The Escorial is amazing. This monastery has an Architecture Museum, a Painting Museum, the Kings' Pantheon, a basilica, a library, etc, etc.
The monastery's construction started in 1562, by decision of King Felipe II, who died in the Escorial at 1598.
For me, getting lost while driving in Madrid is something as natural as breathing. However, my unorthodox driving stile sometimes (please, forgive the redundancy) drives me to interesting and unexpected places. That was exactly the case with the Pantheon of Illustrious men, a mausoleum dedicated to the memory of distinguished figures of the Spanish political life of the XIX century. Well, actually the country also honored this people by naming many of the Salamanca district streets with their names: Ríos Rosas, Cánovas, Canalejas, etc. Walking that hall was like reading a city map... something that, by the way, someone suggested me yesterday I should bring with me in my car. :-p
The Valley of the Fallen is Colonel Franco's tomb. He ordered its construction as a monument to the memory of those who fell in the Spanish Civil War and the hall built inside the mountain now hosts his tomb.
The place is massive, as it contains an abbey, gardens and the hall itself.
The hill can be seen from far away as it is topped by a cross more than a 150 metres tall, the tallest cross in the world.
Because of its beauty as well as the controversy around its creation and the fact that it is now the resting place of one of the European dictators, the Valle of the Caidos should be a stop for the history-loving tourist.
After walking through the Parque del Oeste, I was surprised to stumble upon the Arco de la Victoria, a monument that very much resembles Paris's Arc du Triomphe. The 39 m tall monument is not open to visitors and after asking around, I discovered that it was built under Franco in 1956 as a tribute to the Nationalist army's victory during the Spanish Civil War. It is therefore not the most popular monument in the city, and a lot of people actually refer to it as the Puerta de Moncloa as way of avoiding making reference to the Spanish dictator. The monument is located near the Plaza de Moncloa (Metro Moncloa).
Don Quijote is one of the most famous characters in Spanish literature, created by Miguel de Cervantes, one of Spain's most important authors. Reading Don Quijote was a must for me (and other Latinamericans I've spoken to) at school so visiting this monument was a given on my Madrid trip :)
Access: nearest metro station: Plaza de España, a few steps from La Gran Vía.
Palace hotel is maybe not the most obvious attraction off the beaten path but it has a really good history which makes it woorth mentioning here.
In the hotel the spy Mata Hara met all her contacts when she was active. So if yu wanna feel like Bond, James bond, why not check this hotel out
The Valley of the Fallen or as the locals say Santa Cruz del Valle los Caidos is a worthwhile visit. It was commissioned by General Franco as an attempt of reconsiliation after the Spanish Civil war. The site consists of a huge 500 foot cross on top of a rock with a basillica carved within the rock below.
One of the most beautiful churchs of madrid due to iits architecture and also its history. it was the old panteon for the spanish kings and queens before all the bodies where sent to the monastery of El escorial. it is situated at the end of the Bailen street, between Puerta de Toledo and the Royal Palace. It is a very pleasent area to wolk and loose your self.
in the 70's, Egypt had a lot of flooding with the Nile. They worked out a deal with the Spanish goverment and a team of engineers went to help.
They helped control the flooding and the Egyptian government was so greatful, they have Spain an entire ancient temple.
A fourth century BC Egyptian Temple presented to Spain for their work on the Aswan Dam. It was reconstructed here stone by stone. An odd monument in the heart of the Spanish Capital but still an attractive park. It is located just north of the Plaza Espana.
"Puerta de Toledo" (Gate of Toledo) is an arch of triumph that José Bonaparte thought to homage his brother Napoleón, but it was actually built later, by King Fernando the 7th.
La Puerta de Toledo es un arco de triunfo que José Bonaparte ("Pepe Botella") pensó para homenajear a su hermano Napolón, pero en realidad fue contstruido después por el rey Fernando VII.
The Bear and the Strawberry Tree symbolises the emblem of Madrid. You find the statue at the northern end of the Puerta del Sol just in front of the pedestrianised shopping zone.
Metro: Puerta del Sol
The Faro de Moncloa is a observation tower of 100 m height. You can enjoy panoramice views of Madrid from the observation deck at 83 m. The tower was designed by architect Salvador Arroyo in 1992. The Admission is 1 EURO (2003).
The Faro de Moncloa is located near Plaza del Arco de la Victoria in the University District.
It is an Egyptian temple set on a park near Plaza de España. It was given to Spain on the 60's as a gift from the egyptian state for the help on building the Asswan's Damm in the Nile. The government decided to place it and build a park over the rests of the Cuartel de la Montaña, a Republican fort at the Spanish civil War.
This modern "Twin Pisa Towers" are located at the norternmost extreme of "La Castellana" avenue, close to Chamartin Railway Station. There's nothing really interesting inside to see, but the photo of tourists trying to "hold" both towers is becoming popular. You can see often people making a photo in the "pushing" position, as in Pisa (Italy).