palais royal madrid

Historic Centre of Madrid – Royal Palace of Madrid – Plaza Mayor

Table of Contents

For a visit to the historic centre of Madrid we recommend you to visit :

  • The Royal Palace in Madrid
  • The Cathedral of the Almuneda
  • La plaza mayor
  • The mercado de san Miguel
  • La puerta del Sol
  • The Latina district
  • Eating at the Sobrino de Botin

One of the advantages of Madrid is that despite its very large size it is possible to visit the historic centre of the city on foot without wasting time on public transport.

The historic centre of Madrid is big enough to spend a morning during a 2 or 3 day stay in the capital.

The historic centre of Madrid is located in the current city centre, many hotels are in this area and it will be easy for you to find the one that best suits your needs.

If you are visiting Madrid in 3 days we advise you to stay in one of the hotels located near the Royal Palace.

For more information about the different hotels in the city don’t hesitate to consult our Madrid hotel guide, where you will find the best addresses, our opinions and a list of more than 10 hotels where you can stay or sleep in the capital.

In this article you will find the essential information about what to visit during your stay in Madrid. If you are wondering what to do in Madrid and what to visit during a stay of 2 or 3 days then you are at the right place.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about your stay, we will be happy to answer them.


The historic centre of Madrid offers a wide range of cultural activities and many places to visit, which is why we’ve included a full article to cover the subject and help you prepare for your future stay.

Don’t hesitate to book a city tour of Madrid so that you don’t lose time during your stay and visit the best of the city.

Not to be missed: the ideal itinerary in the historical centre of Madrid (at the end of the article) during a stay in Madrid.

The heart of the historic centre of Madrid: the Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace in Madrid is one of the most beautiful and grand palaces in Europe and is one of the monuments of the city to visit during your stay.

The palace represents the historic centre of Madrid, it is from this point that the city has grown to currently cover more than 600 km2 or almost 6 times Paris!

The palace opens to the public from 10am, if you want to live an exclusive moment it is possible to start the visit from 9am, but only with an official guide. For more information about this service do not hesitate to contact us and take a tour on our website, we will organize you a unique and authentic visit of the royal palace with a English-speaking guide.

Once inside the royal palace you will have the opportunity to visit it and to plunge back into the life of the monarchs. Here is a list of the main rooms you will be able to see:

The grand palace staircase.
You will discover the Column Lounge.
The bedroom of Charles 3.
The porcelain cabinet.
The Gala dining room.
The royal chapel.
The throne room.

The visit doesn’t stop there, if you have time is that they are open then you can access the royal armoury and the royal kitchen.

Don’t hesitate to ask a member of the staff if it is possible to visit them.

During your visit you will pass by the Stradivarius room, you will find an impressive collection of original Stradivarius as well as the scepter and the royal crown.

If you are interested in the royal palace and the history of Madrid do not hesitate to read our article dedicated to this monument and the history of the monarchs who lived there.

-> Our article on the Royal Palace of Madrid

If you are visiting the historic centre of Madrid we recommend you to take a tour around the Opera Square in front of the Royal Palace of Madrid. The building is open to the public and you will have a great view of the palace from the Opera Balcony.

opera madrid quartier

Historic Centre of Madrid – Opera Madrid

The Cathedral of the Historic Centre of Madrid: L’Almuneda

Located in front of the Royal Palace and separated by the Plaza de la Armería the Almudena Cathedral will surprise you with its magnificent statues.

It is a relatively young cathedral built in the 20th century with different styles (neoclassical on the outside and neo gothic on the inside).

It is important to note that it is the only Spanish cathedral to be consecrated by a pope.

It was during a trip to Spain that Pope John Paul 2 consecrated it in 1993.

Located in downtown Madrid it is also one of the monuments to visit. Access is free, but a donation is required. You will discover a large nave as well as a magnificent dome at the crossing of the transept.

The crypt of the Almuneda Cathedral

We advise you to visit this neo-Romanesque style crypt, under the Almudena Cathedral. You will have to go around the cathedral on the left to get to the entrance of this unique place.

The crypt of the Almudena is one of the largest in Spain, generally not much frequented you will be pleasantly surprised by this jewel.

Palais Royal de Madrid

Historic Centre of Madrid – Crypt of the Almuneda Cathedral

The palace gardens: El campo del moro

If you have the opportunity to visit the historic centre of Madrid between March and October then we recommend you to take a walk in the beautiful Campo del Moro Park.

This English style garden is full of flowers. El campo del moro is ideal to rest after a visit to the royal palace and take your best pictures.

