The Madrid of Los Austrias

  • General view of the Royal Palace

Let us look a little into the history. In the 16th century, the House of Austria decided to move the imperial court to Madrid. Some of the city's most beautiful monuments date from that period. We tell you the essential things to see on this route through the typical narrow streets of the historic centre.

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The Madrid of Los Austrias


  • Plaza Mayor square. Although it may seem impossible, in the period referred to this was the setting for markets, bullfights, acts of public penance, etc. It is one of the most vibrant places in Madrid. Right in the middle there is a statue of Philip III on horseback. He was the king who ordered the square to be built. In 1790, there was a fire, from which the Casa de la Panadería building was saved. Its façade is now decorated with paintings related to mythology and the history of Madrid.
  • Santa Cruz Palace. Passing through the famous Cuchilleros Arch, you come to this palace. Although it is now a ministry building, it was built under the reign of Philip IV as the court prison.
  • Royal Collegiate Church of San Isidro and Imperial College. Both from the 17th century, you will pass them on your way down Calle Imperial street towards Calle Toledo street.
  • Restaurante Botín. Continue your stroll along streets like Cava Baja and Cuchilleros and Plaza de Puerta Cerrada square. Today this popular district is known as La Latina. Calle Cuchilleros is the location of Restaurante Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • Corpus Christi Convent. Known as "Las Carboneras". It is almost unchanged from the 17th century. Best of all: you can buy sweets handmade by the nuns.
  • Plaza de la Villa square. On the way you will pass by the renovated San Miguel Market, always a great place to stop for some food or a drink. The square has a statue of Admiral Álvaro de Bazán and such monuments as Casa Torre de los Lujanes House, Casa Cisneros House and Casa de la Villa City Hall.
  • La Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace. We now arrive at the "jewel on the route", Plaza de Oriente square, with two of Madrid's most emblematic buildings. If you can, also visit at night to see it lit up. In former times there was an imposing Alcázar (Arab fortress) here, which was destroyed by flames in 1737.
  • Royal Monastery of La Encarnación. The first Baroque building in the city, it houses an important art collection.

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The Madrid of Los Austrias

Practical information

How to complete the route:

Approximate time:
Set aside one day to explore it at ease. If you don’t have much time, you can do the route in a morning or an afternoon.

Tips and interesting facts:
All of this part of the city is also famous for the many shops and traditional taverns to choose from. How about giving yourself a lift with a delicious vermouth in one of them? Did you know that the monarchs ordered secret tunnels to be built to connect the Alcázar fortress to various places? One such tunnel went to San Gil Church, where Princes were baptised. According to legend, ghosts and goblins hide in the rooftops, secret rooms and passages in this area. Madrid Tourist Board (there is a tourist office in Plaza Mayor square) organises guided and dramatised tours of the area. They are highly recommended.

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