,
there is a special store for disable people in Old Town where can
find almost everything: crutches, orthopedic insole, mobile walkers,
Ortopedia Plaza SL
Address: Calle Toledo 60
Metro: La Latina
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 13
During your visit to the city probably you have seen some small
kiosks under the name of ONCE: it is a foundation that sells lottery
and offer work to disabled people, trying to integrate them into
society. If you need assistance during your vacation in Madrid, you
can go to the ONCE Head Office:
Address: Calle Sebastian Herrera, 15
The Madrid Card allows you to vist this magnificent city efficiently,
saving money and time. Buy now your Madrid Card and enjoy great
Free Entrance to
all Museums and
in Prado Museum
or Reina Sofia,
restaurants, etc. and use metro and bus with no limitations.
These cards are personal and not transferable. Madrid Cards are
activated when used for the first time.
You can order your Madrid Card online (www.madridcard.com)
or you can get it also at any tourist office in Madrid.
Madrid is a huge city
with an enviable range
of cultural and leisure
concerts, festivals, etc.
Many Spanish people
from other provinces
come to Madrid,
especially on weekends, to enjoy the multiple
recreational opportunities that Madrid offers. Due to the
increasing agglomeration of people and tourists, it can sometimes
be really hard to get a cheap ticket: for instance, trying to buy a
ticket for a Real Madrid-Barcelona F.C. match can be a daunting task
and prices can reach 150€-200€.
For this reason we recommend several websites that facilitate the
purchase and even allow you to choose the seat:
At the same time
offer the possibility of
buying tickets for
etc. Going to the
Spain is somewhat
cheaper compared to
other European countries. The average price of a ticket is about 10€
(there are reduced prices on several weekdays, depending on each
Films are premiered on Fridays causing the chaos in Gran Via
Avenue. This day Gran Via is filled with photographers, journalists
and fans willing to do whatever it takes to get an autograph from
their favorite Hollywood stars. You can check the chart on:
The major multiplexes are in large shopping centers located on the
outskirts of the city (Xanadú www.madridxanadu.com, Plenilunio
www.plenilunio.es, Isla Azul www.islazul.com, and La Vaguada
www.enlavaguada.com are some of them).
Theatre in Gran Via Str.
Follow us and stay up to date
with the latest news, links,
tips, events, videos and much
Travel Guides by Local Experts
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 14
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 15
Madrid's fate changed forever in 1561 when King Felipe II decided to move his court from the Imperial Toledo to
Madrid. From that time, the city gained economic and political importance. The Spanish ships sailed the seven
seas, the Spanish culture and language spread over five continents and Madrid was considered as one the
most influential cities in Europe. Long gone are the days of the Spanish Empire. However, the city has
reinvented itself. Today Madrid is a cosmopolitan, open-minded and welcoming city. According to a popular
saying "If you spend 24 hours in the city, you can consider yourself forever Madrileño".
1 Gran Via Buildings 1 Gran Via Buildings
1 Gran Via Buildings
Gran Via Street is , without
a doubt, the most famous
street in Spain. Its buildings,
designed during the first
half of the twentieth
century, are really amazing.
1 Gran Via Buildings
2 Prado Museum
Prado Museum is one of
the most visited Museums in
the World. Visit the Prado
Museum and admire works
from wonderful artists such
as Goya, Rubens, Velazquez,
Van Dyck, etc.
3 Puerta del Sol
This central square is, for
centuries, the place where
the Spanish people
express themselves. Don´t
miss the bear and madrone
tree statue, one of the
symbols of Madrid.
4 The Royal Palace
In the eighteenth century,
King Felipe V ordered the
construction of this amazing
Palace, the biggest one in
Western Europe. A must-see
5 Plaza Mayor
For centuries, this
part of Madrid was the core
of the city. Everything
happened in Plaza Mayor.
Today this square is one of
the most visited places by
6 Retiro Park
If you visit Madrid, you
cannot miss Retiro Park,
probably the most
beautiful park in Europe.
Formerly, it was a private
park for the Royal Family.
1 2 3
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 16
History of Madrid
We hardly have data on Madrid in pre-Roman times. Some
archaeological remains reveal that the lands surrounding
Madrid were inhabited by indigenous tribes (Iberos) who were
attracted by the abundance of resources: forests, rivers,
The Arrival of the Ancient Romans:
In 218 B.C. Romans entered Spain and the Iberian Peninsula
became one of the most prosperous regions in Europe. The
Romans founded cities so important such as Tarraco
(Tarragona), Corduba (Córdoba) or Emerita Augusta (Mérida).
However, at this time, the area where now Madrid lies was
occupied by grasslands, forests, bears and wild boars.
The Foundation of Mayrit:
The first historical reference
about Madrid dates back to the
ninth century. At this time,
Muslims founded the city and
called it “Mayrit” or “Magerit”
which meant "water-rich city" in
ancient Arabic. Over the years,
Muslims endowed the city with a
powerful military infrastructure:
they built a defensive
fortification (Alcazar), huge walls
and numerous watchtowers. The
main function of Madrid was to
protect Toledo (70km from
Madrid) against the Christian
attacks coming from the north of
The city was dominated by
Muslims until 1085 when the
Christian King Alfonso VI
conquered Madrid. From this moment on, the Alcazar was
used as official Royal Residence when the Kings visited Madrid.
Gradually the city was growing and new neighborhoods
emerged outside the city walls.
Madrid, the new capital of Spain:
The destiny of Madrid changed forever in 1561 when King
Felipe II declared it Capital of the Spanish Kingdom, one of the
largest Empires in history. As of that moment, the city
experienced many changes: new neighborhoods were built,
land prices skyrocketed and thousands of immigrants from
other Spanish provinces came to Madrid seeking new
opportunities. What many people don't know, however is that
King Felipe III moved the Capital of Spain from Madrid to
Valladolid for a short time (1601-1606).
King Carlos III, the greatest Madrid Mayor:
The eighteenth century saw the construction of large buildings
and improvement works thanks to King Carlos III, who is
dubbed the “King Mayor” by some historians. Carlos III tried to
modernize Madrid and turn the city into a monumental
capital. The legacy of Carlos III is quite palpable: the Botanical
Garden, Prado Boulevard, Central Post Office (Puerta del Sol
Square), Cybele´s Fountain, Alcalá Gate, public lighting, etc.
