Madrid Travel Guide
Located on the site of a ninth-century Moorish fortress, the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is the official residence of the Spanish royal family. Completely rebuilt after a 1734 fire, the present-day palace is a granite-and-stone Baroque structure with large Tuscan pillars.
Native painter Joaquín Sorolla was a contemporary and friend of John Singer Sargent, and the parallels in their paintings are immediately apparent. (They are so clear, in fact, that two years ago the Thyssen-Bornemisza mounted an entire show around their commonalities).
Counting DJ’s and bartenders among its owners, this casual corner bar is open all day, helping Madrileños ease the transition from coffee to caipirinha.
This storefront-size bar has a formidable list of wines on a chalkboard. The hearty semi-spicy pepper stuffed with beef and béchamel ($1.50) is a standout.
Created in 1981 by Quito-born painter Oswaldo Guayasamín—famous in South America for his politically charged work—these two coordinating murals juxtapose the historical (Mayan-style figures in deep ocher colors) with the modern (bold typography reminiscent of propagandist posters).
From Spanish monarchs and popes to sports stars and bullfighters, the Wax Museum displays more than 450 life-sized figures. Many are dressed in original clothing, including the likenesses of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Spanish dictator General Franco.
Originally an art school established under royal decree in 1744, the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando) is now home to a collection of work by some of Spain’s most famous artists.
You can find everything from silk handkerchiefs to cotton bandannas mixed in with clothes from the 40’s to the 70’s.
A favorite of fashion designer Carolina Herrera, the Casa Florida flower shop is located in a two-story space within a 19th-century apartment building a block off Paseo de la Castellana.
The property is a boutique, café, and theater all housed within a former brothel.
Helena Rohner’s aesthetically organic jewelry has caught the eye of companies from Paul Smith (which commissioned a special collection) to Copenhagen’s Georg Jensen (for which Rohner created a stainless-steel tea set).
Though there's not yet a tourism infrastructure for hiking with the transhumancia herds in Spain, you can respectfully explore on your own the country's 77,500 miles of transhumance trails through the often-remote Iberian countryside.
Opened in February 2008, the long-awaited Caixa Forum cultural center is an architectural tour de force, created by Swiss Pritzker Prize–winning firm Herzog & de Meuron.
Workaholics want for nothing at this comprehensive business hub—which offers private meeting rooms, computer stations, copy and fax services, and even A/V equipment for rehearsing presentations. A $42 fee buys you full use of the facility for up to four hours.