Madrid and beyond
From Madrid’s world-class museum collections to its neighbouring villages, palaces and local art collections, the Madrid’ regions cultural offering is rich and varied. With Stopover Hola Madrid you can spend 1 to 6 nights in the capital of Spain, at no additional cost to the price of your ticket, and turn your layover into a destination.
1 Madrid is art
Perhaps the capital’s most important cultural offerings are in the Paseo del Prado area and its three world-class museum collections: the Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. The Prado has the world’s largest collection of works by Goya, and is famously home to the Velázquez masterpiece Las Meninas. The Reina Sofía brings together works by 20th-century greats including Dalí, Picasso and Miró, while the Thyssen boasts an exquisite collection of 14th-century and 15th-century paintings.
2 Historical neighbourhoods
Losing yourself in the charming narrow streets of Los Austrias or Las Letras allows you to discover a one-of-a-kind capital where tradition shares space in harmony with the vibrant rhythm of the new times. The irresistible atmosphere of local life can be seen in La Latina, Malasaña and Lavapiés, the neighbourhoods with the most atmosphere, and the immense amount of heritage in the Landscape of Light will move you. This space between the Paseo del Prado and El Retiro Park – which has blended culture and nature since the mid-16th century – has just been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its exceptional value.
3 Shopping capital
Madrid’s Golden Mile in and around the Serrano Street area is home to the boutiques of the leading luxury brands, including some whose roots are in the city, such as Loewe. Other neighbourhoods, such as Las Salesas and Las Cortes, have become the epicentre of a new generation of artisans offering interesting creations, such as Oteyza, winner of the 2018 National Fashion Award for the exquisite manufacture of its traditional capes and hats, the tailor-made jeans by Fernando García de la Calera at The Concrete Company Madrid and the colourful accessories of Daniel Chong. To find treasures of local culture and history, from cans of wafers to books by Gloria Fuertes, ceramics, soaps and vermouth, Real Fábrica Española is an essential visit.
4 Alcalá de Henares
The only Unesco World Heritage Site city in Madrid, Alcalá de Henares is also the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. Take a tour of the house where the author was born – now a museum – to learn more about his life and work. Complutense University, founded in the 15th century, is also well worth a visit. The former student residence known as the Colegio Mayor de San Ildefonso dates from the 16th century and is a well-preserved example of the Spanish architectural style known as Cisneriano.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella converted a summer estate in Aranjuez into a royal retreat in 1489, creating the Palacio Real de Aranjuez. It was used as a spring residence by Spanish monarchs until the late 19th century, and it’s not hard to see why they came here. The palace’s spectacular grounds comprise artfully landscaped gardens with statues and water features, as well as forested areas. Its setting on the banks of the River Tagus has Unesco status as a World Heritage Cultural Landscape.
One of Madrid’s most picturesque villages, Chinchón has special status as an Historical Artistic Site and is well-known for its mediaeval square. Lined with distinctive buildings with lintelled galleries and wooden balconies, the square has hosted royal parties and religious festivals and has even doubled as a film set (some of Around the World in Eighty Days was shot here). Just outside the town is the Castillo de los Condes de Chinchón, a stunning example of Renaissance architecture.
7 El Escorial
Boasting a surface area of more than 33,000 m2, the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in the Sierra de Guadarrama is a can’t-miss stop. The complex includes a royal palace, monastery, library, basilica and pantheon and was built in the 16th century at the orders of King Philip II; it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors to the royal site can see the monarchs’ quarters and the crypt containing the remains of 26 Hapsburg and Bourbon dynasty kings and queens. Adjacent to the Monastery is the Frailes Garden, a real treat for lovers of botany and history. Philip II commissioned specialised gardeners to create this space for growing vegetables and medicinal plants. At one point in the past, it was home to more than 60 varieties of flowers and as many as 400 plants brought from the Americas. Nowadays, visitors can enjoy a viewpoint with spectacular sights – especially at sunset – in the high part of the garden, next to the road.
8 Locally produced
Although it is one of Spain’s youngest designations of origin, the Vinos de Madrid DO is also one of those that have evolved the most in recent years. Mainly concentrated in the region’s north and south, it bases its personality on indigenous grapes, such as Garnacha for red and Albillo for whites. Its four sub-areas – Arganda, Navalcarnero, San Martin de Valdeiglesias and El Molar – are home to a total of 52 wineries. Many of them may be visited and offer food and wine tastings, the perfect complement to Madrid’s extensive and varied culinary scene, and also have amazing cultural attractions around them.