The city of Madrid is the capital of Spain and has approximately five million residents. The city is located in the middle of Spain on the river Manzanares. Though Madrid is a city that can trace its roots to the past, its also one that has a very modern infrastructure. Transportation in the city is handled by Barajas Airport, Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Espańoles rail system and Madrid Metro. This city also has a large collection of universities. These include Queen Sofía College of Music, Autonomous University of Madrid and Complutense University.
One of the most popular attractions is St. Michael’s Basilica. This baroque Catholic church was built in 1745 and features a sculpted facade that was done by the artists Roberto Michel and Nicolás Carisana.
Another prominent cathedral is Almudena Cathedral. Construction on this church originally began in 1879 but wasn’t completed until 1993. Its done in the Neo-Gothic style but the interior of the church is done in a strictly modern style.
Plaza Mayor is a site that is frequented by locals and tourist alike. It measures four hundred by three hundred feet Its surrounded on three sides by builds, the last of which were built in 1790. In the center of the square is a bronze sculpture of King Philips III, that was constructed in 1616 and designed by Giovanni de Bologna.
The Palacio Real is a huge two thousand room palace that was completed in 1864. The palace is not only opulent but is quite massive as well, covering an area of four hundred thousand square feet. A short distance from Palacio Real is Plaza de Espańa. This square is one of the cities most popular squares and attracts both locals and tourist. The square is graced by two skyscrapers, Torre de Madrid and Edificio de Espańa. The Edificio de Espańa was built in 1953 and stand twenty five stories high. The Torre de Madrid was built in 1957 and stands about four hundred and sixty feet. Also in this plaza is a monument to Miguel de Cervantes, which features bronze statues of Don Quixote and his horse, and Sancho Panza and his mule.
Those wishing to take a break from the busy streets can visit one of the most popular parks in Madrid, Parque del Retiro. This park was opened to the public in 1868 and covers an area of three hundred acres. It style is a cross between the naturalistic style and the French styles. At the northern entrance of the park is a large man made lake called the Estanque del Retiro. Visitors can rent row boats or lay idle on its banks. A large statue of King Alfonso XII faces the lake. One of the most unusual statues of the park is El Angel Caído. This is probably the only statue in all of Europe that is dedicated to the devil.
The Arco de la Victoria, Plaza de la Moncloa, is a large arch dedicated to Dictator Franco’s defeat of the republicans during the Spanish Civil War. It was built in 1956 and stands almost one hundred and thirty feet high. The first Spanish railway station, Atocha Station, was built in 1892 after the previous one had been destroyed by a fire. Prado Museum has one of the largest collections of art in the world. It has over nine thousand paintings, five thousand drawings, two thousand prints and thousands of coins and other decorative items. The Teatro Real is one of Madrid’s premier music halls. It was built in 1850 and is a great place to enjoy the ballet or opera.
The Royal Botanical Garden, or Real Jardín Botánico, is an eighteenth century garden that serves as a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Madrid. This garden covers over twenty acres and has a fine collection of botanicals. Trees from five different continents can be found here and at last count there were over thirty thousand plants here.
In the middle of Madrid is one of the most unusual tourist attractions, the Templo de Debod. This Egyptian temple was built in the fourth century in the village of Debod. This monument was a gift to Madrid from the Egyptian government for their help in securing the dams around Egypt. Another site not to be missed during any visit to Madrid is the Plaza de Cibeles. In the middle of this square is the Fuente de la Cibeles. This fountain depicts the Roman goddess of nature. It was built in 1782. Other prominent features of the Plaza de Cibeles include the Palacio de Comunicaciones, Banco de Espańa and the Palacio de Linares.
Built in 1892 is the Plaza de Colón. This monument features two statues which pay homage to the explorer Christopher Columbus. The first is a large column that has Columbus perched on the top. The second is an anchor that has various quotes inscribed on its surface. Around these two monuments is a beautiful park that is especially impressive during the spring. One of the most important buildings in Madrid is the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas. This bullring was completed in 1931 and is designed in the Mozarabic style. This arena is about two hundred feet in diameter. Also on location is a small hospital and a chapel. In the same district as Plaza de Toros de las Ventas is several popular hotels. These include the NH Parque Avenidas, Zenit Abeba, Madrono and Abba Madrid 4.
Other sites to see while in Madrid include the Hospital de Maudes, Casa Gallardo, San Francisco de Sales Church, Convento de las Salesas Reales and Cathedral and Royal Palace of La Almudena. And that’s just a small offering of what this city has to offer. There are also world class restaurants, cafes and other venues that are just waiting to be seen by the world traveler. Not to mention world class sporting events such as soccer that can be viewed here.