These places you absolutely must see in Madrid
If you're about to spend a weekend in Madrid, whether it's your first visit or not, you should definitely check out these 15 incredible places in the Spanish capital! By following these 15 points of interest, you'll already have created a little itinerary for your city trip to Madrid. Not only are they must-sees of the city, but they are also emblematic places, characteristic of Spain or even of world culture! We really invite you to discover them 🤩
1. Plaza de España
One of the most important squares in the Spanish capital, the Plaza de España is a large pedestrian square where it is pleasant to walk around. In the middle of the square there is a statue dedicated to Miguel de Cervantes, a Castilian writer, as well as fountains, bicycle paths and a playground for children. The square is also known for the two skyscrapers that surround it: the Torre de Madrid and the Edificio España.
2. Sabatini Gardens
These are the gardens of the Royal Palace. They were built in the 1930s in place of the old Palace stables. Impressive and lordly define the style of these gardens. Flowers, fountains, sculptures and a geometric design make these gardens a real must-see point of interest in the city.
If you have to choose a place to watch the sunset, this is the place to come.
3. Plaza de la Encarnación / Monastery of the Incarnation
Founded in 1611, it remains an important monument in Madrid. It was a convent of cloistered nuns at the time, today it is a church, but also a Teresian museum to visit.
A building that we recommend you to discover!
4. Monument to Philip IV
The equestrian statue of Philip IV is a famous monument in Madrid: it represents King Philip IV according to a drawing by Velázquez. The fact that the horse stands only on two legs and slightly on its tail was totally unheard of at the time and required a thorough stability study that was carried out by Galileo! You can find it in the centre of the gardens of the Plaza de Oriente.
5. Los Reyes Godos de la Plaza de Oriente
Between the Royal Palace and the Royal Theatre is the Plaza de Oriente, the square of the Orient. This square is monumental: there are the central gardens, the monument to Philip IV and the statues of the Visigothic kings of Spain. It is a unique site, as no other place in the world has so many statues of kings next to each other. Almost all the Spanish Visigothic monarchs are represented here.
6. Royal Theatre
Opposite the palace is one of the most important opera houses in Spain. It is possible to visit the theatre with an audioguide to discover it at your own pace. It is a very important building in Madrid, Queen Isabel II ordered its construction. We recommend that you at least see it from the outside if you don't have time to go inside.
7. Royal Palace of Madrid
As its name suggests, this was the official residence of the King of Spain. Nowadays, this is no longer the case, and it only has a ceremonial function and can also be visited. It is the largest palace in Western Europe (twice as big as Versailles!)! Philip V ordered its construction around 1738. With more than 3000 rooms, we strongly advise you to book a day trip if you want to visit it from the inside.
8. Arabian Walls
If you're looking for the oldest construction in the city, you're probably in the right place with the Arab walls. The first was built between 850 and 866 under the Emirate of Muhammad ben Abd al Rahmman, during the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. They are located below the Almudena Cathedral. A must-see!
9. Almudena Cathedral
Unlike the walls, this cathedral is not that old! It only dates from the 20th century. Its construction was laborious and changed architect and style several times to blend in with its surroundings. It was consecrated by John Paul II and is the only church in Spain to be consecrated by a pope. It can be visited as well as the museum that is located there. It is located opposite the Royal Palace.
10. Plaza Mayor de Madrid
Madrid's Plaza Mayor, like the Plaza de España, is also a large pedestrian square. It is the heart of Madrid's historic district. In the square there are important buildings:
- La Casa de la Panadería: formerly a bakery, it is now the tourist office of Madrid.
- The Porch of Cuchilleros: it used to be the stalls of cutlers (those who sell knives) who used to set up here to supply the butchers of the Plaza Mayor.
- Finally, the statue of Philip III: it used to guard the entrance to the Casa de Campo (today the largest park in Madrid). Queen Isabel later gave it to the city, which installed it in this square.
It is a magnificent square that will delight photography enthusiasts. It hosts various events in summer and the superb Christmas market in winter.
11. Puerta del Sol
Literally translated as "The Gate of the Sun", this is another emblematic square in Madrid. Located in a lively neighbourhood, it is a must-see when visiting the Spanish capital. You must go there to admire the clock of the Casa de Correos, the Royal House of the Post Office, or the kilometre zero plaque which represents the symbolic centre of the country. You can also see the equestrian statue of Charles III, the monarch who modernised Madrid. In the evening, you will find many students and young people ready to party in the area.
12. Jacinto Benavente Square
This square is not as big as the previous ones we have shown you, but it is worth a visit, as it is often very lively. The statue of the sweeper is a meeting point for tourists who want to take funny pictures. The Ideal cinema is also very popular for watching independent films in Spanish VO.
13. Teatro Español
The "Spanish" public theatre had its golden age in the 18ᵉ century, but in 1802 a major fire destroyed it and it was renovated in another style in the 1880s. Today it is a world reference in terms of theatre, offering international and Spanish plays. It has only two performance halls, but they are both large halls. There is also a rehearsal hall, library, cafeteria, exhibition hall, offices and storage rooms.
14. Calle de las Huertas
Located in the quarter of Letters, one of the most lively areas of Madrid, Calle de las Huertas is a pedestrian street where you are advised to take a walk at night. This is where Madrid's nightlife begins, and you won't be disappointed! Nightclubs, pubs, cafés, restaurants, bars and more, where you are sure to find the type of atmosphere you like.
During the day, you can find the Palacio de Santoña, the Royal Academy of History and, above all, the vital and artistic legacy of the country's great literary personalities. Along this street, you will see passages from perennial works such as Don Quixote and Fuenteovejuna inscribed on the ground!
15. Prado Museum
One of the largest art galleries in the world, this museum has the most complete collection of Spanish paintings in the world. Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Sorolla... everything you want to know about Spanish painting is here. Of course, other collections are also available: Italian, Flemish and French paintings, sculptures and decorative arts. Two other museums are located close to the Prado Museum : Reina Sofía Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Together they form the golden triangle of art of Madrid. If works of art are not your thing, drop by anyway to admire the museum's façade.
15 locations in one game?!
If reading these 15 recommendations of places in Madrid has tempted you, and you are now dreaming of seeing all the most important places in the city, we advise you to try an urban Escape Game in the capital. With Coddy's Alchemist, go on an adventure through the streets of Madrid and try to complete your investigation. On your way, you'll find these 15 must-see places! You can visit the city while playing and solving fun puzzles 😉😍