Exploring the legacy of the Habsburg family in Madrid it like making a trip back in time through its renaissance and baroque buildings that carry’s the visitor to the time when the Habsburg family changed profoundly the course of the city of Madrid. At that time, Madrid was not the capital of Spain and the boundaries of the city have nothing to do with the present day.
This intense change started with the king Charles I, who encouraged the construction of a number of palaces and monuments that are visited today by millions of tourists, in an area that corresponds to today’s neighbourhood of Sol and Palacio.
A good starting point for a complete tour of the “Old Madrid” is the Opera Square, right in front of two of the most important monumental buildings in Madrid: The Royal Theatre and the Royal Palace. In theory, the Royal Palace is the official residence of the Spanish monarchy, although in practice it is only used for official state ceremonies and events. You can visit and see the inside of the building, and contemplate the priceless works of art or renowned artists, such as Velazquez and Goya, that are hanging from the walls of the Palace.
One should then walk to the Almudena Cathedral, which is a part of the buildings that make up the Royal Palace, and whose construction took well over 100 years. It is then ideal to visit the Calle Mayor Street and head to the Villa Square, one of the oldest in the city. At this Square, 3 buildings stand out above the rest, the Casa de Villa, the Casa Cisneros and Torre Lujanes.
A few meters from it, you find the famous Plaza Mayor Square, where in the past was were citizens enjoyed their social life, and today it has become one of the most iconic locations in Madrid. One of the most significant elements is the Casa de la Panaderia, the oldest recorded building in the Square, built in 1590, as well as the statue of Philip II, set up in the middle of the Square. It is a custom of the locals to come to the square and enjoy a calamari sandwich in one of the many bars you find in the area.
Leaving the Plaza Mayor through Postas street we reach the famous Puerta del Sol, also a symbolic meeting point in Madrid where you can find the iconic clock, the statue of the bear and the strawberry tree, and the sculpture of Charles III on his horse.
To conclude this tour of Madrid, you should head to the Convento de las Descalzas and the Church of San Gines via Arenal Street, which are two of the most representative religious buildings of the reign of the Habsburg family in Madrid.
These and many other monuments of the “Old Madrid” have become one of the most visited routes of the city of Madrid due to the incredible beauty of the buildings and its architectural value. A must if you are travelling to Madrid.