With its stellar cultural attractions, lively social scene, monumental architecture and luxuries of big-city living, Madrid is an exciting destination certainly worth including on your Spain travel itinerary. A trip to Madrid simply would not be complete without exploring its top sights, some of which we'll list for you below!
Madrid de los Austrias
It wasn't until the 16th century that Madrid - not much more than a town at the time - was named the capital of Spain. It hardly looked like other European capital, a fact that Spanish royalty was well aware of. Using the fairly new affluence acquired with their colonies in the Americas, the Habsburg monarchs commissioned the construction of numerous buildings in what is now the very center of Madrid. Many of the buildings in the part of town known as "Madrid de los Austrias" were built during this time; it's a charming, historic part of town filled with pretty buildings and picturesque squares, where you'll find sights such as:
- Plaza Mayor
- Monasterio de los Reales Descalzas
- See more: Madrid de los Austrias
Madrid de los Borbones
With the Borbones - or Bourbons - came another round of architecture, as the Bourbon kings, especially Carlos III, hired urban planners and architects from Spain and beyond to come in and turn Madrid into the capital city they envisioned. Elegant green spaces were added to the city and ornate, monumental architecture with French and Italian influences flanked broader avenues. In this part of town, often referred to as the "Madrid de los Borbones", you can visit:
- Retiro Park
- Paseo del Prado
- Botanical Garden
- Puerta de Alcalá
- See more: Madrid de los Borbones
One of Madrid's claims to fame is its incredible collection of museums and cultural centers. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to royal portraits by Velázquez, modern works by Picasso and traditional clothing from bygone eras, there's a bit of something for every type of museum-goer.