Napoleon and the 19
In 1807 Napoleon's troops, settled in Spain on the pretext that
they wanted to invade Portugal. However the French
emperor's plans were different: his real intention was to
overthrow the Bourbon dynasty in Spain. Gradually, Napoleon
took several Spanish cities. But the tense situation erupted on
May 2, 1808. “Madrileños” rebelled and took the streets. The
French response was brutal and the General Murat ordered
his soldiers to kill hundreds of locals, the War of Spanish
Independence had begun. Finally, after 5 years of armed
combats, in 1813 the French were defeated and left the
country. During the second half of the eighteenth century
Spain experienced a severe economic crisis which culminated
in the Revolution of 1868 called "La Gloriosa” (The Glorious).
Queen Isabel II had to leave the country and the throne was
occupied by Amadeo of Savoy. But his reign lasted only three
years. In 1873 the King abdicated and the First Republic was
proclaimed. Barely one year later, the new Government
proved to be a disaster and King Alfonso XII (Bourbon dinasty)
turned back to Spain from London.
The Spanish Civil War and Franco´s Dictatorship:
In 1936 the terrible Spanish Civil War between fascists and
republicans broke out. After three years, the war ended with
the victory of the fascist side. General Francisco Franco came
to power and ruled a dictatorship that lasted more than 40
years. Finally in 1975 Franco died and the new Constitution
was approved (1978). A new era of liberty begun for Spain.Madrid
King Felipe II (1527-1598)
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 17
711: The Arabs invaded and conquered Spain.
Ninth Century: Muhammad I founded Madrid and the city
was integrated into the Al-Andalus Empire.
Tenth Century: The city experienced great prosperity.
1085: The Christian King Alfonso VI conquered Madrid.
1109: The town was completely devastated and destroyed
by a Muslim attack.
1309: The first sitting of the Parliament of Castile was held
1391: The Jewish population in Spain suffered a violent
attack. Thousands of Jews were killed.
1469: Marriage between Isabel of Castile and Fernando of
Aragon. The two Kingdoms were united and Spain was
1478: The Holy Inquisition was founded.
1492: The Catholic Kings issued a decreed which ordered
the final expulsion of Jews from Spain / Christopher
Columbus reached America.
1521: Ferdinand Magelland and his expedition completed
the first circumnavigation of the Earth and reached the
shores of Philippines.
1561: Felipe II established the capital of Spain in Madrid.
1584: The construction of the Royal Monastery of San
Lorenzo del Escorial was finished.
1605: Miguel de Cervantes published Don Quixote de la
Mancha, a masterpiece of Spanish literature.
1656: Diego de Velazquez painted “Las Meninas”.
Probably the most amazing piece in the Spanish painting.
1701: War of Spanish Succession begins. This conflict
involved all European superpowers (Britain, Austria and
France) to conquer the Spanish throne.
1734: A fire destroyed the old Alcazar (Royal Palace).
1807-1813: Napoleon entered Spain and the War of
Independence against the French armies broke out.
1833-1839: First Carlist War: two contenders (Carlos
María Isidro de Borbón and Isabel II) fought to establish
their claim to the Spanish throne.
1850: Opening of the Royal Theatre and the Spanish
1868: The Revolution (La Gloriosa) led to the
dethronement of Queen Isabel II.
1873-1874: The First Republic was proclaimed.
1898: Spain lost Cuba, the last Spanish colony in America.
1910: Inauguration of Gran Vía Street.
1919: Madrid Underground began operating.
1931: The Second Republic was proclaimed.
1936-1939: The Spanish Civil War broke out.
1939-1975: Military Dictatorship (Francisco Franco).
1960: The terrorist group ETA committed its first attack in
San Sebastian (Basque Country).
1978: Approval of the new Spanish Constitution.
1981: Failed coup attempt by Antonio Tejero.
1982: Celebration of the Football World Cup in Spain.
1986: Spain joined the European Union.
1992: Olympic Games in Barcelona.
2004: A terrifying terrorist attack took place at Atocha
Station and killed 191 people.
2008-2014: The housing bubble bursted and the country
entered a deep recession.
WHAT TO VISIT
Tourist Offices & Guided Tours
Thanks to the proliferation of low cost airlines, the endless cultural offerings and the promotion of Local Authorities Madrid has become one of
the most visited European capitals, and an ideal place for either business or family holidays.
The main entry point for tourists is Barajas Airport, one of the most modern and busiest airports in Europe (50 million passengers per year).
French, Italian, German, Japanese and English tourists are the most numerous in Madrid. Therefore you will find information in these languages
more easily than others. The wide network of Tourist Offices offer service to all tourists traveling to the capital of Spanish Kingdom.
Tourist Offices in Madrid:
Plaza Mayor 27 (Tel: 915881636)
Atocha Station (Tel: 915284630)
Plaza Colón (Tel: 913087143)
Plaza de Callao (Tel: 915 88 16 36)
Barajas Airport (Tel: 915881636)
These tourist offices are full of useful information for visitors: maps, tourist routes, audio-guides, brochures, etc.
If you have a disability or you are travelling with a handicapped person, ask for information: the qualified staff will offer you many services and
activities tailored to meet the special needs of disabled people.
If you need an official guide, click below:
www.madridguias.com/ & www.apit.es/
The Company Gocar offers funny tours in convertible cars equipped with GPS system and audioguides www.gocartours.es/en/madrid/
You can also rent a Segway (www.madsegs.com/) or if you prefer a bike tour (www.trixi.com/madrid).
OgoTours offers a great Free Walking Tour (3 hours duration) visiting the main attractions of the city. More info: www.ogotours.com. They also
offer a wonderful Gastronomic Tapas Tour where you will discover typical taverns and hundred-year old bars.
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 18
Located in the heart of the city, the Royal
Palace is an essential part of Madrid.
he Muslim Kingdom of Toledo (ninth century) built in this area
a defensive fortress called Alcazar which gave rise to the birth
of Madrid. Around the building emerged neighborhoods
inhabited mainly by workers of the Alcazar (soldiers, blacksmiths,
builders, vets, etc.). After several centuries, the city was conquered
by the Christian troops (1085) which occupied the Alcazar and the
surrounding area. Over the years, Madrid was turning into an
influential city and Felipe II decided to carry out improvement works
to transform the Alcazar into The Official Residence of the Spanish
Kings (sixteenth century). During this time, the Palace was provided
with works of incalculable value (sculptures, paintings, frescoes,
etc.) and became a symbol of the Habsburg dynasty.
