5 unmissable places in Madrid

Of course Madrid has history and culture aplenty, but the city's real treasures are a little less well-know to visitors


Spain Editor

Madrid is not your stereotypical capital city with numerous popular touristy attractions like Rome, Paris or London. It is a city with deep Spanish roots, where you will find love and passion every corner you turn. With our guide, explore the Madrid that is beyond the royal palace and cathedral, Retiro Park, and the San Miguel Market.

Templo de Debod

This is the only piece of Ancient Egyptian architecture in Spain. The temple dates back to the 2nd century B.C. and it was built near Aswan, in the valley that was flooded after the construction of the Aswan dam. Spain helped save the temples of Abu Simbel, and Egypt expressed their gratitude by donating this temple. It was disassembled, transported and reassembled in the Parque del Oeste, near Palacio Real. The location is particularly photogenic at sunset. www.madrid.es

DebodTemplo de Debod

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Stradivarius Quartet

Cremona luthier Antonio Stradivari made about 1,100 stringed instruments in his lifetime, of which about 600 are still in existence. Palacio Real in Madrid has the largest collection of Stradivarius instruments in the world, and in the Stradivarius Room there are two violins, a viola and a cello. Their value is huge, possibly €100 million or more. You have a rare chance to hear them played, in the Salón de Columnas at Palacio Real: on 4 November 2015 the Cuarteto Quiroga will perform Beethoven’s Quartets op. 18/1 and 59/1 using these extraordinary instruments. Tickets go on sale from 28 October 2015, see www.patrimonionacional.es for details.

S.QStradivarius Quartet

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Museo Sorolla

This museum is dedicated to Spanish Impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla, who created many superb works based on the acute observation of light and its patterns in space. Until 31 January 2016 there is also an exhibition explaining the technical details of his techniques. The museum is set in the house that he built for himself and his family, with three studios and a quiet garden, a refreshing change to the bustle of the city. www.museosorolla.mcu.es

MuseoMuseo Sorolla

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Puerta del Sol

This square is the centre of Madrid in many ways. It’s where people gather on New Year’s Eve and count down the seconds to midnight accompanied by the clock of Casa de Correos, eating a grape for each strike of the bell. It’s where demonstrations are staged, and where a bronze statue of a bear and a tree depicts the city’s coat of arms. The bear has been part of the emblem of Madrid since at least 1212, and after a dispute over to whom, church or city council, the nearby forests belonged, a strawberry tree was added, with the bear on its hind legs eating the fruit.

Sunset-kissPuerta del Sol

Guac & Café

This rooftop bar is probably one of Madrid’s best-kept secrets. Sitting on top of the Escuelas Pías, an old university, it's quirky and offers the most scenic view over the city. Locals and visitors gather on the rooftop terraces for the most gorgeous sunset vista. Their menu changes with the seasons, influenced by the best cuisines in the world, especially the Mediterranean. www.gaucafe.com

TerrazaGuac & Café

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1 Palacio Real
2 Puerta del Sol
3 Templo de Debod
4 Museo Sorolla
5 Gau&Café