Historic & Modern Madrid Tour Historic & Modern Madrid Tour Historic & Modern Madrid Tour

Historic & Modern Madrid Tour

  • 1 h 40 min
    • 48 € / person if you are 4 people
    • 60 € / person if you are 3 people
    • 84 € / person if you are 2 people
    • 156 € / in case of 1 person
  • to 4 sites
  • Pick-up in certain
    hotels included

Different and fun


Madrid is a city plenty of wonders. Discover them from a very special car, a handmake Vintage car unique in the world.
The audio-guide will let you know the history of the most emblematic places and their funniest anecdotes.


A spectacular tour through the heart of Madrid, including the Royal Palace, Puerta del Sol, Plaza de la Cibeles, the Letras district, Puerta de Alcalá, the triangle of art, etc.


You can also get to know modern Madrid with its residential, business and Shopping areas and see the Santiago Bernabéu football stadium, home of Real Madrid.


Let yourself be surprised!

For your convenience you can choose to have the car pick you up at your hotel (service available from most hotels in the center of the city).

The Tour will start at the point of the route closest to the Pick-up Hotel and will end at the same point. Drop-off back at the Hotel is not available.

When filling the reservation, include the small children who will travel in order to equip the car correctly. No extra amount will be charged for this equipment.

You can take pictures and videos freely.

To enjoy a better view the roof of the car will be either fully open or use a transparent roof
during the tour. This will depend on the weather conditions.

The travellers must respect the Spanish traffic regulations, including the use of seat belts throughout the journey.

