Madrid is home to some great outdoor shopping areas like the Gran Vía, but sometimes, especially when the weather is bad, a shopping mall is a much nicer shopping prospect. Read on to discover some of the city’s best shopping centres.
Centro Comercial La Gavia
If you need some furniture or just have an urge to stock up on cheap candles, then La Gavia is for you: it is home to one of Madrid’s two IKEAs (top tip: try to go on a weekday to avoid the crowds). As well as Scandi furniture, the shopping centre, located on the end of Line 1 on the metro, has a huge range of shops, from women’s and men’s fashion, to toy shops and tech stores, as well as a cinema. There are a good number of food options too: popular burger chain Five Guys is one of the latest fast food options to open here.
Shops: Monday–Sunday 10am–10pm
Restaurants: Sunday–Thursday 10am–1am; Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays 10am–3am
The Centro Comercial Príncipe Pío is a good option if you don’t want to stray too far from the city centre; it is located in the former Estación Norte train station just to the west – and within easy walking distance – of the centre. There is a good range of high street brands, from Spanish favourites like Zara and Mango to international names like H&M and Levi’s. There is a Cinesa cinema and a food court packed full of different dining options.
Set in the historic former headquarters of Spanish newspaper ABC, this shopping centre is located right in the heart of Madrid’s most exclusive neighbourhood: Salamanca. It holds regular events, from art exhibitions to tie ins with Madrid fashion week. Don’t miss exploring the nearby Golden Mile of designer stores, even if you’re just window shopping!
Madrid Xanadú, to the south-west of Madrid, is much more than just a shopping centre. As well as a good range of shops and restaurants, it is home to the biggest indoor ski slope in Spain, Madrid Snowzone. There is also a cinema, bowling alley, and mini golf – so it’ll have you covered for activities for all the family.
Shops: Monday–Sunday 10am–10pm
Restaurants: Sunday–Thursday 10am–1am; Fridays and Saturdays 12pm–3am
Located in Leganés, seven kilometres south of Madrid but easily accessible on the cercanías commuter train, Parquesur is one of the biggest shopping malls in Spain. It has 153 shops and 47 restaurants, as well as an IMAX cinema and bowling alley.
This shopping centre is located in San Sebastián de los Reyes, to the north-east of Madrid. It is the location of the second IKEA in Madrid so a useful option if you’re looking for some new furniture or homeware. As well as all the usual Spanish and international high street stores, there is also a cinema.
Shops: Monday–Saturday 10am–10pm; Sunday 11am–9pm
Restaurants: Sunday–Thursday 10am–1am; Friday and Saturday 10am–3am
In the town of Las Rozas on the outskirts of Madrid is Las Rozas Village, a designer fashion outlet with lots of top brands at bargain prices. There is a direct bus line from Plaza de España, right in the centre of Madrid. Non-EU residents can also claim back the tax on purchases by asking for a tax-free receipt and showing it to customs when leaving Spain.
El Retiro Park, a green oasis in the heart of Madrid
Covering over 125 hectares and comprising more than 15,000 trees, El Retiro Park is a green oasis in the heart of the city. In it you’ll find all kinds of interesting monuments and gardens, including the Jardín de Vivaces, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (Andalusian-inspired classicistic gardens), the Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios, the Rosaleda rose garden and the Parterre Francés, which holds a Mexican conifer that is nearly 400 years old and is believed to be Madrid’s oldest tree.
In addition to its role as one of the city’s green lungs, it is also a popular spot among Madrileños who likes to go there for a stroll, to do some sport, visit an exhibition or take the kids to a puppet show. The park is home to a large artificial lake, where you can rent a rowing boat, and to the Velázquez Palace and Glass Palace which are both currently used as exhibition halls by the Reina Sofía Museum. The latter is a beautiful glass pavilion built in 1887 to house exotic plants for an exhibition in the Philippines. It is one of the finest examples of cast-iron architecture in Spain.
El Retiro is also filled with interesting sculptures and fountains such as the magnificent Monument to Alfonso XII, which watches over the lake and in the spring of 2018 opened to the public an observation deck offering wonderful vistas. Near the Rose Garden, you’ll encounter the statue of the Fallen Angel, the only sculpture in the world dedicated to the devil which curiously enough sits 666m above sea level.
