As the third-largest city in the EU and the economic heart of southern Europe, Madrid is one of the continent’s crowning glories. The Spanish capital is a fascinating showcase of architectural styles; from the Habsburg grandeur of the Austrian districts, to the neo-classical facades of Salamanca and the 20th century art deco that lines the Gran Via. This eclectic urban landscape provides the ideal backdrop for an equally varied cultural scene, with bohemian cafes and fringe arts venues scattered between international institutions such as the Prado Museum and Barrio de las Letras.
What to do
Madrid’s three most celebrated art museums form the ‘Golden Triangle’ in the centre of the city, with the Prado Museum, Reina Sofía Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum all within a 20-minute walk of each other. However, with extensive permanent collections and special exhibitions in each museum, residents can easily spend weeks exploring and appreciating their treasures.
The famous Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas holds traditional bullfighting corridas every Sunday from March to October, although some may prefer attending the musical concerts and fairs that fill up the arena throughout summer. The Parque del Buen Retiro lives up to its name, providing an idyllic and peaceful retreat for madrileños, while the Hammam Al Andalus is an evocative reminder of the Arabic influences that once pervaded Spain.
Where to eat
Gaudeamus Café is a hidden gem, located in the Lavapiés district. The rooftop restaurant has impressive views over the city, with floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace. The menu is a fusion of Mediterranean styles, with vegetable cous cous, golden cod (a fish dish) and salmorejo cordobés (a traditional Spanish soup). Madrilenians can also boast of having one of the oldest still-running restaurants in the world, Restaurante Sobrino del Botín. Celebrated both for its impressive history and the impeccable quality of its roast suckling pig, the restaurant once hired Francisco de Goya as a waiter and appears in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
Where to live
Madrid’s luxury real estate primarily lies within a handful of exclusive neighbourhoods, with Barrio de Salamanca, the Opera and the northern district of Moraleja three of the most notable. Salamanca is a popular district for expatriates: filled with designer boutiques and Michelin star restaurants, the neighbourhood still maintains an authentic Spanish ambience. Central Opera is the home of the Royal Palace and the city's opera house, and has a wealth of green spaces. Last but not least, La Moraleja was once named as the world's best residential area, thanks to its winning combination of exclusive mountainside properties, quality schools and a safe, family-friendly atmosphere.
The real estate market in Madrid is a unique proposition, with a cumulative decline of 40% on prices over the past seven years allowing international investors to purchase high quality properties at exceptionally competitive prices. However, economic growth is now rapidly accelerating, making this the ideal time to invest. The capital has excellent transport links to London and Paris, great weather and some of the best business schools in the world, all of which should help it to lead the Spanish housing recovery to a comfortable conclusion. Engel & Völkers have multiple shops in and around the city, and our experts will be more than happy to guide you in your search for the ideal Spanish property.