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Get to know the town center in a walking tour

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de atocha a sol See this pathway tour in flash

We here recommend an entire walking tour of city center interesting sites. This tour can take 2-3 hours walking if you don't wish to access any of the described sites (depending on your pace and how long you take to watch arounf the proposed sites).

Arrive at Atocha railway station by subway. The sattion itself has some awsome indoor tropical gardens and is the departure for high-speed AVE trains that go to Sevilla. Just accross the station you will find the Reina Sofía Center of Contemporary Art. A hospital during the 18th century, this museum has recently been refurbished and enlarged by the architect Jean Nouvel. Queues during weekends can be moderately long.

Accross the street from the Reina Sofía Museum you will find the Paseo del Prado, a large boulevard planned in the 18th century by king Carlos III, who began to enlarge the city in this area. The nearby Botanical Gardens (L-16) opened up in 1781 are home to over 30.000 species of trees and plants. The central building of the gardens was designed by Sabatini, the architect of Madrid's Royal Palace.

01. Reina Sofía Museum 08. Palacio de Comunicaciones (Former Post Central)
02. Botanical garden 09. The Cibeles Fountain
03. Prado Museum 10. Palacio de Buenavista (palace)
04. Los Jeronimos church 11. Bank of Spain (central bank)
05. Retiro Park 12. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
06. Puerta Alcalá (city gate) 13. Congreso de Diputados (parliament)
07. Casa de América (House of Americas) 14. Puerta del Sol
 

When leaving the garden you will alredy notice the buildings of the Prado Museum.

Close by, the Calle de Felipe IV (L-12), will lead you to the church of Los Jerónimos, a preferred site for catholic marriages and neighbouring the Alfonso XII street, one of the most elegant of the city. In this area are other buildings as the Bolsa (stock exchange) or the Royal Academy of Spanish Language - Real Academia de la Lengua. The Retiro Park or Parque del Buen Retiro is a favorite site for the for the madrileños and where they enjoy the park, attend art exhibitions at the Casa de Vacas, the Palacio de Cristal, or the Palacio de Velázquez. You can enjoy a drink at the terrace of one of the multiple kiosks. Rowing boats or puppets theatre are other nice amusements for a Sunday morning. Formerly this park was a garden that belonged to tha Monasterio de San Jerónimo and later to the Retiro Palace.

The park exit leading to the Plaza de la Independencia (see map) will take you exactly to the Puerta de Alcalá (N-7). This old city gate is today an icon of the city. Follow down the Alcalá street to arrive at the Plaza de la Cibeles (L-8) surrounded by beautiful buildings like the Palacio de Comunicaciones, the Bank of Spain, the Palacio de Linares —today the Casa de América— and the Palacio de Buenavista, headquarters of the Spanish Army with a magnificent garden of roses of which you can appreciate the scent from outside.

 

The nearby Cibeles fountain is from the 18th century and symbolizes the Roman goddess of fertility. It the spot of celebration for Real Madrid's football club fans. Walking down the Paseo del Prado, about 200 meters away from Cibeles, its rival's fountain, Athlético de Madrid's, represented by a statue of Neptune, at Cánovas del Castillo square (L-12). In this same square are the two most famous hotels in Madrid —the Ritz and the Palace— as well as the Palacio de Villahermosa that houses the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza.

MADRIDAt this point you can either go back again to Atocha or follow the walk and ascend for the Carrera de San Jerónimo leading to the Puerta del Sol. If you chose the later, to your right you will come accross the Congreso de los Diputados also known as Las Cortes, the Spanish Parliament and the most important governmental site. The building was built on the base of a convent between 1843 and 1850. Visits to the building are possible on Saturday morning, each of half hour and restricted to a maximum of 50 people. To witness a parliament session it is necessary to book in person on the previous Friday to the session you wish to attend between the 18.00h and the 20.00h, with an ID or passport.

In a final strech you can continue the Carrera de San Jerónimo to the Puerta del Sol, maybe stopping by at L'hardy, and all times classic Madrid restaurant, or to buy some candies at Casa Mira or La Violeta.