Madrid, Spain’s central capital, is a city of elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks such as the Buen Retiro. It’s renowned for its rich repositories of European art, including the Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velázquez and other Spanish masters. The heart of old Hapsburg Madrid is the portico-lined Plaza Mayor, and nearby is the baroque Royal Palace and Armory, displaying historic weaponry.
In the year 2006 Madrid was the fourth most visited city in Europe and the first of Spain, with almost seven million tourists. It is also the seat of the World Tourism Organization and the International Tourism Fair – FITUR.
Most of the tourist attractions of Madrid are in the old town and the Ensanche, corresponding with the districts of Centro, Salamanca, Chamberí, Retiro and Arganzuela. The nerve centre of the city is the Puerta del Sol, starting point for the numbering of all city streets and all the country’s highways.
The Calle de Alcalá or Alcalá Street leads from the Puerta del Sol from the NE of the city. From the street you get from Plaza de Cibeles. Subsequently, the street reaches the “Plaza de la Independencia”, which includes the Puerta de Alcalá and an entrance to the Buen Retiro Park.
The Calle Mayor leads to Plaza Mayor continuing for the so-called Madrid de los Austrias, in reference to the Dynasty of Habsburg – finally reaching Calle de Bailén, near the Cathedral of the Almudena and the church of San Francisco el Grande.
The Calle del Arenal comes to Royal Theatre in Plaza de la Ópera, continuing through Plaza de Oriente, where the Royal Palace is it. From there the Calle Bailen leads to Plaza de España and the Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple moved stone by stone to Spain in gratitude for their help in the construction of the Aswan Dam. Also in this square is the start of Gran Vía street.