10 Madrid districts worth visiting

Neighborhoods in Madrid

Madrid has 21 neighborhoods, each with their own story.

Madrid’s neighborhoods are like individual bright strokes on the canvas of the city. There are a total of 21 districts in the Spanish capital, some of them old, some of them modern. There are business districts and residential districts. We’ll tell you more about some of them, while others we’ll dwell on for a while. Madrid’s central districts are divided into small parts that are well known to tourists. Let’s start with them.

Centro: Madrid’s historical area

Plaza Mayor is the heart of Madrid.Los Austrias is named after the Austrian royal dynasty.

Centro is the most interesting neighborhood for tourists in Madrid. It is a concentration of attractions, museums, galleries and interesting places. This is the oldest district of the capital, a settlement here appeared during the Caliphate. The heart of the district is Los Austrias. There is the Plaza Mayor Square, the Royal Palace, the Plaza de la Villa, the architectural ensembles of the XV-XVII centuries.

Equestrian statue of King Charles III in Puerta del Sol

Sol is another famous part of the Centro district. From here begin all the tourist routes, here passes the Gran Vía, Madrid’s largest central street with theaters and shopping centers. In Puerta del Sol, tourists take pictures with the “Bear with Strawberry Tree” sculpture or the equestrian statue of Charles III.

There are many tapas bars in the streets and squares of La Latina.La Latina is always crowded.

La Latina – the liveliest corner of Madrid. Here between the buildings of the XVIII century flow narrow streets, where the weekend open cafe, where the flock of Madrid’s inhabitants and visitors. La Latina has an abundance of tapas bars and wine bars.

Quotes from authors who lived in Las Letras.Las Letras is always very picturesque.

Las Letras – in this central part of Madrid lived many famous writers of the Golden Age of Spanish literature (XVII century), hence the name, which translates as “Letters”. You can visit the Spanish Theater or the house of Lope de Vega, which now houses a museum dedicated to him. Las Letras traditionally hosts literary festivals, fairs, and street exhibitions.

Lavapiés has cultural festivals.

The Lavapiés part of the Centro neighborhood is now considered one of the most prestigious. But the spirit of its immigrant-driven past is hard to evaporate. It remains the most international part of Madrid’s core area, and the neighborhood hosts restaurants and shops from many parts of the world.

The National Museum of Romanticism is in ChuecaIt's a buzzing nightlife district.

Chueca is a trendy and fun part of central Madrid. The Historic Museum with its grandiose panorama of the city, the National Museum of Romanticism, and Palacio de Longoria are located here. The nightlife is top-notch and Chueca is what attracts Madrid’s gay community.

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Salamanca: Madrid’s most exclusive area

The elegant neighborhood was originally built for the nobilityThe Archaeological Museum features unique exhibits, the legacy of ancient civilizations.

Salamanca is Madrid’s “East Side”. This area of Madrid was begun to be built in the second half of the 19th century and was named after Jose de Salamanca y Majol, the Marquis, who designed the area, where the nobility and the rich bourgeoisie have always lived. Today, it is still home to a refined public, luxury boutiques and expensive restaurants. The cultural center of the neighborhood is the Archeological Museum with its unique collections of antiquities, and the Barclaycard Palace of Sports hosts world-class competitions.

Arganzuela: Madrid’s green district

Futuristic bridge over the Manzanares River in Madrid-Rio ParkThe largest train station in the country: Atocha Station.

In the south of the Arganzuela neighborhood there is a grandiose Madrid-Rio Park that stretches along the Manzanares River. The huge area consists of several parts: Parque Arganzuela, Paseo de los Pinos (“Pine Boulevard”) and La Partida Gardens. These are real recreational areas, because in addition to the plantations, there is a huge number of recreational and sports fields. Also in this area is the main train station of the country – Atocha, and in the eastern part there is the Planetarium.

Retiro: Madrid’s park district

Park with a large lake - a favorite vacation spot of Madrid residents.A large part of the Retiro neighborhood, built up at the end of the 19th century, is taken up by

The main part of the residential area, which was built in the 19th century, around the same time as Salamanca and according to a similar design, is occupied by a grandiose park, one of the attractions of Madrid. The 120-hectare Buen Retiro Park originally served as a picnic area for members of the royal family and courtiers back in the time of Philip IV (17th century). During the Napoleonic wars the park and the buildings in it were destroyed and then restored during the century and nowadays Buen Retiro Park is one of the favorite places of Madrid residents. There is La Rosaleda (“The Rose Garden”) and a lake with a monument to King Alfonso XII, as well as a variety of sports fields.