Other spots worth visiting are the Galápagos Fountain, built in honor of the then princess Isabella II, the Teatro de Títeres, the only theatre in Europe that stages puppet shows every weekend, and the large area known as Reservado de Fernando VII which King Ferdinand VII decided to keep for himself and his family when the rest of the park was opened to the public.
In this section of El Retiro, between Calle O’Donnell and Calle Menéndez Pelayo, you’ll find some of the king’s “whims”, small buildings or monuments designed as little retreats for the monarchs to rest and relax: Casa del Pescador, the Montaña Artificial and the Casa del Contrabandista which accommodates Florida Retiro, a modern venue with a restaurant that hosts all kinds of events.
A firm favorite with both locals and tourists, El Retiro is a great place to go rollerblading, for a long walk or a jog. Dotted with playgrounds of different sizes, it’s just as popular with the little ones.
The park is also home to La Chopera municipal sports center, the Eugenio Trias Public Library and the Casa de Vacas Cultural Centre, as well as to what is believed to be Madrid’s oldest tree. An exotic species that doesn’t lose its leaves every year, the Ahuehuete (or Montezuma cypress) has been there since around 1630. Used by Napoleon’s soldiers as a support for their cannons when they turned their park into the army’s headquarters, it was one of the few lucky trees to survive the Spanish War of Independence against France.
If you fancy pedaling around the park, you can rent a bicycle from one of the bike rentals in the area. In El Retiro you’ll also find a number of outdoor cafés and kiosks when you can get a drink or bite to eat.
Every year the Retiro plays host to popular events such as the Book Fair and the fireworks display held in honor of San Isidro, the city’s patron saint.
Madrid is a city so full of life and culture that it’s hard to do justice to it in a few paragraphs. Artistically the city holds its own against any in Europe, with the of the best art museums on the continent where renaissance masterworks and seminal 20th-century pieces are waiting to captivate you.
Take in all the historic sights and get the background on the Spanish Empire that spanned the globe in the 16th and 17th-centuries. There are also countless little things that make Madrid memorable, whether that’s a café con leche in a stately square, drinks at a rooftop bar or a wander through the Retiro or Casa de Campo on a sunny day.
Puerta del Sol
Eduardo Ortín Madrid, Puerta del Sol
This grand square next to the Casa de Correos (Post Office Building) is a popular meeting place, suffused with meaning for both city and country. Nearly every Spanish person will recognize the clock at the top of the Casa de Correos, as this marks the televised countdown on New Year’s Eve. There’s a tricky ritual involved too: With every chime, you’re supposed to eat a grape for good luck (12 in total). Also in the square is El Oso y El Madroño statue, a symbol for Madrid since the Middle Ages.
If you’d like to get a sense of the city, a walk along the Gran Vía is a superb place to start. It’s Madrid’s entertainment, shopping, and cultural nerve center, a buzzing avenue often full of life until dawn. By day it throngs with shoppers stopping by the many malls, high-street stores like H&M and Zara and luxury boutiques. In the evenings there are couples arm-in-arm, stepping out to the cinema or a musical. And after dark the street pulses with many of Madrid’s top nightclubs. Sights to spot as you stroll include the vast Telefónica Building, dated in 1928 and an early example of a skyscraper.
Another of Madrid’s “musts”, Plaza Mayor is a handsome renaissance square, laid out in the early-1600s and completely sequestered by historic three-story-high residential buildings. There are nine entrances to the square and within the porticoes at the bottom of the buildings are several cafes. Order a coffee (overpriced but necessary because of the location) at an outdoor table and watch Madrid in action for a few minutes. After that you could wander up to the 400-year-old bronze statue of King Philip III, who was in power at the height of the Spanish empire.
Perfect in winter, Spanish hot chocolate is one of the most luxurious things you’ll ever taste. It can be so rich and thick you sometimes need a spoon to drink it. And the perfect pairing is a sugary churro, which if you don’t know, is piped dough, deep-fried. Just off the Puerta del Sol, visit the Chocolatería San Ginés, which has been serving churros and hot chocolate since the 19th century and does it as well as any joint in the city. If you can’t make it to San Ginés there are loads of stalls on the streets in the cooler months of the year.