After a horrible fire (1734) Felipe V commissioned architect Giovanni
Battista Sacchetti to design a new huge Palace that stunned the
world with the power of the Spanish Empire. The works lasted more
than 17 years. Unfortunately, when the Palace was finished Felipe V
had already died and Carlos III, much loved by locals, was the first
monarch to live at the Royal Palace and establish here his Official
Residence. The lush and splendid decoration of the interior of the
Palace was supervised by Kings Carlos III and Carlos IV.
The Royal Palace was the Official Residence of the Spanish Royal
Family until 1931 when was proclaimed the Second Republic in
Spain and King Alfonso XIII was forced to leave Spain and take refuge
in Rome. In 1975 the monarchy was restored in Spain but the Royal
Palace was not used as Official Residence anymore. Today the
Palace is used to hold official ceremonies and receptions of
ambassadors and heads of State. Currently the Official Residence of
the Royal Family is the Zarzuela Palace, located far away from
downtown and heavily guarded.
Visiting the Royal Palace
Plaza de Armas
This square was designed as the main entrance to the Palace.If you
look closely at the façade you can contemplate a beautiful clock and
two bells, one of which was saved from the fire of 1734.
A charming staircase with 72 marble
steps brought from Toledo and
beautiful frescos painted by Conrado
Giaquinto are waiting for us in the
entrance hall of the Palace.
This room was the place where the
Royal Guard met. Don't miss the
mythological paintings by Giovanni Battista.
Hall of Columns
This space was used as a ballroom and Gala dining room until the
nineteenth Century. Admire the wonderful decoration and the
In this room was signed the accession of Spain to the European
Union in 1986.
The most amazing part of
the Throne Room is the
beautiful vault painted by
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
(allegory of the
monarchy). Don´t miss the
mirrors, walls covered
with gold embroidery,
crystal stone chandeliers
and four great bronze lions
brought from Naples to
the capital of the Spanish
Empire in 1651. Special
mention should be made
of the incredible Italian
lamps of the eighteenth
century and the marvelous
The tour continues through the private rooms of King Carlos III,
considered the heart of the Palace. These rooms are also known as
Gasparini´s Rooms as he was the architect who designed them.
Here the King Carlos III dined and had private
conversations. The walls are decorated with blue silk.
There are four splendid paintings by Goya which depict
Carlos IV and his wife Maria Luisa of Parma.
One of the most wonderful elements of this room is the
clock (the most luxurious of the Palace) which was made
of mahogany, bronze and porcelain. This clock was
WHAT TO VISIT
Address: Calle de Bailén
Metro Station: Opera
Prices: General 10€ /Reduced 5€/ Free
Admission: From Monday to Thursday
from 16:00 to 18:00 (October to March)
and from 18:00 to 20:00 (April to
September) to citizens of the European
Union and Latin American.
Opening Hours: April-September: Monday
to Sunday: 10:00 to 20:00.
October-March: Monday to Saturday from
10:00 to 18:00. Due to the celebration of
official acts, the Royal Palace can suspend
The first Wednesday of each month
(except July, August and September)
from 12:00, visitors can enjoy the
Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the
Royal Palace. The performance is
composed of a large group of soldiers
and horses marching with typical
uniforms of the Royal Army. In total 100
horses and 400 soldiers perform the
changing of the guard as was done in the
nineteenth century. The parade is
accompanied by the band of the Royal
Army. Absolutely recommended!
Approximate Length: 40 minutes.
Changing of the Guard
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 19
designed in 1789 by Jean Demosthenes Dugourc who sent
it, dismantled in pieces, from France to Madrid. Once in
Madrid, it was installed by expert clockmakers.
This place was used by Carlos III as dressing room.
It is, undoubtedly, one of the most luxurious parts of the
Palace. The room is decorated in rococo and oriental style.
The beautiful marble floor and the elegant silk tapestry are
Tranvia de Carlos III Room
This long and narrow room was formerly the Oratory of
Carlos III Room
This room is decorated with beautiful French-style
furniture. Usually Carlos III slept in this room when he was
in Madrid. On 14th December 1788 Carlos III passed away
in this room while he was sleeping.
This room is ornamented with yellow silk and houses a fine
collection of clocks which are worthy of admiration.
The floor is
and the walls
and ceiling are
The design and
made by three
great artists: Jose
Boltri and Juan Bautista de la Torre.
The porcelain came from the Royal Porcelain Factory of Buen Retiro
which was located in the Retiro Park and was destroyed during the
War of Independence against France (1808-1813).
Do not miss the wonderful nineteenth century planetary clock, really
Dining Gala Hall
This room was restructured in
1879 for the wedding of Alfonso
XII and Maria Cristina of Hapsburg.
The stunning decoration will leave
you speechless: stucco, paintings,
Chinese vases, Brussels tapestries,
silk curtains, etc.
Fifteen incredible lamps are
suspended from the ceiling.
It is estimated that the Library of
the Royal Palace houses about
300,000 volumes (engravings,
maps, manuscripts, books etc.)
constituting a true national
treasure that should be preserved
Pharmacy and Armory
After the Palace, we recommend
you to visit the Royal Pharmacy,
founded by King Felipe II in 1594.
Here visitors can see old
laboratory bottles, pharmacy tools, etc. On the opposite side of
Plaza de Armas we can visit the Royal Armory.
If you like weapons this part of the Royal Palace houses one of the
most stunning weapon collections in Europe. During the War of
Independence (1808-1813) “madrileños” stormed the Royal Armory
to stock up with weapons and fight against French troops which
were extremely powerful.
Earlier this part of the Palace housed the Royal stables for the King´s
horses. These stables were designed by the architect Sabatini but in
1930 the Local Government demolished the stables and built these
beautiful gardens in a neoclassical style with statues, ponds and
Carlos III was born in Madrid in 1716. From an early age Carlos III
knew that one of his most important missions was to recover the
Spanish influence in Italy, something vital to consolidate the country
as a superpower.
In 1737 he married Maria
Amalia of Saxony, daughter
of the King of Poland.
