The capital city of Spain is Madrid, which also serves as its art and financial hub. The early origins of the town began as a small Moorish fortress that stood as a defense for the city of Toledo. Today the city is much more developed, although it still boasts ancient temples, ruins, and historic attractions from its past. It is situated in the very center of the Iberian Peninsula and, standing at 2,120 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest European capitals.
Even though it is a capital city, Madrid is sometimes overlooked in comparison to more popular Spanish cities. It doesn’t quite get the recognition that it deserves, and there are some pretty cool things that we bet you didn’t know about this place! Keep reading to learn about a few of the things that make this city stand out from the rest.
Arriving in the city and can’t wait to start your sightseeing adventure? Leave your things at a Madrid luggage storage facility where they’ll be secure. Have a look around, and pick them up before heading to your hotel.
The Center of Spain’s Roads
If you ever go to Madrid you will probably end up visiting the Plaza Puerto del Sol. Not only is this one of the most beautiful squares in the city, but it is also the origin of the six major roads in Spain! You will be able to spot the plaque stating “Kilometer 0” which is found in the square and marks the geographical center of the city.
The square is also home to some of the main landmarks of Madrid, including the representation of the Madrid coat of arms; the Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree. The Casa de Correos is another iconic spot since it is home to a famous clock that counts down to the New Year every New Year’s Eve!
Great Student Life
You may not know that Madrid is actually a center of higher education and has 14 fantastic universities! It also boasts the biggest population of students in all of Spain, with the Polytechnical University, the Complutense University, and the Open University being the most densely populated. There are also a variety of many private institutions that make it a real haven for student life.
The Golden Triangle of Art
Although every city has museums, the ones in Madrid are pretty spectacular. Some of its best include the Prado Museum, which is one of the world’s most predominant art museums. The building itself was designed by Juan de Villanueva in 1819, and inside it houses works of art by notable artists like El Greco, Bosch, and Velázquez, as well as masterpieces made by Goya! Another of the city’s highlights include the Reina Sofia Museum featuring Spanish art and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Together, these three museums make up the Golden Triangle of Art!
Shopping, Dining, and Entertainment
Despite not being as popular as some other Spanish cities, Madrid has quite a lot to offer when it comes to live entertainment, retail therapy, and food. The best part is that you can find all of these things in one place if you visit the Gran Via!
This boulevard is Madrid’s most famous and actually used to be called the Spanish Broadway because of all the theaters that were found in the area, but unfortunately, many of them have closed down over the years. The street is still full of things to do, including fantastic shopping opportunities, amazing restaurants, and a few cinemas that can keep you busy for hours!
Aside from all of the other great things that Madrid is known for, its Real Madrid team is also home to who many consider to be the best footballer (soccer player) in the whole world! Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese footballer who plays for this city and has been awarded the Ballon d’Or, which is given to the athlete who was titled the best of the year, a total of five times!
Moreover, he also earned the European Golden Shoes trophy four times, which means that he was the leading goalscorer in all of Europe on each of those occasions. He made history by being the very first player to earn that many of those trophies in the entire world!
If you don’t know what to do while in Madrid you can simply take a walk around the city streets. There are lots of stunning buildings which boast stunning architecture and design. If you are looking for some inspiration for a tour you can begin at the Royal Palace of Madrid, or El Palacio Real, which is no longer the residence of the Royal Family but is still occasionally used for events and ceremonies.
Other highlights include the Palacio de Linares and the Palacio de Liria. The Cathedral of Almudena, Church of San Manuel and San Benito as well as the Royal Convent of La Encarnación are stunning as well. Check them out to see some beautiful and historic wonders!
One of the Only Egyptian Temples Not in Egypt
Have you ever heard of the Templo de Debod? This landmark is not only old and beautiful, but it is one-of-a-kind! There are very few Egyptian temples found outside of the country of Egypt and Madrid is home to one of them.
This structure was built way back in 200 BC making it more than 2,200 years old. Originally from Egypt, the temple was dismantled and given to Madrid as a gift since the city was such a big help in saving relics and the temples of Nubia from being damaged or lost after the Aswan High Dam was built in the 1960s which caused flooding.
Why Madrid is So Amazing
Did you know that Madrid is also home to the world’s oldest restaurant, which even holds the title in the Guinness World Records? Or that it is known for having friendly locals? These lively individuals are always happy and apparently have longer life expectancies than most other places, too! The city is home to even more hidden secrets that you can discover by exploring the neighborhoods on your own. Why not plan a visit to Madrid to meet its fun people and see all of the city’s other highlights yourself?