Visit the 18th-century Royal Palace
Paulo Valdivieso Palacio Real de Madrid View from the Plaza de Almería
Built-in the mid 18th century for King Philip V the Royal Palace is on the site of Madrid’s Moorish Alcázar fortress-palace, which burned down in 1734. It’s the largest royal palace in western Europe and has a blend of baroque and neoclassical styles. You have to go inside for the full experience because the royal collections and frescoes are sublime. Here are works by Goya, Caravaggio and Velázquez, as well as stunning displays of watches, tapestries, porcelain and silverware.You can see the only string quartet of Stradivarius instruments in the world, and the Royal Armoury that includes the personal weapons used by Charles V in the 16th Century.
Have a drink at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium Café
Gilbert Sopakuwa Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid
Whether you’re a supporter of the club or not, the truth remains that Real Madrid C.F. is Europe’s most successful football team with record-breaking 11 European Cups to their name. So any fan of the game should consider a pilgrimage to their gargantuan 85,000-seater stadium, where history has been made many times down the seasons. A tour will grant you panoramic views of the stadium, you’ll step inside the dressing room, visit the dugouts and see all sorts of interesting bits including the trophy collection, press room and presidential box.
Relax at “El Retiro” Park
Madrid’s green heart and full of elegant gardens, the Retiro is just a few steps east from the Prado and was a royal property up to the end of the 19th century when it was opened to the public. If you’re visiting with little ones, paddling on the Grand Pond next to the monument of Alfonso XII is a fun option on a sunny afternoon. The iron and glass pavilion built to house the Philippine Exhibition in 1887 is magnificent and growing in the pond in front of it are bald cypresses, strange swamp trees that turn a lovely golden brown in summer. The oldest tree in the city is close by: It’s a Montezuma Cypress planted in 1633 and ringed by an iron fence.
Absolutely essential, the Prado is one of the best and most popular art museums in the world. There’s an overwhelming collection of masterpieces by renaissance and baroque masters. Spain is represented by Velázquez and El Greco, the low countries by Rembrandt, Brueghel, van Dyck and Rubens, while Titian, Caravaggio, Botticelli and Tintoretto form the Italian contingent. Of the many must-see works are Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and David with Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. The artist with most works hanging at the Prado is the Spanish Romantic Goya, whose 14 Black Paintings are a Spanish cultural reference point.
Explore the Archaeological Museum
Carole Raddato National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
With invaluable pieces gathered from across Spain, this museum is a trip through Spain’s rich history. What may surprise you is the wealth of magnificent items that predate the Roman period. The best of these Iberian treasures and sculptures look almost new, despite being at least 2,500 years old. The Lady of Elche is a bust of a woman with an incredibly detailed headdress and coils over her ears. Much later but no less impressive is the Treasure of Guarrazar a Visigothic set of crosses and votive crowns dating to the 600s.
An easy walk from Plaza Mayor is this gorgeous art nouveau marketplace that dates to 1916. It’s less of a fresh produce market (although there are grocery stalls) and more of a gastronomic destination to purchase the best that Spain has to offer, like cava, Paprika spice and saffron. There’s a host of tapas bars here serving all the favorites like patatas bravas, gambas al ajillo and boquerones… To do your food shopping like a real Madrileño head to the vast Mercado de Maravillas in Cuatro Caminos. It’s Europe’s largest municipal market with 200 stalls.
On Sundays, it will seem like the entire city has descended on Ribera de Coritodores and Plaza de Cascorro. This is when some 3,500 stalls are open, hawking pretty much anything you can think of, whether used or new. It’s the largest flea market in Madrid and gets pretty hectic, so it’s always a good idea to show up early. Even though it’s a Sunday the antique shops on the streets branching off Ribera de Cortidores will be open, and there are also cafes if you’re in need of a pick-me-up after wading through the crowds.