Shortly later, Carlos III
inherited the throne of
Naples and Sicily. In Italy
Carlos III carried out an
exciting project and tried to
convert Sicily and Naples
into two major European
Soon Carlos III won the
heart of Neapolitan and
Sicilian people: huge palaces
were built, numerous public
works were developed and
the King tried to remove
power from the nobles and
In 1759 Carlos III inherited the Kingdom of Spain. During his reign,
Carlos III was a faithful ally of France and bitter enemy of England
who was trying to dominate the seas.
Socially Carlos III sought to modernize Spain under an illustrated
program that had as central axis to reduce the power of the Nobility
and the Church.
He also reinforced
the sense of Spain as
a nation, designing
the flag and the
In 1788 Carlos III died
consider that Carlos
III was a great
“Mayor” for Madrid
as he gave a boost to
public works, built
huge palaces, beautiful
boulevards and nice
squares, created the postal service and installed street lights around
the city turning Madrid into the true capital of a powerful country.
You can see an equestrian statue of this important figure in Puerta
del Sol (see the picture).
Did you know…?
Carlos III created the National Lottery with the intention of
collecting taxes and financing the Seven Years War. Carlos III had
known this system in Naples where there was a tradition very similar
to current lottery. This way Carlos III imported the idea to Spain in
order to fill the government coffers.
WHAT TO VISIT
On December 24, 1734 the Royal
Palace was destroyed by a
terrific fire. The whole complex
was in flames during 4 days in a
row and nothing seemed to stop
the fire which devoured the
building. This fire caused the
loss of hundreds of Master
Pieces belonging to the Royal
Family. Other pieces were saved
in extremis like the painting "Las
Meninas" (Diego Velazquez)
which is exhibited at the Prado
Museum. The painting in
question was thrown from a
window of the Palace.
The Royal Family did not suffer
any damage as that night they
were in the Buen Retiro Palace.
The Fire of 1734
King Carlos III and Madrid
Carlos III portrait
Equestrian Sculpture of Carlos III (Puerta del
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 20
FREE WALKING TOURS
EVERY DAY AT 10:45 AT PUERTA DEL SOL
Madrid Free Walking Tour, Gastronomic
Tapas Tour, Flamenco Tour and much more.
BOOK YOUR TOUR on
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 21
Address: Calle Bailen 8 (Visitor Entrance)
Metro Station: Opera
Prices: Almudena Cathedral 1€ (voluntary donation) / Crypt 1€
Opening Hours: September–July: from 09:00 to 20:30 / July-August:
from 10:00 to 21:00
Crypt: from 10:00 to 20:00 (Monday and Wednesday closed from
14:00 to 17:00).
4th April 1883 King Alfonso XII made initial
steps to build the first Cathedral in Madrid.
erhaps the Almudena Cathedral is not the kind of cathedral
we could expect from an important city such as Madrid. The
building is small in size compared to other European
cathedrals (London, Milan, Berlin, Paris, etc.) and was austerely
designed due in large part to lack of funds.
According to ultra-catholic theories Madrid was not founded by
Muslims but by Christians. Some erudites consider that Madrid was
a tiny village with a small church (Santa Maria de la Almudena)
whose Madonna was revered by all inhabitants. Years later the city
was occupied by the Muslims (ninth century) and the church was
transformed into a mosque, something very common at that time.
But after the Christian reconquest (1085), the mosque was
reconverted into a church again.
Unfortunately in the nineteenth century the Local Authorities
decided to demolish the old church and approved a plan to build a
great Neo-Gothic Cathedral which would amaze the world. Sadly the
continuous wars, uprisings and lack of funds frustrated this
magnificent project. Given this situation, the ecclesiastical
authorities decided to build the present Cathedral which was much
more simple and less expensive. Works were carried out during
decades because of the shortage of public funding and the Spanish
Civil War (1936-1939). Finally works could be finished thanks to the
contribution of the Government and some private companies in
1993. The Cathedral was consecrated by Pope John Paul II on June
15, 1993 (first church consecrated by John Paul II outside
Rome) during a solemn ceremony attended by
politicians, ministers, bishops, etc.
You can see a statue of Pope John Paul II, much loved in
Spain, near the entrance.
The Cathedral has two facades: the main façade is
located in front of
the Royal Palace.
The other façade is
facing Bailen Street
and its gates are
open for mass every
day. The main
façade has three
doors, the right one
and the left one
Inside the Cathedral
we find a frugal Neo-Gothic style
where central stage is dominated by a statue of Our
Lady of Almudena.
The Mysterious Legend of Virgin of Almudena
The old church (Santa Maria de la Almudena), built before the
Muslim conquest and demolished later, housed a beautiful
Madonna worshiped by all “madrileños”. According to legend the
Madonna was brought to Madrid by the Apostle Santiago.
In the ninth century Muslims began the conquest of Madrid: the
locals, really terrified by the ferocity of the Muslim troops, took
down the Madonna and buried it near the city walls. This way
Muslims could never get hold of the Madonna or damage it. Usually
when the Muslims conquered
a city destroyed all the
churches and shrines and
burned religious icons. In the
eleventh century the Christians
reconquered Madrid (1085)
and King Alfonso VI promised
to recover the Madonna which
had been buried almost two
The King invested much effort
and money to find this beloved
symbol of the city, but nothing
seemed to work.
Alfonso VI desperately
organized a religious
procession attended by the
Royal Family, the nobility,
bishops, priests, army´s senior officials, Rodrigo
Díaz de Vivar (Hero of the Spanish Reconquest and
Pope John Paul II
WHAT TO VISIT
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 22
popularly known as “El Cid Campeador”) and hundreds of thousands
of “madrileños”. When the procession passed by a small storage
tank for wheat, suddenly several stones from the city wall fell down
and the Madonna appeared along with two candles that had
remained lit for more than two centuries. This discovery caused
astonishment among all attendees.
King Alfonso VI took the Madonna and placed it in the Church of
Santa Maria de la Almudena. Unfortunately this religious wood
statue was burned during a fire and replaced by an exact copy
carved in the sixteenth century.
This legend lacks any historical basis. According to experts Madrid
was founded by Muslims and there is no evidence of Christians living
in this area before the
foundation of the city.
Probably the most interesting
and less publicized part of the
Almudena Cathedral is the
crypt which is located just
below the building (visitor
entrance: Mayor Street).
Walking among the tombs,
sculptures and columns
produces a feeling hard to
explain with words.