Back PLACES OF INTEREST
Prado Museum
We are now in the Paseo del Prado within the so-called art triangle, one of the most beautiful and refined places in the world. In just over a kilometer, you’ll see the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Reina Sofía Museum. Inaugurated in 1819, the Prado Museum is one of the most important galleries in the world, with more than 8,600 paintings and 700 sculptures. Within it, you can admire the works of Spanish painters such as Goya, Velázquez, Sorolla, Rivera and Zurbarán, as well as Italian masters like Botticelli and Caravaggio, and Flemish icons including Rubens and Van der Weyden. Nearby is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, an immense private collection of 800 works, of which 700 reside here in Madrid and 100 in Pedralves in Barcelona. Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza donated the collection so it could be appreciated as a whole rather than being scattered around the world. In order for the works to remain in Spain, his last wife, the Spaniard Carmen Cervera, took on a crucial role in the negotiation process. After the mediation had finished, the State bought the collection for a "symbolic" price of 300 million dollars and moved it to King Carlos III’s Villahermosa Palace. The palace was restored by Rafael Moneo, the same architect responsible for extending the Prado. Over time, the collection expanded to complete the state-owned collections of the Prado and Reina Sofía museums.
We are now in the Paseo del Prado within the so-called art triangle, one of the most beautiful and refined places in the world. In just over a kilometer, you’ll see the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Reina Sofía Museum. Inaugurated in 1819, the Prado Museum is one of the most important galleries in the world, with more...
Puerta de Alcalá
Further along is the Puerta de Alcalá, a work of Francisco Sabatini that dates back to 1778. The gate is one of the most well-known monuments of the city, and one of the five royal gates of Madrid. As you can see, the door has the shape of a triumphal arch, but with five doorways instead of the usual three. Its two facades are different on each side. For example, on one side the structure has ten semi-columns, while on the other we see two columns accompanied by pilasters. Furthermore, on one side we can see Roman-style military trophies crowning the central gate, while on the other we can see four children wearing emblems which represent the four cardinal virtues: Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, and Prudence. The façade is different on each side because Sabatini sent several designs to King Carlos III who approved two separate sketches by mistake. The artist chose the most diplomatic solution possible by merging both designs into one. The Puerta de Alcalá is one of the great symbols of the city and has witnessed many historical events. On its columns, you can see bullet holes from both the War of Independence against Napoleon in 1808 and the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939.
Further along is the Puerta de Alcalá, a work of Francisco Sabatini that dates back to 1778. The gate is one of the most well-known monuments of the city, and one of the five royal gates of Madrid. As you can see, the door has the shape of a triumphal arch, but with five doorways instead of the usual three. Its two facades are different on each...
El Retiro Park
Right next to the Puerta de Alcalá is El Retiro Park, which was built in the first half of the 16th century for the enjoyment of King Felipe IV and his court. At that time, the park was the scene of lavish festivities which saw participation from the monarchy and European nobility. Count Duque de Olivares, however, was the royal power of the empire at that time. In the center is a 280 by 140-meter lagoon, which was built by order of Felipe IV so he could recreate naval battles. Since the beginning of the first Spanish Republic in 1873, El Retiro has been a vast public space, a 125-hectare green oasis in the center of the city which is home to more than 15,000 trees. Within it, you will find musicians, palm readers, puppetry shows and playgrounds for children, terraces, and much more. You can also rent a boat to paddle around the lagoon or enjoy a relaxing stroll across its shore. Inside the park are the Palacio de Velázquez, one of the venues of the Reina Sofia Museum, as well as the Palacio de Cristal with its a 23-meter dome, one of the best examples of iron architecture in Madrid. Both are open to the public and admission is free.
Right next to the Puerta de Alcalá is El Retiro Park, which was built in the first half of the 16th century for the enjoyment of King Felipe IV and his court. At that time, the park was the scene of lavish festivities which saw participation from the monarchy and European nobility. Count Duque de Olivares, however, was the royal power of the em...
Plaza de Colón
The first thing you’ll see here is the National Library. The collection boasts more than 5 million books, including the first edition of Don Quixote from 1606. A little further along is the Plaza de Colón, which is presided over by a monument to Christopher Columbus that was built in 1885. In the middle of the square, you can see the largest flag of Spain. At 50 meters high, this giant 300m2 flag has been used for all of Spain’s most important military tributes. These days, retirees, families, and young skateboarders mingle together here. We can also see the Wax Museum and the Tourist Information Office. On the north side, we can see the Hard Rock Café and the Platea. These are part of a buzzing gastronomic and entertainment zone made up of several Michelin star restaurants and about 20 bars - something to offer for every taste.
The first thing you’ll see here is the National Library. The collection boasts more than 5 million books, including the first edition of Don Quixote from 1606. A little further along is the Plaza de Colón, which is presided over by a monument to Christopher Columbus that was built in 1885. In the middle of the square, you can see the largest...
The ABC Building
We are now in the Paseo de la Castellana, which shows us the full extent of modern-day Madrid. Our tour crosses Madrid from north to south, passing distinct aspects of the city such as commercial office buildings, government agencies, mansions, shopping areas, restaurants, museums, and the legendary Santiago Bernabéu football stadium, which is the home of Real Madrid. Along the way, you will see many of the most luxurious hotels in the city such as the Villamagna, Intercontinental, Miguel Angel, and Hesperia. One of the unique buildings of this street is the ABC Building, the former headquarters of the Blanco y Negro Magazine and the ABC Newspaper. The complex is actually comprised of three connected buildings, one facing Serrano Street, another facing the Paseo de la Castellana, and third intermediate building. The interior integrates various art nouveau elements such as stained glass windows, murals, and wrought iron. Since 1995, the building has been a popular commercial and leisure center among locals.
We are now in the Paseo de la Castellana, which shows us the full extent of modern-day Madrid. Our tour crosses Madrid from north to south, passing distinct aspects of the city such as commercial office buildings, government agencies, mansions, shopping areas, restaurants, museums, and the legendary Santiago Bernabéu football stadium, which is...
Museum of Sculptures
Hidden under the Enrique de la Mata Bridge is the Public Art Museum of Madrid, which was formerly known as the Museum of Sculptures. This permanent outdoor museum houses 17 abstract works by Spanish sculptors, including the splendid "La sirena varada" by Eduardo Chillida, which hangs from the structure of the bridge.
Hidden under the Enrique de la Mata Bridge is the Public Art Museum of Madrid, which was formerly known as the Museum of Sculptures. This permanent outdoor museum houses 17 abstract works by Spanish sculptors, including the splendid "La sirena varada" by Eduardo Chillida, which hangs from the structure of the bridge.
Natural Science Museum
A little further along at the top of a small hill is the Natural Science Museum. Founded in 1771, it is among the oldest of its type in the world. The museum shares its building with the School of Engineering and contains permanent exhibitions on Biodiversity, Minerals, Fossils, and Human Evolution. In the park outside is a statue of Isabel the Catholic, who is seen riding on horseback in the company of two famous Spaniards. The first is the Great Captain Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, one of the most prestigious military figures of 15th century Europe. The other is Cardinal Pedro González de Mendoza, who was so influential during the Catholic Monarch era that he came to be known as the third King. To the side is a marble-clad 7.7-meter concrete cube which was donated by the people of Madrid in commemoration of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.
