Jewels of Madrid's architecture

The routes through Madrid's architecture are another of the great tourist attractions of the capital and the region. We have made a small selection of some of the most emblematic, formidable and singular buildings. Monuments and places architecturally beautiful and of great value, real Madrid icons visited and photographed by many people.

1. Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the famous and monumental Herrerian-style monastery founded by Philip II in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama that best sums up the Spanish Golden Age, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. A visit, not to be missed (16th century). 

2. The Longoria Palace in Madrid, a jewel of Madrid's modernist architecture and the building one of the best representations of the architecture of the time.

3. Cine Doré, current headquarters of the Filmoteca Nacional, inaugurated in 1912, is another building of architectural interest, modernist style and well preserved. 

4. CaixaForum Madrid, an example of spectacular architecture. The building is located in the Paseo del Arte in Madrid, opposite the Royal Botanical Gardens and next to the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía Museums.

5. Casa de la Panadería, the most significant building in one of the most beautiful places in Madrid, the Plaza Mayor (15th century). 

6. Iglesia de San Jerónimo El Real, popularly known as Los Jerónimos (16th century). 

7. Monastery of Las Descalzas Reales, located in the Plaza de Las Descalzas, is an old Plateresque Renaissance palace from the end of the 16th century with an important collection of art treasures. 

8. Palacio de la Bolsa, an emblematic building of European architecture in the heart of Madrid, in the Plaza de la Lealtad. Inaugurated by Queen María Cristina, it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. 

9. Casa y Torre de los Lujanes, in the Plaza de la Villa, the oldest building in Madrid (15th century). 

10. Escuela de Minas (School of Mines), a palace by Velázquez Bosco. Its ornamentation, mythological sculptures, ceramics and murals are magnificent. 

11. Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), example of so-called iron architecture. Surrounded by horse chestnuts, the elegant building is one of the typical images of the Retiro Park in Madrid (19th century). 

12. Palacio de Velázquez, palace covered with iron and glass vaults is by the same architect who built the Palacio de Cristal, Ricardo Velázquez Bosco (19th century).

13. Ministerio de Agricultura (Agriculture Ministry), the old Palacio de Fomento stands out for its Renaissance traces. 

14. Plaza de Las Ventas, neo-Mudejar style bullring. 

15. Real Fábrica de Tapices (Royal Tapestry Factory), historical site of the 18th century. Founded by Felipe V, the building is in the neo-Mudejar style and its historic garden still conserves most of its original elements. 

16. Banco de España, one of the most representative buildings of Madrid and Spanish architecture of the nineteenth century. 

17. Senate Palace. Sober building in the Plaza de la Marina Española, from the early 19th century. Originally, in the 16th century was a school and a convent. 

18. Real Basílica de San Francisco El Grande (Royal Basilica of San Francisco el Grande). It is the largest dome in Spain and the fourth in Europe. A hidden treasure and one of the most impressive monuments of the capital.

19. The Juan de Villanueva's building designed as a Natural Sciences Cabinet by order of Carlos III, which currently houses the Prado Museum, is one of the best art galleries in the world (18th century). It opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1819. 

20. The National Library, a majestic 19th century neoclassical building that houses an incalculable collection of books. 

21. The Palacio de las Cortes, now the Congress of Deputies, is a 19th century neoclassical building of great beauty and harmony, and one of the best known buildings in Madrid. 

22. The Círculo de Bellas Artes, a building by the architect Antonio Palacios declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, which is currently one of the most important private cultural centres in Europe. 

23. An icon of the organicist architecture of Spain, the Torres Blancas by the architect Sáenz de Oiza. 

24. The Palacio de Linares, headquarters of La Casa de América, is in a privileged place in Madrid, the Plaza de Cibeles. A neo-baroque building, an example of 19th century palace architecture and one of the best-preserved palaces. 

25. Real Observatorio Astronómico of Madrid, a building designed by Juan de Villanueva considered the quintessence of neoclassicism that formed part of the cultural and scientific constructions carried out by Carlos III in the 18th century.

26. Museo Arqueológico Nacional (National Museum of Archaeology), founded by Isabel II. This great neoclassical building was one of the most ambitious architectural and cultural projects of the 19th century. 

27. Instituto Cervantes, by the architects Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi is one of the views of Alcalá Street in Madrid and with its 4 caryatids and monumental Ionic capitals one of the most spectacular buildings in Madrid. 

28. Pantheon of Illustrious Men, Neo-Byzantine style building designed by the architect Fernando Arbós y Tremanti in the 19th century. A very unique building that houses inside funerary monuments and remains of many illustrious figures of Spanish society.

