Fully incorporating Spain’s capital city, the Province of Madrid dances with colour and culture.It’s home to some of the country’s most famous attractions, including the Prado Museum, Royal Palace and Retiro Park. It’s also home to the diverse neighbourhoods that make Madrid such a compelling destination. Beyond the capital city boundaries are small villages and ancient cities that are also within the Province of Madrid. These include the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Aranjuez, Alcala de Henares and San Lorenzo del Escorial.
This province has a royal history, and there’s an old-world grandeur that can be experienced in countless destinations. Madrid’s city centre is surprisingly small and compact, featuring plazas and palaces that have come to define the whole country, and a wander down Gran Via is an excellent introduction to the charms. The Triangle of Art contains the world-famous trio of the Prado Museum, Reina Sofia Art Centre and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Throughout the entire province, there are many traditional tapas bars, providing even more local flavour to an area that is as authentically Spanish as any in the country.
Head into the mountains and a series of charming villages seem to recreate the past, reliving the time of the Spanish conquistadors. The Monastery and Site of the Escorial are other timeless royal sites, with the King Philip II Palace a monument to Spain’s Christian history. Alcala de Henares was the world’s first planned university city and was the birthplace of legendary author Miguel de Cervantes, while the Royal Palace of Aranjuez is packed with courts and treasures from three centuries of monarchs. These three World Heritage sites can be visited as day trips from the city of Madrid, although their enchantment is worthy of an overnight stop.
Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport is one of the largest in Europe and the hub for Iberia Airlines. All four terminals are on the Madrid Metro while Terminal 4 also has a commuter train taking visitors to the city’s major railway stations. The Province of Madrid has two major long-distance train stations. Madrid Chamartin is for northbound and international rail services, with Madrid Atocha used for trains within the rest of Spain, including the high-speed services to Barcelona and Valencia. The extensive Metro runs throughout most of the province.
Province of Madrid resident Miguel de Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, a surreal work of fiction and idealistic chivalry that created its own adjective, quixotic. In the most famous scene, Don Quixote rode his horse out to battle with 12 windmills, who he believed were giants with revolving arms.