A little further along at the top of a small hill is the Natural Science Museum. Founded in 1771, it is among the oldest of its type in the world. The museum shares its building with the School of Engineering and contains permanent exhibitions on Biodiversity, Minerals, Fossils, and Human Evolution. In the park outside is a statue of Isabe...
AZCA Financial District
Now we can see the austere buildings of the so-called New Ministries. Next up is the BBVA building. The tower was built in 1981 and is the only specially designed rusted building in Madrid. The continuous steel sun shield that surrounds each floor is treated with a controlled oxidation technique, which gives it that reddish look. Further along is Madrid’s first large commercial civic center. Its construction began in 1968, which included a novel network of tunnels for cars to allow it to free up space for the pedestrian zone. This area includes a large commercial space in which El Corte Inglés, the biggest department store franchise in Spain, has its most important stores and sales. Inside is everything from a gourmet food court to the most exclusive designer labels and all kinds of high-quality housewares. Nearby is the biggest Zara store in the world which spans over 6,000 m2. There are also a number of shopping outlets on Calle Orense which runs parallel to La Castellana, as well as the Moda Shopping mall. For shopaholics, this area is a must. Next up, we can see the white Picasso Tower. As the highest of the set, it was built in 1988.
Now we can see the austere buildings of the so-called New Ministries. Next up is the BBVA building. The tower was built in 1981 and is the only specially designed rusted building in Madrid. The continuous steel sun shield that surrounds each floor is treated with a controlled oxidation technique, which gives it that reddish look. Further alon...
Estadio S. Bernabéu
Next, you can see the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the official home of Real Madrid. Football is king in Spain, and most agree Real Madrid is the greatest team of the capital. Inside the stadium is a museum, which is one of the most visited in the city. Those lucky enough to witness a football match during their stay will not regret it, as a game here is among the city’s most memorable experiences.     The stadium is being completely remodeled to adapt to 21st-century demand, including a digital façade to project images on the exterior, a retractable roof, commercial galleries and stores, a 360º video marker, and a high-tech Interactive Museum.
Next, you can see the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the official home of Real Madrid. Football is king in Spain, and most agree Real Madrid is the greatest team of the capital. Inside the stadium is a museum, which is one of the most visited in the city. Those lucky enough to witness a football match during their stay will not regret it, as a ga...
Council of Scientific Investigations
We are now on Calle Serrano within the El Viso neighborhood, one of the most exclusive districts in Madrid. Its name comes from a historical colony which was built between 1933 and 1936. Most of the neighborhood consists of two-story single-family homes which were inhabited by the intellectuals of the time. The per-capita income here is the highest in Spain. Here we can see the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations, also known as the CSIC, which is a government agency founded to promote research as well as scientific and technological development. It has more than 14,000 employees who generate over 20% of Spain’s scientific output. Other smaller centers are distributed throughout the country’s numerous autonomous communities. The building was used to film the successful Spanish TV series "La casa de Papel." The real “Fábrica de Moneda y Timbre” building in which the show is set was not used in the production because it is located on a narrow street with a lot of traffic noise, which made it challenging to shoot exterior scenes.
We are now on Calle Serrano within the El Viso neighborhood, one of the most exclusive districts in Madrid. Its name comes from a historical colony which was built between 1933 and 1936. Most of the neighborhood consists of two-story single-family homes which were inhabited by the intellectuals of the time. The per-capita income here is the hig...
Lázaro Galdiano Museum
We are now arriving at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum. This formerly private collection now belongs to the state and houses a vast and heterogeneous collection which is characterized by its broad interest in all manner of arts and techniques. Consisting of some 12,600 pieces and boasting a 120,000 volume library, this exceptional collection was assembled by the wealthy publisher José Lázaro Galdiano. Akin to a modern-day Marco Polo, Galdiano made his fortune through his publishing house and his marriage to a wealthy Argentine lady in 1904. Upon becoming a widower in 1932, he began to travel alone and would reside outside of Spain, especially in Paris and New York, where he gathered new artworks to house in his palace in Madrid. When he passed away without children in 1947, he left his vast collection to the Spanish state together with his Madrid residence, which was the headquarters of his "La España Moderna" magazine.
We are now arriving at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum. This formerly private collection now belongs to the state and houses a vast and heterogeneous collection which is characterized by its broad interest in all manner of arts and techniques. Consisting of some 12,600 pieces and boasting a 120,000 volume library, this exceptional collection was...
Luxury stores of Salamanca neighborhood
We are currently going through the Salamanca district, one of the most important areas of Madrid, both for its strange layout and for the residents who have traditionally inhabited its emblematic streets. Its construction dates from the second half of the 19th century during the reign of Isabel II. At the time, the city was undergoing a period of large-scale urban expansion. The neighborhood owes its name to Marquis of Salamanca who, inspired by Baron Haussmann's project to expand Paris, conceived a new site where carefully planned buildings would house the aristocratic and bourgeois classes. This upmarket neighborhood was the first in Madrid to enforce municipal planning regulations. Today, the famous Golden Mile, which includes the ritzy Ortega and Gasset streets, is home to the city’s most exclusive stores such as Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Hermés, Valentino, Gucci, and Loewe. You can also find several Michelin star restaurants and the most exclusive nightlife in Madrid.
We are currently going through the Salamanca district, one of the most important areas of Madrid, both for its strange layout and for the residents who have traditionally inhabited its emblematic streets. Its construction dates from the second half of the 19th century during the reign of Isabel II. At the time, the city was undergoing a per...
National Archaeological Museum
We are now approaching Calle Goya, one of the most important streets in the city, as we arrive at Plaza de Colón. Further along is the National Archaeological Museum, which shares a building with the National Library. It was founded in 1867 by Isabel II with the aim of preserving Spain's past. The museum takes us on a journey through Spanish history that begins in ancient times, showing everything from pre-Romanesque remains to more contemporary pieces. Works include the Lady of Elche, the tomb of Pozo Moro from the 6th century BC, and the Livia statue from the beginning of the 1st century. The museum has been recently renovated to incorporate the latest technology for the enjoyment of its guests. Right in front of the museum is Calle Jorge Juan, which has become the trendiest street in Madrid for its vast array of restaurants and boutiques.
We are now approaching Calle Goya, one of the most important streets in the city, as we arrive at Plaza de Colón. Further along is the National Archaeological Museum, which shares a building with the National Library. It was founded in 1867 by Isabel II with the aim of preserving Spain's past. The museum takes us on a journey through Spanis...
Plaza de Cibeles