If you still have an appetite for art after the Prado, amble over to this museum, which is also part of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art. You shouldn’t get bogged down, because the attractions in the Triangle are complementary, each covering schools and periods that the others do not. Here you can see works from the English and German schools by artists like Hans Holbein, Hans Baldung Grien and Albrecht Dürer. These are accompanied by pieces from other renaissance masters like Tintoretto, Veronese, Rembrandt, van Dyck and many more. There’s also a big collection of American abstract expressionism, and a host of impressionist and post-expressionist pieces by the likes of Monet, Renoir and Degas.
Round off your journey through Madrid’s art collections with the third museum on the Golden Triangle. This museum focuses mainly on Spanish art and is more modern in scope than the others. The best reason to come is to the many works by the 20th-century artists Picasso and Dalí. Just to show that isn’t overkilled: Picasso’s epoch-making Guernica is on display, so it’s an opportunity you really shouldn’t miss. Among the other Spanish greats represented at Reina Sofía are Joan Miró, Juan Gris and the important abstract sculptor Eduardo Chillida.
Flamenco is a dance that originated in Andalusia, Murcia and Extremadura, and even if it’s not strictly native to Madrid the city has some of the most famous tablaos in the country. These are special halls that cropped up in the 1960s, and here you see a show over a candlelit meal with sangria. It’s a fine way of killing two birds with one stone: Tucking into Spanish specialties while seeing one of the country’s most famous art-forms expressed by some of the best dancers in the flamenco world.
Madrid might not have the status of Rome or Paris in terms of sights, but the Spanish capital is a pleasure to explore. From historical gems and world-class art, to an incredible food scene and picturesque parks, we take a look at the top attractions in Madrid to visit.
Madrid’s main square holds centuries of history in its cobbles and has been the scene of everything from coronations to bullfights and beheadings. These days it’s a nice place to stroll and sample one of the city’s famed foods: a calamari sandwich (bocadillo de calamares) from one of the bars surrounding the square.
The official residence of Spain’s royal family is these days used for official ceremonies only (King Felipe and Queen Letizia live in the more modest Zarzuela Palace just outside Madrid). Members of the public can visit the palace and check out centuries worth of paintings, furniture and armor.
Madrid’s most beautiful park is the ideal place to spend a lazy afternoon enjoying a picnic and messing about in a rowing boat on the lake.
Templo de Debod
Madrid’s very own Egyptian temple was bestowed on the country by Egypt and moved, piece by piece, in the early 1970s. It is one of the best places to watch the sun set in Madrid.
The seemingly gravity-defying KIO towers in Madrid’s financial district lean at a 15-degree angle and were the first leaning skyscrapers in the world.
Madrid’s most iconic street has a cinematic scope that has seen it star in Abre Los Ojos (the original Spanish language movie of the 2001 Tom Cruise remake Vanilla Sky). Head to the top of the Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience for a great view of the street’s famous Schweppes sign.
Head to one of Madrid’s rooftop bars for an unforgettable view over the city’s rooftops. We recommend Circulo de Bellas Artes for one of the best panoramas of the capital.
Puerta del Sol
All roads in Spain lead to the Puerta del Sol, known as kilometer zero and the very center of the country. It is also home to the famous statue of the bear and the strawberry tree, the official symbol of Madrid.
The Golden Triangle of art galleries
Madrid is home to some of the world’s best art galleries, and the three most famous are handily located close to each other in a triangle. The Prado (classical paintings), The Reina Sofia (modern art) and the Thyssen-Bornemisza (a little bit of everything) are full of artistic riches well worth exploring.
Palacio de Cibeles
This grand building was, amazingly, the headquarters of Madrid’s post office until 2011. Today it is the home of Madrid’s City Council and a visitor attraction because of the incredible views from its observation deck.
Calle de Cava Baja
The ideal spot for a tapas crawl, Cava Baja is Madrid’s famous ‘tapas street’ and on an evening is teeming with people enjoying a drink and a bite. Some of our favorite spots are La Perejila, Txakolina and El Tempranillo.
