If you want to get to know Spain and Spanish culture, then Madrid is a destination not to be missed. This is not simply on account of the Prado Museum, one of the world’s finest art galleries. This capital city is a living reflection of the diversity and variety that are so characteristic of Spain. It is happy and dynamic, and the vitality of its streets, by day and night, is infectious. Discover this open, welcoming city, where no one is a stranger. Madrid will never leave you indifferent.

Madrid is located in the heart of Spain, in the geographical centre of the country. A lot can be said about Madrid, because in this city, everything goes. It is modern yet traditional, majestic yet popular, lively yet peaceful. More than anything else it is a haven of culture. Madrid is one of the world capitals for art. Its museums, headed by the Prado, and its rich, diverse heritage and monuments, make it a unique cultural destination not to be missed.

A walk with the great artistic geniuses

If you enjoy art, you will find that Madrid is a vital stop on your trip. Here you can admire the great names and masterpieces of universal art, together on one unique itinerary: The "Paseo del Arte" (Art Route). The Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía National Museum are all located close together. Their collections will enable you to explore different artistic movements and styles from the 16th to the 20th centuries: Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, Kandinsky… The great works on display in these museums await you for a magical, unforgettable encounter.

If you have time, apart from these three main galleries, we would also recommend a visit to any of the other art centres and special exhibitions to be found around the city. Their quality is sure to satisfy all your cultural curiosity. Caixa Forum Madrid, the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Art and the Casa de Alba Foundation have collections with works of incalculable value; the Museum of the Americas and the Armoury at the Royal Palace, considered as one of the world’s most outstanding, are just a few examples worth discovering.

Culture in the open air

Another outstanding attraction of the city of Madrid are its historic monuments and architecture. Strolling around the city you will have the sensation of being in an open-air museum which reflects Madrid’s evolution towards the modern capital it is today.

The central area is one of the favourites among locals on account of its bohemian character and historic flavour. It is called “old Madrid” and the best way to explore it is on foot. Take a stroll around its streets and squares, packed with taverns, restaurants and traditional shops; immerse yourself in the unusual atmosphere of the busy Puerta del Sol Square; enjoy its most beautiful spots, such as the famous Plaza Mayor Square with its summer terrace bars…

You will soon find out that Madrid’s most emblematic places are also those best loved by the local people. Just come and see for yourself. Madrid is not just monuments and famous historic sites, however. There is much more to do, with places to have fun, go shopping, sample different foods from around the world, or simply relax. The Royal Palace, Casa de la Villa House, Plaza de Cibeles Square, the Teatro Real Theatre, the Gran Vía, Puerta de Alcalá Gate, Retiro Park, Plaza de España Square… These are all places where you will be able to feel the city’s rhythm and intensity to the full.

It would also be unforgivable not to leave time to sample Madrid’s famous regional gastronomy. There is a broad choice of dishes, including huevos estrellados (fried eggs and potatoes mixed together), cocido (chickpea casserole), patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy sauce), potato omelette and all kinds of fish dishes. Madrid boasts Europe’s best fish market. Apart from the food itself, the best thing is the price, available to suit every budget. You can choose restaurants from the most avant-garde to those specialising in traditional cuisine. There are also bars and taverns where the tapas are not to be missed – this is a typical Spanish social custom which means you can sample a huge range of different delicacies.

Come and discover all that the Spanish capital has to offer. You are sure to want to come back.

If you found this article interesting, you can find more information on the city of Madrid at: - Green Madrid - A stroll around Madrid's Royal Palace - The "Art Route", a world of painting within easy reach - Gastronomic routes in Madrid

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