“No city on earth is more alive than Madrid, a beguiling place whose sheer energy carries a simple message: this city really knows how to live.”
Spain's broad sweep of architectural history provides a glorious backdrop to city life, from medieval mansions and royal palaces to the unimagined angles of Spanish contemporary architecture, from the sober brickwork and slate spires of Madrid baroque to the extravagant confections of the belle époque. Put simply, this is one beautiful city.
El Retiro and the art museums
Few cities boast an artistic pedigree quite as pure as Madrid’s: many art lovers return here again and again. For centuries, Spanish royals showered praise and riches upon the finest artists of the day, from home-grown talents such as Goya and Velázquez to Flemish and Italian greats. Masterpieces by these and other Spanish painters such as Picasso, Dalí and Miró now adorn the walls of the city’s world-class galleries. Three in particular are giants – the Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – but in Madrid these are merely good places to start.
Cuisine and nightlife
Madrid has evolved into one of the richest culinary capitals of Europe. From tapas in sleek temples to all that’s new to sit-down meals beneath centuries-old vaulted ceilings, eating in Madrid is a genuine pleasure. Madrid nights are the stuff of legend, and the perfect complement to the more sedate charms of fine arts and fine dining. Step out into the night-time streets of many Madrid neighbourhoods and you’ll find yourself swept along on a tide of people, accompanied by a happy crowd intent on dancing until dawn.