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Madrid, Spain City Info
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Royal Palace
Plaza de Oriente
This massive 2,000 room Renaissance building is a fine example of classic Italian baroque style. While Charles III completed the palace in 1714, the square itself was designed by Joseph Bonaparte after his brother Napoleon conquered Spain. However, Napoleon's final defeat cut short the French plan for a street inspired by the Champs Elysées. Madrid's impressive opera house, completed in 1818 by Cuatodio Moreno, also makes for an interesting visit. The palace is open everyday, and tours are available to guide tourists though 50 rooms of art.

Museo del Prado
Paseo del Prado
Built in 1785, the National Museum stands as one of the most beautiful neoclassic buildings in Madrid. Charles III commissioned Juan de Villanueva to begin construction on a museum of natural history in 1785. After the building served a stint as an arsenal during the wars against Napoleon, Ferdinand VII inaugurated it in 1819 as Madrid's Museum of Art, consisting entirely of Spanish paintings. The Museum is now one of the elite art museums in the world with its collections of Goya, El Greco, Velázquez, Rubens, Titian, Tinoretto, Van Dyck, Hieronymus, Dürer, Veronese, Brueghel, Ribera, and Bosch. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza
Paseo del Prado, 8
Inaugurated in 1993, this museum houses over 700 masterpieces of a private collection in the Villahermosa Palace. Open 10AM to 7PM, but closed on Mondays.

Centro de Arte Reina Sofia: National Museum Reina Sofía of Modern Art
Santa Isabel, 52.
This contemporary building completes the "Arts Triangle of Prado" by focusing on modern masters including Joan Miro, Picasso, and Dali. The Museum is open 10AM to 9PM, but closed on Tuesdays.

Plaza Mayor
Many travelers miss this square. Don't be one of them! This is perhaps the most architecturally and historically significant spot in Madrid. Philip III built this perfectly preserved arcaded square between 1617 and 1619 as the public meeting place of his new capital and to increase the prestige of his country. A statue of the king stands in the center. Renaissance styling dominates the surrounding buildings. Here kings were crowned, the Inquisition worked is terrors, men fought bulls, guilds held meetings, celebrants held festivals, and protestors held demonstrations. The square still serves the public today. It fills with stages for theater and music are set up during the summer and serves as a bazaar in preparation for the winter holiday season.

Parque del Retiro
Madrid's biggest and most famous park was founded in 1631. Visitors often find themselves returning here for the fountains, statues, and great paths through 330 acres of trees and gardens. Rental rowboats are available on the picturesque lake. Street theater is an ever-changing attraction. The park is also home of the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), a beautiful metal and glass building built in 1887 to shelter exotic plants from the winter weather.

Sports fans can catch a match at the Estadio Bernabeu, the stadium in the North section of the city. Real Madrid and the national Spanish team play here.


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