Top Historic Sights in Madrid, Spain

Explore the historic highlights of Madrid

Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor was built during Philip III"s reign (1598–1621) and is a central plaza in the city of Madrid. It is rectangular in shape, measuring 129 m × 94 m and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings having 237 balconies facing the Plaza. It has a total of nine entrance ways. The origins of the Plaza go back to 1577 when Philip II asked Juan de Herrera, a renowned Classical architect ...
Founded: 1617 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid) is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family at the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies. Several rooms in the palace are regularly open to the public except during state functions. The palace is located on the site of a 9th-century Alcázar (Muslim-era fortress), near the town of Magerit, constructed as an outpost by Muhammad I of C ...
Founded: 1738-1755 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Cybele Palace

The Cybele Palace (Palacio de Cibeles) is currently the seat of the City Council, it opened in 1919 as the headquarters of Correos, the Spanish postal and telecommunications service. It was designed by Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi. Like the eighteenth century fountain in front of it, the palace has become an emblematic monument of the city.  
Founded: 1907 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Almudena Cathedral

When the capital of Spain was transferred from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the seat of the Church in Spain remained in Toledo and the new capital had no cathedral. Plans to build a cathedral in Madrid dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena were discussed as early as the 16th century but even though Spain built more than 40 cities in the new world during that century and plenty of cathedrals, the cost of expanding and kee ...
Founded: 1879 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Oratorio del Caballero de Gracia

Oratorio del Caballero de Gracia is one of the best hidden architectural treasures in Madrid. This church looks small from the outside, but inside it unfolds into a neoclassical temple by Juan de Villanueva, which looks like a Roman basilica. Among its most noteworthy internal features are the single-piece granite columns, the vault and the sculptures of the Virgen del Socorro, signed by Francisco Elías in 1825, and of ...
Founded: 1786-1795 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is an art museum in Madrid, located near the Prado Museum on one of city"s main boulevards. It is known as part of the 'Golden Triangle of Art', which also includes the Prado and the Reina Sofia national galleries. The Thyssen-Bornemisza fills the historical gaps in its counterparts" collections: in the Prado"s case this includes Italian primitives and works f ...
Founded: 1992 | Location: Madrid, Spain

San Ginés Church

The church of San Ginés is one of the oldest churches in Madrid. It was one of the churches of the medieval Madrid, of Mozarab origin, from between the 12th and 13th centuries, and its name comes from the fact that it was dedicated to the patron saint of notaries and secretaries, Saint Genesius of Arles (San Ginés de Arlés). it was rebuilt in 1645. The church is preceded by an atrium enclosed by railings. It h ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Madrid, Spain

Museo Reina Sofía

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS, also called the Museo Reina Sofía) is Spain"s national museum of 20th-century art. The museum was officially inaugurated in 1992, and is named for Queen Sofía. The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain"s two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Cer ...
Founded: 1992 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Convent of Las Descalzas Reales

The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, literally the 'Monastery of the Royal Barefooted', resides in the former palace of Emperor Charles V and Empress Isabel of Portugal. Their daughter, Joanna of Austria, founded this convent of nuns of the Poor Clare order in 1559. Throughout the remainder of the 16th century and into the 17th century, the convent attracted young widowed or spinster noblewomen. Each w ...
Founded: 1559 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Temple of Debod

The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. The shrine was originally erected 15 kilometres south of Aswan in Upper Egypt, very close to the first cataract of the Nile and to the great religious center in Philae dedicated to the goddess Isis. In the early 2nd century BC, Adikhalamani (Tabriqo), the Kushite king of Meroë, started its construction by buildin ...
Founded: 1972 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Church of San Nicolás

San Nicolás church dates back to medieval times, although it has been much altered over the centuries. It is named in the Law of Madrid of 1202 as one of the oldest parishes in the city. Today it is the oldest church in Madrid, after the demolition of the Church of Santa Maria de la Almudena. Archaeological remains suggest that the church and its bell-tower may have been part of a former mosque. It was likely construct ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Madrid, Spain

Puerta de Alcalá

The Puerta de Alcalá is a Neo-classical monument in the Plaza de la Independencia in Madrid. It is regarded as the first modern post-Roman triumphal archbuilt in Europe, older than the similar monuments Arc de Triomphe in Paris and Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Puerta de Alcalá was a gate of the former city walls built by Philip IV. It stands near the city center and several meters away from the main entra ...
Founded: 1778 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado is the main Spanish national art museum, located in central Madrid. It is widely considered to have one of the world"s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and the single best collection of Spanish art. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture in 1819, it also contains important collection ...
Founded: 1819 | Location: Madrid, Spain

San Sebastian Church

The Saint Sebastian Church is a 16th-century church in central Madrid. The name arises from a devotional chapel which was found along the route to the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, founded in 1541. The first architect around 1550 was Antonio Sillero, who also finished the Chapel of the Sagrado Corazón. This church like that of San Luis conserved for years the rights of asylum for those escaping official pers ...
Founded: 1550 | Location: Madrid, Spain

San Jerónimo el Real

San Jerónimo el Real, which has undergone numerous remodelings and restorations over the centuries, is the remaining structure of the Hieronymite monastery that once stood beside the royal palace of Buen Retiro, of which a portion now serves as the Prado museum. Its proximity to the royal palace also underscores a connection to royalty, serving for centuries as the church used for the investiture of the Prince of As ...
Founded: 1503-1505 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Iglesia del Sacramento