Visiter Madrid

Historic Centre of Madrid – Royal Palace of Madrid – Campo del moro

The Basilica of San Francisco

This basilica is located not far from the Latina district and very close to the Almudena Cathedral. It is the most beautiful basilica in Madrid that you can visit.

You’ll have to cross the Segovia viaduct that connects the Royal Palace and Las Vistillas Park.

This viaduct became famous thanks to its appearance in Pedro Almodovar’s films like Matador or The Passenger Lovers.

You will find this basilica on your right after passing the viaduct. It is not very well known by tourists and is rather frequented by locals, it was our favorite when we entered it, with a neoclassical style you will find works of Goya.

It has a very large dome which is one of the largest in Europe after St. Peter’s Basilica or the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Florence. This basilica is one of the most beautiful in the historic center of Madrid.

Take advantage of your visit to the Royal Palace to take a tour of this unique place.

aHistoric Centre of Madrid – Basilica Madrid

The historical square of Madrid: Plaza Mayor

Madrid is made up of different squares that have evolved over time.

The plaza mayor which is part of the historic center of Madrid and also one of the most historic squares, it delineated one of the boundaries of the city in the 16th century.

Originally equipped with a hall it was the city’s market. It was three big fires that shaped it and changed its appearance.

You will find the statue of Philip 3 in the centre. Stroll under the arcades to admire the architecture of this magnificent place.

The Plaza Mayor is one of the most touristic places of the city, not to fall into the trap here is a list of authentic addresses of the place.

Have a drink at the café at: Al Fresco.
Eat a squid sandwich at the bar La Ideal.
Eat a traditional dish at the restaurant Gustos.
Visit Madrid in winter to see the famous Christmas market!

la latina plaza mayor

Historic Centre of Madrid – Plaza mayor Madrid

The historic market of Madrid: Mercado de San Miguel

You have probably already heard about the San Miguel market from a friend of yours who has been to Madrid or when reporting on the Spanish capital.

Located in the historic centre of Madrid the San Miguel market is a must for lovers of tapas and Spanish gastronomy.

It’s also a unique architectural work of art, made of glass and a metal structure that makes it an atypical and pleasant building to visit.

It’s usually a stop on our private tours of the city, it’s the ideal place to recharge your batteries after a visit to the royal palace.

Known all over the world by the presence of prestigious Spanish and foreign chefs, you will have the opportunity to taste tapas from all over Spain without forgetting a glass of Sangria or a caña.

This is what awaits you:

Joan Roca artisanal ice cream (3 Michelin stars).
Pellas de Rodrigo de la Calle (1 Michelin star).
Basque gastronomy with Amaiketako.
Typical Madrid dish from Casa Lhardy.

If you want to taste real Mexican tacos you will find Roberto Ruiz (1 Michelin star).

The mercado san Miguel is open every day from 10am to midnight and until 1am on Saturdays. You will be able to enjoy tapas every hour of the day. If you wish to enjoy the Spanish atmosphere we advise you to come and eat around 11am to enjoy a unique moment with your family or friends.

marchés de Madrid gastronomie

Historic Centre of Madrid – Mercado de Madrid San Miguel

Historic street of Madrid: Calle Mayor

Main axis of the historic center of Madrid this street starts at the foot of the Almudena Cathedral to reach the puerta del sol. Here you will find many restaurants and tourist shops.

You will be able to admire the modernist architecture of the buildings while strolling through its atypical little streets in the historic centre of Madrid. You will find famous historical buildings such as :

Casa de Calderón.
Joyeros de Mayor.
Miradores de chaflán.

Sobrino de Botin

One of the most popular addresses in the capital is the Sobrino de Botin, a typical restaurant serving traditional Spanish dishes, the oldest restaurant in the world opened in 1725.

It is on 4 floors that this 16th century style restaurant with low ceilings and antique period decoration is located.

Its characteristic wooden façade makes this restaurant a unique place where you can taste many traditional dishes such as cocido or lentils.

To eat there nothing simpler, you can go there and wait half an hour to have a table. To avoid this and to be sure to have a table quickly we advise you to book via their website, they have an online reservation system.

sobrino de botin madrid

Historic Center of Madrid – Botin restaurant Madrid

Puerta del sol

les quartiers de Madrid

Historic Centre of Madrid – Puerta del Sol

The Puerta del sol, located in the historic centre of Madrid is the central square of the city, this is where many events take place such as the New Year, the 15 M, events and political demonstrations.

You will also find the 0 kilometer of Spain and the statue of the bear and the strawberry tree, emblem of the city.

La puerta del sol is almost entirely pedestrian, but it was not in its infancy.

Real nerve centre of the capital it is very well connected with Callao, Plaza Santa Ana, Plaza Mayor, the Madrid Opera or the Paseo del Prado with the famous Prado Museum, Thyssen and Reina Sofia.

