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Royal Palace (2hrs, including waiting)
Of course you should start at the Royal Palace, which is the official residence of the Spanish King. King Juan Carlos and the Royal Family do not reside in the palace, choosing instead the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid.
The palace is partially open to public, except when it is being used for official business. The palace has more than 2000 luxuriously decorated rooms, 50 of which can be visited. Flash photography is not permitted inside the building, so make sure you take a camera that is set to function without flash.
You can take a guided tour (10 euro) or a normal ticket (8 euro) so you can walk around in your own pace. From October to March the palace is open from 10:30 am to 6 pm and on Sundays and holidays from 10 am to 4 pm. From April to September the palace opens every day from 10 am to 8 pm.
Visitors enter the Palace via the large Plaza de la Armería. But be aware, there can be a long queue. If you don’t like to wait, it’s already beautiful from the outside. In front of the Palace is the Plaza de Oriente, a beautiful square with an equestrian statue of Philips IV.
The palace is located on the east of Madrid's historic centre, within walking distance of the Plaza de España. It is a five minutes walk from metro station Opera.
With the Madrid Card you can enter the palace for free.
Cathedral de la Almudena (1 hr)
Next to the Royal Palace you can visit the Roman Catholic Cathedral de la Almudena. When the capital of Spain was transferred from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the seat of the Church in Spain remained in Toledo; so the new capital had no cathedral. That’s why they built this ‘new’ cathedral in Madrid.
The cathedral is 104m long and 76m wide. The central dome has a diameter of 20m. The interior of the Almudena Cathedral is more modern and much more modest than that of its larger counterpart in Toledo.
The Neo-Gothic interior is uniquely modern, with chapels and statues of contemporary artists, in heterogeneous styles, from historical revivals to pop-art decor. For only 1-euro donation you can enter the cathedral. It is open in winter from 9 am to 9 pm and in summer from 10am to 1 pm and from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Museo del Prado (½ day)
Another thing not to miss is the world famous Museo Del Prado. It features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th to the early 19th century.
The collection currently comprises around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, in addition to a large number of works of art and historic documents.
The opening hours are from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm including holidays (so the museum is closed on Mondays). A ticket for the entrance to the permanent collections and the temporary exhibitions costs 10 euro.
The museum is located at Paseo del Prado s/n 28014 nearby metro station Atocha.
Botanical gardens (1-2 hrs)
Next to the museum you should visit the Botanical gardens, which was founded in 1755. Today's garden is divided into three major outdoor sections and two greenhouses. The garden’s collections include about 30,000 plants and flowers, and 1,500 trees.
The gardens are located at Paseo del Prado, next to the Prado Museum. The admission fee is 2,50 euro.
Retiro Park (1 hr – ½ day)
Behind the Prado museum and the botanical gardens you will find ‘Parque del Buen Retiro’ or simply called El Retiro, which is the largest park of the city of Madrid. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park.
Nowadays it is a great hangout spot and perfect to escape from the heat in the city during summer. You can easily spend a whole day in the park with walking, relaxing or rowing a boat.
In the pond (Estanque) in the heart of the park you can rent a rowing boat for maximum 4 persons. This will cost you 4,55 euro for 45 minutes. If you don’t like to row, you can make a round on the pond in a solar boat for 1,20 euro. All these rentals are only available during daytime.
Madrid tourist bus (1 - ? days)
In the old centre of Madrid it’s easy to walk around. But if you think it is too hot to walk or you like to get easy transportation from one highlight to another, you can take the Madrid tourist bus.
The busses travel two routes through the city and they pass all major sites. More information about the bus can be found here. http://www.madrid-tourist-guide.com/en/tour/madrid-tour-bus.html
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Language of the world
Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Madrid.