29. Cybele Palace (Palace of Communication), was one of the first examples of Madrid's modernist architecture. The impressive building of more than 30,000 square metres, was designed by Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi. 

30. Naval Museum. It is one of the most attractive of the Paseo del Prado, which has in its luxurious interior what many consider to be the most spectacular and beautiful imperial staircase in Madrid. A museum, that surprises with its variety and richness. 

31. The Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute by the architect Fernando Higueras is popularly known as the "la corona de espinas" (crown of thorns). The headquarters of the Institute is a unique and fascinating building. 

32. The Villahermosa Palace, headquarters of the current Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, it was designed by the architect Rafael Moneo who, respecting the proportions of the old palace, gave it natural light. A distinguished building characteristic of the neoclassicism of Madrid in a privileged setting, Paseo del Prado. 

33. The faro de Moncloa. This is a tower 110 meters high and a 92-meter elevator by Salvador Perez Arroyo. An old tower of illumination and communications, located in Ciudad Universitaria. The current viewpoint offers visitors excellent views of Madrid. A new tourist attraction of the city and a whole experience. 

34. An old hospital founded in the 18th century on the initiative of Carlos III, the building called Sabatini, is the current headquarters of the current Reina Sofía Museum. A neoclassical building with alternative spaces. While the Nouvel building, the architectural ensemble created by Jean Nouvel as an extension, houses an open-access library specializing in art with more than 100,000 books.  

35. San Antonio de los Alemanes, a hidden jewel from the 17th century in the centre of Madrid, in Malasaña. A clear example of Madrid's Baroque style that hides a treasure inside: the crypt, the main altarpiece, the sacristy and the decoration, entirely with frescoes by the best Italian specialists. 

36. Santa María de El Paular Monastery, the first Carthusian monastery built in the 15th century in Castile in the heart of the Lozoya Valley, in Rascafría. A splendid monument of great beauty, which highlights the magnificent Gothic altarpiece in silver alabaster of the late fifteenth century, the two set of chairs of the sixteenth century, 54 large-format paintings by Vicente Carducho and the great flamboyant Gothic cloister work of Juan Guas. 

37. La Vela, the financial city of BBVA, was designed by the same Swiss studio as CaixaForum, Herzog & Meuron, in Las Tablas neighbourhood, a symbol of Madrid's contemporary architecture and a new icon. 

38. Madrid Caja Mágica, a multifunctional complex and multipurpose stadium in the Linear Park of Manzanares, next to the river, designed by Dominique Perrault. It hosts cultural, sports and leisure events. A construction with a very singular and significant architecture. 

39. Fundación Francisco Giner de los Ríos, a historical institution and a surprise of coexistence of different architectures. In General Martínez Campos Street, the spectacular architectural complex has been preserved, restored and enlarged, recovering the spirit of the Institution. The garden and the different buildings are worth a visit. 

40. Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, an 18th century neoclassical building reformed by Diego de Villanueva who suppressed the baroque details of the original construction of Churriguera. The Royal Academy conserves an exceptional set of paintings very representative of the different stages of Goya.

41. Cuartel Conde Duque, at the beginning of the 18th century, the construction began of the Barracks of the Guardia de Corps. A monumental building in the heart of downtown Madrid considered the last great example of Madrid architecture before the introduction of Italian style. In an area with a very active offer of leisure and culture today, is one of the great centres and cultural spaces of Madrid.

42. The Infante Don Luis Palace in Boadilla del Monte was ordered to be built by the Infante de Borbón, the younger brother of Carlos III, in the 18th century. It is an imposing salmon-colour building with an extensive art collection, the work of the architect Ventura Rodríguez. 

43. Built in the 19th century, Atocha or del Mediodía station was the first train station to be built in Madrid, and is considered a work of art of 19th century railway architecture. Designed by the architect Alberto de Palacio y Elissague, the current structure was designed by Rafael Moneo. When you enter the station you will be surprised to find a tropical garden with more than 7,000 plants. 

44. Next to the Santillana reservoir, the Castle of Manzanares el Real is a sample of the Castilian military architecture of the 15th century. Of the beautiful medieval historical and artistic monument, the collection of 17th century Flemish tapestries, exhibition halls and Gothic-style armour deserve special mention. 

45. Located between Gran Vía and Alcalá streets, the Metropolis building, due to its location and elegance, is one of the most admired and photographed day and night by the tourists who visit us. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was one of the first tall buildings in Madrid. This icon of the city is a precious work of the French architects Jules and Raymond Février. 

