Madrid - Around Town : Downtown Madrid (part 2) - Cinemas and Entertainment,Downtown Shops

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A Day’s Stroll Around Downtown Madrid


Start the walk outside the Casa de Correos in Puerta del Sol , a popular meeting point for madrileños. Cross the square in the direction of the bus stops, then turn on to Calle de Alcalá. This busy street is lined with fine examples of 18th and 19th century architecture. Two examples on your left are the Casa de la Aduana and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes . Take time to visit this often overlooked gallery, with its small, but quality, collection of paintings. Next door is the showy façade of the Casino de Madrid.

Cross Calle de Alcalá when you reach the junction with Gran Vía, then head for coffee in the Círculo de Bellas Artes . As you make your way back to Gran Vía look up to admire the Metrópolis building, then take a stroll along Madrid’s bustling main avenue.

When you’re ready for lunch, escape the crowds by turning into Calle de Hortaleza, then Calle de la Reina. At No. 29 is La Barraca, famous for its paellas (see Museo del Jamón).


Head back to Gran Vía and continue to Plaza del Callao. Turn left into Calle de Preciados, a pedestrianized street dominated by two large department stores, FNAC and El Corte Inglés. After a leisurely browse around the shops, return to Puerta del Sol as it begins to liven up for the evening.

Cinemas and Entertainment

  1. Cine Estudio Círculo de Bellas Artes

    The cinema of the fine arts centre (see Círculo de Bellas Artes) shows classic movies by famous 20th-century directors such as Eisenstein, Fassbinder, Francis Ford Coppola and John Huston.

    • Marqués de Casa Riera 2

  2. Palacio de la Prensa

    Designed in 1928 by Pedro M uguruza, this Art Deco cinema is a classic. Shows mainstream movies dubbed into Spanish. Three screens.

    • Plaza del Callao 4

    • Dis. access (screen 1)

  3. Palacio de la Música

    Opened in 1928, this three screen cinema has ornate Baroque touches. Reduced-price tickets available on Wednesdays.

    • Gran Vía 35

    • Dis. access (screen 2)

  4. Callao

    Located in the Art Deco Carrión building, this cinema’s greatest moment occurred early in the Civil War when Eisenstein’s stirring movie Kronstadt was shown to an audience including the President of the Republic and leading military figures. Films are screened in Spanish. There are two screens.

    • Plaza del Callao 3

  5. Aixa Forum

    This interesting art centre is based in one of the area’s few industrial buildings. The converted site has a cinema and space for exhibitions, concerts, festivals and conferences.

    • Passeo del Prado 36

  6. Teatro Lírico Nacional de la Zarzuela

    Purpose-built to showcase Spain’s unique light opera form, Zarzuela. Also international opera, music recitals and other events .

    • Calle de Jovellanos 4

    Teatro Lírico Nacional de la Zarazuela
  7. Teatro Lope de Vega

    Musicals like Beauty and the Beast and Les Misérables are staged here, performed in Spanish.

    • Gran Vía 57

  8. Teatro María Guerrero

    This theatre is home to the National Dramatic Centre. The company stages hugely successful theatre plays and is a favourite amongst theatre goers.

    • Calle de Tamayo y Baus 4

    • Closed Mon

    • Dis. access

  9. Gula Gula

    Great views of the Gran Vía and Alcalá can be had from the first floor of this restaurant, which entertains customers with disco music and floor shows in the evenings.

    • Gran Vía 1

  10. El Sol

    Venue for concerts by Spanish and international bands that date from the Movida period . Reasonable bar and entry prices.

    • Calle de los Jardines 3

    • Closed Sun–Mon

Downtown Shops

  1. Zara

    This Spanish fashion phenomenon is now also a household name throughout Europe and the United States. Stylish clothes for all the family at very reasonable prices.

    • Gran Vía 32

  2. FNAC

    This useful store, just a few minutes’ walk from Puerta del Sol, sells everything from CDs and sound systems to cameras, videos, books and mobile phones. Helpful floor staff, some of whom speak a little English.

    • Calle de Preciados 28

  3. Horno San Onofre

    The decoration of this traditional Madrid bakery borders on the palatial. The produce is just as good – every conceivable type of bread, as well as seasonal specialities such as roscón de Reyes and turrón .

    • Calle de S Onofre 3

  4. Cortefiel

    This branch of the Spanish high street chain specializes in reasonably priced clothes and sportswear for both men and women.


    • Gran Vía 27


    • Preciados 13

  5. 02

    Raid this store near Puerta del Sol for glitzy costume jewellery and equally showy accessories perfect for a night on the town.

    • Calle del Carmen 8

  6. Casa del Libro

    Four floors of books on every subject under the sun. Some English books. Good travel section, especially for books on Spain.

    • Gran Vía 29

  7. Casa Jiménez

    It’s difficult to tear yourself away from this emporium specializing in mantones (Spanish shawls) and mantillas, the silk headdresses worn by women in Goya’s paintings .

    • Calle de Preciados 42

  8. El Elefante Blanco

    Shades of the Big Top in this small shop, founded by a former circus performer. Sells all the paraphernalia – stilts, jugglers clubs, diabolos, etc. Great for kids.

    • Calle de las Infantas 5

  9. VIPS

    This useful shopping and restaurant chain is open almost all hours. You can eat in the reasonably priced café-restaurant, while the shop stocks everything from books and newspapers to drinks and batteries.

    • Gran Vía 43

  10. Grassy

    This famous jeweller occupies one of the signature buildings of the Gran Vía dating from 1916. The gleaming window displays of rings, watches and other items (all original designs) are equally distinguished.

    • Gran Vía 1

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