Puerta del Sol
Dive headlong into the grandeur and intimate charm of Madrid. Feel the vibe in Puerta del Sol, the pulsing heart of modern Madrid and of Spain itself. The lavish Royal Palace, with its gilded rooms and frescoed ceilings, rivals Versailles. The Prado has Europe's top collection of paintings, and nearby hangs Picasso's chilling masterpiece, Guernica. Retiro Park invites you to take a shady siesta and hopscotch through a mosaic of lovers, families, skateboarders, pets walking their masters, and expert bench-sitters. Save time for Madrid's elegant shops and people-friendly pedestrian zones. On Sundays, cheer for the bull at a bullfight or bargain like mad at a mega-size flea market. Swelter through the hot, hot summers or bundle up for the cold, dry winters. Save some energy for after dark, when Madrileños pack the streets for an evening paseo that can continue past midnight. Lively Madrid has enough street-singing, bar-hopping, and people-watching vitality to give any visitor a boost of youth.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Royal Palace Spain's sumptuous, lavishly furnished national palace.
▲▲▲ Prado Museum One of the world's great museums, loaded with masterpieces by Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Goya, El Greco, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, and more.
▲▲▲ Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Modern-art museum featuring Picasso's epic masterpiece Guernica.
▲▲ Puerta del Sol Madrid's lively central square.
▲▲ Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum A great complement to the Prado, with lesser-known yet still impressive works and an especially good Impressionist collection.
▲▲ Bullfight Spain's controversial pastime.
▲▲ Flamenco Captivating music and dance performances, at various venues throughout the city.
▲ Plaza Mayor Historic cobbled square.
▲ Retiro Park Festive green escape from the city, with rental rowboats and great people-watching.
▲ Royal Botanical Garden A relaxing museum of plants, with specimens from around the world.
▲ Naval Museum Seafaring history of a country famous for its Armada.
▲ Museum of the Americas Pre-Columbian and colonial artifacts from the New World.
▲ National Archaeological Museum Traces the history of Iberia through artifacts.
▲ Clothing Museum A clothes look at the 18th–21st centuries.
▲ Hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida Church with Goya's tomb, plus frescoes by the artist.
▲ El Rastro Europe's biggest flea market, filled with bargains and pickpockets.
▲ Zarzuela Madrid's delightful light opera.