- Culture vultures
- First-time travellers
Explore the lanes of the traditional old town, where the medieval atmosphere still lingers.
Start in the Plaza de la Villa, the oldest square in Madrid .The 17th-century former town hall on one side is one of the key buildings of Habsburg Madrid. Opposite, the Torre y Casa de Lujanes dates back to the late-15th century. Walk down Calle del Cordon, cross Calle Segovia and walk up to the Plaza de la Paja, an important square in medieval times. If the 16th-century Capilla del Obispo is open at the top of the square, go in to see the extraordinarily ornate Plateresque decoration and late-Gothic architecture. You'll have noticed quite a few cafes and restaurants by now, so do stop off wherever you fancy. Continue up Cava Baja, which used to be a ditch around the town wall - vestiges of which remain in some of the bars here. You emerge in Puerta Cerrada, which used to be a gate in the town wall. Turn right to Calle Toledo, and have a look at San Isidro church, one of the most important in Madrid. Calle Imperial leads to the 17th-century Palacio de Santa Cruz, which is now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With its slate turrets and spires, it is another of the landmark buildings of the Habsburg period. From here, you can cut through to the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol or Plaza de Santa Ana.