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What to See and Do

Madrid has the cultural and educational attractions that one expects from a capital city. Visiting a city as big as Madrid and managing to see and do all it has to offer is no easy task. From sprawling museums to traditional restaurants and bars, every corner you turn uncovers a spot that draws in tourists and locals alike.

"Puerta de Alcalá"

A short distance along C/Alcalá from Cibeles, in the middle of another traffic junction, stands one of the most impressive monuments built for King Charles III, a massive neo-classical gate designed by his favorite Italian architect Francesco Sabatini to provide a grand entrance to the city. It was built between 1769 and 1778, using granite and stone from Colmenar. Possible to miss in daytime traffic, it is unavoidably impressive at night.

"Puerta del Sol"

The “Puerta del Sol” square is surrounded by a varied and select area of shops and businesses, and the "Paseo del Arte" art route –whose name derives from its world-class museums, palaces and gardens– are further elements in an array of monuments which includes particularly the Bank of Spain building, the Palace of Telecommunications, and the fountains of Cibeles and Neptune.
The Plaza Mayor, a grand arcaded square in the center of Madrid is very popular with tourists and locals alike. The symmetrical rectangular square features a uniform architecture.

"Plaza Mayor"

The name of the plaza has changed over time. Originally it was called the "Plaza del Arrabal" but became known as the "Plaza Mayor".
It was built during the Habsburg period. It is located only a few blocks away from the famous plaza, the Puerta del Sol.
The Plaza Mayor also has a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under its porticoes. Celebrations for San Isidro (patron saint of Madrid) are also held here. The Plaza Mayor is now a major tourist attraction, visited by thousands of tourists a year.

Calamari Sandwich

Here you can taste a culinary specialty of Madrid: The calamari sandwich. This peculiar sandwich is composed of a bread bun opened up from one side, packed with calamari that are battered in flour and egg and then fried. Some like to add mayonnaise or lemon to their sandwich. This type of sandwich is so popular in Madrid, which can be found in most bars in the capital and is very typical of the Plaza Mayor. After a long day touring the city's landmark sites, there is no better option than to stop in the historic center to have a calamari sandwich with an ice-cold beer.

Aristocratic Center

Near the Plaza Mayor is the area known as the "aristocratic center" where the jewel in the crown is the Royal Palace, an imposing building dating from the 17th century featuring a mixture of Baroque and classicist styles.
After a 1734 fire ravaged the royal fortress sited on the same high bluff over the Rio Manzanares, the idea of the Palacio Real was conceived under Felipe V’s wing. Its every detail is indeed a translation of royalty: the grandiose Plaza de Armas, which provides entry to the Royal Armoury; a marble staircase by the entrance hall; the throne room with an original Carlos III décor; and the dining room and its chandeliers and rich tapestries among others. While the present king Juan Carlos I resides outside Madrid, Palacio Real is still being used for state occasions.

Madrid Skyline

The Madrid skyline is one of the most attractive in Spain. And if there's a perfect place to take it all in, it's from the rooftop terrace at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in C/ Alcalá. From this massive patio you can see the whole city, its great avenues, famous monuments, green spaces, and the Cuatro Torres, the capital's big skyscrapers. It's also an ideal spot to have a drink and watch the sun set.
But that's not the only vantage point for enjoying the incredible views. In Gau&Café, smack in the Lavapiés barrio, you can have dinner while you admire ruins from an 18th-century building or the 'corralas' - apartment buildings with a central courtyard and balconies running around each floor that each flat opens onto - very typical of Madrid's residential architecture, especially in this neighbourhood. The lookout point from the Basílica de San Francisco el Grande or the one behind the Templo de Debod show a lesser-known side of the capital, while if what you're after is more of a bird's-eye view, head for the Teleférico de la Casa de Campo.

"Santiago Bernabéu" Stadium

If you are a football enthusiast, you cannot lose the opportunity to visit the most famous stadium in Madrid that is located on Paseo de la Castellana, in the heart of the city, and is home to Real Madrid CF. It currently has a capacity of more than 80,000 spectators, and 8,000 additional places are now being planned in a renovation project that will see the construction of a hotel, a shopping center and a complete makeover of the stadium. Its pitch has witnessed numerous battles with arch –rivals FC Barcelona.