We are arriving at Plaza de Cibeles, in the center of which lies the emblematic Cibeles Fountain which was sculpted in 1782 following a design from Ventura Rodríguez. During the Spanish Civil War, it was covered with sandbags to protect it from damage, as were many of the capital's great public works.

Each of the four corners of the square is dominated by imposing buildings, which were built between the late 18th and early 20th centuries. The most impressive is the Communications Palace, which has been the seat of the Madrid City Council since 2007 and remains one of the most iconic buildings in the city. You can also see Palacio de Linares which is the current headquarters of the House of America. The building is believed to be haunted. In the other corners, we have the Bank of Spain and the Army General Headquarters.

The Plaza de Cibeles is where triumphant celebrations take place for the victories of Real Madrid. The team has won countless national and international titles over the years.

Calle de Alcalá

We are now entering Calle de Alcalá. With 720 residences, this has been the longest street in Madrid since 1992. In this part of the street we can see the gardens of the Buenavista Palace which surround the General Army Headquarters and date back to 1777. Right in front of these, we can see the Banco de España building, then the Zurich Building, and then the Círculo de Bellas Artes Building, which was built by Antonio Palacios in 1926. It is crowned by a 3,000 kg statue of the goddess Minerva that stands six and a half meters tall. Up top, there is also a rooftop terrace which is popular among locals on hot summer evenings to relax over a drink with magnificent views of the city.

