(Departure )

Get under the skin of Habsburg Madrid

King Alfonso VI of Castille (1083-1086) seized the Arab village called Majerit (now Madrid) from the Muslims. In 1561, during the reign of Felipe II, the Madrid Court was definitively established.

In the 15th century, the monarchs from the House of Habsburg constructed a gothic fortress in the citadel. The old fortress caught fire in 1734 and the Bourbons built the current Royal Palace on the site. All this area of Madrid was called Habsburg Madrid. The nobility built their mansions in the surrounding area to live in the Court.

Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor, both key points in the city, were built in the 17th century.

Plaza de Oriente

José Bonaparte had this area cleared of old houses, thus opening a great square with a view of the Royal Palace. The square is decorated with statues of Gothic kings and an equestrian statue of Felipe IV.

This area also contains the Royal Theatre, opened by Isabel II in 1850.

Puerta del Sol

In the past it was the western entrance to the city, guarded by a gate and a fortress. Numerous writers of the Golden Age refer to San Felipe’s steps, called the “Town loafing place”, located on the corner of what is now calle Mayor. It is now in the shape of a half-moon. Postal House, which looks over the square, was built by Ventura Rodríguez, by order of Carlos III in 1760.

Royal Palace

The old Gothic fortress was situated here, catching fire in 1734. Felipe V was the king who commissioned its construction- The palatial decoration reflects the taste of Carlos III and Carlos IV. The palace was inhabited by the monarchs until 1931. The last monarch to reside was Alfonso XIII.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Almudena

Work began in 1883. The facade was integrated, forming an architectural unit with the Royal Palace.

Gran Vía

Nowadays it is one of the main arteries of Madrid. It was opened in 1910. This street contains very iconic buildings such as Metrópolis, at nº 7, work of Eduard Reynals, main representative of the “Spanish style”.

Plaza Mayor

Arcaded square of the 17th century, made up of three-storey buildings. For centuries it has been a meeting place; bullfights, feasts and Inquisition trials were held there. The patron saint of Madrid, San Isidro, was beatified in this square. Rodrigo Calderón, secretary of Felipe III, was executed there. The most important action was the reception of Carlos III from Italy in 1760. The architect who designed it was Juan Gómez de Mora. An equestrian statue of Felipe III looks over the statue.

One of the attractions of this square is the restaurants which are located below the colonnades.