The crypt was designed in
Neo-Romanesque style and
has 20 wonderful chapels
where the aristocracy and
bourgeoisie of Madrid were
buried after paying large
amounts of money to the Church. If you are a
curious tourist you can visit the mausoleum of the architects of the
Cathedral, Marques de Cubas and Enrique Maria Repulles y Vargas.
The stained glass windows designed by Maumejean, deserve special
mention, take a look!
One of the best works of art inside the crypt is the mural of Our
Lady of the Lily, which dates back to the twelfth century.
Finally do not miss the impressive columns (more than three meters
high), some of them constructed in one piece, truly amazing.
Museum of the Cathedral
If you're a fan of religious art should visit the Museum of the
Cathedral. Here you will find a wonderful collection (distributed in
two galleries) of
paintings, statues, old
clothes, and even a
codex dating from 1230
which tells the story of
San Isidro (Madrid
Patron Saint) and his
Do not miss a small-scale
reproduction of the
Cathedral which could
not be built by the lack
At the same time if you
buy the ticket (6€) for
the Cathedral Museum
you can visit the dome.
From up here you will
views of the historic
center of Madrid.
Despite the recent corruption scandals committed by some
members of the Royal Family, the Spanish monarchy enjoys popular
support among its people.
Currently, the King of Spain is Juan Carlos I, who was born in Rome,
where his parents lived in exile.
In 1961 Juan Carlos I married Sofia of Greece, much loved by all
Spanish for her demure and discreet style. On 30 January 1968
the couple's first child was born: Felipe de Borbon y Grecia,
legitimate heir to the Spanish crown.
On 20 November, 1975 Francisco Franco, fascist dictator since 1939,
died at La Paz Hospital (Madrid). Two days after Juan Carlos I was
proclaimed King of Spain by the Parliament.
These years were really turbulent for the consolidation of
democracy in Spain
and the Monarchy
underpin the new
One of the tensest
episodes for the
Spanish Monarchy in
modern history took
place in 1981:
attempted coup d’état,
shocking the country.
Over the years Spain
and the Monarchy was
adapted to new times.
After several brief
relationships, Felipe de
marriage (2003) with a
called Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano
(news presenter on public
television). The choice of the young journalist caused a great
controversy in the country as the future Queen of Spain did not
belong to the nobility. The Monarchy did not listen to the criticism
and endorsed the decision of his son.
On May 22, 2004 Madrid dressed up to celebrate the most
important wedding of the century: the streets and squares were
remodeled, buildings were decorated with garlands and the
Almudena Cathedral was decked out to welcome the future kings of
Spain. Following the Catholic tradition, the culminating point of the
ceremony was the presentation of the “arras” (13 silver coins, gold
in this case, which symbolize the economic prosperity for the family)
and the exchanging of rings (worth 3000€ each one).
The wedding was attended by over 1700 guests, including the major
Royal Houses of Europe, politicians and powerful businessmen.
At 12:45 the cathedral bells tolled, the princes left the church and
went to the square where a Rolls Royce Phantom IV (gift from Adolf
Hitler to Francisco Franco, who subsequently donated the car to the
Spanish Royal House) waited to take them to the Basilica of Atocha.
While the princes covered the distance between the Almudena
Cathedral and the Basilica of Atocha, an aperitif was offered to
guests at the Royal Palace.
At 13:30 the princes arrived at the Basilica of Atocha where they
made an offering. This basilica is very special for the Bourbon family.
At 14:15 the princes came to the Royal Palace and minutes after an
impressive feast began: 2000 bottles of top quality olive oil, seven-
course menu and 150 kilos of wedding cake were some of the
delicacies the guests could enjoy.
WHAT TO VISIT
Shield of the Spanish Royal
The Spanish Royal Family and the Almudena
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 23
Address: Plaza Mayor
Metro Station: Sol / La Latina
Opening Hours: -
Plaza Mayor has its origin in the thirteenth
century when a Central Market was set up
ery close from Puerta del Sol and Plaza de la Villa is located
the Plaza Mayor, a beautiful square replete with balconies,
pinnacles and typical slate roofs.
These kind of squares, typical from Castillian cities such as
Salamanca or Valladolid (Spanish capital for a brief period of time
1601-1606), were once the nerve center of the cities and all activity
revolved around them. Plaza Mayor has its origin in the thirteenth
century when this area of the city was full of shacks and small
streets. At the same time, this humble neighborhood had a main
square (Plaza del Arrabal) where a market was installed (Mercado
de la Villa). Traders and merchants came here to sell all kind of
groceries like meat, fruits, pickled fish etc. Over the centuries, trade
activity in this square grew spectacularly and many Jews started
their own business here.
In 1561 King Felipe II decided to move the capital of Spain from
Toledo to Madrid, a decision that changed the fate of the city
forever. One of his top priorities as King of Spain was to rejuvenate
and renovate this old and dirty area of Madrid: Felipe II
commissioned Juan de Herrera, who few years before had designed
the wonderful Monastery of Escorial, to reform the old square
(Plaza del Arrabal).
Unfortunately, in the early seventeenth century the square was in a
lamentable state of preservation and Felipe III decided to create a
larger square worthy of an important city like Madrid. The architect
in charge of designing the new square was Juan Gomez de Mora, a
pupil of Juan de Herrera, who was inspired by the drawings of his
teacher. Shortly after its inauguration, the square began to be used
as a venue for all kind of events such as bullfights, executions
of famous prisoners, inquisition hearings
military parades. Throughout its history,
Plaza Mayor was burnt down three times
(1631, 1670, and 1790) so improvement
works were needed again. Before these
reconstruction works the buildings
surrounding the square were higher than
today (five stories). After a controversial
debate, the architect Juan de Villanueva
decided to design three-story residential
buildings with more than 200 balconies
as one can see today.
Plaza Mayor has nine entranceways: Arco
de Cuchilleros (Cutler´s Arch), located in
the southwestern corner on the Square,
is the most outstanding of them all. Arco
de Cuchilleros (1790) leads to Cutler´s
Street where all knife shops and small
workshops were located.
Probably the most beautiful part of the square is the Casa de la
Panadería (Bakery House) whose façade has been decorated with
wonderful frescoes. This building housed the seat of Baker´s Guild.