Gran Vía

We are now entering the Gran Vía, one of the main arteries of the city and one of its most distinguished avenues. Frantic, delirious, and at times chaotic, the pulse of the Gran Via is undeniably addictive. Nowadays, the avenue and its surroundings – such as Fuencarral street, the Callao Square, and Preciados Street - are full of restaurants, fashion retailers, cinemas, and theaters, making it one of the most popular leisure spots in the city. The area is often crowded with locals and visitors, so it is best to visit outside the rush hour.

The Gran Vía has been the scene of all kinds of events, one of the most interesting of which was an impromptu bullfight that took place on January 23, 1928. The incident began when a brave bull ran amok on the streets of Madrid after it escaped on its way to a slaughterhouse, causing widespread panic and injuring several people in its path.

First, it went on a rampage in the San Ildefonso Market, devouring vegetables in front of a crowd of shocked shopkeepers. Next, it made its way down the Gran Vía to cause more mayhem, forcing frightened onlookers to hide behind lampposts to escape the carnage.  

As fate would have it, the rogue bull would eventually face off against bullfighter Diego  Mazquirán, who taunted it with his cape until an onlooker could bring him his sword from his home on nearby Valverde Street.

They say that after the final fatal thrust, the bullfighter was carried to a nearby bar on the shoulders of an adoring crowd to celebrate the great triumph. The story was the talk of the town for some time and was picked up by numerous international newspapers.

Plaza de Callao

We are arriving at Plaza de Callao, Madrid’s "Times Square" which is full of life and color at all hours. We will continue along the Gran Vía towards Plaza de España. This section of the Gran Vía is full of theaters and musicals, making it one of the most valued entertainment hubs of the capital.

Plaza de España

Further on we have the Plaza de España, one of the largest squares in Madrid. In the center, you can see a monument to Miguel de Cervantes who is the author of Don Quixote.

Within the square stands the Torre de Madrid, a massive tower designed by the Otamendi brothers who finished their prized construction in 1960. For some years, Torre de Madrid was the tallest concrete building in the world. It was the also tallest building in Spain until the Torrespaña telecommunications tower was completed in 1982. Not to mention the tallest building in the European Union up until 1967.

Temple of Debod

Now we’re arriving at the Principe Pio Mountain, the home of the old Cuartel de la Montaña barracks where General Fanjul proclaimed the Spanish Civil War on July 19, 1936. Today you can see a monument to those who perished during the assault on the barracks.

 

At the top of the hill, you will find the Temple of Debob, an authentic Egyptian temple in the heart of Madrid. The Egyptian government donated the temple to Spain in recognition of the scientific and financial assistance they provided in saving a vast heritage area during a flood of the Aswan Dam. The 2,200-year-old temple was brought over from Egypt, stone by stone. We recommend visiting at sunset to enjoy the magnificent city views.

Now we are going to enter the heart of the Madrid de los Austrias, which was the name given to the old town during the reign of the Habsburg dynasty, which began with Charles I.

These Renaissance and Baroque buildings are among the most picturesque in the city. The area includes Plaza de Isabel II, popularly known as the Opera Square, the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral, the Plaza Mayor, the San Miguel market, and much more.

Palacio Real

We are now looking at the Sabatini Gardens. Despite their name, these were not designed by the architect Francesco Sabatini. They are, however, located around the old royal stables which the famous architect did indeed design. The two-hectare gardens feature geometrically arranged flower beds, fountains, sculptures, and ornamental plants, all of which create a peaceful and reflective atmosphere that sharply contrasts with the hectic concrete world outside.

Past the gardens and next to the Cathedral lies the Royal Palace, which is one of the best preserved in Europe. As the royal residence from Carlos III until Alfonso XIII, the Royal Palace of Madrid takes us on a journey through the history of Spain. Although it is not inhabited by the current monarchs, who live in the Palacio de la Zarzuela, the site is still considered the official royal residence. Its fantastic Royal Kitchen is a highlight of any visit, given that it is the most outstanding example of a historic kitchen of any European royal residence. Between October and July, visitors can watch the changing of the guard at 11 a.m. The palace itself can be visited from 10 a.m.

The Royal Theatre

We are now outside the Royal Theater. Despite being inaugurated in 1850, it was not until 1997 that it became the magnificent opera house that it is today. It is located in Plaza de Isabel II, which is known by the locals as Plaza de la Opera.

