Our team of local experts have hand-picked the best tourist attactions in Madrid. As in most capital cities in historical countries, you may well guess there are too many things to enjoy in Madrid during a short stay.
Madrid offers many things: Palaces, amazing museums, sports stadiums, parks, food marekts or plazas… Get ready to enjoy this superb city.
Located at the heart of the Paseo del Prado, almost in front of the Neptune Fountain, the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum shares the limelight with two of the other art museums in Madrid: the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofía museum.
Since these three museums are located very close to each other, this area of Madrid has become popularly known as the Triangle of Art. … Read More
Las Ventas Bullring
Las Ventas is the Bullring in Madrid. It can hold almost 24,000 people and it is used not just for bullfights (corridas) but also for concerts and other cultural activities.
Las Ventas, is 60 meters (196 feet) in diameter and is the second largest after the Plaza de Toros in Ronda, Malaga. Las Ventas is the third largest bull-fighting ring in the world in a number of people it can hold after the rings in México and Valencia in Venezuela.
History if Las Ventas
The name of Las ventas is derived from the neighbourhood where the ring is located (where many ventas where located – a venta is a place to stop for food and something to drink) , the Las Ventas district. It is built in neo-mudejar style (the same used for the Plaza de España in Seville) and its construction finished in 1931.
Las Ventas is, till today, one of several bull-fight rings in Madrid. The original rings date back to the 18th century and they were located near the Manzanares river (an area where activities take place during the San Isidro festivals in May). But before this first plaza was put in place, the Plaza Mayor was used to enjoy bull-fights (the use of Plaza mayores was frequent in many Spanish villages and towns). A permanent ring was built in 1749 near La Puerta de Alcala and by 1872 a new ring, close to El Retiro (La plaza de Toros de Goya), was built. Its capacity jumped to 12,000 people where the Wizink sports centre stands today. But this ring soon became small and a very famous Torero, Joselito, campaigned and promoted the idea of the need of a larger plaza in Madrid. A family donated the land and arquitect José Espeliú (a friend of Joselito) was in charge of the project, that was designed in neo-mudejar style. But Espeliú died before the Ring was finished and it was architect Manuel Muñoz Monasterio (in charge of building the Bernabeu stadium) who took over and finished the project. Artists like the Beatles, AC-DC, Diana Ross or Coldplay have played at Las Ventas.
How many people can Las Ventas hold?
During a corrida Las Ventas can hold almost 24.000 people.
What is a Tendio?
A tendio is the group of seats in which a Bull fighting ring is split. In the Case of Plaza de las Ventas there are 10 tendíos. Some of these tendíos are in the shade, and some face the sun. Others are between shade and sun (depending on the hour of the day) .
Tendíos 9,10, 1 and 2 are in the shade. Tendíos 4,5,6 and 7 are in the sun. And tendiós 3 and 8 are in “Sol y Sombra”. Besides this division, the distance from the ring also splits seats, which can be in Tendido alto, bajo, grada and andanada.
Which tickets are more expensive in Las Ventas and why?
The price of tickets differ based on their shade-sun location (Sol y sombra). Tickets in the shade are always more expensive and also depending on their location from the ring (Alto, ajo, grada or andanada)
Each bullfight needs a president and in the case of Las Ventas the President of each Corrida sits down in the Tendío 10, at the Royal box.
Las Ventas is one of the most visited attractions in Madrid. The tour of Las ventas includes a visit to the different areas and you will understand the purpose of each of the toriles from where the bulls join the Ring and the 5 gates including La Puerta Grande in Tendíos 7 and 8. Leaving Las vEntas during San Isidro through La Puerta Grande is every bullfighter dream.
Outside the Plaza de las Ventas there are sculptures with the image of well-known bull-fighters.
What is the best way to get to Las ventas?
The underground station Ventas is located just in front of the Ring and it is the simplest way to get to Las ventas. Lines 2 (red) and 5 (green) stop at Ventas. Line 2 is the easiest way to get from Sol to Ventas and line 5 is the simplest if you want to get there from Gran Via or Callao
You can enjoy a fantastic 50 minutes walk from Sol to Las Ventas that will take you Cibeles, Puerta de Alcala, El Retiro Park and the Calle de Alcala.
Faunia Madrid is the city’s second zoo. The park opened its doors back in 2001. Back then it was known as the Parque biológico de Madrid, but it was renamed Faunia by philologist and writer, Fernando Beltrán.
