Madrid is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage, a good example of which is the El Prado and the Reina Sofia Museums
Madrid also boasts some of the liveliest nightlife in the world. Madrid is located just northeast of the geographical center of the Iberian Peninsula, in the middle of the Spanish central Castillian plateau. Nearly all of the most famous tourist areas are located in the center of the city including Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, and Plaza de Colón. The major streets in Madrid include the Gran Via, Alcalá Street, and Paseo de la Castellana.
The culture of Madrid was dominated by its Royal history, centre of the Spanish Empire. The Royal Palace, big places and buildings used by the Spanish Monarchy, enormous cathedrals and churches are plentiful in Madrid, as well as medieval architecture, although nowadays Madrid is just as much a cosmopolitan city as Berlin or London, full of new architecture, lifestyle and culture.
The city is also the epicentre of the famous Movida, Spain’s 80s movement that bred personalities such as the director Pedro Almodóvar. The heritage of this era is indeed still visible in the city centre, where a party can be found at all times and one of the most liberal and colourful environments of Spain can be seen.
Madrid has a very modernized and elaborate transportation network of buses and Metro. The city contrasts with some large European cities in that it is extremely clean, and city employees in bright yellow vests can almost always be seen cleaning the streets and sidewalks. Like most large cities, however, there is a substantial population of vagrants and beggars lining the streets.
To See & Do
There are a number of free, English language periodicals that you will find in bars and restaurants that are a great source of event information. PopGuide Madrid is Madrid’s premier English and German lifestyle magazine and features the best Madrid has to offer and the latest in film, fashion, music and art. The monthly InMadrid newspaper has a number of articles and information about events around town. Aimed at the 20-35-year-old crowd, European Vibe has listings for concerts, exhibitions, bars, restaurants, parties and other events happening in Madrid as well as articles about living in the city. Check the websites for current distribution points.
Museum Triangle – This is Madrid’s museum district, named for the three major art museums clustered along Paseo del Prado east of the old city: the Museo del Prado, one of the finest art museums in the world, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, a baron’s collection of classical art, and the Reina Sofia, Madrid’s modern art museum. However, a couple of smaller museums also occupy the neighborhood which are well worth seeing as well.
- Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Center, Santa Isabel 52 (Metro: Atocha (line 1). Houses Madrid’s best collection of modern art. It includes many of Pablo Picasso’s most revered works including the renowned Guernica. The Reina Sofía also houses masterpieces by Miró, Kandinsky, Dalí, Bacon, and more.
- Museo del Prado, Paseo de Prado (Metro: Atocha (line 1) or Banco de España (line 2). One of the finest art collections in the world and the best collection of classical art in Madrid. It includes many different collections: the Spanish (El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya), the Flemish and Dutch (Rubens, van Dyck, and Brueghel), Italian (Botticelli, Tintoretto, Titian, Caravaggio, and Veronese) and German (Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, and Baldung Grien). Some highlights not to miss at the Prado: The Bosch masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights, The famous Velázquez piece Las Meninas, The Black Paintings and The Third of May 1808 by Goya, Adoration of the Shepards by El Greco, and David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. Be sure to walk along Paseo del Prado, a pedestrian walkway full of fountains and trees near the museum.
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art, Paseo de Prado, 8 (Metro: Banco de España (line 2). Contains a large art collection including masterpieces by Monet, Goya, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Bacon and Lichtenstein.
- Caixa Forum, Paseo de Prado, 36 (Metro: Atocha (line 1). A private museum of contemporary art and culture that is particularly well-known for the “vertical garden” by Patrick Blanc installed on a wall in front of the museum, as well as the quite special architecture of the building itself. The vertical garden can be seen from the street outside, just a block south of the Thyssen-Bornemisza and across from the Prado. Inside the museum has free exhibitions and functions.
The Studios of Pablo Picasso • Locations & Activities