Madrid Attractions and Activities

Art, Culture & More

Hotel Opera is located in the historical center of the city of Madrid, formerly the locale of the Austrian Dynasty that ruled Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries. The hotel is located near a variety of attractions in Madrid: opposite the Royal Opera House and steps away from the Royal Palace, beautiful Plaza de Oriente, the Descalzas Reales Convent, the Convent of La Encarnación, Plaza Mayor, Gran Vía, Puerta del Sol and the main shopping areas. It is also close to the museums which make up the famous Art Triangle: The world-reknowned Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía.

Top Things to Do in Madrid

Royal Palace

Madrid's Royal Palace is the main tourist building in the city. It was built in the 18th century by the order of Philip V, on the site of the old Alcázar fortress, a former Moorish castle. Sachetti began the work in 1738 and completed it in 1764. Sabatini designed the southeast wing and the great staircase, or staircase of honor. The Palace has a square floor plan with a large central courtyard. Puerta del Príncipe is the doorway on the east side that gives access to the central courtyard. The Sabatini and Campo del Moro Gardens are other Madrid attractions to be found at the Palace, along with a variety of different façades. There is a debate regarding its artistic style - whether it is Baroque or Neo-classical. There are several special rooms, including the Royal Guards' Room, the Columns Room, the Mirrors Room and the Room of King Charles III as well as paintings by Velázquez, Goya, Rubens and El Greco.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is a symbol of Madrid and must not be missed. Building began on this huge open area in the city center in the 17th Century under the orders of Felipe III, whose bronze equestrian statue adorns the square. It was opened in 1620 and is rectangular in shape, with arcades around the edges. This site was formerly the venue for many public events, such as bullfights, processions, festivals, theater performances, inquisition trials and even capital executions. Underneath the arcades there are traditional shops, as well as a host of bars and restaurants. In the square, a number buildings stand out, such as Casa de la Panadería, with its fresco-decorated façade, and Casa de la Carnicería.

Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol is one of the nerve center of Madrid. The first buildings surrounding this area were begun in the 16th century, although the square took on the importance it holds today with the construction of the Casa de Correos building in 1768. In the 19th century, the square was completely transformed and between 1857 and 1862, it took on its current look following the demolition of a number of buildings. This site, "Kilometer Zero" from which all radial roads out of Madrid start, has witnessed many different historical events, including the Esquilache Mutiny in 1766, the resistance against Napoleon's troops on May 2, 1808 and the coronation of Fernando VII in 1812. It features several attractions, including the "Oso y Madroño" (the "Bear and the Strawberry Tree") statue, next to Calle del Carmen, and the equestrian statue of Carlos III standing nine meter tall. The square is closely linked to the New Years Eve tradition of eating twelve grapes at midnight, one on each chime. The large clock that dominates the square is the celebration and symbol of the New Year for many Spanish people.

Gran Vía Avenue

Gran Vía, whose construction began at the beginning of the 20th century, is today a vibrant center of shops and leisure establishments.

Prado Museum

The Prado Museum gallery in Madrid has the most complete collection of Spanish paintings from the 11th to the 18th centuries, and many masterpieces by great universal artists such as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Bosch, Tiziano, Van Dyck and Rembrandt. The quality and variety of its collection makes the museum one of the world's finest. It brings together the best collection of Spanish paintings, the most important works of Flemish and Italian paintings, and noteworthy examples of the German, French and English schools. The masterpieces of universal art such as Velázquez' "Maids of Honour", Goya's "Majas", El Greco's "Nobleman with a hand on his chest", Bosch's "Garden of Delights", and Rubens' "The Three Graces", amongst other priceless pieces, are all to be admired here. Although the museum was created to house paintings and sculptures, it also has major collections of drawings, engravings, coins and medals, as well as items of sumptuous and decorative art.

Reina Sófía Museum

The Reina Sófía Museum is located in the old General Hospital built by architect Sabatini under the order of Charles III of Spain and designated a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1977. It is home to one of the world's most highly esteemed permanent collections. The museum's collections come from two sources, the old MEAC (Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art) and acquisitions made by the museum itself as well as the works left by Catalonian artists, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. The permanent collection is located on the second floor, which is divided into rooms dedicated to Nonell, Anglada Camarasa, Iturrino, Zuloaga, Solana and María Blanchard, among other Spanish painters of the early 20th century; the Cubist movement, Picasso, Dalí, Miró, and a room devoted to "Ideas" (Propuestas), as its epigraph reads. Temporary exhibitions take place at the museum's main venue, in Velázquez Palace and the Crystal Palace. The latest trends by the most novel artists are presented at the so-called "Espacio UNO", which occupies the ground floor of the main building. Picasso's "Guernica" is among the most significant works to be seen here.

Thyssen Museum

The Thyssen Museum houses one of the best private collections of paintings in the world. For several generations, the family collected a large number of works that today are exhibited in this museum. The architect Rafael Moneo remodeled and renovated the Villahermosa Palace, a building from the early 19th century, for this very purpose. It is said that this museum is the perfect complement to the Prado and Reina Sofía Museums, because it bridges the gap in their respective collections. There are splendid works, dating from the 14th century up to the masterly pop art of the 20th century. This is a wonderful place for a journey through the different "Isms" of art, starting with Impressionism. A new building with 18 rooms, which houses the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, has recently been added to the museum. Two of these rooms are used for temporary exhibits.

Retiro Park

In 1630, Philip IV began the construction of the Buen Retiro Palace, near the Los Jerónimos Royal Monastery on land ceded by the Count-Duke of Olivares. Throughout their nearly 400 years of history, the gardens and the park have witnessed many events, ranging from the celebration of major festivals and theater performances to neglect and destruction in the times of the War of Independence. A large part of the land was split off and sold in 1865, and in 1868, the park finally became the property of the city of Madrid. Some of its most noteworthy features are the lake with a monument to Alfonso XII, the Casa de Velázquez and the Crystal Palace, the rose garden and the parterre, which has one of the oldest trees in Madrid, the Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum).

IFEMA

Today, IFEMA (or Feria de Madrid) hosts the staging of more than 80 trade shows at its facilities, which make up one of the most modern and efficient venues in Europe. These trade show events occupy a total of 1.3 million net square meters of exhibit space, feature the participation of some 42,000 companies and welcome 4.5 million visitors, of whom almost 1.5 million are professionals. These figures have made IFEMA the leading trade show venue in Spain and a clear point of reference within the European trade show sector.

Congress Palace

Congress Palace is located just in Castellana Street in the financial district of Madrid. Its avant-garde design has given it great versatility, with the technology and services that are necessary to absorb all market demands. The center has solid experience in organizing conferences, meetings, presentations, exhibits and events. There are large exhibit areas, two auditoriums, an all purpose hall with an area of 2,200 square meters and thirty rooms and halls with different capacities.