La Latina aera

A visit to the historic centre of Madrid is not limited to the main monuments of Spanish history.

The Latina quarter is an integral part of Madrid’s history and will surely be part of your itinerary on your first visit to Madrid.

You should know that this neighborhood is built on the ruins of an ancient medieval Moorish fort. You will find a very atypical architecture with small streets that wind between the buildings. It is interesting to compare the structure of this neighborhood with the modern Salamanca neighborhood where the streets are straight.

Real district dedicated to shopping, discover our article on the Salamanca district with our good shopping and lifestyle addresses.

You will find many churches such as the church of San Pedro el Real or the basilica of Saint Francis the Great that we mentioned earlier.

La Latina is a very lively neighbourhood where Spaniards like to meet on Sundays to go hunting at the Rastro market, a real attraction in the historic centre of Madrid.

Historic Centre of Madrid – La Latina aera

The Cava Baja and the Cava Alta

The cava baja and the cava alta are two very lively streets in the historic centre of Madrid.

Rich in history, they have shaped the Latina quarter and are the ideal place to eat tapas and meet up with friends. With an older and calmer style, another atmosphere awaits you.

Make the most of your stay in Madrid to live both atmospheres.

You will find many bars in the cava Baja, the animation is greater in the evenings. The cava alta is less lively, but very nice to see with its many facades and tile shopfronts typical of the historic centre of Madrid.

city tour madrid la latina

Historic Centre of Madrid – Calle cava alta Madrid

The Cebada market

Very well known market for locals and visitors you will find fresh products, ideal to bring Spanish ham home. Take advantage of a Sunday to visit this typical place and enjoy some tapas on the terrace.

The Rastro Market

Located in the historic centre of Madrid, the Rastro market is open every weekend and on public holidays.

It is a paradise for antique and second-hand goods dealers, where you can find antique paintings, antiques, antiques and much more.

Always remember to negotiate prices, the Rastro’s sellers are rather conciliatory and accept your offers.

You will find a main street where many sellers offer you new products typical of the markets, if you want to hunt the best is to go into the small shops between the main avenues.

One area of the market is dedicated to picture frames and another to fripe.

marché du rastro madrid

Historic Centre of Madrid – Rastro Market

What to do in Madrid in 2, 3 or 4 days?

What to do in Madrid? How long does it take to visit Madrid? What to do in Madrid in 3 three days?

What to do in Madrid in 2 days? How to visit the historical center of Madrid?


In order to make it easier for you, we have prepared a typical itinerary to discover the historic centre of Madrid in one day.

The perfect itinerary for a day in the historic centre of Madrid

rooftop madrid cibeles

Historic Centre of Madrid – what to do in Madrid in 2 days

Whether it’s your first visit to Madrid or your tenth, you will be left out of this beautiful city. If you are planning your trip to Madrid this is the ideal day to discover the historical center of the city:


Visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid – We advise you to visit it with a guide, it will be more comfortable and you won’t have to worry about the organization.

If you are visiting the Royal Palace alone then we advise you to get there by 9:30am so you don’t have to wait too long.

Visit to the Almudena Cathedral (optional the crypt) – Once you have finished visiting the Royal Palace go to the Almudena Cathedral to visit it. It will take you no more than 25 minutes. If you have time you can visit the crypt of the Almudena Cathedral.

Time for tapas!

Once these two monuments have been visited, it’s time to leave for the San Miguel market to enjoy some tapas and regain your strength. You can stay there for 1 hour while you take a walk and enjoy some tapas.

Once the market is over, go to the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del sol, stroll from square to square and discover the secrets of these squares.


Direction plaza santa Ana for lunch. We advise you to set yourself on Spanish time (lunch at 14:00 / 14:30) to make the most of your stay. You will find many restaurants on this beautiful square.

Once your meal is finished it is time to discover the district of the Latina is to stroll through the streets of the district. Pass by the calle mayor to find the district of the latina. Don’t forget to take a picture in front of one of the oldest restaurants in the world the Sobrino de Botin.

The snack

Take advantage of your stay in Madrid to taste churros con chocolate in one of the most famous restaurants: San Gines located in the historical center of Madrid between Callao and Opera (see district at the beginning of the article).

Your day of discovering the historic centre of Madrid is now over, take advantage of the Gran Via to do some shopping or enjoy a fresh cana in one of the bars in the area.

If you come across this article “the historic centre of Madrid” while preparing your stay in Madrid and you are wondering the following questions: What to visit in Madrid? What to visit in Madrid in 2 days? What are the best museums in Madrid? Where to eat in Madrid?

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