Paris has the Eiffel Tower. Agra the Taj Mahal. Yet Madrid has not one but a handful of landmarks that stand as proud symbols of the city for both locals and foreigners alike.
Our top pick is the Roman-style Cibeles statue that reigns over the Plaza de Cibeles. Over the years it has become intimately associated with Madrid to such a point that it has become a symbol for the city itself. The fans of the city's main soccer team, Real Madrid, also boisterously celebrate their victories there.
Our second choice for Madrid landmarks is the city's hub, Puerta del Sol square, which actually holds several landmarks, like the bear and strawberry tree statue. This statue depicting the official symbol of Madrid has been a meeting point for generations of Spanish friends and lovers. The Kilometer Zero plaque in front of the Casa del Reloj in the square also marks the center of Spain and the point from which all distances in the country are measured. In addition, the historic Puerta del Sol is the place Spaniards, with grapes in hand, traditionally turn their eyes toward to usher in the New Year.
Built in the 1700s as the city's east entrance, the Puerta de Alcalá is one of Madrid's monumental gates. However, unlike the others, it has reached a singular importance in the heart of Madrileños. The Puerta de Alcalá stands regally at the corner of Retiro Park.
A familiar feature of the downtown landscape, the historic Atocha railway station (Estación de Atocha) is one of the city's major transportation hubs and the site of the tragic 2004 terrorist bombing. Look for the tropical gardens and scores of live turtles as well as the bombing victims' memorial.
Calle Mayor & Plaza Puerta del Sol
Emperador Carlos V 3
Opposite the Royal Palace (Palacio Real)
across from the Palacio Real