The square is presided over by a statue of Queen Isabel II, a great lover of churros and chocolate, which are still popular in Madrid today. The most famous place to taste this local delicacy is the nearby San Ginés Chocolatería, which attracts both early birds and night owls looking for a sweet snack. It is open 24 hours a day.

The Almudena Cathedral

Next to the Royal Palace is the Almudena Cathedral. Even though its first stone was laid way back in 1883, it is one of Spain’s most modern cathedrals because it was not consecrated by Pope John Paul II until 1993. This is because religion in Madrid depended on the diocese of Toledo until the end of the 19th century. The diocese of Madrid-Alcalá de Henares was created during this time, which motivated a construction project that would last 110 years. For this reason, Madrid does not have a medieval cathedral, unlike other Spanish cities.

The Almudena Cathedral was the scene of the wedding between King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia. Its museum houses the Patrons of the city - the Virgin of the Almudena and San Isidro Labrador – and takes us on a tour through the life of the Church through the seven sacraments. Some of the best panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed from its dome.

San Francisco El Grande

Next, we have the San Francisco el Grande, a monumental basilica which houses the paintings of Zurbarán and Goya. Its enormous dome, which is the third largest in Christianity, is a structural highlight. It was built by Francisco de las Cabezas between 1761 and 1768, the year in which Antonio Polo relieved it. The church consists of a circular central floor which is covered by a giant 33-meter dome. Surrounding it are several smaller chapels, each with their own mini domes. An exhibition of paintings from the 17th to the 19th century can be found within.