Sobrino de Botín
Madrid is home to what is officially the oldest restaurant in the world – it has the Guinness World Record certificate in the window to prove it. Sobrino de Botín was founded in 1725 and has been going strong ever since. Its specialty is roast suckling pig and it appears in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
This old cinema shows classic Hollywood and modern films from around the world for a bargain €2.50. Its tumultuous history saw it bombed during the Spanish Civil War but today it is home to the Filmoteca Española, which restores and preserves old films as part of Spain’s Ministry of Culture. It appears in Pedro Almodóvar’s Hable con Ella (Talk to Her).
Plaza Dos de Mayo
This square is in the heart of the hip neighborhood of Malasaña and is surrounded by a host of excellent bars, restaurants and shops. One of Madrid’s best nightlife spots.
Find more places to eat & drink in Madrid
Madrid’s famous flea market is held every Sunday morning when the streets come to life with stalls, bars open out onto the streets and locals and tourists alike enjoy the fiesta atmosphere around the area of Lavapiés.
Madrid’s cathedral was consecrated by Pope John Paul on its opening in 1993. Its Baroque exterior matches the older Royal Palace next door, and it was where King Felipe and Queen Letizia married.
Barrio de Las Letras is one of Madrid’s most beautiful and coolest neighborhoods. It was the home of Spanish literary giant and Don Quixote author, Miguel de Cervantes and these days are full of quirky bars and restaurants. Make sure to look down once in a while; the streets are peppered with famous literary quotes.
Atocha train station
Madrid’s main train has a very unusual feature – it’s very own indoor rainforest, home to dozens of turtles.
This former slaughterhouse (‘matadero‘ in Spanish) situated along the River Manzanares was converted into an arts center in the early 2000s. It has its own cinema and exhibition spaces and holds regular performances and food markets.
San Ginés for churros
You cannot possibly leave Madrid without trying churros con chocolate (sugar-drenched deep-fried dough sticks with hot chocolate) from San Ginés, which has been serving since 1894. It is open all night long, so it is a great pitstop on the way home from a night on the town.
Spain is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and is home to incredible architecture, history and beaches, as well as some distinctly unique souvenirs. From handmade fans and flamenco guitars to Esencia de Ibiza, we guide you through 15 things you can only buy in Spain.
A bota, or wineskin, is a traditional Spanish drinking vessel, usually used for wine, but it can hold any liquid. The method of drinking from a bota usually involves angling the wineskin so that the liquid can shoot out into the drinker’s mouth, without the mouth having to touch the bota. This way, people can easily share wine without all putting their mouths on the same part of the wineskin.
Follow in the footsteps of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Leonard Cohen, as well as flamenco legends including Paco de Lucía, by purchasing a guitar from Felipe Conde – the Conde family are master guitar makers who have been handcrafting their instruments for over 100 years. They’re not cheap – starting at €2,500 (£2,186) and reaching over €11,000 (£9,620) – but for a lifetime investment and a piece of rock history, they’re well worth the price tag.
You might be able to pick up versions of this popular summer shoe abroad, but the genuine article can only be purchased in Spain. Casa Hernanz in Madrid has been making espadrilles, a rope-soled shoe, since 1840 and is one of the longest-running espadrille manufacturers in Spain. Originally the shoe of the poor and working-class, the espadrille came to worldwide attention when Lauren Bacall sported a pair in the 1948 film Key Largo. They have been a summer fashion staple ever since.
Spain is home to the dramatic and passionate music and dance style of flamenco, making it the perfect place to buy a flamenco dress, shawl or shoes. If you want something a little smaller, pick up some castanets, wooden concave shells that flamenco dancers clack together as a percussion instrument.
Bottled Ibiza air
If you want to take a part of Spain’s party island home with you after your holiday, why not buy a can of Aire de Ibiza, ‘Ibiza Air’, a bottled sample of the island’s most abundant commodity? A couple of friends on the island began selling the product from an ice-cream parlor in summer 2016, and the product has been a hit with tourists ever since.
Firewater from northern Spain
Orujo (nicknamed ‘firewater’ by locals) is a spirit with over 50% alcohol content from northern Spain. It is particularly popular in Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, where some local families have been making the drink for generations.
