The Paseo del Prado

  Directly in the center of the map is the Plaza de la Cibeles (#1).  Surrounding the plaza is the Banco de España, and going clockwise the Palacio de Buenavista, the Palacio de Linares, the Palacio de Communicaciones, and the Museo Naval (Navy Museum) (#3).

The Palacio de Communicaciones (Central Post Office) was built in 1904.  It is nicknamed "Our Lady of the Posts". Located in the back is the Museo Postal y de Telecomunicación.  

The Palacio de Linares was built around 1875.  It was named after the Marquis of Linares.  It later fell into disrepair and was converted into the Casa de América and houses a collection of paintings by Latin American artists.

The Palacio de Buenavista was originally built by the Duchess of Alba in the late 18th century as a family residence.  It now houses the Army headquarters.

The Museo Naval is the Navy museum.  Although small it contains among other items the map of Juan de la Cosa (1500) which is the first map to show the American continent.   It also contains many of the charts and tools that were used by Columbus.

Just to the east of the Museo Naval is the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas (#2).  On each of the five floors are laid out furniture and other objects that were in Spanish homes. Some of these objects go back thousands of years.  The most interesting exhibits is an 18th century tiled Valencian kitchen.

Returning to the Plaza de la Cibeles and heading south you will encounter the Fuente de Apolo (Fountain of Apollo). The Fuente de Apolo is located in the Plaza Cánovas del Castillo.  Antonio Cánovas del Castillo was a Prime Minister of Spain who was assassinated in 1897.  Just east of that is the Plaza de la Lealtad.  The Plaza de la Lealtad the Monumento del Dos de Mayo (Monument of May 2nd).  The commemorates the War of Independence against the French.  On May 2, 1808 the people of Madrid rose up against the occupying French soldiers. 

Facing back north and going clockwise you will see La Bolsa, Museo de Ejército, El Casón del Buen Retiro, the Real Academia de la Lengua (Royal Academy of Language), (Iglesia de) San Jerónimo el Real, the Museo del Prado (#5)  and almost back at the beginning the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza (#4).

La Bolsa is the where the Spanish stock exchange is located.   The building was built in the 19th century.

The Museo de Ejército (Army Museum) is located in one of the remaining parts of the 17th century Palacio del Buen Retiro.  It contains rooms devoted to founding of America, the War of Independence and the Civil War.  Perhaps the most famous exhibit is La Tizona, the sword of El Cid.

Iglesia de San Jerónimo el Real was the church around which the Retiro Palace grew.   In 1975, King Juan Carlos took his monarch's oath here and previously royal weddings where conducted here.  Today it retains its royal connctions and has become a favorite church for society weddings.

Continuing south from the Museo del Prado and going roughly clockwise is the Real Jardin Botánico, the Ministerio de Agricultura, the Museo de Etnologia, the Observatorio Astronómico, Estación de Atocha, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (#7) and the Real Conservatorio de Música.

The Real Jardin Botánico (Royal Botanical Gardin) were created in 1774 by Charles III.   His statue now stands in the center of the gardens.  It has become a favorite place for the people of Madrid to walk as they escape from the heat of the summer.

In the lower right hand corner is the Observatorio Astronómico.  It was built in 1790 it previously was the site of many important studies of the stars.  Now it maintains a collection of old astronomical instruments.

The Estación de Atocha (#8)  was originally built in 1851.  The exterior shell, built 1881 - 1891 was designed by Alberto de Palacio Elissagne, with assistance from none other than Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel tower.  It is considered to be an excellent example of railway architecture of the 1880's.  The interior was redesigned in 1992 with to handle the AVE, the Spanish high speed train service between Madrid and Seville.  (The other high speed rail service is TALGO.)   The interior also contains a 2,400 square yard tropical palm garden.  Until the mid 1980's this was the main train station for Madrid.  Now it handles traffic to Extremadura, Levante and Andalusia.  The other major station in Madrid is Estación de Chamartín which is now the cities busiest.  It handles all international rail traffic and most mainland Spanish services.

Some of the streets (located north to south):
Calle Juan de Mena - Juan de Mena (1411 - 1456) was a poet and scholar.  His poetry is of the style of Dante.
Calle Antonio Maura - Antonio Maura (1853 - 1925) was a politician.  He served several terms as Premier of Spain.
Calle de Zorrilla - Jose Zorrilla y Moral (1817 - 1893) was a poet and dramatist.   He wrote many popular plays including Don Juan Tenorio and El Zapatero y El Rey (The Shoemaker and The King).
Calle de Ruiz de Alarcón - Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (1581 - 1639) was poet.  He is considered to be one of the great literary figures of Spanish Golden Age.  He was born in Mexico and was a hunchback.  In addition to poetry he also practiced law.
Calle del Casado de Alisal - Jose Casado de Alisal (1832 - 1886) was an was important 19th century Spanish artist.
Calle de Alberto Bosch - Alberto Bosch (1848 - 1900) was an engineer, doctor and mayor of Madrid.
Calle Lope de Vega - Lope de Vega (1562 - 1635) is considered to be Spain's greatest playwright.  In his life he wrote over 2,200 plays.  He began writing poetry at age 5.  In 1588 he joined the Spanish Armada, but fortunately was on one of the few ships to return.  His most popular work is Fuente Ovejuna (the Sheep Well).
Calle de Moratín - Leandro Fernadez de Moratín (1760 - 1828) was a Spanish poet and dramatist. 
Calle Claudio Moyano - Claudio Moyano Samaniego (1809 - 1890) was educational reformer and minister of Queen Isabella II.

For more information on the locations shown on the map, but not discussed above see the following links:
Biblioteca Nacional - Capital's Lifeline
Cortes (Palacio del Congreso) - Plaza Puerta del Sol/Plaza Mayor
Museo Arqueológico Nacional - Capital's Lifeline
Palacio de Justica - Gran Via
Parque del Buen Retiro - Parque del Buen Retiro
Plaza de Colón - Capital's Lifeline
Plaza de La Independencia - Salamanca
Palacio del Marqués de Salamanca - Salamanca
Puerta de Alcalá - Parque de Retiro

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