46. The Debod Temple, next to the Plaza de España, is one of the great treasures of Madrid and another of its postcards. One of the most curious and visited monuments of the city. The Egyptian temple coming from the south of the country, from the lower Nubia, was a gift from the Egyptian government on the occasion of the construction of the Aswan dam. 

47. The Hotel Palace of Madrid, former palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli, now Westin Palace Madrid, in the heart of Paseo del Arte, is a luxury hotel with much history. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, the majestic centenary building in classic French style ordered to be built by King Alfonso XIII, was inaugurated in 1912.

48. Palace of the Marquis of Cerralbo, a 17th century palace-museum. Close to the Plaza de España, the temple of Debod and the Royal Palace, the classic building is the current Cerralbo Museum, one of the few examples in Madrid that shows in its rooms the original decorative atmosphere of daily life and social aristocratic residence of the nineteenth century. 

49. The old San Fernando Hospice in Madrid, founded in the time of Felipe IV and restored, is today the city's History Museum. The building, of the 18th century, shows one of the most unique Baroque facades in Madrid, designed by Pedro Ribera. More than 2,000 meters and 60,000 objects in Fuencarral Street, in the district of Chueca, is one of the best ways to get to know Madrid. 

50. The Palace of the Marquis of Villafranca was built by Pedro Álvarez de Toledo and is the current headquarters of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In the heart of the Austrias district, the 17th century palace houses some treasures such as the rooms redecorated in the 19th century by the architect, sculptor and painter Arturo Mélida, the same architect who decorated some of the rooms of the Ateneo of Madrid. 

51. An example of spectacular architecture and fascination with technology is the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez airport terminal by the British architect Richard Rogers and the Spanish architect Antonio Lamela: the T-4. One of the most iconic constructions of world architecture in recent decades. 

52. The old 19th century Delicias Station, designed by José Antonio Calleja, is the current Madrid Railway Museum. The building, an exponent of 19th century industrial architecture, was declared a historical-artistic monument, and the old passenger building at the station became the central element of the museum. 

53. In the Paseo de la Chopera, the Palacio de Cristal de la Arganzuela, a former municipal slaughterhouse, was restored and rehabilitated and now houses a greenhouse and botanical garden with species from all over the world, more than 9,000 plants. Built by the architect Luis Bellido y González, is another example of the so-called iron architecture of the 19th century.

54. Matadero Madrid is a splendid example of industrial architecture. The old slaughterhouse and municipal livestock market in Madrid at the beginning of the 20th century is now a cultural centre with sustainable buildings and unique warehouses with a very complete programme in each of its spaces (Central de Diseño, Cineteca, Naves, Plaza Matadero, Casa del Lector, etc.).

55. In the heart of La Latina, the Real Colegiata de San Isidro y Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo of the 17th century, is one of the best examples of Baroque Madrid. It was built by the Jesuit architects Pedro Sánchez and Francisco Bautista, and renovated by one of the architects who changed Madrid during the Enlightenment, Ventura Rodríguez, and converted into a Royal Collegiate Church in the 18th century.

56. In one of the monumental enclaves of Madrid, is another unique building of the 19th century emblematic of the capital, the Teatro Real (Royal Theatre), which houses inside outstanding works of art, large halls and one of the most advanced scenic boxes of theatres in Europe. 

57. The University of Alcalá de Henares, founded in the 15th century by Cardinal Cisneros, was the first planned University city in the world. One of the jewels of the Spanish Renaissance is its splendid Plateresque façade by Gil de Hontañón, the three courtyards - Sto. Tomás de Villanueva, Filósofos and Trilingüe - and the Paraninfo where the Cervantes Prize is awarded every year. 

58. The Juan de Goyeneche palace, a palace-house from the early 18th century in the town of Nuevo Baztán, in the Southeast of the Region of Madrid. Of baroque style, the solemn and sober building was constructed by the architect José de Churriguera and declared Historical-Artistic Monument. 

59. The current headquarters of the Archivo y Biblioteca Regional de Madrid (Regional Archive and Library of Madrid), from the beginning of the 20th century, was the complex of the El Águila beer brewery. They are a group of historical buildings very well conserved, curious to contemplate, all of them of bricks with tiles and neo-Mudejar aspect. Today it is one of the most impressive libraries in Europe. 

60. Located on the Gran Vía in Madrid, the neo-baroque building of the Fundación Telefónica, designed and built by Ignacio Cárdenas, was at the time the first skyscraper in Europe and has been a hallmark of the city. 

Image credits:Templo de Debod©Hugo Fernández. Comunidad de Madrid