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Madrid maps & Attractions - Things to do in Madrid


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Madrid Attractions - Things to do

1. The Prado
Paseo del Prado
What is it? Madrid's world-famous attraction is the 213-year-old Prado Museum, one of the world's greatest art galleries, with more than 7,000 paintings that include masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, El Bosco, Titian, Rembrandt and Velazquez. The museum began as a Royal collection, which succeeding dynasties have added to. The collection naturally focuses on the Spanish masters, particularly Goya, whose exhibited works follow the development of his painting from the sun-soaked early scenes of joyful festivities to the grim madness characterising his 'black period'. The Prado has few equals - whether you are an art lover or not. Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 8pm Phone:91 330 2800
2. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Villahermosa Palace, Paseo del Prado 8
What is it? The second gallery in Madrid's 'golden triangle' of art museums is the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, housing the former private collection of the Thyssen family, which was bought by the city to enrich its fund of art treasures. The collection, in the restored 18th century Palacio de Villahermosa near the Prado, contains more than 800 paintings, sculptures, carvings and tapestries, ranging from primitive Flemish works to contemporary pieces. Among the highlights are works by Renoir, Durer and Van Eyck. The collection includes some major American works as well. Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 7pm Phone:91 369 0151
3. Reina Sofia National Art Centre Museum
Calle Santa Isabel 52
What is it? The third of Madrid's famed art galleries, the Reina Sofia, is dedicated to 20th century Spanish art, having been designed to give Spain a museum to equal France's Pompidou Centre and London's Tate Gallery. The museum was opened by Queen Sofia in 1986, and is housed in the former Hospital de San Carlos at Calle Santa Isabel 52. The artworks displayed here include those of Juan Gris, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso. The star attraction of the museum is Picasso's controversial Guernica, depicting the Nazi bombing of the Basque town in 1937 in support of Franco's cause in the Spanish Civil War. Until 1980 this painting hung in New York's Museum of Modern Art. Hours of Operation: Monday to Saturday 10am and 9pm, and on Sundays between 10am and 2.30pm. Closed on Tuesdays Phone:91 774 1000
4. Royal Palace
Calle Bailén
What is it? The massive bright-white Royal Palace (Palacio Real) on the Plaza de Oriente in Madrid dates from 1734, when the 3,000-roomed royal residence was commissioned by Philip V. It was last called 'home' by the royal family in 1931 - the present king, Juan Carlos, lives in the more subdued Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid. Most of the rooms are now open to the public, and others are used for state business. English tours are run regularly, lasting about two hours, taking visitors to the reception room and state apartments, the impressive armoury and the royal pharmacy. The grandiose state apartments are filled with art treasures, antiques and opulent Roccoco décor that could even rival Versailles. Hours of Operation: Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 5pm, and Sunday 9am to 2pm (October to March); Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm, Sunday 9am to 3pm (April to September) Phone:91 454 8800
5. Plaza Mayor

What is it? Madrid's famous central arcaded square dates from 1619; it was built by Philip III whose statue still stands in the centre of the cobbled expanse. In medieval times the Plaza de Arrabal, as it was then known, was the venue for numerous public spectacles, ranging from knights' tournaments and festivals to the burning of heretics at the stake. Today it remains a public gathering place, but the majority of people who congregate in the sidewalk cafes to sip sangria on summer nights are tourists, enjoying impromptu music performances and watching the passing parade. Hours of Operation: Phone:
6. Goya's Tomb

What is it? The Panteon de Goya is situated in the Glorieta de San Antonio de la Florida and is known as Goya's Sistine Chapel. The artist decorated the dome and cupola of the little chapel with a fresco depicting the miracles of St Anthony, with the use of sponges, a project that took six weeks to complete. Mirrors have been placed in strategic places to provide better glimpses of the art. The chapel also contains the artist's tomb. Hours of Operation: The chapel is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 2pm, and 4pm to 8pm, and weekends 10am to 2pm Phone:91 542 0722
7. Parque del Buen Retiro

What is it? Madrid's lush central park, one of many green spaces in the city, covers 350 acres (142 hectares) and was laid out originally as the private garden of Philip IV. The vast park features formal gardens, statuary, fountains, lakes, exhibition halls, children's playgrounds and outdoor cafes. Visitors can stroll among the trees, admire the rose garden, and take a boat ride on the lake. At weekends the park comes alive with buskers, clowns, fortune-tellers and sidewalk painters. Hours of Operation: Daily 6.30am to 10.30pm Phone:
8. Toledo

What is it? The magnificent hilltop city of Toledo, about 43 miles (70km) southwest of Madrid, was immortalised by Spain's renowned artistic genius El Greco in a cityscape that currently hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The city has changed little since El Greco captured it on canvas in 1597, with its golden spires and Gothic buildings spreading across the Tagus River Gorge, overlooking the plains of New Castille. The ancient city was capital of Visigoth Spain in the 5th and 6th centuries, and as time passed Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities have all left their mark on the city's rich architectural heritage - from the Moorish gate (Puerta de Bisagrai) to the Gothic convent of San Juan de los Reyes. Pride of place is held by the El Greco's 'Burial of the Count of Orgaz' painted on the wall of the Santo Tome. The town's attractions and main street are packed with tourists throughout the summer, but it is easy to escape into one of the enchanting side streets, which wind up and down the hillside. Hours of Operation: Phone:
9. Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Calle Juan de Borbón y Battemberg
What is it? The huge granite rectangular edifice, topped with four spiral towers, is a forbidding sight in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial about 30 miles (50km) northwest of Madrid. The monastery/church/palace complex was built by Philip II as a memorial to his father, Charles V, and contains some of El Greco's and Hieronymus Bosch's artworks. A vaulted library contains a priceless collection of more than 60,000 ancient books. The monastery itself houses a wealth of paintings and tapestries, and the mausoleum beneath the church's altar serves as a burial place for Spanish kings. Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm (closes at 5pm October to March) Phone:91 890 5903, or 91 890 5313
10. Segovia

What is it? The ancient town of Segovia, lying on a slope of the Guadarrama Mountains with the confluence of the Eresma and Clamores Rivers below, is a delightful taste of the glorious past of the area known as Castile in central Spain. Segovia is 54 miles (91km) northwest of Madrid and is well worth visiting for its reputation as being the most beautiful city in Spain, awarded a place on the Unesco World Heritage list. The ancient Romans turned the town into a military base, leaving behind Segovia's famous aqueduct which begins nine miles from the city and until fairly recently still supplied the town with water. The other main attraction in Segovia is the fairytale Alcazar, a fortified citadel perched on the edge of town that the Walt Disney castle is said to be modelled on. The town overflows with Romanesque churches, 15th century palaces, narrow streets and small fountain-splashed plazas and is best explored on foot. Hours of Operation: Phone:
11. Flamenco at Corral de la Moreria
Calle Moreria 17
What is it? Renowned as the oldest and most famous tablao flamenco (flamenco show restaurant) in the world, the show is also listed as one of Madrid's top ten sights. The establishment draws kings and queens, international presidents, film stars, and well-known artists and writers who come to witness the nightly performances of top flamenco stars while receiving excellent service and dining on exquisite meals prepared by some of the best chefs in Madrid. Hours of Operation: Open daily 8.30pm to 2am Phone:91 365 8446, 365 1137

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