Chamartín: Madrid’s business district

Chamartín: Fusion of old architecture and modernity

Chamartín is an old neighborhood in Madrid in which the architectural delights of past centuries and modern skyscrapers of glass and concrete are seamlessly blended. Until the end of the XIX century the village of Chamartín de la Rosa was not even part of Madrid: in 1880 the land was donated to the Jesuit monastery by its owner, the Duke of Pastrana, and finally Chamartín became part of the capital only in 1948. Today it is one of the most expensive areas of Madrid, is located here the business center of AZCA – Madrid Manhattan, are the headquarters of major Spanish companies, the highest skyscrapers in the city, including the “Picasso Tower”, a modern monument “Gateway Europe” (the towers, inclined at an angle of 15 degrees) and the station Chamartín, one of the most important in the country. The Auditorio Nacional de Música, the capital’s main concert hall, and Real Madrid’s home stadium, Santiago Bernabéu, are also in this part of Madrid.

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Madrid’s Tetuán neighborhood

Graffiti in the Tetuán neighborhood.The Central Mosque in the Tetuán District

The Tetuán neighborhood of Madrid takes its name from the city of Tetouan in Morocco, which was the capital of the former Spanish protectorate in the north of Morocco. The neighborhood’s proximity to the prestigious AZCA business district and the silhouette of skyscrapers give the neighborhood a modern, business-oriented feel. But the old alleyways with graffiti-painted houses are a reminder of the past, when immigrants from Africa and South America flocked here and settled in the neighborhood. In the Tetuán neighborhood is the central mosque, a stronghold of Islamic culture in Madrid.

Chamberí: Madrid’s modern neighborhood

Many Art Nouveau buildings in the Chamberí neighborhoodAbandoned subway station with museum.

The Chamberí district of Madrid, like the Salamanca district, was home to much of the local aristocracy in the nineteenth century. The settlements in this area have been known since the Middle Ages and included a monastery, royal hunting grounds and a promenade for the ladies of the court. In contrast to the Salamanca district, industry developed more actively here, which changed the composition of the population – gradually the aristocracy was joined by the working class, and the architecture of the district was not so refined. However, in terms of architecture, the area is very interesting; there are many monuments of the Art Nouveau, Neo-Gothic and Neo-Mudejar periods. There is a house-museum of Joaquin Sorolla, the famous Spanish artist, and the National Geological Museum of Madrid (Museo de Mines). The highlight of the area can be called the museum in the abandoned subway station Estación de Chamberí, one of the oldest in the Madrid subway. It ceased to function in 1969 and time has stood still here ever since.

Barajas: Madrid Airport District

Barajas International AirportJuan Carlos I Park, with its unusual sculptures.

The Barajas neighborhood is home to the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez International Airport, and many travelers are familiar with it. It is also home to IFEMA, Madrid’s exhibition center, and next to it is the Juan Carlos I Park, laid out in 1992. The park is famous for its sculptures, fountain, a large lake and a greenhouse with exotic plants. You can take a ride on the pleasure train through the park.

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Fuencarral-El Pardo: Madrid’s largest neighborhood.

The old suburb of Fuencarral has become part of the neighborhood.New architecture of the neighborhood - the civil service building

Located in the northwest of the capital Fuencarral-El Pardo is the largest area of Madrid, but not the most densely populated. In the middle of the last century, this land was incorporated into the capital and over time, middle-class residential neighborhoods began to be added to the historical parts of the district.

The El Pardo Palace, the main sight of the neighbourhoodView of the palace from above

The area’s landmark is the El Pardo palace, built in the 16th century during the reign of Philip II on the basis of a small medieval castle with corner towers and a circular moat. The interiors of the palace are especially valuable, with exquisite tapestries, 18th century furniture, and paintings by Spanish artists. Today the palace serves as the residence of foreign heads of state during their visits to Madrid.

