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Madrid
Madrid is the most popular Spanish city visited by millions of tourists every year. The capital of Spain has the population of over 3.3 million if not even to take into account the inhabitants of the metropolitan area. Madrid is the place of the Spanish monarch and functions as a political center of the country. The city has a modern outlook, but it is home to numerous historic landmarks. The main attractions are the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Royal Theatre and Opera House, the Buen Retiro park, the National Library, the Archaeological Museum, the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia National Museum. The heart of Madrid, La Puerta del Sol, is an oval square surrounded by buildings of the 18th century. From here a lot of streets and roads begin, and a bronze bear a strawberry tree serves as the symbol of the city. On New Year, people gather on the square and try to eat twelve grapes to see the old year out, as the old tradition suggests.

Madrid is home to Europe's largest royal palace. Its construction began in 1734 and was designed by Italian masters Sacchetti and Sabatini. Having seen the palace, Napoleon said it was more luxurious than his own Parisian Tuileries. King Alfonso XIII was the last, who lived in this man-made miracle. The ruling royal family now lives in a modest palace, and the Royal Palace is used for receptions and presentations. The palace is set amidst the lush gardens of Campo del Moro. It has more than 2,000 rooms and halls, and the total length of its walls exceeds 500 m. During the tour around the palace you will see a lot of Flemish and Spanish tapestries and precious clocks. Among them, there is a magnificent throne room with a ceiling fresco by Tiepolo and modern thrones of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, the official Refectory admitting 145 guests, the Gasparini Hall in the Rococo style, and the Royal Armoury with a huge collection of various weapons.

The Royal Library and the Royal Pharmacy are also important places of interest among tourists. In Madrid, there is a museum of carriages with the collection covering more than 500 years of human history.

Near the Royal Palace, the oldest part of the city begins. Nearby one can find three world-renowned museums: the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia. The Prado Museum is the main art gallery in Spain and one of the oldest and greatest museums in the world (7000 paintings).

The center of the western part of Madrid is represented by Plaza de Espana. Here one can see houses with remarkable architecture and a lot of old signs. In the center of the square there is a monument to the famous writer Miguel de Cervantes and the legendary characters of his novel: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. To the north of the Plaza de Espana there is the Palace of Liria (the White Palace), a majestic building of the 18th century. Another great square, Plaza Mayor, has preserved its magnificence of the 17th century despite no longer being the center of the city, as in the past centuries. It witnessed bullfights and coronations, but today one can have a quiet walk here or sit in a comfortable cafe. Around Plaza Mayor, there are a few churches which are worth visiting. The main cathedral in Madrid is called Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena. Nearby, there are the remains of the Moorish city walls dating back to the 9th century.

Madrid is famous for its magnificent park ensemble. Buen Retiro Park, which was built in the 17th century by King Philip IV, and the Royal Botanical Gardens, founded in 1774 by Charles III, are the most well-known green areas where the tourists can have a rest before continuing their walk around the capital of Spain.