Madrid, the Spanish capital and the country`s largest city contains unique, varied architecture and houses some of the world`s finest museums, monuments and palaces. It is an ideal venue for walking tours, but these need to be carefully planned to make the most of the experience.
A comprehensive guide book is an essential pre-requisite for a successful walking tour of Madrid. Better guides contain detailed maps of the city, along with some description and history of its major landmarks.
Obviously, some attractions will appeal more than others, so it is important to list the “must see” places, locate them on a map and plot an appropriate route between them.
Even at a leisurely pace, a worthwhile walking tour will take a couple of hours, so comfortable footwear is must. The “Madrid experience” can be enhanced by reading about each location in the guide and taking photographs.
Many of Madrid`s popular attractions are within walking distance of the centrally-located Plaza Puerta del Sol and this is a popular starting point for exploring Madrid.
In the middle of the square is a large equestrian statue of King Carlos III, looking out to a beautiful 18th-century red brick building, the former main post office.
In front of this building on the pavement is the “kilometer 0” plaque, marking the center of the Spanish road network.
Walk along Calle Mayor, turning left into the narrow Felippe III road, emerging onto Plaza Mayor. Madrid`s original town square dates from 1665 and remains central to numerous religious and cultural events. Leave Plaza Mayor via the road diagonally opposite the entry point.
Turn right and walk towards the Plaza San Miguel, which is fronted on one side by the city`s original market. It retains much of its early 20th-century structure but contains mainly tourist shops nowadays. Enter Conde Miranda from the corner of Plaza San Miguel and walk the short distance to Calle Mayor.
Turn left and continue downhill. Near the end of the road, the Cathedral Almudena becomes visible ahead. This is one of the city`s newer landmarks, opened by Pope John Paul II in 1993. If offers views of the city walls and palace courtyard, providing a stark contrast between modern and ancient Madrid. Adjacent is the Madrid Royal Palace, built in 1738.
Open to tourists, it commands superb views of Southern Madrid. A gentle walk through the ornamental gardens of the Plaza de Oriente leads to the Teatro Real Opera, one of Madrid`s oldest buildings and a favourite of many Spanish kings. Follow Calle Carlos III, turning left onto the main Calle Arenal. A gentle climb leads back to the starting point.
Depending on the time of year, different clothing will be appropriate for a walking tour in Madrid. A backpack is ideal for carrying additional clothing and equipment. For convenience sake, it is well worth checking out what backpacks are most suitable.
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