The statue in the middle of the square commemorates King Felipe
III, one of the driving forces behind the construction of the Square.
The Statue was placed here by order of Queen Isabel II in 1848.
Nowadays Plaza Mayor is a meeting point for “madrileños” and a
must-visit place in the city for all visitors. A lot of typical bars,
restaurants, souvenir shops, antique shops surround this nice
square, creating a very special atmosphere. The small Botoneras
Street boasts two of the best places in Madrid (Bar La Ideal and Bar
La Campana) to eat a typical squid sandwich, real fast-food for
“madrileños”. These sandwiches cost less than 3€ and come with
mayonnaise (optional). Locals usually drink a “caña” (draft beer
served in a small glass) to accompany these delicious sandwiches.
Every Sunday morning there is a small numismatic market where
you can find different types of coins from Roman or Arab Times to
rare coins. This market is held since 1920.
Several weeks before Christmas a great Market, considered the best
in Spain, is inaugurated at Plaza Mayor where Christmas gifts,
decorations, funny wigs, hats, Christmas trees and joke items can be
found in abundance.
WHAT TO VISIT
This beautiful Palace, 50 meters away from Plaza Mayor, was built
between 1629 and 1643. However, over the years, the building was
restored several times (1846, 1931, and after the Spanish Civil War
due to heavy shelling that struck the city). Fortunately, despite the
numerous reforms the building retains its original style: pinnacles,
courtyards, slate roofs, brick walls etc. This Palace was used as prison
of the Court until the eighteenth century: the cells were full of
famous prisoners such as Lope de Vega, General Riego or
Espronceda. The Spanish Inquisition used the Palace as well. Those
sentenced to death were executed in the nearby Plaza Mayor.
Nowadays the Palace houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Address: Plaza de la Provincia 1
Metro: Sol / Tirso de Molina
Santa Cruz Palace
Tip: Do not miss the Visitor Reception Center: here you will find
all kinds of information (maps, routes, official guides, brochures,
audio-guides etc.). Address: Plaza Mayor 27 (Tel: 915881636)
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 24
Address: Puerta del Sol
Metro Station: Sol
Opening Hours: -
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol has witnessed important
events in the history of Spain that changed
the destiny of the country.
n the sixteenth century Puerta del Sol was one of the most used
point access to the city: this place was occupied by a huge gate
and a castle to protect the city wall (both of them destroyed).
Over the centuries the city was growing and expanding and Puerta
del Sol became an important place in the common life of
The square also has witnessed important events in the history of
Spain that changed the destiny of the country:
In 1766 occurred the Mutiny of Esquilache. King Carlos III forbade
the use of long coats and traditional hats in Madrid (“chamergo”).
Shortly after, the population of the city revolted against this law and
Madrid was in chaos for several days. Even the King's life was in
danger during the uprising. Puerta del Sol was one of the epicenters
of the protests. These protests were only the straw that broke the
camel back as behind this situation there was a serious economic
and social crisis.
In 1808 the Napoleon´s army crushed brutally in Puerta del Sol an
uprising against the French occupation. The great Spanish painter
Francisco de Goya depicted in one of his most famous paintings
("The Mamlukes") this despicable act of the Egyptian troops of
Napoleon. The painting can be admired at the Prado Museum.
In 1912 the Prime Minister, Jose Canalejas, was killed in Puerta del
Sol by an anarchist while he was watching a window shop.
Recently, the square has been the epicenter of the protests against
the government during the current financial crisis, bringing together
hundreds and thousands of people of all ages.
The physiognomy of the square has changed substantially over the
years. The last change took place in 2009 with the construction of
the new commuter train station. This station is one of the biggest in
the world with 28 meters deep, 207 meter long and more than 7500
Today Puerta del Sol is full of icons
quickly identified by any “madrileño”.
Some of them are:
Old Postal Office The building was
built in 1768 during the reign of Carlos
III. In 1847 the Postal Office was
transformed into Government
Ministry. In 1866 the clock was added
to the building and since then it has
become an icon of the city, well known
by all Spaniards. During the military
dictatorship (1949-1975) the basement
of the building was used as jail for
political prisoners where gross
violations of human rights were
committed. Today the building serves
as the Government House of Madrid.
Kilometer Zero In front of the old
Postal Office there is a plaque which
symbolizes the kilometer zero. Spain has a radial road design and
this plaque marks the geometric center.
Bear and Madrone Tree Statue (1967) They are the symbol of the
capital and even appear on the City´s shield since 1220. Without any
doubt, it´s one of the most photographed places in Spain.
Carlos III Statue (1994) In the middle of the square lies a Carlos III
Statue, designed by Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Eduardo Zancada.
Some experts call Carlos III "The King Mayor" due to the important
improvement works he set in motion in Madrid (see page 19).
Cafeteria Mallorquina Old-fashioned-style cafeteria & patisserie
very well known by all “madrileños”. We can say that this patisserie
is a survivor as the whole square, as well as the entire city center,
has been conquered by fast-food restaurants, franchises, burgers
etc. The cafeteria has two floors. On the ground floor you can buy
cakes, sandwiches, coffee, “churros” (cruller), sweets, etc. Upstairs
there's a 'quiet zone' with chairs for those who want a more
tranquil cafe experience.
WHAT TO VISIT
Every December 31 “madrileños” come to Puerta del Sol to celebrate
the New Year. Maybe you didn´t know but for more than a hundred
years, Spanish people have a curious tradition of eating 12 grapes in 12
seconds as the clock marks the final twelve hours of the year. If you
gobble down all the grapes you will have good luck during the coming
year. The origin of this tradition goes back to the late nineteenth and
early twentieth century. During these years, German and French
aristocrats had the habit of eating grapes and drinking champagne
during the New Year´s Eve dinner. Shortly after, the Spanish
aristocracy copied the habit. But “madrileños” have a great sense of
humour and lower-class people ironically began to imitate the
aristocrats in eating grapes during New Year´s Eve. Of course,
champagne was too expensive for them.
At the same time, in 1909 there was a huge surplus of grapes in the
eastern provinces of Spain and producers desperately needed to sell
them. They saw business opportunity and decided to popularize this
recent habit of eating grapes on New Year's Eve. Gradually the habit
consolidated in others parts of the country until today.
