Situated in the very centre of the country Madrid is, spiritually and literally, the Spanish heartland.
The city has all the fiery passion of the Spanish south, mixed with the aristocratic reserve of noble Castile.
The old 'Barrio de las Letras' (Quarter of Letters)
The old 'Barrio de las Letras' (Quarter of Letters) was once the hangout of writers and artists. Today the cobbled lanes are decorated with quotes from a few of the greatest. La Belleza. The Beauty.
Antique azulejos (tiles)
Antique azulejos (tiles) adorn an old bar in 'Barrio de las Letras' (Quarter of Letters)
Open-top bus tours
Travelling on a double-decker bus allows a unique viewpoint of Europe’s historical cities
Parque del Buen Retiro by tricycle
Explore Parque del Buen Retiro by tricycle. See www.diverbikes.es
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is the heart of Madrid.
Calles Preciados and Carmen, two pedestrianised shopping streets, are Madrid's mainstream commercial centre - home to several El Corte Ingles superstores and the massive FNAC bookstore.
Museo del Prado
Museo del Prado remains Spain’s biggest crowd-puller. This magnificent museum boasts far too much to really appreciate in a single day but an insight into Spanish art can be gleaned by concentrating on some of the jewels of the collection in the rooms devoted to Velasquez, Goya and El Greco.
Grounds of Museo del Prado
Madrid is one of Europe's most devoutly artistic cities. Statues and fascinating monuments attract your attention almost at every corner and in every plaza.
The Invisible Man
At the weekend El Retiro is particularly lively with buskers, musicians, jugglers, mimes, acrobats, gypsy fortune-tellers...
Spanish abanico (fans)
Spanish Abanico fans are one of the best and most typical souvenirs. Not only used to keep cool they are also an integral part of traditional flamenco dancing...and even a secret code by which Spanish maidens were able to communicate with their beaus in secret.
The handsome sun-burnished walls of Plaza Mayor make for one of the most evocative and stately of all Castilian plazas...and the perfect haven from the bustling traffic of Calle Mayor and Puerta del Sol.
In Puerta del Sol there is a small plaque embedded in the sidewalk. It marks ‘Kilometre Zero’. It is from this point that all the roads in Spain are measured as they radiate out across the country.
Minnie Mouse is alive and well in Puerta del Sol...
La Mallorquina (the girl from Mallorca) is one of the most famous and oldest bakeries in Madrid and is famous for its Mallorcan ensaimadas or delicious Bayonesas. Located right in the city's heart at Puerta del Sol, it is the ideal place to stock up on snacks before a bus tour.
Paseo del Prado
A building on Paseo del Prado displays figures from a some of the most famous works of art in the Prado Museum.
Gran Via is an architectural showcase of the 1920s and the old Metropolis building (designed by J and R Fevrier) is one of its finest works of art.
Lucia and GPS
A Garmin GPS seems an unlikely plaything for a 10 year old child but it is a great way to occupy kids during a long walk.