Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Madrid-area attractions. The Greater Madrid area is full of attractions for all ages. As Europe's most elevated city (2,120 feet), warm, welcoming Madrid also is quite compact. Its main north-south artery, Paseo de la Castellana (turning into Paseo de los Recoletos and Paseo del Prado), links the city's two primary train stations, Chamartín and Atocha. The oldest quarters are between Paseo del Prado (with fabulous galleries) and Palacio Real to the west. Modern-day Madrid stretches east into the 19th-century grid of the Barrio de Salmanca and north through nei***orhoods of Chamberi and Chamarti. Midway, the barrios southeast of Puerta del Sol lead to the Lavapiés district, filled with restaurants, bars and cafes.
The densest concentration of overnight accommodations are around Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Santa Ana and the barrios of Malasaña and Chueca (for pensiones and hostales) and along the Gran Vía (for hotels). The section of Madrid worthy of culinary exploration is in the center, between the Royal Palace and midtown forest, the Parque del Buen Retiro. No other European capital has a city center so congested so late into the night, as though city ordinances demand that no one retire for slumber too early. Madrid restaurants, eateries and bars provide a kaleidoscope of nocturnal revelry. Despite ambitious modernization programs in the works, Madrid residents take pride in knowing their city remains refreshingly distinct from Paris, London, Rome, or other capitals.