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Madrid is the capital of Spain as well as its largest metropolitan municipality. Boasting a population of more than 6.5 million residents, this city is home to important international businesses as well as to a host of domestic corporations. Madrid is also considered to be the cultural centre of the country and unlike some other regions such as Catalonia, the majority of culture to be witnesses here is Castellan in origin. The exact origins of the city are unknown but scholars are certain that it was founded well before the Roman times. Thanks to its presence along the Manzaneres River, the city is still an important hub for transportation. Madrid is a thriving location and thanks to such a diverse history, it is also a very popular tourist destination. Without any further delay, let's take a look at what you can expect during your visit.
One of tie misconceptions of this city is that little (if any) mediaeval architecture has survived. On the contrary, there are still some fine examples if you know where to look. Structures such as San Nicolas Church, San Pedro el Viejo Church and the Bishop's Chapel all exhibit their decidedly mediaeval roots. There are two remaining examples of renaissance architecture as well. These are the Segovia Bridge and Convent of Las Decalzas Reales. The majority of the city is dominated from buildings erected from the so-called Spanish Golden Age of architecture and many of these (such as Canalejas Square) can be visited by taking a short walk from most major hotels.
There are some truly magnificent sculptures to be found within Madrid. Fountains such as the Fountain of Neptune and the Fountain of Cybele (Sybil) are breathtaking examples of the talents associated with this city over the years. Bronze sculptures including Fuente del Angel Caido and a massive representation of Philip IV are just as impressive. Much like other Spanish cities, there is a large monumental pedestal dedicated to Christopher Columbus. This is actually one of the tallest structures within Madrid.
While decidedly urban in nature, you might be surprised to learn that Madrid is thought to be the greenest European city in terms of the amount of trees per inhabitant. This is particularly beneficial if you have been looking to avoid the throngs of tourists or if you hope to beat the heat during the summer months. Buen Retiro Park (literally Good Rest Park) is the largest and it offers secluded woodlands flanked by a large natural lake. As the lake completely surrounds the park, it is much more private that you could initially imagine. Still, it is open to the public throughout the year. Other locations include:
A 4,000 square metre park found directly within Atocha train station.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Botanical Gardens of Madrid
El Pardo mountain the surrounding forests (located within the Madrid metropolitan area)
If you fancy some urban delights after a nature retreat, never miss the largest public square in the city. Known as Plaza Mayor, this square is truly immense and it is punctuated by a statue of King Philip III within its centre. Not only is this location great to snap a few pictures of the heart of the city, but there are innumerable cafes and restaurants found around its periphery. Whether you are looking for a quick plate of “tapas” before moving on or you are in the mood for a full-blown dinner, this plaza is a great place to start.
Royalty is still quite present within Madrid and the massive Royal Palace is a perfect example. You are able to obtain guided tours here to experience the 18th-century opulence associated with Spanish blue blood. Examples of art and antiques are also present for history buffs.
These are a handful of attractions and landmarks to consider during your future visit to Madrid. Please refer back to this article as a quick go-to guide before heading out; you will not be disappointed.