If there is one thing we all do when we travel, it is to look for the place with the best views of the city we have chosen for our holiday. We cannot help it: we like hotel terraces, rooftop bars, lifts with glass walls, towers, etc. Whatever the vertigo, it is worth it to get a different panoramic view for the photo that will take us back to that destination in our imagination once we are home again.
If you have never been to Madrid, you should pull out a map right now to mark all the sites not to be missed. The first of these is the viewing point at Cibeles Palace, a beautiful building with touches of a cathedral, designed by Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi (1904), standing majestically in front of the famous Cibeles Fountain. It houses the CentroCentro cultural centre, which aims to promote, through its activities (exhibitions, concerts, etc.), reflection on modern urban life and culture. It is also an information point for anyone wishing to visit the Art Walk.
CentroCentro has the Colección Cibeles Café and the Palacio Cibeles Restaurant, on the sixth floor, where there are already stunning views. However, to get the best panoramic views, you have to go up two more levels to the eighth floor, where the viewpoint is at a height of 70 metres. From there you can see the whole city centre and the Salamanca District. Not to be missed! Visits are every 30 minutes (price: €2), but you must book at the counters below before you can enter (opening times: Tues-Sun, 10.30 am to 1.30 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm).
Another building designed by Antonio Palacios is the Fine Arts Circle, on Calle de Alcalá. I recommend you have a drink in the Pecera (fishbowl), a glass-walled café on the ground floor, and see some of its exhibitions. Then comes your turn to go up to the roof, with one of the most spectacular views of Madrid, giving a unique perspective of the city’s urban mesh, with the buildings of the Gran Vía thoroughfare so close at hand. A lift with glass doors from the lobby, stopping on the top floor, gives direct access to this special space. Tickets (€3) can be purchase at the reception (opening times: every day, 11 am to 3 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm).
There is a very different view from the dome of La Almudena Cathedral, with the Royal Palace just opposite and Casa de Campo Park and the Guadarrama Mountains as a backdrop. The dome can only be visited as part of a visit to the Cathedral Museum, which focuses particularly on the city’s two patron saints: the Virgin of Almudena and San Isidro. A little tip: the museum gallery (a little below the dome, but also quite high up) is a great place from which to see all the details of the Changing of the Guard, which takes place on the first Wednesday of each month on the Palace forecourt.
The Royal Palace and the Cathedral can also be seen very well from the Huerto de la Partida viewpoint, in Madrid Río Park, which also has other interesting vantage points, like the Puente de Segovia bridge, with views to the north and south of the Manzanares River and of the new monumental fountains in its lower gardens. The Arganzuela monumental bridge has a terrace viewpoint from where you can see, to the north, the 18th century Puente de Toledo bridge, and, to the south, Arganzuela Park and the urban beach.
Also very urban, as it happens, is the view from the Club Gourmet in El Corte Inglés department store on Plaza de Callao square. On the ninth floor, it is perfect for a drink with the Schweppes advert on the Capitol building, right opposite, as a backdrop. The Vincci Capitol is actually a hotel which also boasts stunning views.
You will surely agree with me when I say that a must is finding a place with good views at sunset. Here are two of my favourite spots: the Temple of Debod, with all of Casa de Campo Park laid out before us, and Cerro del Tío Pío Park, or, as everyone calls it, the park of the seven breasts, because of the smooth forms of its seven hills. And in the outskirts, from Cerro de los Ángeles Hill, the city skyline seems to meld into the mountains.