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A bit of history

In the Fifteenth century, the monarchs of the House of Habsburg built a Gothic-style fortress in the citadel area. The old fortress burnt down in 1734 and the Bourbons built the current Royal Palace on the same site. All of this area in Madrid was known as the “Madrid of the Habsburgs”. The nobility built their palaces around it in order to live inside the Court. In the Seventeenth century, Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor were built, two of the city’s main attractions and focal points.

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Plaza de Oriente

Joseph Bonaparte ordered all the old houses in this area to be knocked down, thus opening a large space for a square with a view of the Royal Palace. The square is decorated with statues of Visigothic kings and one of King Philip IV. This area is also home to the famous Royal Theatre, inaugurated by Queen Isabella II in 1850.

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Puerta del Sol

Previously, it used to be the eastern access point to the city, guarded by a gate and a fortress. Many writers from Spain’s Golden Age talk about the steps of San Felipe, known as the “talking shop of Madrid”, which was on the corner of where Calle Mayor is today. It currently has a semi-circular shape. The Royal House of the Post Office (Casa de Correos), which presides the square, was built by Ventura Rodríguez by order of King Charles III in 1760.

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Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral

The old Gothic fortress, which burnt down in 1734, was built on this site. King Philip V was the king who ordered the construction of the palace, whose decoration reflects the tastes of King Charles III and Charles IV. The last monarch to reside here was Alfonso XIII. The façade of Almudena Cathedral integrates into the Royal Palace, thus forming a unique architectural ensemble.

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Gran Vía

One of Madrid’s main avenues of today. Inaugurated in 1910, this street includes emblematic buildings such as the Metrópolis Building at number 7, designed by the architect Eduardo Reynals, the main representative of the so-called “Spanish style”.

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Plaza Mayor

Square which dates back to the Seventeenth century with arcades and three-floor buildings. For many centuries now, it has been one of the city’s main meeting points, hosting bullfights, festivals or trials of the Spanish Inquisition. It is also the execution site of Rodrigo Calderón, former secretary of King Philip III. One of its main attractions are the many restaurants located under the arcades. Presiding the square is a statue of King Philip III riding a horse.