Sometimes the best plan is to not have a plan, just wander freely and see what you find. The main architectural points of interest are within relatively close proximity to each other so it is easy to walk around and see a lot in a day. As well as interesting architecture in Madrid, these are a few favourite monuments and sculptures that caught my eye too…
1. Casa de la Panaderia
One of the finest examples of architecture in Madrid is Casa de la Panaderia, located in the Plaza Mayor. It used to be home to the main bakery in the town and was the first building in the square. It is now the Tourist Information Centre but still has a dominant presence. Construction finished in 1619 but after a couple of devastating fires, the ground floor and cellar are the only original parts of the building left today. The murals beside the windows were the work of Carlos Franco and represent various mythological figures.
2. The Statue of King Phillip III
The statue of King Phillip III on his stallion, in the centre of the Plaza Mayor, was presented to him in 1616. Originally it was by the entrance to Casa de Campo. However, Queen Isabel II had it moved to its current location in 1848. During the period when Franco ruled Spain, many statues associated with Spanish Monarchs were vandalised, including this one. It was pulled from its base as it hit the ground, hundreds of small bones fell out of it. The vandals believed that they were from the spirit of King Phillip III and no further damage was caused. However, it was later discovered that there was a small hole in the statue that birds could enter but not leave and they died inside which explained the amount of bones!
3. Puerta de Alcala
Puerta de Alcala is a stunning piece of architecture in Madrid. The monumental gate used to be the main entrance into the city. It was built in 1778 by Francesco Sabatini, an Italian architect. It was thought to be the first triumphal arch to be built following the fall of the Roman Empire.
4. Bank of Spain
The Bank of Spain was originally set up by King Charles III in 1782. This impressive building on Calle de Alcala is over 125 years old.
5. City Hall or Palacio de las Comunicaciones
City Hall is an imposing, 100 year old building, which looks rather cathedral like. It used to be the main building of the Spanish postal service.
6. Woman with the mirror sculpture
This large bronze sculpture of a naked lady looking in a mirror was originally one of the sculptures on display by Fernando Botero at an exhibition in 1994. It was so popular it now has a place in the Plaza de Colon after he donated it to Madrid.
7. Metropolis Building
On the corner of Calle de Alcaca is the eye catching Metropolis office building, decorated with intricate sculptures. The black dome with 24 carat gold leaves on the top is stunning.
8. Julia by Jaume Plensa
The sculpture of Julia is located in the Plaza de Colon and stands 12 metres high. It represents tenderness and silence. It will only be on display until 20th December 2019 so make sure you take a look while it’s there!
9. The Bear and The Strawberry Tree
In the location of La Puerta del Sol is this 4m high bronze and stone monument which represents the coat of arms of Madrid.
10. Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid in Calle de Bailen is now just used for state ceremonies but, is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family.
11. Cibeles Fountain
A sculpture of the goddess Cibeles by Francisco Gutierrez. She is in her car being drawn by 2 lions. The monumental fountain was built in 1782 and can be found in Plaza Cibeles.
12. Lucky Frog
I was surprised to walk past the casino and come face to face with a giant bronze frog! It was a gift from Gran Madrid Casino to acknowledge the return of casinos to the city after they were banned under Franco’s rule.
Suggested Further Reading:
Restaurants in Madrid – places I can recommend for solo dining
Things to do in Madrid – recommended solo activities
Hotels in Madrid – where I enjoyed staying by myself
Norwegian Air – review of my flight from London Gatwick to Madrid
Solo Travel Destinations – other places I have enjoyed travelling to alone