Madrid has always been not a city but a way of life. “…something expressed in the local proverb ‘de Madrid al Cielo’ – once you’ve been to Madrid, the only place to go is heaven.”1 Madrid tells a story about courage and perseverance. It defied Napoleon’s army in 1808, withheld during the Civil War against General Franco, withstood air raids and more, but never surrendered. Since its creation, it has always attracted immigrants from the local areas. Today it is a city of 3.2 million inhabitants and covers the area of 604.3 km. I want to invite you to the journey that describes the essence of this magnificent place.

 

1. Church of San Nicolás de los Servitas

In 1931 this oldest church in the city became a national monument. It still retains the unique Moorish Mudéjar style visible in the construction of the horseshoe arches depicted in the bell tower that was built in the 12th century. One of the most dramatic elements is also the Mudejar that covers the nave.

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2. Plaza Mayor

Once the centre of old Madrid – today it is the heart of social life in the city. There is an abundance of shops, cafés, and restaurants to enjoy while admiring the space that dates back to the 15th century and was the main market of the town.

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3. Parque del Buen Retiro

This beautiful park, created in 1680, was given to the public by the Spanish monarchs in the 19th century. It consists of the early 20th century rose garden with the Fountain of the Fallen Angel nearby designed by Ricardo Bellver and an impressive passage decorated with the 18th-century king statues taken from the Royal Palace.

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4. Museo del Prado

The museum was designed in 1785 by Juan de Villanueva in the spirit of Enlightenment. It originally was supposed to house the Natural History Cabinet. In the museum, you can find one of the world’s best European art collections that consist of the painting called Las Meninas created by Diego Velázquez.

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5. Teatro Real

This prestigious opera house was founded in 1818 and stages seventeen opera productions, both traditional and modern, per year as well as some ballots and recitals. At first, designed by Antonio López Aguado and after his death replaced by Custodio Teodoro Moreno – finally completed in 1850 it quickly became one of the most important theatres in Europe.

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6. Madrid Atocha Railway Station

It is very unusual to enter a train station and find oneself in a tropical garden concourse with a turtle pool surrounded by sculptures, restaurants, and bars. This beautiful space originally opened in 1851 and was reconstructed by Alberto de Palacio Elissagne in wrought iron.

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7. Círculo de Bellas Artes

Since 1880 this cultural, non-profit, private organization plays a major role in organizing social activities that range from arts, literature, movie, philosophy, and theatre. This icon of modernity places an important role in urban the creation of the image of the city. Designed by Antonio Palacios it also offers a magnificent view from its rooftop.

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8. Las Ventas

This famous bullring which was inaugurated in 1931, was designed by an architect José Espeliú in Neo-Mudejar style. It is known for its ceramic heraldic crests of Spanish provinces and a bullfighting museum that will enable you to immerse yourself in the Spanish culture.

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9. Santa Ana de Moratalaz

This concrete church was designed by Miguel Fisac in 1965 and enables a more direct relationship between the parishioners and the altar. It has a very serene atmosphere where you can escape from the hustle of the city.

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10. Doré Cinema

The art nouveau cinema was originally designed by the architect Crispulo Moro. After the renovation by Francisco Javier Feduchi Benlliure, it transformed from the single screen cinema to space with two indoor screens, one open-air screening space on the roof, a bookshop, and a trendy café.

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11. Maravillas Gymnasium

Designed in 1962 by the promoter of industrial design – Alejandro de la Sota, this gymnasium is still surprised by its dramatic structural enclosure of the space. It was designed with many vantage points onto the sport’s hall to create a sense of connection and movement.

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12. Madrid-Barajas Airport Terminal 4

This design created in 2005 by the collaboration between Estudio Lamela and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners focuses on the flexibility and natural flow of people through a separated sequence of spaces. The wavy roof creates a dramatic feature that enables us to bring natural light deep into space.

 

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13. Eco Boulevard in Vallecas

This project focuses on two major issues of the 21st century – social interaction and ecology. Designed by Ecosistema Urbano it proposes three ‘trees of air’ that consume only the same amount of energy as they produce and encourage spontaneous gathering and emergence of activities.

 

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14. Caixa Forum

This Forum designed by Herzog & de Meuron blends the existing architecture of a power station with a modern extension. It proposed a new social hub that will act as a magnet for people to gather and experience its cultural program. It consists of galleries, restaurants, an auditorium, and offices.

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© Carlos Fernández Piñar.
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© Carlos Fernández Piñar.
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15. 8 B Nave

Reconstructed by Arturo Franco, this former slaughterhouse became a space for work, lectures, and acts as a warehouse. The reuse of the roof tiles within the building creates an unusual lightning experience and allows us an opportunity to encounter imperfection.

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Madrid The History; Jules Stewart; Published in 2012 by I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd (Location 137)
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Madrid The History; Jules Stewart; Published in 2012 by I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd (Location 137)

Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

A graduate from the Architectural Association with an interest in urban studies and public spaces that actively change and influence the neighbourhood. Her area of research focuses on the development of European metropolises and the way the architectural theory impacts their design.

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