Buy an authentic Spanish paella pan (and some saffron, the key ingredient of paella) and you can perfect the Spanish classic in your own home. There is a booming trade in paella pans in Valencia, home of paella, but you should be able to buy them throughout the country at markets and cookware shops.
This nougat-like sweet is sold around Spain in the run up to Christmas time and is a popular gift and souvenir. It is made from almonds, honey, sugar and egg whites and is served in a rectangular slab. Casa Mira, founded in 1842 in Madrid, was the capital’s first turrón shop and today is still extremely popular with locals.
Gazpacho at McDonald’s
The Spanish classic cold tomato soup appears on many restaurant menus, but you might be surprised to see it also features on the menu at the popular fast food chain. So make sure to sample some gazpacho alongside your Big Mac and you can even enjoy a beer too – Spanish McDonald’s sells cerveza, unlike chains in many other countries.
They might seem like a bit of a stereotype, but a handmade Spanish fan, or abanico, is a beautiful gift to take home and a useful cooling down method during Spain’s stifling summers. It is a common sight in the country’s big cities to see women of all ages carrying a fan as it’s one of the cheapest, quickest and easiest ways to cool down.
A Catalan Christmas tradition like no other, the caganer, or ‘Christmas pooper’, is a longstanding staple of every nativity scene in the northeastern region of Catalonia. Originally the figure, who has his trousers down and is defecating, is a little boy dressed in traditional clothes. Today, however, there is a booming industry in making poopers who look like famous people. You can pick up everyone from Donald Trump and the Pope to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lady Gaga. The figure is meant to symbolize good fortune for the year ahead.
Original post was written on https://theculturetrip.com/authors/jessica-jones/
Everything in this building is curved and undulating. Its originality and the techniques used in its construction are surprising throughout.
This is one of the best-known works of the architect Gaudí, and is one of the symbols of Barcelona. It was built between 1906 and 1912, and consists of a succession of stone walls on the outside, while the interior has two painted courtyards, columns and a range of rooms. There are large windows and iron balconies set into the undulating façade.
On the roof, meanwhile, there are chimneys and sculptures which are works of art in themselves, as well as a splendid view of the Paseo de Gràcia avenue. The building has been declared a World Heritage and is the pinnacle of Modernist techniques and tendencies.
In the year 1900, Passeig de Gràcia was the most important avenue in Barcelona. It was here that iconic buildings began to spring up, and the finest theatres and cinemas, and the most exclusive shops, restaurants and cafés opened.
It was also the boulevard on which the wealthiest and most ambitious members of the bourgeoisie decided to build their homes, vying with each other in a bold and exhibitionist manner by commissioning the most eminent architects of the day to undertake their projects.
In 1905, Pere Milà and Roser Segimon married. Attracted by the fame of Passeig de Gràcia, they purchased a detached house with garden situated on a plot measuring 1,835 square metres and they commissioned the architect Antoni Gaudi to build their new property.
The main floor of this new building, Casa Mila, was to be their home and they would rent out the other apartments.
There was considerable interest in the construction of Casa Mila and various reports about it were published, such as the piece in L’Edificació Moderna, magazine, the publication of the construction employers’ association.
The article stated that Gaudi was determined to meet the needs of modern life “without the nature of the materials or their resistance being an obstacle that limits his freedom of action”, and it described the structure of columns as an innovation that would result in large and well-lit spaces.
The construction of the building was complex and was fraught with financial and legal problems. Nor was it free from controversy. Gaudi kept changing his projects to shape the appearance of the structures of the building as the work advanced. He went well over the expected budget and did not abide by the City Council’s building codes: the built volume was illegal; the attic and the rooftop exceeded the permitted maximums; and one of the pillars of the façade occupied part of the pavement on Passeig de Gràcia.
When Gaudi discovered that an inspector had been by to alert the builder, Mr. Bayó, to these illegalities, he left very precise instructions. If the inspector came back and the column had to be cut, Gaudi would have a plaque put up, stating “the section of column that is missing was cut at the order of the City Council”.
After many years of neglect, Casa Mila, popularly known as La Pedrera and declared a World Heritage Site in 1984 by UNESCO, was restored and opened to the public in 1996.
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