Other districts of Madrid

Modern architecture in Madrid's residential districtsAn example of modern architecture is a residential building with bamboo walls

In the capital, in addition to the historical, there are many residential residential neighborhoods: Carabanchel, Villa Vallecas and Puente de Vallecas, Latina (not to be confused with La Latina), Vicálvaro. Neighborhood Ciudad Lineal is known for the fact that built on a special architectural design – clearly in straight lines. Madrid’s Moratalaz neighborhood has been home to many famous Spanish musicians. New residential area Hortaleza – the “youngest” district of Madrid, here lives (according to census) the largest number of middle-aged and younger people.

Not the best situation – in the working-class neighborhoods of Villaverde, where many migrant workers and San Blas, which used to be considered the most dangerous neighborhoods of Madrid, where teenage crime and drug trafficking flourished, but today, according to the authorities, the situation is much better.

Chinese quarter in the Usera districtView of the Moncloa-Aravaca district with the Faro de Moncloa tower

Madrid’s Usera neighborhood has a veritable “Chinatown,” and it’s nice to stroll around in search of Chinese food. The Moncloa-Aravaca neighborhood is home to the prime minister’s residence, a name sometimes used synonymously with government. Here also stands the famous Faro de Moncloa tower.

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Which is the best neighborhood to stay in in Madrid?

Tourists pondering where to stay in the Spanish capital can be given a good hint. The central districts of Madrid, in addition to being interesting for travelers, offer a variety of hotel options – there are expensive hotels and modest hostels, as well as affordable private apartments. Business and new neighborhoods offer only expensive new hotels, modest pensions and youth hotels are difficult to find here, but the level of comfort is higher.

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10 Madrid neighborhoods worth visiting

Suddenly you find a cheap ticket to Madrid and the next day you’re already there. But how do you know where to go when you’re in such a big city? Madrid consists of more than 128 different neighborhoods, each with its own unique personality and charm.

And with so many places to explore, visitors are often unsure which ones best fit their criteria. That’s why today we’re focusing on 10 of Madrid’s most dynamic neighborhoods that offer their own unique charm to any curious visitor.

1. Sol

This beautiful neighborhood is located in the center of Madrid. With plenty of stores, bars, and monuments, this is where every tourist starts their day. Some of the area’s famous landmarks are the huge Plaza de la Puerta del Sol and the impressive Plaza Mayor .

2. Palace

At the exit of Plaza Mayor you will find the beautiful San Miguel market, which is an ideal place for breakfast. Here are the Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace . Do not miss it!

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3. Salamanca

Although Salamanca is often referred to as a neighborhood, it is actually a district that includes many small neighborhoods. It is known for the best and most exclusive stores in the city, where you can find collections from Spanish designers and luxury brands . The neighborhood is also full of great bars and restaurants offering both traditional and modern cuisine.

4. Huertas

It is known as the Quarter of Letters and the former home of literary icons such as Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega. Today it is also popular for entertaining friends.

5. Retiro

Retiro is another neighborhood made up of small neighborhoods. Its biggest attraction is the park of the same name, which is a fantastic green space. Families spend lazy weekends there, and visitors can also go boating. Retiro hosts many fairs throughout the year, so be sure to check out the city’s program for upcoming events.

6. Chueca

This is the city’s official gay neighborhood. It’s one of the most vibrant parts of Madrid, regardless of the time of day, with great markets, bars and restaurants. Nights in Chueca come alive with the sounds of the city’s best music bands.

7. Malasaña

Malasaña, known as the non-tourist alternative neighborhood of Madrid, is becoming increasingly popular. Visitors are in for a surprise visit, and street art is one of them.

8. Lavapiés

As an expat neighborhood, Lavapiez offers an alternative to traditional Madrid. Filled with ethnic restaurants and markets, it is the perfect place for a cheap lunch or shopping for spices. Loud and always full of people from all walks of life, it’s a great look at cosmopolitan Madrid.

9. Gran Via.

Gran Via is always filled with shoppers, tourists and business people coming in and out of the metro. There are hotels and great theaters everywhere. This is the Gran Via , the area that connects all the most famous neighborhoods.

10. La Latina.

It’s a small neighborhood that, although technically part of the Palacio district, is now considered separate. Why? Because it offers a great and lively nightlife scene, making it the best place for a night out.

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