The Iglesia del Sacramento is a 17th-century, Baroque-style church. Since 1980 it has been the Military Cathedral of Spain and the seat of the Military Archbishop of Spain. It is considered by many experts to be a magnificent example of Madrid’s religious baroque style, despite the many imperfections it has suffered through time.
Founded: 1671 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Sabatini Gardens

The Sabatini Gardens (Jardines de Sabatini) are part of the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain, and were opened to the public by King Juan Carlos I in 1978. They honor the name of Francesco Sabatini (1722–1797), an Italian architect of the 18th century who designed, among other works at the palace, the royal stables of the palace, previously located at this site. In 1933, clearing of the stable buildings was b ...
Founded: 1933 | Location: Madrid, Spain

National Archaeological Museum of Spain

The National Archaeological Museum of Spain was founded in 1867 by a Royal Decree of Isabella II as a depository for numismatic, archaeological, ethnographical and decorative art collections of the Spanish monarchs. The museum was originally located in the Embajadores district of Madrid. In 1895, it moved to a building designed specifically to house it, a neoclassical design by architect Francisco Jareño, built ...
Founded: 1867 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Church of San Andrés

The Church de San Andrés is located on the site of a former church from the times of Moorish occupation. The former church had been frequented as a parish church by the patron saint of Madrid, San Isidro Labrador, and his wife Santa María de la Cabeza, who lived nearby. The adjacent chapel of San Isidro was built at the site of the saint"s house. Its construction began in 1657, after the saint was canonized ...
Founded: 1657 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Museum Cerralbo

The Museum Cerralbo houses the art and historical objects collections of Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, Marquis of Cerralbo, who died in 1922. The museum, which is housed in the former residence of its founder, opened in 1944. The building was built in the 19th century, according to Italian taste, and it was luxuriously decorated with baroque furniture, wall paintings and expensive chandeliers. It retains to a large e ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Museo de Historia de Madrid

The Museum of History of Madrid building was formerly the Royal Hospice of San Fernando, built in 1673. The museum opened in 1929 as the Museo Minicipal (municipal museum). It was closed in 1955 the museum for building reforms, and was not reopened to the public until 1978. The museum"s permanent collection demonstrates the history of Madrid from 1561 when Madrid became the capital of Spain to the beginning of th ...
Founded: 1929 | Location: Madrid, Spain

San Antonio de los Alemanes

San Antonio de los Alemanes church was built in the Baroque style and was designed by Pedro Sánchez. The highly decorative High Altar and three side altars belong to the 18th century and were commissioned by the last Habsburg kings of Spain. The church was built in the 1620s-1630s by King Felipe III along with a hostel and hospital for the Portuguese migrants who moved to Madrid when Portugal was under Spanish rule. ...
Founded: 1620-1630 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Basilica of San Francisco el Grande

The Royal Basilica of San Francisco el Grande is a Roman Catholic church in central Madrid. The main façade faces the Plaza of San Francisco, at the intersection of Bailén, the Gran Vía de san Francisco, and the Carrera de san Francisco. It forms part of the convent of Jesús y María of the Franciscan order. The convent was founded in the 13th century at the site of a chapel. The basilica was designed in a N ...
Founded: 1761-1768 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Santa Bárbara Church

Santa Barbara church was built in 1757 for the Convent of the Salesas Reales, housing nuns belonging to the order of St. Francis de Sales. The convent was founded in 1748 by the Queen Bárbara de Braganza, wife of Ferdinand VI of Spain. The church, which stood next to the convent, was designed by Francisco Carlier in collaboration with Francisco Moradillo. In 1870, the monastery was closed, and the government used ...
Founded: 1757 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Atocha

The Royal Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha is one of the six basilica churches in Madrid. The buildings on the site have a long history. The original name refers to a lost icon from a chapel which was found during the time of the Reconquista. The old church was in disrepair and rebuilt in the 1890s in a Neo-Byzantine style designed by Fernando Arbós y Tremanti. The church was destroyed during the Spanish Civil Wa ...
Founded: 1890s | Location: Madrid, Spain

Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida

The Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida is a Neoclassical chapel, best known for its ceiling and dome frescoes by Francisco Goya. It is also his former burial place. The chapel was built in the general location of two prior chapels built in the 1730s, which were on the land of a farm called La Florida. The present structure was built by Felipe Fontana from 1792 to 1798 on the orders of King Carlos IV, who ...
Founded: 1792-1798 | Location: Madrid, Spain

La Milagrosa Church

The Church of La Milagrosa was built between 1900 and 1904 under the architects Juan Bautista Lázaro de Diego and Narciso Clavería y de Palacios. The architecture is eclectic, exhibiting Neo-Mudéjar features on the exterior and mainly Neo-Gothic features in the interior. The exterior has Neo-Mudéjar features, while the inside is predominately Neo-Gothic. The church covers 900 square metres. The facade has ...
Founded: 1900-1904 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Alameda Castle

Alameda Castle is one of the scarce remains of military architecture from 15th century and one of few castles that have survived over the time and now arises once more after a restoration process and being converted into a museum. The origin of the castle dates back to the late fourteenth century or the beginnings of the fifteenth century, and is linked to the Zapata family, who were holders of the seigniory which includ ...
Founded: 1431 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.