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Madrid, Spain  City Info
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Royal Palace
Plaza de Oriente
248-7404
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.

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.

Soccer
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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