New Year Eve in Madrid
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 25
Gran Via Street
Gran Via Street is, with no doubt, the most
famous street in Spain.
his street is also called "The Spanish Broadway " because of
the large number of cinemas, theaters, shops, restaurants, old
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Madrid expanded
dramatically. Many neighborhoods were demolished and the limits
of the city grew as never before. In this context, the Government
considered that the city center needed an urban renewal program.
Fortunately, in 1904 the project to renovate one of the most central
parts of Madrid was approved: a big avenue would cross the heart
of downtown like in others important European cities such as Paris
or London. At the same time, the avenue would connect Salamanca
and Argüelles quarters with Puerta del Sol Square. In addition, the
traffic would be easier
for everyone and the
transfer between Atocha
and Principe Pio Railway
Stations would be more
comfortable and faster.
The design of Gran Vía
Street created a great
controversy in Madrid as
blocks. Shortly after the
inauguration of Gran Via
Street (1910), Telefónica
Building was built
becoming the highest
skyscraper in Europe.
This wide and modern
avenue was planned in
three different phases:
1910-1917: from Alcala Street to Montera Street (Red de San Luis).
1922-1925: from Red de San Luis to Callao Square.
These first two phases are
the result of a prolonged
economic boom experienced
by the city in early twentieth
century: buildings are really
beautiful and renowned
American architects were
1925-1955: from Callao to
Plaza España. Spain's
economic problems are
reflected in this part of Gran
Via Street. Post-war and the
wreaked havoc and
strangled the Spanish
economy: buildings lack of
aesthetic quality compared
with other buildings located at the beginning of the avenue.
Gran Via Street boasts some of most amazing and spectacular
buildings in Spain. Let´s quickly review some of them!
Metropolis Building (Alcala Street 39) When we all think of Madrid
suddenly this building come to our mind. Metropolis Building (1911)
is located between Alcala and Gran Via streets and was designed by
Jules Raymond Fevrier, born in France, for the insurance company La
Unión y el Fénix. Currently the building is owned by Metrópolis
Seguros. The building reflects the origin of its architect, especially
the circular tower very popular in Paris during the early twentieth
century. The statue that crowns the building represents the goddess
Victoria. Originally there was a statue of the Phoenix but the
company that owned the building took it with them when they sold
the building to Metrópolis Seguros.
In 1996 important works was carried out. The entire facade was
restored, specially the sculptures which were heavily damaged by
environmental pollution and pigeons.
Grassy Building (Gran Via Street 1) This elegant building was
designed by Eladio Laredo (1917). The beautiful tower with columns
is similar to the nearby Metropolis Building. Since the fifties, the
building is named Grassy for the luxury jewelry store, specialized in
watches, located in the premises. This jewelry has a small museum
where you can admire beautiful clocks from the sixteenth to
Museo Chicote (Gran Via Street 12) Museo Chicote was one of the
first bars to serve cocktails in Madrid. This bar, opened in 1932, was
frequented by famous artists like Salvador Dali, Frank Sinatra, Orson
Welles and Ava Gardner. In 2004 Museo Chicote received the "MTV-
Campari Recommneds" award as the best bar in Europe.
Casino Militar (Gran Via Street 13) This beautiful building houses an
Association to support the military personnel: military exhibitions,
lectures, a hairdresser for soldiers, gym, massage room, etc.
Real Oratorio del Caballero de Gracia (Gran Via Street 17)
The remote origin of this building dates back to the seventeenth
century. However, soon afterwards, the building had to be seriously
reformed by Juan de Villanueva due to its poor state of preservation
(eighteenth century). The particular facade of the building (1916)
was modified when the Government began to build Gran Via Street.
The last major reform was carried out in the late twentieth century
Gran Via Street 16
Address: Calle Gran Via
Metro: Gran Via / Callao /
Opening Hours: -
WHAT TO VISIT
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 26
,when Javier Feduchi Benlliure designed the triumphal arch that
today dominates the facade and helps to create a sense of
movement. Thanks to the arch we can admire the apse and the
The entrance facade (1831) is facing South (Caballero de Gracia
Street) and was designed in a neo-classical style. Inside the temple
were painted dome frescoes by Zacarias Gonzalez Velazquez.
Banco Central Building (Gran Via Street 18)
During the first decades of the twentieth century Madrid lived an
economic boom and began to receive tourists. In view of this
demand, the first hotels in Madrid were designed. Thus, in 1943 the
Roma Hotel was built. Later, in the mid-twentieth century Banco
Iberico bought the building and transformed it into its head office.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) Spain and especially
Madrid suffered a
terrible setback. The
engaged in a
fratricidal war while
was paralyzed. The
the course of the war
that would lead to the implantation of a military dictatorship until
1975. During these war years Gran Via Street was viciously bombed
by the Fascists and traders tried to protect their businesses along
the length of the avenue: facades were all bricked up and barricades
were placed in the middle of the street. Telefonica Building was
used as a watchtower. On Callao Square was located the Hotel
Florida (currently El Corte Ingles Department Store), where the
international press covered the grotesque war. Hewingway was one
of these correspondents. The great American writer and journalist
reported that he could even hear the bullets, grenades and
machine-gun fire from his room. In fact the Hotel received some
impact during the war.
Old Hotel Metropolitano (Gran Via Street 23)
The building was designed by Vicente Agustí Elguero and José
Espelius in 1918. Formerly this building housed luxury apartments
and the Metropolitan Hotel. In the past, the commercial premise
was occupied by the wonderful jewelry Alexandre, the most luxury
and renowned in
in the eighties of the
twentieth century, the
jewelry was sold to
the American fast food
The opening of this
restaurant, one of the
first McDonald´s in
Spain, was a social
event in the city. By
law, McDonald´s had
to preserve the original facade and some interior elements.
Casa Matesanz (Gran Via Street 27) It was one the first commercial
building in Madrid (1923). The structure of the building is inspired by
the American School of Chicago.
Telefonica Building (Gran Vía Street 28) Telefonica Building was the
first skyscraper in Europe (1929). The pomp and majesty of the
building is a reminder of New York; in fact, the building was co-
designed by the North American architect Louis S. Weeks. Perhaps,
the most attractive part of the building is its central tower, 81
meters high. The scant exterior decoration was added later by
Ignacio Cardenas. In the lower floors there are exhibition halls and
even a museum dedicated to the evolution of telecommunications
(including the first phone in Spain, used by King Alfonso XIII).
