Centro (city center) is the historical and geographical heart of Madrid. It comprises several very diverse neighborhoods, from the regal to the bohemian. It includes touristic Sol, historical and splendid Palacio, charming Cortes, chic and trendy Justicia, hipster Universidad and multicultural Embajadores.
Centro is the most vibrant district with an extraordinary buzzing atmosphere where most of the historic sites and monuments that visitors come to see are to be found.
From the regal Palacio neighborhood with its maze of medieval streets surrounding Plaza Mayor -Madrid’s grand main square- to the vivacious La Latina, Centro offers gorgeous, centuries-old architecture together with nightlife, shops, and assorted dining options from tapas bars to gourmet food markets and some of Madrid’s oldest and most legendary restaurants.
Madrid Centro is also home to the many world-renowned museums like the Museo Nacional del Prado, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Along these, and within walking distance from one another, you can easily reach the stunning Royal Palace, Catedral de la Almudena, Plaza de Oriente, the grand Plaza Mayor, Plaza de la Villa, Puerta del Sol, Gran Vía, Plaza Santa Ana, Mercado de San Miguel, Templo de Debod, El Rastro, among many others places of interest.
THE MADRID OF THE AUSTRIANS
This is the old centre of Madrid. It is the most historic neighborhood and one of the most exciting and charming areas of the city, where we can find almost all the most important monuments in Madrid, from the Almudena Cathedral to Plaza Mayor.
The Madrid of the Austrians still preserves the beautiful architecture of the time, with streets full of history, a lively atmosphere, and its many restaurants serving traditional Madrilean food.
The Spanish monarchs of the House of Austria (or the Habsburgs), who ruled in the 16th and 17th c., initiated the expansion of the city and left their mark in a neighborhood they had embellished with stunning architecture that corresponds to the original medieval layout of the city. During that time of splendor when Spain possessed an enormous empire that extended to three continents, Felipe II chose Madrid to be the capital of the empire and moved the Court from Toledo to Madrid in 1561.
The heart of the Madrid of the Austrians rests in the Plaza Mayor, with its equestrian statue of Felipe III standing in the center. Full of atmosphere and packed with people, it is one of Europe’s most beautiful squares. From there you can start your tour to the Arco de Cuchilleros, Calle Arenal, Plaza de Oriente, Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral, Monastery of the Descalzas Reales, Teatro Real, San Miguel market for top-quality tapas, Plaza de la Villa (one of the most emblematic Habsburg squares in Madrid), among other monuments. A curiosity: San Andrés Church is the only Gothic-style church that remains in Madrid.
Conde Duque is an area located in the heart of the Universidad neighborhood, next to Malasaña, and a new fashionable
place to stay in Madrid.
Conde Duque neighborhood is quite quiet and bears hidden squares full of charm like Plaza de las Comendadoras or Plaza Guardias de Corps. In recent years, this genuine neighborhood of tangled narrow cobblestone streets lined with bars and traditional authentic taverns have welcomed a host of cutting-edge stores, shops with a vintage twist, bars, restaurants, and establishments with a character of their own to quickly become one of Madrid’s most unique areas.
Today, Conde Duque is a neighborhood with an attitude all its own: it is bohemian, quiet with a hip and alternative atmosphere, and a vibrant cultural scene where you come across many historical palaces, churches, and museums.
Conde Duque developed around the huge old military headquarters carrying the same name. In 2011 the 18th c. former barracks turned into Conde Duque Cultural Center -a hidden gem- and today one of the city’s largest cultural centers along with Matadero and CentroCentro. It is a huge baroque-style building with a gorgeous intricately carved stone entrance and a large central courtyard. This cultural center is a sort of “meeting point” of all things art, music and literature related.