This Walking Tour is a 3,26 Kms (2 mi 45 yd), that will take you from a starting point, at Callao Plaza. On this Walking Tour, you will be able to see:
- (A) Callao Plaza
- (B) Puerta de Sol
- (C) Plaza Mayor
- (D) Calle Cuchilleros y Cava Baja
- (E) Mercado San Miguel
- (F) Plaza de la Villa
- (G) Almudena Cathedral
- (H) The Royal Palace
- (I) Oriente Square
- (J) Royal Theater – Opera
- (K) Plaza Santo Domingo,
At a steady pace this tour will take around 30 minutes, but there is so much to see that it will be better to reserve a 2 or 3 hours to see it on a relaxed way.
Join me to see the pictures and comments of Madrid, on this Walking Tour:
Starting this Walking Tour in Callao Plaza, we will go towards Puerta del Sol, walking through Preciados Street, which is one of the busiest pedestrian streets in the world, with lots of shops and department stores.
After 300 yard walk from Callao, we reach Puerta del Sol, where the Casa de Correos (old Post Office) building which houses the headquarter of the Government Offices of the Community of Madrid. On the sidewalk, in front of this building, you can find the sign of what is called as the Kilometer Zero of the Spanish Road Network. Other monuments on this square of Puerta del Sol, are the equestrian statue of Carlos III, and the symbol of Madrid, the Bear and the Strawberry Tree.
From Sol, we walk towards Calle Mayor, which will take us, in less than 200 meters, to Plaza Mayor. This Plaza, was in the outskirts of the medieval village back in the sixteenth century, and was known in those days as the Plaza del Arrabal, and main market of the Villa.
Going through one of the porticos of Plaza Mayor, a few meters to the west, we head for the Mercado San Miguel. This iron and glass building, dating from 1916, has been closed for years, and was reopened to the public, as a market for high quality products, where you can also try and taste the products, in a great environment.
From San Miguel Market, we walk down Calle Mayor, toward the Plaza de la Villa, and the Almudena Cathedral.
Next to the Cathedral, is the Royal Palace, and Plaza de Oriente.
In this walk of just over 3 kilometers, you can see these magnificent historic sites. For more information and pictures, read below and visit the other recommend Walking Tours in this blog.
The Bear And The Strawberry Tree
The statue of the bear and the strawberry tree (Oso y el Madroño), is a sculpture of the second half of the twentieth century. It is located in the heart of Madrid, and it represents the Official Symbol of the city.
It is installed on the eastern side of the Puerta del Sol, between Calle de Alcalá and Carrera de San Jerónimo, in the historic center of the capital.
Tio Pepe Neon Sign – Puerta Del Sol
The Tio Pepe Neon sign, that crowned the building at number 1 of the Puerta del Sol in Madrid since 1936, has been taken away on April 2011, to allow the restoration of the building.
There was a project to build a new Apple Store in that building, which has opened to the public on June 14, 2014.
I feel lucky to get the picture above, since when I took it, I didn’t now it would be taken away a few days later.
In the photo below, we can see the Tio Pepe sign, in the new location, at the beginning of Preciados Street, that goes from Puerta del Sol, where we are now, to Plaza Callao 350 meters away.
The photo below shows the Tio Pepe sign, in its original location, between Alcalá and Carrera de San Jerónimo streets.
Puerta Del Sol, Clock Tower
Puerta del Sol is a square of Madrid that since 1950 is considered as the Kilometer Zero of Spain. From here, all the radial network of Spanish roads start counting distances.
Also, the numbers of buildings in streets of Madrid, have their lowest numbering, at the closest point to the KM 0 point of Puerta del Sol.
This KM O is marked on the sidewalk, just below the Clock in the picture.
There’s always great entertainment in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid. Street performers, human statues, caricaturists, and depending on the day’s activities organized both by tradition, and sometimes by the Municipality.
Concerts, exhibitions, besides the traditional markets for collectors of stamp and coin, are held every Sunday.
View of Plaza Mayor
The origins of Plaza Mayor, date back to the sixteenth century, when from the outer part to the southern part of the plaza, was considered just outside the medieval village. This site was known as “Plaza del Arrabal”, and it was the main market of the town.
In 1580, having moved the court to Madrid in 1561, Felipe II, commissioned the project to remodel the square to Juan de Herrera, thus beginning the demolition of the old houses.
The construction of the first building of the new plaza, was the Casa de la Panaderia, beginning in 1590 by Diego Sillero, on the site of the old fish market.
In 1617, Felipe III, commissioned the completion of the works to Juan Gomez de Mora, who completed the square in 1619.
The Plaza Mayor suffered three major fires in its history. The last fire, which destroyed a third of the square, took place in 1790. The reconstruction was commissioned to Juan de Villanueva, who lowered the height of the constructions that surround the square from five stories to three, and closed the corners of the plaza, building arches to give access instead. The reconstruction work would last until 1854, and finished by Antonio López Aguado.
In 1848, an equestrian statue of Felipe III, was placed in the center of the square, designed by Giambologna and Pietro Tacca dating back to 1616.
