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.
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).
"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.
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
You can see a small section of the excavated church of Nuestra Signora de la Almudena (Our Lady of Almudena) in Calle de la Almudena, off Calle Mayor very near to its junction with Viaducto de Requena.
This church was demolished in 1868. Its apse (circular section) dated from the 12th century (1100s) and that is the part which you can see exposed underneath the protective transparent covering. Changes were made to the building in the 1600s and 1700s, but presumably archaeologists have considered the Medieval apse important enough not only to excavate but to preserve and expose to public view.
Worth having a look as you're passing by. The rather good information post is in Spanish, but is easy enough to work out if you have any French, Italian or Latin..and the model is a useful indicator of what once stood on this spot.
I loved the old chap leaning on the guardrail. What an excellent way of drawing attention to this site! :-)
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.
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).
I was very taken by the memorial I spotted in Plaza de Anton Martin, along Calle de Atocha. I thought the sculpture was very moving.
It took some digging to find information, but here's a translation of the memorial plaque:
On January 24, 1977, in a labor law firm that was located at number 55 on Atocha street, four lawyers and a trade unionist were killed and four more lawyers were injured. All were members of the PCE and CCOO. This monument reproduces the sculpture of John Genoves known as 'El Abrazo,' a symbol of the restoration of freedom. It was opened by the City Council of Madrid on June 10, 2003 as a tribute to those who died in that office work. It is a tribute to those who died for freedom in Spain. On January 24, 2007, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of this tragic event, this plaque is installed for the information of the people of Madrid and those who visit us.
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 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
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.
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.
When you go from Plaza de Oriente to Palacio Real, turn left before the Palace. Then, just after passing the cathedral (de la Almudena), turn right. There's a small church - it's like a separate part of cathedral - but very different! Usually nobody is there. Small light allowed us to see everything different - with its old walls - you feel like you were travelling in time back to Middle Ages...
(the picture: it's always good to listen to real spanish music!)