Faunia describes itself as a theme and nature park. Faunia looks to provide a more immersive experience to its guests, putting them right in the animal’s natural habitat. The park doesn’t feature as many animals as the Madrid Zoo, but offers a complete sensory experience that is hard to beat as one of Madrid’s best attractions for children and families.
The park spans over 14 hectares with over 3000 animals and 300 different species. The park is divided into 15 different ecosystems and 19 different habitats that are set up with the appropriate humidity, lighting and temperature to accommodate the animals and transport the guests to the actual environment in which they live. You can experience the extreme cold of the arctic in Europe’s largest polar enclosure and the balmy conditions of the Amazon rainforest all in the same visit.
Guests can also enjoy several performances by the animals. The park offers a raptor show where these predatory birds show off their flight skills, a seal demonstration with sea lions and fur seals and, if you are lucky, you can even be the first to meet some of the different baby animals born in the park.
The park also features several rest areas and lakes, a restaurant area and a play area for children, there is even a dinosaur expo with several life-like reproductions.
Finally, Faunia also offers a much more interactive experience, offering a good number of activities where guests can get up close and personal with the animals. You can interact (under the supervision and direction of the parks expert animal keepers) with Fur Seals, manatees, pelicans, penguins, lemurs, parrots, and even crocodiles.
Fuania is a great way to spend the day especially if you are traveling with little ones as they can get face to face with some of their favorite animals.
Our Favorite Faunia Ecosystems:
- North and south pole: Experience the hundreds of penguins that call Faunia home and see how they feed, swim, and frolic in their natural habitat.
- The Jungle: The scene is set perfectly in this enclosure. As soon as you step in you are hit with the heat and humidity of the Amazon jungle.
- Nocturnal animals: This pitch-black enclosure is home to all the Parks nocturnal animals. You can observe bats, owls, and lynx (among others) when they feel most at home: in the dead of night.
Should I visit Faunia or the Madrid Zoo?
The big difference is in the impressiveness and the amount and diversity of the animals. Faunia offers a more unique experience when it comes to interacting with the animals in their natural habitats. The Madrid Zoo is home to a greater number of animals and more exotic ones at that. The Madrid zoo is home to big predators, it features a huge state of the art aquarium and boasts a rare panda exhibit.
How to Get to Faunia Madrid?
Getting to Faunia from the center of Madrid is very easy, especially if you are traveling a car, which will take you about 20 minutes:
If you are using public transportation, it is also very easy to get there, but it will take a tad bit longer, around 45 minutes:
What animals are there in Faunia Madrid?
As we mentioned before there are over 3000 individuals and 300 different species. Some of the more popular animals at the park are the lemurs (several different species), the seals and penguins (again several different species of each), the ocelots and the Nile crocodiles.
Plaza de Oriente
The Plaza de Oriente is one of the most beautiful squares in a city where there are many plazas, and many of them are fantastic. The Plaza de Oriente is next to the imposing Royal Palace of Madrid. Many people pay a visit to La Plaza de Oriente simply on their way to the palace, but it is worth spending a bit of time in this fresh and historical icon of Madrid.
This beautifully laid out square is the largest in the city center and one of the most important landmarks in Madrid. It is adorned with 44 statues of Visigoths and Spanish kings. The Plaza is located just between the Opera House and the Royal Palace. It is actually the best place where to enjoy views of the Royal Palace in Madrid.
Things to enjoy in La Plaza de Oriente
- King Felipe IV statue: Nearly every single city tourist guide of Madrid includes this sculpture as one of the highlights near the Royal Palace. At the center of La Plaza an equestrian sculpture stands out. It is the statue of King Felipe IV. This statue dates back to the seventeenth century and it is considered one of the most important statues in Madrid.
- This statue is important at least for one technical detail and anecdote: it is the first equestrian statue in which the horse rests only on the hind legs. This was a complex technical achievement at the time and to develop it, even the opinion of Galileo Galilei was searched. The author of the sculpture was inspired by Velazquez´s famous painting located at the Prado art gallery. This painting is also one of the most important masterpieces at the Prado.
- Statues of the Spanish Kings: On the northern and southern sides of the Plaza de Oriente you will find a succession of statues. They are part of a group of statues sculpted in the middle of the 18th century and which portrayed all the Spanish Kings. The initial objective was to locate all those statues on the top of the cornice of the Royal Palace.