Plaza de la Villa y Plaza Mayor
We are now on Calle Mayor, a street which connects the Royal Palace with the Puerta del Sol. Here we can find La Plaza de la Villa, one of the most important medieval centers of Madrid and the former seat of the city council. Next, we pass through Plaza de San Miguel which houses the Mercado de San Miguel. The market has been converted into a gourmet food center with an excellent selection of traditional tapas, enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike. Nearby Plaza Mayor features a statue of Felipe II and is another iconic Madrid square. Throughout history, it has held weekly markets, bullfights, and even executions during the Inquisition. Today it serves as a place for locals to meet and mingle. Along Plaza Mayor are numerous tapas bars. As a Madrid gastronomic institution, the tapa is a bite-sized snack of cheese, sausages, olives, anchovies or other fried goods served on a small bit of bread. Its origin supposedly comes from people putting a slice of bread over the top of a glass of wine to stop the flies from getting inside. Over time, tuna, sausage, and other ingredients were added to the bread, and thus the tapa was born.
We are now on Calle Mayor, a street which connects the Royal Palace with the Puerta del Sol. Here we can find La Plaza de la Villa, one of the most important medieval centers of Madrid and the former seat of the city council. Next, we pass through Plaza de San Miguel which houses the Mercado de San Miguel. The market has been converted into...
Puerta del Sol
During the Bourbons dynasty, especially throughout the reign of the “Mayor King” Charles III, much of the urban and monumental layout of Madrid came to fruition. Examples include the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de la Cibeles, City Hall, the Puerta de Alcalá, Retiro Park and the art triangle of the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofía museums. Now we are arriving at the Puerta del Sol, the geographical center of Spain and Kilometer 0 of its radial highway network. Here, revelers gather in their thousands around its clock on December 31st to welcome in the New Year. You can also see the famous statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, which is a well-known symbol of the city. There are several theories around the origin of the Bear and Strawberry Tree. According to López de Hoyos, a bear features in the Madrid coat of arms because the beasts used to wander freely around these lands in ancient times. However, others reject this theory and assume its origin to the arrival of the Romans, who may have created an insignia regarding some sort of courageous deed with a bear. Historian José Alba claims that the two-footed beast is not a male bear, but a female bear. So there’s that! As for the Strawberry Tree, several theories abound. Among them is that the bear is seeking out strawberries to alleviate a pain in its eye.
During the Bourbons dynasty, especially throughout the reign of the “Mayor King” Charles III, much of the urban and monumental layout of Madrid came to fruition. Examples include the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de la Cibeles, City Hall, the Puerta de Alcalá, Retiro Park and the art triangle of the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofía museums....
Barrio de las Letras
The Barrio de las Letras, which we are entering now, bears its name in honor of the great wordsmiths who inhabited its streets during the Golden Age: Cervantes, Quevedo, and Lope de Vega. Today, this is one of the most popular areas in Madrid due to its charming pedestrian thoroughfares and its buzzing shops and restaurants, which come alive on the weekend. Another highlight is the nightlife upon its terraces, the epicenter of which is Plaza de Santa Ana, which we will visit next.
The Barrio de las Letras, which we are entering now, bears its name in honor of the great wordsmiths who inhabited its streets during the Golden Age: Cervantes, Quevedo, and Lope de Vega. Today, this is one of the most popular areas in Madrid due to its charming pedestrian thoroughfares and its buzzing shops and restaurants, which come alive o...
Calle Huertas
We are now entering Calle Huertas, the main thoroughfare of the Barrio de las Letras. The name of the street comes from it once being the road that led to the vegetable gardens which provided food for the city. In those days, the street had a bad reputation as a place for prostitutes and criminals. Later, its status would change as the neighborhood became home to artists and writers. Walking down the street, we can see famous quotes from writers like Quevedo, Luis de Góngora, and Bécquer on the pavement. Another famous pedestrian street is the nearby Cervantes Street, which is where the writer lived and died. The street is home to the house museum of Lope de Vega, one of the few remaining houses in Madrid that retains its original patio. Nearby we find the church of San Ildefonso of the Convent of the Discalced Trinitarians, which was built between 1673 and 1698. Miguel de Cervantes was buried in this monastery, a fact made clear to us through a commemorative plaque by Ponciano Ponzano. This is one of the great ironies of Madrid. The house of Lope de Vega is in the street dedicated to Cervantes. Meanwhile, Cervantes was buried in Lope de Vega street. Furthermore, Góngora lived on the corner of Lope de Vega and Quevedo street. None of these streets actually correspond to the writer whose name they bear.
We are now entering Calle Huertas, the main thoroughfare of the Barrio de las Letras. The name of the street comes from it once being the road that led to the vegetable gardens which provided food for the city. In those days, the street had a bad reputation as a place for prostitutes and criminals. Later, its status would change as the neighbo...
Duque de Medinaceli Street
We are now on Duque de Medinaceli Street. Here, we can see the Basilica of Our Father Jesus of Medinaceli, which is the Catholic Church on your right. The temple stands over the former convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians of Our Lady of the Incarnation. Within the basilica is the Cristo de Medinaceli, an image that generates great devotion among the people of Madrid. It was rescued through a payment of its weight in gold to Sultan Muley Ismail in 1682.
We are now on Duque de Medinaceli Street. Here, we can see the Basilica of Our Father Jesus of Medinaceli, which is the Catholic Church on your right. The temple stands over the former convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians of Our Lady of the Incarnation. Within the basilica is the Cristo de Medinaceli, an image that generates great devotion amo...
Plaza de las Cortes
We are now arriving at the Plaza de las Cortes. To the front and to your left you can see the Congress of Deputies, a building which dates back to 1850. The main door of the Congress is flanked by two lions, which were forged from the bronze of the cannons captured in the African War in 1860. Commonly known as Daoiz and Velarde, the lions are the official heroes of the May 2 uprising against the invading troops. The square houses a sculpture dedicated to Miguel de Cervantes, the creator of Don Quixote. You can also see the Villa Real Hotel and the lavish Hotel Palace which became the seat of the Provisional Government during the failed coup d'état of February 23, 1981, and which has hosted numerous illustrious guests over the years.
We are now arriving at the Plaza de las Cortes. To the front and to your left you can see the Congress of Deputies, a building which dates back to 1850. The main door of the Congress is flanked by two lions, which were forged from the bronze of the cannons captured in the African War in 1860. Commonly known as Daoiz and Velarde, the lions are...
Museo Thyssen
Here we are in the Thyssen Museum, which houses works by Dürer, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Picasso. The list of great artistic names found within is impressive, not least considering it is the result of only two generations of collecting. All Western artistic movements can be seen here, from 13th and 14th-century paintings to those of the final decades of the 20th century.
Here we are in the Thyssen Museum, which houses works by Dürer, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Picasso. The list of great artistic names found within is impressive, not least considering it is the result of only two generations of collecting. All Western artistic movements can be seen here, from 13...
ROUTE MAP