If you guys follow me on Instagram, you might’ve noticed I was living in Madrid for the last year! I actually went there to pursue my master’s degree on Marketing and Sales. Obviously, this gave me the opportunity to indulge of all Madrid’s most famous and hidden spots that I’ll share throughout this post.

A little history of Madrid…

Madrid used to be an arab town called Majerit around 932 AD. It was until christian King Alfonso VI of Castille and León took over the town from the muslims in 1083. So, we’re talking about almost 1000 years of christian rule in Spain!

Later on during the reign of Habsburg monarchs it expanded rapidly. Thus, this city was later officially made capital by King Philip III of Spain.

It’s also important to point out Juan de Herrera as one of the most prominent architects of the 17th century. Known for designing infrastructures such as El Escorial.

If you’re interested in more info, go visit Britannica’s page on Madrid which is very insightful!

Most important attractions…

Plaza Mayor

  • Designed by Juan Gomez de Mora. Its construction began on 1617 and ended on 1619, although it suffered modifications after The Great Fire of 1790. 
  • During the 17th century, Plaza Mayor was famous for holding bullfights, firework displays and dramatic plays. However, the last bullfight took place in 1846 in honor of the marriage of Queen Isabella II. 
  • Today it’s one of the most visited places in Madrid. Right next to the amazing Mercado de San Miguel, you can indulge all the greatness of Spanish gastronomy.

The Royal Palace

  • First occupied by King Charles III. If you visit, you’ll notice that most of the accesible rooms of the palace project this king’s reign and that of his son Charles IV. 
  • This is one of the larger palaces of Europe, with around 500 rooms. 
  • You’ll be surprised to know that the Royal Family doesn’t live there anymore, choosing the more modest Zarzuela Palace as their permanent residence. 
  • In fact, the last king to live in this palace was Alfonso XIII until the proclamation of the Segunda República in 1931. 

Puerta del Sol 

  • This is busiest square in all of Madrid. It holds the O km which is the centre of the radial network of Spanish roads.
  • It’s also famous for New Year’s eve. People in Madrid gather together here to listen to the bell of the clock so they can participate on twelve grapes tradition. 

El Retiro

  • Home to around 15,000 tress, composes one Madrid’s largest parks. People usually come here to work out or simply enjoy this oasis in the middle of the city’s chaos.
  • The lake, commonly known as “El Estanque” was previously used as a place where kings could strategize wars at sea.
  • You can visit multiple historical gardens with different architectural designs, but my favorite will always be “La Rosaleda”. A rose park designed by Cecilio Rodriguez in 1915 with around 4000 roses!

Favorite Bookshops…

La Casa del Libro

I would definitely call this the Spanish Barnes and Nobles. It’s a huge chain bookstore with a variety of genres to choose from. Moreover, you can also get books in different languages, for instance french and english! There are tons around Madrid, but my personal favorite is the one at Gran Via.

Libros para un mundo mejor

This is an independent bookshop in the heart of Malasaña (known as the hipster neighborhood of Madrid). Here you can find second hand books by independent authors and cute reading accessories!

You must be wondering, what about museums?! I will also be sharing a complete guide of my favorite museums in this amazing city!

Madrid was an amazing experience and a place I will always hold dear to my heart. It was the place where I first experienced independence in all its glory, being on my own for the first time in my life! Hope this guide will serve as a brief introduction to this magical place!