In the ’60s a general restoration was undertaken, which closed the plaza to the traffic, and enabled an underground parking beneath the plaza.
The last that has been done in Plaza Mayor, was in 1992 and consisted of the mural decoration, designed by Carlos Franco in the Casa de la Panaderia. This mural represents mythological characters of the goddess Cybele.
Arch Entrance To Plaza Mayor
This port leads to Calle de Toledo, and shows the Parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
A little further in this direction is Cascorro Square, where Sundays and holidays the biggest flea market is held in Madrid, called El Rastro.
Cuchilleros Arch – Plaza Mayor
The Arco de Cuchilleros, that could be translated as the Cutlers Arch, is the most famous of the nine gates of the Plaza Mayor of Madrid.
It is located in the southwest corner of the square, with its considerable height due to the large gap in the ground level between the Plaza Mayor and the Cava de San Miguel.
After a fire in the Plaza Mayor in 1790, the square was completely closed and a series of arcades were built to give access to it.
Its name is due to the nearby street of Cuchilleros, were the Cutlers Guild workshops were located, in order to supply their products to the guild of butchers, located within the square.
San Miguel Market
The Mercado de San Miguel is located in the plaza of the same name, next to the Plaza Mayor of Madrid. It preserves the original interesting iron structure of the early twentieth century.
This building has been closed for many years, and currently a group of private individuals came with the idea to open a very special market, offering high quality products, seasonal food, culinary advice, ability to test what will be part of your shopping cart or eating snacks, with the advantage of flexible time.
To see more photos of the Mercado San Miguel, please CLICK HERE.
Terrace San Miguel Market
Near to Plaza Mayor, and to Mercado San Miguel in Madrid, there is a great deal of terraces to eat or have a drink. Because of the good climate of Madrid, they are operating most of the year.
In this tour of Madrid, it’s a good idea to visit the Mercado San Miguel. You will appreciate its uniqueness as a tourist attraction with its interesting architecture, and also to have something to eat and drink.
Casa de la Villa – The Old Town Hall
Old City Hall of the city of Madrid (1693-2007). The Tuscan façade on the foto, was designed by Juan de Villanueva (1789).
It is still house of the Municipal Council of the City of Madrid, although since November 5, 2007 the Mayor, moved to the Palacio de Comunicaciones in Cibeles.
La Almudena Cathedral
The main facade that faces Armory Square, is located looking towards the south side of the Royal Palace.
It consists of a large double columned Neoclassical portico, with the lower floor Tuscan-inspired, which after the consecration of the cathedral in 1993, a Baroque niche, sheltering the image of the Virgin de la Almudena, was placed.
La Almudena Cathedral, is the Bishop’s seat of the Archdiocese of Madrid (Spain).
It is a temple with 102 meters long and 73 high construction, built during the nineteenth and twentieth in a mixture of different styles: neoclassical exterior, neo-Gothic interior and neo-Romanesque crypt.
It is located in the historic city center of Madrid, with its main facade situated opposite to the Royal Palace.
Unlike most Christian churches, that are oriented east-west, La Almudena Cathedral has a north-south orientation. This is due to its design as an integrated part of the Royal Palace complex.
It is built in stone from Novelda (Alicante), and from the granite quarries of Colmenar Viejo (Madrid province).
Royal Guard At The Palace On the 12th October, National Day
On the “National Day of Spain”, October 12 each year, which commemorates the discovery of America, this picture, was taken showing the Royal Guards Parade at the Patio de Armas of the Royal Palace in Madrid.
Royal Palace – Plaza Oriente
View of the Royal Palace with Plaza España buildings in the background.
This pedestrian space in front of the Palace, was constructed where Bailen Street once had been. All of Plaza de Oriente has been designed as a pedestrian square.
Statues Of Spanish Kings
This collection of twenty limestone sculptures of the Spanish kings in Plaza de Oriente, correspond to five Visigoth kings and fifteen of the first Christian kingdoms of the “Reconquest” of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors.
Terrace Bar Next To The Opera
In the Plaza de Oriente and the Teatro Real surrounding and overlooking the Royal Palace, you can enjoy cozy local bars and restaurant terraces, that are open all year round.
The Opera – Royal Theater
After thirty-two years of planning and construction, the Royal Order of May 7, 1850 enforced the immediate termination of the “Teatro de Oriente”, and the building was completed within five months. It was finally inaugurated on November 19, 1850.
This photo shows the front of the building towards the Plaza Isabel II, popularly called Opera Square.
Behind the building is the Plaza de Oriente, and the Royal Palace.
Plaza Santo Domingo
After nearly a century of changes in the Plaza Santo Domingo, in February 2006 demolition work started to convert the existing underground parking, into a quiet pedestrian square.
This area along with the nearby street Preciados, which was also closed to car traffic, has allowed nearby catering business to create a good deal of terraces to eat or to have a drink.
This square was built before the great reform of construction of the Gran Via, in 1910.
Nearby Callao, there is a great deal of places for shopping, entertainment and dining.
From this point, we begin and end our sightseeing walking tours of Madrid Centre.