Madrid is one of the most popular destinations not only in Europe but on the planet. From tasty Calamari sandwiches to its diverse nightlife and world-class football, this exciting city has to offer much more than your ordinary destination. While there are so many aspects to consider in Madrid, let’s focus on the most famous buildings in the capital of Spain. From palaces to cathedrals, museums to places of art, the Spanish capital has it all! Madrid also has some of the best business hotels if you’re in town for work; of course, if you’re visiting with your loved one, a stay at the top love hotels in the city is warranted. All in all, whether you are a broke traveler or a luxury tourist, you definitely do not want to miss visiting these unique places enriched in history and unique architecture. Scroll down to check out the list of famous buildings in Madrid, Spain.
1. Cybele Palace
Following an eclecticism with neo-plateresque architecture style, Cybele Palace opened in 1919 and currently serves as the city hall occupied by the Madrid City Council. This fine landmark used to be the city’s major post office and was actually named Palacio de Comunicaciones or Palace of Communications. Its current name is derived from the nearby Plaza de Cibeles. The palace’s construction history is a long one, having built within 12 years since its commencement and met various controversies and disputes throughout. It is now also currently home to Madrid’s public cultural center, CentroCentro.
2. Palacio de Cristal
Palacio de Cristal, or Glass Palace, is Madrid’s beautiful conservatory located on Buen Retiro Park. The construction for this building began in 1887; it was designed by Ricardo Velazquez Bosco. The palace follows the shape of a Greek cross and is made almost entirely from glass. The architecture features iron frames on a brick and is finished off with delicate ceramics. It was, indeed, once a greenhouse, but it now serves as a gallery for art exhibits. Reina Sofia Museum owns the building.
3. Plaza Mayor
One of the city’s major public squares is Plaza Mayor, the town center of Old Madrid. Construction began in the mid-16th century. The building’s site used to be Plaza del Arrabal which was the town’s main market. Classical architect Juan de Herrera was asked by King Philip II to remodel the site. The renovation was delayed until King Philip III’s reign and only commenced in 1617. Architect Juan Gomez de Mora continued the restoration. The building met a few names throughout its existence, and after the Spanish Civil War is when it received its current name, Plaza Mayor.
4. Royal Palace of Madrid
Containing an astonishing number of 3,418 rooms, the Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest functioning Royal Palace in Europe. Formerly home to many Kings of Spain, today it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Madrid. The main façade of this Madrid building is facing Plaza de la Almeria which consists of Ionic columns and beautifully framed windows. Sculptures of Aztec and Inca emperors can also be spotted on the exterior of the Palace. On the north side of the Royal Palace, you will also find Sabatini Gardens surrounded by fountains and statues of Spanish Kings. But just as it is spectacular on the outside, the Royal Palace of Madrid is equally astounding from inside. An impressive Main Staircase designed by Sabatini with over 70 steps is just a beginning. Step inside the Royal Armoury for a significant collection of weapons and armors or take a look at historical paintings by such artists as Caravaggio, Juan De Flanders, and others.
5. Museum of Almudena Cathedral
Consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993, The Almudena Cathedral built in Gothic revival style sits just nearby the Royal Palace mentioned above. When Madrid became the new capital of Spain in 1561, it didn’t have a cathedral. This sight to see in Madrid, Spain was ordered by King Felipe II and the initial idea was to make it the biggest in the world, but the construction of the church only began in 1879. The modern and unique neo-Gothic interior will quickly catch the eye. One of the main attractions inside is the Museum of Almudena Cathedral. By visiting the museum you will get to know more history of the church and archdiocese of Madrid. Chapter Hall and the Cathedral Sacristy will invite you to discover modern mosaics made by the Slovenian priest P. Marko as well as many other objects relating to the history of the church. You will be able to finish your visit with spectacular views from the Dome of Almudena Cathedral. Reaching the heights of over 70 meters it will open up some stunning views over Madrid, including the Royal Palace and the Plaza de Oriente.
6. Temple of Debod
Not everything revolves around Christianity in Spain or Madrid. Temple of Debod will immediately stand out when planning which places to see. Head for the Temple of Debod and find a piece of Egypt in the middle of Spain. This Egyptian temple, originally located in Egypt, was rebuilt and relocated to Madrid. The construction of the Great Dam of Aswan in 1960, posed a big threat to the historical sites and relics in Egypt. Temple of Debod was gifted by the Egyptian government to Spain, as a thank you for helping to save them. Open to the public from 1972, Temple of Debod is a very rare and unique opportunity to see ancient Egyptian architecture outside Egypt, making it the only one of its kind in Spain. Visit at sunset for the best views.
7. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Located on one of the main city’s boulevards, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is a haven for anyone who is interested in the arts. With its immense collection of over 1,000 paintings, you might want to consider which section interests you the most. The German Renaissance, 19th century American Art, Russian Constructivism, Impressionism, Italian Primitives and German Expressionism are just a few of many schools of art you will find here. Witness history and take a peek into the world of art in Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum while you stumble across the paintings of historical figures like Picasso, Caravaggio or Degas.
8. Golden Triangle of Art
The Golden Triangle of Art is located in the center of Madrid and it is made up of three art museums. One of them is the Thyssen Museum mentioned above, while the other two are just as impressive and definitely worth mentioning. Prado Museum has one of the finest collection of European art ranging from the 12th century to the 20th century. Being one of the largest and most visited museums in the world, it hosts thousands of artwork, sculptures, and historical documents. The third piece in this magical triangle of art is the Queen Sofia Museum. This museum is mainly dedicated to the art of Spain. Works of the famous Pablo Picasso can be found here as well as works by the other masters of the brush such as Salvador Dali. Art lover or not, if you are planning to visit Madrid, you definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to witness one of the greatest paintings in the world.
9. Basilica of San Francisco el Grande
Built-in Neoclassic style in the 18th century, Basilica of San Francisco el Grande resides in La Latina neighborhood in Madrid and it hosts the head-spinning dome at the diameter of 108. Constructed in 1760 by King Carlos III, this famous Madrid building is one of the five Royal Basilicas of the city. The church contains three chapels with their own historical decor and different frescoes. It once acted as the National Pantheon and enshrined the remains of politics and famous artists. Basilica of San Francisco el Grande is a great combination of religion, art, architecture, and history.
10. Palacio de Velázquez
Named after the architect Ricardo Velazquez Bosco, it is another noticeable and famous building in Madrid, formerly known as Palacio de la Mineria. This architecture in Madrid hosts arts and craft gallery and it is located between two beautiful small lakes in the royal park Buen Retiro. Holding neoclassical patterns with iron vaults, it was built for the National Exhibition to showcase the achievements of glass-making, ceramics, metallurgy, and mining. Today, you can find it hosting solo exhibitions by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Juan Munoz, and Nan Goldin.
11. Buen Retiro Palace
Torn by war and complicated history, only the traces remain of this once large palace complex. Once it was built and healthy, it consisted of more than 20 buildings accompanied gardens, large squares, and ponds. The palace complex acted as a royal residence until the late 18th century when the Royal Palace of Madrid took its place. Unfortunately, due to poor quality materials and construction, and events like the Peninsular War, the complex was irreparably damaged. The remainings of the Palace complex can be found in one of the biggest parks of Madrid, Buen Retiro Park. Buen Retiro Park is a popular place for locals and visitors, located at the edge of the city center. The park is filled with statues, monuments, small lakes, multiple sports courts, galleries and hosts a variety of events. From May to October, you can listen to free concerts on Sundays from the bandstand in the park. Many other events occur through the year such as the annual book fair, firework shows, cultural and holiday events.
12. Torres Blancas
Rising up to 71 meters (232 feet) into the Spanish skies, it is one of the most intriguing, innovative and complicated residential structures. It was designed by Francisco Javier Saenz De Oiza and finished in 1969. His idea was to design a unique and unconventional residential building which would resemble a growing tree and have great heights. It has 23 floors, ground floor access, offices and in addition to that, it holds a large swimming pool on the roof terrace.
Enjoy these architectural marvels in Madrid
There you go. These are Madrid’s most famous buildings and this list will help you to find the ideal place to visit. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to see the world’s most famous paintings, architectural legacy and walk where the kings of Spain once lived.
Frequently asked questions about famous buildings in Madrid
1. Which architectural buildings in Madrid are best visited by travelers on a budget?
Travelers on a budget should consider paying a visit to major Madrid architectural buildings like the Royal Palace of Madrid, Cybele Palace, Plaza Mayor, and Palacio de Velazquez. Admission to these attractions is either for a minimal fee or free!
2. Which architectural buildings in Madrid are best visited by kids and families?
If you are visiting Madrid with your family, especially your children, you must not miss the fun happenings at Plaza Mayor, Buen Retiro Palace, and Torres Blancas. These famous buildings will delight all ages!
3. Which architectural buildings in Madrid are best visited by couples?
Palacio de Cristal, Museum of Almudena Cathedral, Temple of Debod, and Basilica of San Francisco el Grande are some of the most romantic buildings in Madrid. Take your loved one to these places for a memorable trip!
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