ARCHITECTURAL SIGHTS

1. Palacio Real

Google Map

The Royal Palace (see Palacio Real) marks a decisive break with the austere tastes of Spain’s Habsburg rulers. Felipe V had been brought up at Versailles where the International Baroque style was in vogue. Architect Filippo Juvarra died two years into the project, but his successor, Giovanni Battista Sacchetti retained the Baroque spirit.

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Ceiling of Palacio Real

2. Plaza Mayor

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The inspiration for the square (see Plaza Mayor) was El Escorial’s courtyard. But the plans of architect Juan de Herrera were realized only 30 years later, in 1619, by Gómez de Mora.

3. Palacio de Cibeles

prac_info Plaza Cibeles 1

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Home of the Madrid City Hall since 2007, this extraordinary building was the first major commission of Galician architect Antonio Palacios and his partner, Joaquín Otamendi. The style of this palace (1907–19) has influences ranging from Spanish Plateresque to Art Nouveau. The most striking feature of the interior is the glass-domed roof.

4. Palacio Longoria

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Art Nouveau is usually associated with Barcelona rather than with Madrid and, in fact, this superb example is by the Catalan architect José Grases Riera. Bold and original in design, the palace (see Palacio Longoria) is full of typical Art Nouveau features, such as the florid sculptural detail, sensuous curves and the balustrade.

5. Círculo de Bellas Artes

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The Fine Arts Club (see Círculo de Bellas Artes) dates from the 1920s and is Antonio Palacios’ Art Deco masterpiece. The crowning feature is the statue on the roof, representing the goddess Minerva, patroness of the arts. Pay the one-day membership fee and you can see the other highlights – the staircase, theatre, ballroom and the Salón de Fiestas, with its painted ceiling.

6. Edificio Metrópolis

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One of Madrid’s signature buildings, Edificio Metrópolis was designed in 1905 by the French architects Jules and Raymond Février. The high points – literally – of this lovely Neo-Baroque design are the bronze wreaths garlanding the cupola, which glint in the sunlight.

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The striking Edificio Metrópolis

7. Iglesia de San Jerónimo el Real

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Though much altered over the years, this 16th-century church (see Parroquia de San Jerónimo el Real) is an important architectural monument. It has also been a place of refuge for Spanish kings and queens through the ages. Former king Juan Carlos I was crowned here in 1975 after the death of General Franco.

8. Puerta de Europa

prac_info Plaza de Castilla • Metro Plaza de Castilla

Google Map

The “Gateway to Europe” is a modern version of a triumphal arch. Twenty-six storeys high, the leaning towers of glass and metal were completed in 1996.

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Puerta de Europa

9. Residencia de Estudiantes

prac_info Pabellón Transatlántico, Calle del Pinar 21 • Metro Pinar del Rey • Closed to the public

Google Map

This liberal college was founded in 1910; early alumni here included artist Salvador Dalí and poet Federico García Lorca. Designed by Antonio Flórez, the main building was nicknamed “transatlantic” by students because the balustrade resembled the rail of an ocean liner.

10. Torre de Cristal

prac_info Paseo de la Castellana 259 • Metro Begoña • Closed to the public

Google Map

Located in the Cuatro Torres Business Area, Torre de Cristal, or the Crystal Building, is Spain’s tallest skyscraper at 249 m (817 ft). It was designed by Cesar Pelli, who also laid out Brookfield Place in New York City. The tower serves as an office building.

TOP 10 PLACES TO SEE AZULEJOS (TILES)

1. Fatigas del Querer

prac_info Calle de la Cruz 17

The interior of this 1920’s tavern (see Fatigas del Querer) is decorated with Andalucían tiles and murals.

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Fatigas del Querer

2. Taberna la Dolores

Tiled mosaics adorn the façade of this taberna dating from 1908.

3. Viva Madrid, Taberna Inusual

Tiled inside and out; look for the Cibeles fountain on the façade (see Viva Madrid, Taberna Inusual).

4. Tablao Villa Rosa

Fantastic ceramic decor dates from the days when this restaurant (see Tablao Villa Rosa) became a flamenco club.

5. Antigua Huevería and Farmacia Juansé

prac_info Calle de S Vicente Ferrer

Two tiled frontages. The pharmacy advertised “inoffensive cigarettes”, while the painted hens next door provide a clue that this bar was once an egg shop (huevería).

6. Taberna Ángel Sierra

Stunning tiled façade and interior, from the early 20th century (see Taberna Ángel Sierra).

7. Taberna Almendro 13

Andalucían decor can be found in this typical tapas bar (see Taberna Almendro 13).

8. La Fontana de Oro

prac_info Calle de la Victoria 1

Pretty, historic café converted into a Guinness pub.

9. Taberna Tirso de Molina

prac_info Plaza de Tirso Molina 9

The façade here features modern tiles reproducing works by French poster artist Toulouse-Lautrec.

10. Taberna de la Daniela

Ceramic motifs cover the bar and façade of this classic Madrid taberna.

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