Monumental city and cultural crossroads
Its geographical location and status as capital give Madrid its cosmopolitan character. As a centre of the cultural and social scene, it brings together people from all walks of life and backgrounds who make up its history.
A good starting point for visiting the city is the Puerta del Sol "kilometre zero". This square is home to a number of symbols, including the Real Casa de Correos, whose bells mark the start of each new year, and the statue of El Oso y el Madroño (Bear and the Strawberry Tree).
Nearby landmarks include the Cibeles fountain, the Alcalá gateway, Plaza Mayor and Plaza de España, Plaza Callao, Almudena cathedral and Plaza de Oriente, home to the opera house and royal palace.
Wherever you go, Madrid has some wonderful surprises in store for you. Gran Via is a shining example: Overlooking its cinemas, theatres and shops, sculptures of Roman and Greek gods look down on you from the rooftops.
In the Barrio de las Letras, or writers' district, be careful where you set foot: The streets contain quotes from some of the greatest writers of the Spanish Golden Age, such as Cervantes and Lope de Vega, who lived nearby.
Madrid has everything, all year round. Culture, represented by internationally renowned museums such as the Prado and the Reina Sofía. But also nature, with majestic gardens and green spaces, such as the Retiro Gardens and the Casa de Campo. And, of course, leisure activities at all hours: Madrid is a city that never sleeps.
Like true Madrilenians, wander the streets of the picturesque districts of Lavapiés and La Latina and savour the local speciality, cocido madrileño, or the famous fried squid sandwiches.
And if you're up for a unique experience, try a marvellous roast pig or lamb at Casa Botín: according to the Guiness Book of World Records, it is the oldest restaurant in the world.
And for some of the most exquisite specialities in Madrid and the rest of Spain, head to the San Miguel market, housed in a superb Modernista-style glass and steel structure.