An attractive blend of tradition and modernity
Madrid has many artistic attractions, thanks to the different styles that have left their imprint in the city over the centuries.
From the remains of the old Arab wall, to small Gothic churches and early Renaissance works, Madrid boasts a multitude of rich and varied works of art. Madrid comes from the Arabic word Magerit (“mother of waters”), which was the name that was given to the fortress built on the banks of the Manzanares River by the Umayyad of Cordoba, Muhammed (823-886). Although the city grew under the Arabs for two hundred years, the only remains still standing from that period are the wall and a few towers, which were turned into bell towers. The arrival of Los Austrias –as the Hapsburg dynasty was known– in the 16th century, and at the period of maximum splendour in the 17th century, brought about the monuments that today make up one of the most famous parts of the city –the area of “Los Austrias”–, along with the Plaza Mayor square, and a number of beautiful sites churches and convents. The austere Baroque façades contrast with the luxurious interiors of the palaces. The 18th century left a Neoclassical imprint, with the Royal Palace, Sabatini Gardens, and Campo del Moro gardens, which are in the city centre. The church of San Francisco El Grande, the fountains in the Paseo del Prado, the Puente de Toledo bridge, the Prado Museum and the Puerta de Alcalá arch are also in the Neoclassical style. Madrid’s more modern and avant-garde areas are the two avenues in the new urban expansion area –the Gran Vía and Paseo de la Castellana. The Gran Vía, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century, is a place for shopping, leisure and hotels. The Paseo de La Castellana crosses the city from north to south, and has some of the most elegant hotels in the city, as well as corporate offices in modern and avant-garde buildings.
Natural surroundings to be discovered
In Madrid there are many natural spaces with varied landscapes – from the Sierra de Madrid mountains, which is full of beautiful locations for practising snow and mountain sports, to the Aranjuez plain or the landscape of La Mancha in the area surrounding Alcalá de Henares.
Golf, sailing, windsurfing, horse riding, hot-air balloon trips and hiking are some of the possible activities. The people from Madrid also like to look after their many urban parks and gardens, some of them well-known historically like the Royal Residence of Aranjuez gardens, the Retiro Park in Madrid or the Casa de Campo park. Others were created recently, like the Juan Carlos I Park or the Tierno Galván Park. They can be found in different urban areas and are very beautiful green spaces.
Transports and tourism in Madrid and Tourism Office
+34 91 305 86 56
Chamartín Train Station
Agustín de Foxá
+34 91 323 21 21
Main bus station
Méndez Álvaro 83
+34 91 468 42 00
Méndez Álvaro 83
+34 90 202 09 99
Municipal tourist information office
Plaza Mayor, 27
+34 91 366 54 77
Tourist information office of the Community of Madrid
Calle Duque de Medinaceli, 2
+34 91 429 49 51
Municipal administration of tourism and offices of the Congress
Calle Mayor, 69
+34 91 588 29 00