The spectacular Plaza Mayor square, one of the most popular and typical sites in Spain, is a living example of the nascent splendor of the city in the 16th and 17th centuries. Alongside this place, one can immerse in the area known as the "aristocratic center" where the jewel in the crown is the Royal Palace, an imposing building dating from the 17th century featuring a mixture of Baroque and classicist styles. It overlooks the Plaza de Oriente square, the Teatro Real opera house, and the modern cathedral of La Almudena which was consecrated in 1993 by Pope John Paul II. The Puerta del Sol square is surrounded by a varied and select area of shops and businesses, and the "Paseo del Arte" art route – whose name derives from its world-class museums, palaces and gardens – are further elements in an array of monuments which includes particularly the Bank of Spain building, the Palace of Telecommunications, and the fountains of Cibeles and Neptune.
Art and culture play a key role in Madrid's cultural life. The capital has over 60 museums. Highlights include the Prado Museum, one of the world's most important art galleries; the Thyssen- Bornemisza Museum, with over 800 paintings ranging from primitive Flemish artists through to the avant-garde movements. And the Reina Sofía National Art Centre, dedicated to contemporary Spanish art and containing works by Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Juan Gris, among others. Madrid's extensive and beautifully maintained parks and gardens, like the Retiro Park considered as the green lungs of the city with its 125 hectares being home to over 15,000 trees, offer inhabitants and visitors the chance to enjoy the sunshine, stroll, row on its lakes or feed the squirrels, in one of the greenest capitals in Europe.
Madrid's lively nightlife is another key attraction of Spain's capital, due to its variety and the exciting atmosphere to be found in its bars, pubs, clubs and flamenco halls. Other daytime entertainment options include traditional outdoor dances, popular festivities and the San Isidro bullfighting festival, regarded as being the most important in the world.
For full touristic information about the city of Madrid, please refer to esmadrid.com and spain.info