Cortes District, Madrid
Puerta del Sol is a popular square and busy traffic intersection, known for being the starting point or Kilometer Zero for all national roads.
San Antonio de los Alemanes
To the north of the Gran Vía in Madrid, at the corner of the Corredera Baja de San Pablo and Calle de la Puebla, stands the Church of San Antonio de los Alemanes. In 1607 Philip III founded a hospital for Portuguese here; the church was built in 1624 and dedicated to St Anthony. Philip IV made the hospital over to the Germans, and thereafter both the hospital and the church were known by the style "de los Alemanes" ("of the Germans").This gem of Baroque architecture, concealed behind an inconspicuous gray facade, was built by the architect and Jesuit priest, Pedro Sánchez, who also designed the Cathedral of San Isidro in Calle de Toledo. The interior, with its elliptical plan and its dome, is a typical example of the elaborate decoration of the Baroque style. The walls have frescoes by Luca Giordano, and the dome is covered with a huge ceiling-painting by Francesco Ricci and Juan Carreño.The High Altar, replacing the original reredos which was destroyed by fire, is 18th century. On each side are three subsidiary altars, richly gilded and decorated with medallions, from which the last Habsburgs - Philip IV, Charles II, Maria Anna of Austria - look down on the visitor.
Both Picasso and Dalí were students of the acclaimed Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.
San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts
Like the other Royal Academies, the San Fernando Academy of Art was founded by the Bourbons. Charles III (1759-88) purchased the Baroque palace of a financier named Goyeneche and commissioned Diego de Villanueva to reconstruct it for its new function. Villanueva then altered Churriguera's facade in accordance with Neo-Classical principles and removed all the Baroque decoration. The San Fernando Academy is the headquarters of the Madrid Academy of Art. Its Directors have included Goya, its students Picasso and Dalí.
The Puerta de Alcalá, one of Madrid's familiar landmarks, was built by Charles III's architect, Francesco Sabatini, between 1769 annd 1778. This Neo-Classical gate replaced the Baroque arch which had been erected for the entry into Madrid of Margaret of Habsburg, Philip III's wife.Situated on the important road to northwestern Spain and France, the Puerta de Alcalá was a major element in Charles III's plan for the embellishment of eastern Madrid. The royal residence of Buen Retiro was the central feature of a large-scale development project which included the building up of the meadowland of San Jerónimo, the establishment of the Jardín Botánico and the construction of the Natural History Museum: an ambitious plan reflecting the principles of the Enlightenment which was carried out by three architects, Sabatini, Villanueva and Ventura Rodríguez.With its five passages, the three central ones arched and the two outer ones rectangular, its granite structure and its Baroque decoration of limestone, the imposing Puerta de Alcalá became both a symbol of the enlightenment and a monument to Charles III, the "Mayor-King".
Royal Academy of Language
The Royal Spanish Academy of Language is situated in the aristocratic quarter between the Prado and the Parque del Retiro, in which are such handsome buildings as the Army Museum, the Casón, the Stock Exchange and the elegant Ritz Hotel in the Plaza de la Lealtad. Modeled on the French Académie, it was founded in 1713, during the reign of the first Bourbon King, Philip V. Its principal function was (and is) to foster the Spanish language and regulate its grammar and orthography. In 1726 it published the first volume of its excellent "Diccionario de la Lengua Española". The Academy, which has 60 members, maintains close relations with Academies in South America. It moved into its present premises, near the Casón, in 1894. It has a fine library, with a valuable collection of first editions and autograph manuscripts.
San Ginés is one of the oldest parishes in Madrid. It lies within the medieval core of the city, which underwent much change before being given its present aspect in the 19th C., during the reign of Isabella II. The church, rebuilt in 1872 after a fire, stands within easy reach of the Teatro Real, the Plaza de Oriente, the Royal Palace, the Calle Mayor and the Plaza Mayor, its tower dominating the surrounding streets (Calles Bordadores, Coloreros, San Martín), which have the intimate urban atmosphere of Benito Pérez Galdós's novels.Adjoining the church is the Teatro Eslava (1870), a charming theater which has recently become one of the most modern discothèques in the city. The Pasadizo de San Ginés, the passage between the theater and the church, is one of the most attractive little nooks in this picturesque old quarter.
The Convento de las Trinitarias is in the quiet Calle Lope de Vega, near the Plaza de Santa Ana in the "literary quarter" of Madrid. The charming conventual church with its three-arched entrance and its oval windows is flanked by two plain two-story blocks with balconies. The convent was founded in 1612, but the present buildings date only from 1673. Designed by Marcos López, it is a showpiece of 17th C. Madrid architecture. The convent is also notable as the burial-place of Miguel de Cervantes (d. 1616), creator of the immortal figure of Don Quixote. The position of his grave can no longer be identified. A daughter of Cervantes, who lived in the nearby Calle Cervantes, took the veil in this convent. The daughter of Lope de Vega, who had a house in the same street as the convent, was also a nun here, under the name of Sor Marcela.
Ateneo Artístico (Científico y Literario)
Since its foundation in 1820 the Ateneo has been a center of the intellectual and political life of Madrid and Spain. In its rooms the literati, philosophers and politicians discussed the latest literary, artistic, political and scientific trends and movements. During the reign of Ferdinand VII and once more under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera the Ateneo was forced to close. Its heyday was the period of the Republic. After the Civil War the Ateneo resisted the dictatorship of Franco in so far as it was able. Since 1975 it has endeavored to win back its position of pre-eminence in the intellectual life of Madrid. Today it hosts a large number of cultural events, such as readings by writers, lectures and films.
Royal Academy of History
A severely Classical building of granite ashlar and red brick, the Royal Academy of History was erected in 1788 by Juan de Villanueva, who was also responsible for the Prado, the Jardín Botànico and other buildings in Madrid. The Academy's library, with more than 200,000 books and manuscripts, can stand comparison with the Spanish National Library.
Address: Calle León 21, E-28014 Madrid, Spain
Opening hours: 4pm-7pm; Closed: Sun
Always closed on: Madrid Day - Spain (May 2)
Useful tips: Photography prohibited.
Transit: Metro: Sevilla, A. Martian; Bus: 6, 26, 32, 57, M9.
Museum of Antiquities
The Museum of Antiquities, housed in the same building as the Academy, numbers among its many treasures five pictures by Goya.
Carrera de San Jerónimo
This street and the streets running off it are well-known for their antique and craft shops. Furniture, ceramics, weapons, paintings and jewelry can be bought here, and opticians and fur dealers are also based here. Nearby on the Plaza de Neptuno the Galería del Prado is situated. This is a new and expensive shopping center with 38 shops (mostly boutiques) covering an area of 4,350sq.m/46,800sq.ft.
Cervantes Death House
Close to the Casa de Lope de Vega, at the intersection of Calle de Cervantes and Calle del León, there once stood the house in which Cervantes died on April 23, 1616 but which was demolished in the 19th C.
Teatro de la Comedia
The museum explores the development of telecommunications in Spain, including primitive communication systems, satellite connections, 19th century telephones, and current communications.
With the help of the National Library, the museum explores the evolution of communication from the beginning of the written word to modern day.
Church of the Calatravas
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Galería del Prado
National Lyrical Theater
The museum features a variety of historical items from the 15th century to present day.
Map of Madrid Attractions