Old Zahara Cafe (Gran Via Street 31) In the decade of the twenties
bars and cafes of North American style began to become popular,
one of them was Zahara Cafe. Now lost in time, Zahara Cafe was
very popular in Madrid: many people still remember the coffee with
“churros”, delicious snacks or combo plates that businessmen ate
quickly before returning to the office. Unfortunately due to
disagreements with the owner of the premises, the cafeteria was
closed and currently it belongs to a fashion franchise. This is our
tribute to a place much loved by “madrileños”.
Madrid-Paris Building (Gran Via Street 32) In 1924 was inaugurated
this impressive Shopping Center, one of the first in Europe, by the
Company Madrid-Paris (owned by the French Société Paris-France
which already was running other Shopping Centre in Paris). Shortly
after the opening, the owners had to make major changes since the
Shopping Centre was not getting the expected results: many staff,
inadequate goods, etc. Finally the problems of the Spanish economy
wreaked havoc on the company and the Shopping Center was sold
to different companies (1934).
Hotel Tryp Cibeles (Gran Via Street 34) In 1924 José Yarnoz Larrosa
and Antonio Palacios designed the Hotel Alfonso XIII, a real symbol
of the capital in the early decades of the twentieth century. Later it
was bought by Melia Hoteles, one of the leading Spanish hotel
chains, and changed its name to Hotel Tryp Cibeles.
Palacio de la Música (Gran Via Street 35) Classical style building
constructed between 1926 and 1929. The building was designed to
house a concert hall, a
movie theater and even
a nightclub. Due to
technical difficulties the
initial project suffered
after being inaugurated
a terrible fire destroyed
much of the building,
including a beautiful
Inside there is an
theater and an
auditorium with capacity
for more than two
thousand people, one of
the largest in Europe.
Carrion Building (Callao Square)
Carrion Building (1933) is famous throughout the capital for the
lighted sign of Schweppes, a popular beverage brand. The building is
a magnificent example of art deco in Spain. Callao Square has
become one of the busiest places in Spain. During 2013, it is
estimated that approximately 110 million people passed by here.
WHAT TO VISIT
Tip: Try to avoid this Avenue and parallel streets at night. When
stores, cinemas, theaters and restaurants close the avenue begins to fill
with undesirable characters as prostitutes, pimps, Chinese mobile food
vendors, pushers, etc. Despite the installation of security cameras and
heavy police presence the Authorities don´t get rid of these nocturnal
visitors that are having an adverse effect on one of the main streets of
Spanish submarine in Cartagena (Spain)
The Spanish Civil War and Gran Via Street
Gran Via Street 38
Carrión Building (Callao Square)
Madrid Express www.mundo-guides.com Page 27
This unique square, designed by King Carlos
III, is one of the main arteries in the city
his place in Madrid seems to never take a rest, remaining
active for twenty-four hours a day. Hundreds of thousands of
people, including tourists, businessmen and bureaucrats,
crowd the sidewalks, contributing to create a vibrant atmosphere
hard to find in any other Spanish city. During the night Cybele´s
Square is the point from where all night buses depart, popularly
known as “buhos” (owls).
The beautiful square is dominated by an amazing building (Palace of
Communications), designed in the early twentieth century, which
has become one of the most photographed places by the thousands
of tourists who throng the city. In the middle of the square, like an
island surrounded by asphalt and cars, is located one of the icons of
the capital: Cybele´s Fountain, much beloved by Real Madrid fans.
Two other buildings that will capture your attention are the Bank of
Spain and the Linares Palace.
Palace of Communications
This imposing building, located on one side of Cybele´s Square, was
built between 1905-1917 by architects Antonio Palacios and Joaquin
Otamendi for the Posts and Telegraphs Society of Spain. This
building, more than 70 meters high, reflects the impulse that the
Authorities in the
century to become
the bloody Spanish
Civil War (1936-
1939) ended the
hopes of an entire
country that was beginning to
emerge from a dark period. From
the architectural point of view,
we can admire various influences
in this building: Gothic, French
Modernism, American School and
The wonderful central hall was
surrounded by small windows for
postal employees and was
beautifully decorated with bronze
stands where people wrote their
letters. Outside we can still see
the brass mailboxes with the
names of the different Spanish
provinces. Nowadays the building
has a double function: City Hall and Cultural Center.
On the first floor there is a nice Cafeteria (Coleccion Cibeles). Despite
its privileged location, the prices are quite affordable, considering
that we are in one of the most touristic places in the city (1.5€ for a
coffee or 6€ for a full breakfast).
The sixth floor is occupied by an elegant restaurant where we will
enjoy wonderful views of Gran Via Street, the most famous street in
Spain. But if you are looking for a unique view, keep going up! On
the eighth floor was designed a viewpoint from where you will have
majestic views of the entire downtown: Gran Via Street, Cybele´s
Square, Metropolis Building, Paseo de la Castellana and even Colon
Towers. An opportunity you cannot miss for anything in the world.
Cybele´s Fountain is today one of symbols of the city and one of the
most beloved monuments by “madrileños”. The construction of this
fountain was part of the project of King Carlos III to modernize and
renovate the Paseo del Prado.
In addition to Cybele´s Fountain, the design of the new boulevard
included other two fountains: Neptune Fountain and Apollo
Fountain, both of them preserved in perfect condition.
This neoclassical fountain was built in 1782 by sculptor Francisco
Gutierrez and Robert Michel and represents the Greco-Roman
Goddess Cybele in a chariot drawn by lions.
In the past, the fountain had two water pipes: one of them was
intended for government employees who took water buckets from
the fountain to the nearby houses. The other pipe helped passers-by
quench the thirst. A popular legend in Madrid said that the water
from Cybele´s Fountain had beneficial effects on health.
The mask that throws water out in the front part of the chariot
represents Attis who was turned into a tree by the goddess Cybele.
Before, the fountain was located in front of Buenavista Palace,
barely 50 meters away from its present location. In 1895 the
fountain was moved to its current location, causing much
controversy in the city: the reasons behind this decision gave
Address: Plaza de Cibeles
Metro: Banco de España
Opening Hours: -
Viewpoint Opening Hours: from 10:30 to 14:00 & from 16:00
to 19:00 (Monday Closed)
Prices: General 2€ / Children under 12 years: 0,50€
WHAT TO VISIT