The Paseo del
|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
For more information on the locations shown on the map, but not discussed above see the
Return to A Walking Tour of Madrid