Don't leave without visiting these attractions in Spain
Accepted as the most important Islamic monument in the Western World is the Mezquita. Built in Cordoba in AD784, it's a visually appealing attraction. You'll enter the monument through the 'Patio de los Naranjos' where you'll be greeted by a stunning courtyard, lined perfectly with orange trees. Once you've entered the mosque, prepare to be astounded by the 850 alabaster columns in striking blue and pink that support hundreds upon hundreds of striped arches. Beautiful mosaics and a gilt copy of the Qur'an are kept safe in this amazing monument.
The exact epicenter of Madrid and Spain is in Puerta del Sol and its close enough to walk to from most of the attractions in Madrid. West of Madrid is the Plaza Mayor, the Palacio Real and the Opera district. You'll find café, theater and museum heaven, just east of Madrid in Huertas. Up North are fantastic bars and clubs that'll satisfy most party enthusiasts.
Easily the most vibrant and perhaps somewhat chaotic area in Madrid, is the plaza at Puerta del Sol. The starting point of 6 national highways, it's oozes atmosphere as street performers provide entertainment for the bars & street cafes lining the plaza. Buzzing with commuters, it's a wonderful place to spend a few minutes soaking in the sights & sounds.
Plaza Mayor, designed by Juan de Herrera, dazzles the eyes with its tall, twisting towers, spacious veranda's and graceful arcades. As the sun sets, the young madrilenos come out in full force and the plaza is taken over by performers and flamenco dancers. Lined with café's and bars, it's a popular night time hang-out.
The Palacio Real, a breathtaking example of pure luxury. Built over a period of 40 years, complete with 2000 rooms and over 20km of tapestry, it was given to King Felipe the fifth. Access to the Palacio
The Plaza de Oriente is a sculpture garden onto which the Palacia Real faces. Access is free.
Take a Sunday afternoon and relax at the Retiro, a well groomed 300-acre garden, overlooking a stunning lake. Built by King Felipe the fourth, it is often full of vendors, palm readers, recreational soccer players and just people just looking to relax and soak in the sun.
History and Museum fanatic? You can't miss out on "the big three".
Museo del Prado, filled with Goya's "black painting's" and other artwork by Van Dyck, van der Weyden, Albrecht Durer, Pieter Titian, Raphael, Botticelli, Bosch and El Greco.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, home to Picasso's 'Guernica', it also features works by Miro, Julio Gonzalez, Juan Gris and Dali.
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Start on the top floor and work your way down, chronologically through time to see the development of art by artists such as El Greco, Titian, Caravaggio, Picasso, Rothko, Hopper, Renoir, Klee, Chagall and Dali.
No trip to Madrid will be complete without paying tribute to the world famous flamenco dancers. The shows here are focussed for the tourist market and are thus quite expensive. Shows start at 9:45am and carry on until 2am at the Corral de la Moreria.
Just east of Madrid, Plaza de las Ventas is home to Spain's biggest bullfighting ring.