- The statues were finally not installed there and they were distributed throughout various areas of the city, including of course, the Plaza de Oriente, which holds 20 sculptures that represent the Godos Kings other Kings that played an important role during the Reconquering process. The Godos Kings were the Kings that ruled before the arrival of the Muslim invasion during the XVIIIth century-
- Other places where you can find some of these sculptures are in the Sabatini Gardens below the Royal Palace and also in the Retiro park.
- Captain Melgar monument: In the southern part of the Plaza you will find a small monument dedicated to Captain Melgar. On the pedestal of the soldier salutes the Captain. Captain Angel Melgar was a Spanish soldier who died in 1909 in the Battle of Barranco del Lobo, possibly the most important attack near Melilla during the confrontation with Morocco and the beginning of the XXth century.
- Relax and have a drink on a terrace: Yes, of course! Plaza de Oriente is an ideal place to sit down, relax and enjoy the sunset on one of the many terraces near the Royal Theatre. The most famous terraces re the one of Café de Oriente and La Esquina del Real. These are not the cheapest places to enjoy a drink in Madrid, but they are very stylish and a better experience in our view! This area of Madrid has lots of charm. We recommend you to walk from Plaza de Oriente to the Debod Temple to enjoy great views of the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral, and the Casa de Campo forest. The are near the Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Palace is also a great place to stay in Madrid.
History of La Plaza de Oriente
The origin of the project o build a large square next to the Royal Palace dates back to the 18th century. The architect in charge was Juan Bautista Sachetti. Sachetti, who, as many other artists who developed cities around the world, is not a famous person the average Spaniard would know about. But this Italian architect arrived to Spain to work on the project of the Palace of La Granja in Segovia, and played an important role in projects as important as the Royal Palace itself, the Principe Theatre, the Cathedral of La Almudena, the Bailen viaduct.
However, the first development of la Plaza de Oriente that shaped it to something similar to what we find today dates back to 1808, at the time of the rule of French Jose Bonaparte in Spain. It was around that time when several blocks of houses were demolished, something needed to free the open space needed for the creation of a large square with of garden areas.
Another important milestone in the development of La Plaza de Oriente took place during the time of Queen Isabel II. The construction of the Royal Theatre (the Opera House of Madrid) started in 1836. This building shapes the eastern part of the Plaza de Oriente.
Another big step that shaped the Plaza took place in the late XXth century. In the mid-1990s the tunnel of Calle Bailén was built. This removed all traffic from the Plaza and the construction of large parking underneath the Plaza also contributed to free space for pedestrians. The Plaza we find today has basically been the same as the outcome of the profound renovation of those dates.
Matadero Madrid describes itself as a “Centre for Contemporary Creation”. It is housed within the beautiful grounds of what used to be Madrid’s old slaughterhouse and cattle market, a location of great historic and architectural value. It is run by the Madrid City Council’s Department of Culture and Sport and offers visitors a wide array of activities and services to be enjoyed.
About Matadero Madrid
Matadero Madrid, or the Madrid Slaughterhouse was built on a northwest-southeast plot that was part of what was once the Arganzuela pasture. The original slaughterhouse spanned over twelve hectares with various “neo-Mudejar” style warehouses and buildings, excellent examples of industrial architecture of the transition between the 19th century to the 20th.
It was built in response to the needs of the growing population of the city and as a replacement for the old slaughterhouse-house which had been located where the Puerta de Toledo now stands.
Construction began in 1910 and was completed in 1925 and between 1932 and 1933, an additional building was constructed, a poultry slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse and cattle market facilities remained in operation up until 1996 when they were permanently closed.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the management pavilion (known currently as Casa del Reloj), was transformed into the headquarters of the Municipal Board of the Arganzuela district; the old cattle stables became the permanent headquarters of the National Dance Company (CND) and the National Ballet of Spain.
The old cattle barn is now a tropical greenhouse known as the Palacio de Cristal de la Arganzuela. Also, some of the grounds were repurposed and became a park, the Matadero park.
After the definitive closure of the slaughterhouse in 1996, the facilities were abandoned until 2003 when it was decided to transform the entire facility into a cultural space, which would open its doors.
The warehouses of the Matadero Madrid
Initially, the complex was composed of 48 buildings which later grew to 64 in 1921. The walls were constructed in the typical Toledano style with clear neo-Mudejar influences.
The original door has been preserved since the restoration of the complex and gives access to the facilities of the Municipal Board, Matadero Madrid (on the left), and the area where the greenhouse is located (on the right).
