Palacio de Cristal, Madrid

Through the lens: Madrid

It would be no exaggeration to say that Madrid is one of the most impressive cultural capitals in the world. From art to architecture, food to music, celebration to scenery, the city dances to its own artistic rhythm. Here, we enjoy a candid glimpse of Madrid and its sights

Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid with a Spanish flag blowing in the wind

Palacio de Cibeles

Opened in 1919 as the Palacio de Comunicaciones, this ornate building with its white façades acted as Madrid’s main post office, telegraph and telephone exchange until around 2003, when it was repurposed as City Hall. Inside you’ll find CentroCentro, a public space dedicated to culture and citizenship. Head up to its observation deck for unbeatable views over the capital.

Visitors on boats in Estanque Grande del Retiro, Madrid

Estanque Grande de El Retiro

Perhaps one of Madrid’s most famous sights and an ever-popular spot in which to relax and enjoy the city’s warm climate, the large lake in Retiro park is flanked by the imposing colonnaded Alfonso XII monument, an Egyptian fountain and a jetty to the northern end, from where you can hire rowing boats to venture on to the lake.

Collage of images showing inside the galleries and exterior of the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

One of the most comprehensive privately curated collections of European art in the world, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum’s exhibitions and displays were acquired by the Spanish State from Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza in 1992. His wife continued collecting works after the Baron’s death in 2002 and her collection – some 200 items – was added to the museum in 2004.

Collage of images of the exterior details of Palacio de Velázquez, Madrid

Palacio de Velázquez

Not to be confused with the painter Velázquez, whose statue sits proudly outside the Prado Museum, the Velázquez Palace is named after its architect, Ricardo Velázquez Bosco. It is built in the neoclassical style and follows the model that was used for London's Crystal Palace. Stop by for visiting exhibitions as part of the Reina Sofía modern art museum and marvel at the façade’s beautiful ceramic tiles and engravings.

Palacio de Cristal with lake in foreground, Madrid

Palacio de Cristal

One of the most scenic spots in the city, the Ricardo Velázquez Bosco-designed glass house in Retiro park was originally constructed in 1887 as a giant greenhouse to hold tropical plants for an exhibition of flowers from the Philippines (then still a Spanish colony). Today it’s part of the Museo Reina Sofía, and houses visiting displays from the modern art world.

Collage of images showing the interior of Platea and a a dish of gyoza

Platea Madrid

Madrid has always been high in the food stakes and, being the capital, has attracted the best and brightest from not just Spain but across the globe to share their gastronomic delights. It’s also home to one of the most famous food markets in the world, Mercado de San Miguel, which opened its doors in 1916. Never a city to stop evolving, the gastro-market concept has been elevated yet again in Platea, a former theatre turned gourmet food court, where Michelin star-winning chefs battle for residency.

Collage of images of streets of Madrid, including a classical monument and colourful banners hanging between windows

Street life

While Madrid might not have the standout architectural landmarks of its European sisters, every city street has something architecturally pleasing to offer. From the flag-strung streets of the historic literary district of Las Letras, to the well-heeled balconied boulevards of the Salamanca neighbourhood, peer up and discover pastel-hued facades, imposing sand-coloured stone edifices and shades of burnt terracotta as the sun casts it rays over the city.

Words by Ross Clarke

Mandarin Oriental Madrid
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View of Madrid street through archway at Plaza Mayor

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