Top Majestic Cultural Attractions In Madrid
The Madrid City Tour is a hop-on, hop-off touristic bus with routes through the historic and modern parts of Madrid. While the open top deck provides panoramic views of the city, the unlimited hop-on, hop-off policy allows travelers to explore some of the city’s best cultural attractions including the Debod Temple, the Thyssen Museum, the San Miguel Market, Gran Vía, Plaza Mayor, and Puerta del Sol. It operates everyday of the year, includes free Wi-Fi and provides headphones with an audio-guided tour service in multiple languages. For those unfamiliar with the city, this touristic bus is a must!
• El Corte Inglés
El Corte Inglés is the largest department store in Europe and third in the world. Standing alone in the commercial panorama of Spain, El Corte Inglés offers a little bit of everything from groceries and home decor to designer boutiques and gourmet culinary experiences. Founded in Madrid in 1940, this department store has a rich client-oriented history, delivering nothing less than unparalleled customer service for the past 75 years. “Tu historia es nuestra historia“ (your story is our story) reads their iconic slogan, because El Corte Inglés is embedded in the memories of every Spaniard.
Striving to present the best and latest-trends in fashion and gastronomy, two new stores have recently opened in the center of Madrid. While ‘Serrano 47 Women’ specializes exclusively in women’s fashion, ‘Serrano 52 Men’ not only features five-stories devoted exclusively to men’s fashion, but its seventh story houses a 7-star culinary experience known as Gourmet Experience. Overall, El Corte Inglés is a crucial sign of identity in contemporary Spanish culture and a trip to Madrid wouldn’t be complete without visiting this iconic department store.
• The Prado Museum
The Prado Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world, and with good reason. It contains one of the world’s finest collections of European art including works by Goya, Velázquez, el Greco, and Bosch. Overall, the Prado houses thousands of paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and decorative arts ranging from the 12th to pre-20th century. As one of the world’s most important and greatest art galleries, you simply can’t go to Madrid without visiting this phenomenal museum. General admission costs 15 euros, however admission is free between 6-8pm from Monday to Saturday and 5-7pm on Sundays and holidays!
• Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Opened in October of 1992, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum houses one of the most distinguished private art collections in the world. The extensive and diverse collection includes Dutch, German, Italian, North American, French, and Japanese works with styles ranging from primitive, medieval, renaissance, and 17th century baroque to impressionism, cubism, abstract, and pop art masterpieces. The Thyssen-Bornemisza is also the only museum in Europe to contain 19th century North American paintings. With foremost works by renowned artists such as Degas, Renoir, and Goya, this incredible museum is not to be missed when in Madrid! Special exhibits to look forward to include ‘Masterworks from Budapest’ (Feb. 21-May 28, 2017), ‘Rafael Moneo’ (Mar. 21- June 11, 2017), ‘Renaissance Venice’ (June 20-Sept. 24, 2017), and ‘Picasso / Lautrec’ (Oct. 17-Jan. 21, 2018). General admission is 12 euros.
• Royal Palace of Madrid
Built in the 18th century, the Royal Palace of Madrid is an imposing monumental building featuring a lavish mixture of Baroque and classicist styles. Although it is known as the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, it is currently only used for state ceremonies. With 2,800 rooms and a floor area of 1,450,000 sq. ft., the Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the largest palaces in Western Europe. It is open to the public and a tour of the Royal Palace serves as a great way to immerse yourself in the ornate, royal culture and history of Spain. Basic admission begins at 11 euros and guided tours last approximately 45 minutes. It’s recommended that you arrive early as the admission’s queue can be long.
• Aranjuez Royal Palace
In 2015, UNESCO World Heritage Sight declared the Aranjuez Royal Palace as a “place of outstanding universal value.” It was established as exclusive property for the Spanish monarch in the 16th century and currently serves as the Spring residence for the King of Spain. The palace features awe-inspiring renaissance designs as well as exotic decor from around the world. There are over 25 ornately furnished and decorated spaces, each with a designated purpose and brimming with rich historic tales, including a throne, mirror, Arabic, and music room. Overall this cultural landscape offers invaluable insight into Spain’s royal history. Open to the public with guided tours available (highly-recommended), basic admission is 9 euros.
• Charles III Real Cortijo Winery
Located less than 4 miles outside Aranjuez, the Real Cortijo Winery is an artistic and historic monument composed of neoclassical arches and vaulted brick columns. It was constructed by decree of Charles III of Spain in 1782 in order to supply the royal household with wine and olive oil. Built underneath the Royal Estate of San Isidro, the winery occupies 10,000 square feet of subterranean space, which offers extraordinary conditions regarding minimal variation in heat, noise and humidity. Today, this historic winery only produces wine, with the production and aging of grapes beginning and finishing here.
A guided tour of the Real Cortijo Winery is highly recommended as it is the perfect place for new and experienced wine lovers. Wines are complex and tasting them is an experience to be had using three important senses — sight, smell and taste. Don’t be afraid to observe the color, experience how the smell and taste change as you swirl the wine around your glass, allowing it to breath, or let the wine linger on your tongue. Also, make sure to avoid cheese — at least at first. While cheese is fine to have after tasting new wines, having cheese before will make any bad wine taste good. One of the winery’s popular award winning wines includes the Homet 2006, a multi-varietal red composed of 70% Tempranillo, 10% merlot, 10% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It sits comfortably in the mouth and contains gorgeous bouquet and smoky notes. Bottles of wine are available for purchase at unbeatable prices and labels are glued on in the moment, allowing them to be personalized. For 8 euros per adult, a guided visit and tasting of 2 wines is available every Sunday at 12pm. An exclusive guided tour for groups of 10-50 people start at 10 euros.
• Templo de Debod
The Temple of Debod is one of only four authentic Egyptian temples outside Egypt. Dating from the 2nd century B.C., this incredible temple was donated by the Egyptian Government in 1968 and rebuilt in Madrid in order to prevent it from being destroyed by floods. Here, it’s possible to not only admire a monument of rich historical heritage, but also witness the best views and sunsets in Madrid. Admission is free.
• El Mercado de San Miguel
Originally an old, traditional market built in 1916, el Mercado de San Miguel has quickly become the most popular market in Madrid after being reinvented into a modern, gourmet food-court in 2009. The market contains 33 stalls offering a wide variety of traditional Spanish foods, including delicious tapas, and excellent wines and beer. From freshly prepared bocadillo de calamari and cod to sangria and churros, this market offers the best of Spain’s diverse gastronomy. Located in the center of Madrid and open until 2am, el Mercado de San Miguel is an ideal place for people of all ages to enjoy tapas and wine day or night.