The slaughtering warehouses, a set of five parallel buildings located in the southern part of the enclosure, were arranged parallel to the General Services Pavilion. Nowadays they house a bicycle rental service, an art exhibit, a cafeteria, and a library.
The main building, houses rotating exhibits and expo’s, an arthouse cinema, and a restaurant. There is also a cultural center where you can enjoy a wide variety of activities from history lessons to pilates classes.
The wide open-air area hosts different market places on the weekends. Every Sunday, a farmers market takes place, filled with all sorts of artisanal products and food trucks. Depending on the time of year you will also find an open-air cinema, plays and/or concerts.
In the nineties, the old cattle stables were transformed into the headquarters of the National Ballet of Spain and the National Dance Company.
In 1991, architect Guillermo Costa restored the market hall of cattle and turned it into a nineteenth-century-style greenhouse featuring four microclimates. The greenhouse is actually bigger and houses more species than it’s a more famous cousin in the Atocha train station, and second only to the Madrid Botanical Gardens, located right next to Retiro Park.
Activities of Matadero Madrid
The Matadero features bike rentals services, a public library/reading room a cafeteria, and an excellent little restaurant all year round. You will also always find art expositions and independent movie showings, but the programming is ever-changing.
Also, seasonally the Matadero holds concerts, plays and recitals, and open-air movies.
Where is the Matadero Madrid
The Matadero of Madrid is located right next to Legazpi square, on the shores of the Manzanares river, and a stone’s throw away from the Plaza Rio shopping center.
Rastro de Madrid
El Rastro is Madrid’s most famous street market and a must if you are in the Spanish capital. It’s a great way to spend a lazy Sunday morning exploring the stalls and inspecting all the mismatched trinkets. The Rastro, however, is huge, and navigating it isn’t as simple as it may seem. Therefore, our expert local guides have put together this guide to help you get the most out of your experience.
What is El Rastro?
El Rastro means “the trail”, the type a of trail a bloodhound would follow. This ancient market got its name because it used to be a secondary market to the more prestigious Mercado de la Villa. El Rastro is where meat was sold wholesale to the population. The market became known as “the trail” because of the trails of blood the meat would leave entering and exiting the market.
Over the years El Rastro started evolving into an open-air market that sold, practically anything you can imagine, from pets to antiques, to used clothes. El Rastro is set up every Sunday and remains open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Many of El Rastro’s stalls around Plaza de Cascorro sell, junk, for a lack of a better word: t-shirts, incense burners, Madrid souvenirs, and other generic products. you might have to dig a little deeper to find the really cool finds, and it will be worth you while. Find side streets and hidden plazas to get to the little antique stores and stalls where your chances of finding something excellent are pretty good.
How should I pay?
Almost none of the stalls accept credit cards, so make sure you take cash.
What to eat and drink
It is a tradition for locals to swarm to the bars lining the streets of the market to have a coffee, some tapas, or the customary 12 o’clock vermuth (El Vermú as it’s known). These bars get busy early as you might expect, filling with locals and creating the friendly and sociable atmosphere Madrid is known for.
If you are in the mood for something breakfast-y you know you can’t go wrong with some churros or Porras (Spanish-style funnel cake) that the city is well known for.
If you are looking for a bit more of a traditional tapas experience you can head on over to Restaurante Casa Amadeo Los Caracoles and indulge in some Madrid style snails or Cascorro Bistrot for some French natural wine or perhaps Bar Santurce for some Madrileño tapas. Everything must be washed down with an ice-cold beer (caña) or a tap Vermouth.
Just like any major city, you should be mindful of your belongings. A crowded open-air market can attract pickpocketers so make sure you keep your money in a safe place and use a securely fastened bag. Backpacks are not a great idea, because they are easy to get into, so stick to bags you can keep in front of you.
In which city will you find an open-air market called El Rastro?
The market is located in the center of Madrid around the Plaza de Cascorro and the streets Ribera de Curtidores and Calle de Embajadores, and spans out through the small side streets leading off these larger avenues. The nearest metro station is La Latina Metro station, on Line 5.
When should I go?
The market opens at 9:00 am so we suggest getting there early for a more tranquil experience. Once you have had your fill of perusing the stalls, the area is crawling with great places to have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.
Where is El Rastro?
As we have mentioned, this legendary market is located in the heart of Madrid in the La Latina neighborhood. It is within walking distance of the majority of Madrid’s main attractions. La Latina is one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city and has plenty to see, do, and taste once you are done investigating.