Exterior View-CaixaForum ,Madrid, Spain


The Herzog & de Meuron-designed CaixaForum is a 19th-century power station reborn as a contemporary art hub. Exhibits rotate frequently, but even if what’s currently on view doesn’t interest you, entrance is inexpensive and it’s well worth a stop just to experience the wonderful architecture. Be sure to check out botanist Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden, a lush blend of 250 different species of plants that climbs the façade of a building adjoining the Forum.

cathedral ceiling

Catedral de la Almudena

Located right next to the Palacio Reale, the Catedral de la Almudena is absolutely worth the stop for travelers visiting the palace.
Exterior View-Conde Duque ,Madrid, Spain

Conde Duque

This 18th-century military barracks turned modern art museum, the Conde Duque has two galleries with permanent exhibitions, open-air patios for large sculptures and a rotating schedule of shows featuring up-and-coming artists working in all media. During the summer, the pretty courtyard hosts concerts and is a fantastic place to catch a hot jazz act or a stately string quartet. Ask your hotel concierge to send you a schedule of performances before you arrive.

Corral de la Moriera

For a great Flamenco performance, head to Madrid’s Corral de la Moriera to see some of the discipline’s most respected performances. While no flamenco performance provides a truly local experience (you’d have to visit a proper flamenco bar in the later hours of the night for that), Corral de la Moriera maintains a nice mix of locals and tourists who come to watch some of the country’s top flamenco dancers, singers and guitarists. Run by a family whose roots lie in the world of flamenco (the owner’s mother, once a professional flamenco dancer, began the establishment and has since graduated to choreographing on a national level), Corral has soul and its passion for this unique art can be felt when you attend a performance. Indagare tip: The 10pm seating draws more locals than the 8pm seating, which naturally brings in more visiting families. Enjoy dinner at one of Madrid’s more sought-after restaurants and come for a drink or dessert during the later seating.

Exterior View - Day Trip: Àvila Madrid, Spain

Day Trip: Àvila

The quaint medieval town of Àvila, a UNESCO World Heritage City, lies an hour-and-fifteen minutes drive northwest of Madrid in the Castille and Leon region. The city’s most alluring attraction, the 12th-century Romanesque walls, stand 40 feet tall, encompassing just over 75 acres. Within the city, there are a number of churches, convents and museums dedicated to Saint Teresa who was born there in 1515. Summer months can be infamously hot and we recommend visiting in cooler months, when you can climb atop the walls and see the valley below. Stop in one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants for their Chuleton (T-bone steak), one of best cuts of beef in the country that comes from the region’s indigenous black cow. After sundown, enjoy Yemas (candied egg yolks) just outside the city walls, which are fully illuminated every evening until midnight.

Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team to arrange a guided tour of Àvila. 

Hill VIew - Day Trip: El Escorial , Madrid, Spain

Day Trip: El Escorial

About an hour’s drive outside of Madrid, the UNESCO World Heritage Site El Escorial was built by King Philip II, a highly spiritual ruler, as a place of retreat but also to serve as a monastery and burial place for his father Emperor Charles V. The massive building, the largest in Spain, dates to the mid 1500s and still houses most of the dead Spanish kings and their families. With hundreds of rooms decorated by great Spanish and Italian Renaissance artists, the former palace still functions as a monastery and a school so you may hear angelic voices practicing or pass monks in robes on your tour. Among the highlights of a visit are the massive library and painted salons and a gallery with incredibly accurate maps from the 16th century, though the tombs of the kings may be the most famous rooms. There are lovely gardens as well. While it is much more austere palace than Granaja in Segovia, El Escorial has a harmonious elegance that should be seen by art and architecture lovers.

Aerial View - Day Trip: Segovia , Madrid, Spain - Courtesy Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

Day Trip: Segovia

The Royal Palace of Le Granja and the city of Segovia combine for a great day trip for families as for those desiring a historical excursion. The duo of sights is just one hour north of Madrid and easily accessible by car or train.

After purchasing La Granja in 1719, King Philip V erected his summer palace to mirror the grandeur of Versailles, built by his grandfather. The Frenchman-turned-Spanish king created expansive Parisian gardens and imbued the interiors with Baroque touches. Tour the numerous palace rooms and walk the lush exterior grounds, all set amidst the northern slopes of the Sierra de Gaudarrama mountain range.

As you walk beneath the towering Roman aqueduct at the city’s entrance (dating to the 2nd century), it is easy to see why Segovia was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. From the impressive Gothic cathedral in the main square to the Jewish emblems found on city sidewalks, the streets are filled with historical reminders of the past. Visitors can enjoy Segovia’s numerous restaurants and famed specialty, tender suckling pig and end a visit with a trek up to Alcazar (a fortress-like castles aid to have inspired Disney’s Magic Kingdom) at the edge of the city to watch the sunset.

Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team to arrange a guided tour of the Royal Palace of Le Granja and Segovia.

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Day Trip: Toledo

Enjoy a fun day trip from Madrid to Toledo with the help of Indagare, with advise for the best sites to visit as well as the best way to get there.
Stadium at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu ,Madrid, Spain-Courtesy of Madrid Tourism

Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

Sports fans shouldn't miss a chance to see the world famous Real Madrid in action. Although Americans haven’t caught fútbol fever just yet, soccer is practically Spain’s national religion. Should you score tickets to a Madrid–Barcelona match, you’ll witness a rivalry that puts the Red Sox–Yankees feud to shame, bringing the whole country to a halt. Although the most coveted seats are generally the covered ones, I recommend getting as close to the field as possible—just aim for the center rather than behind the goalposts, which is hooligan territory. I watched a particularly heated match and was riveted, despite my relative ignorance of the sport. Perhaps most intriguing, however, was the family next to us, whose well-dressed young children took turns berating players between bites of caviar. Getting good seats at the games can be difficult and expensive, so plan ahead and ask your hotel concierge for help, or Indagare members can contact the bookings team for assistance. Be sure to arrive early to enjoy the revelry around the stadium as fans gear up for kickoff.

Lounge at Indagare Tours: Special Access , Madrid, Spain - Designer Lorenzo Castillo's house

Indagare Tours: Special Access

Some of Madrid’s hidden treasures like private clubs, palaces and houses can be visited with advance notice. Contact Indagare's Bookings Team to inquire about some of the special access we can arrange for visits or events.

Ivorypress Art + Book

Madrid is well-known for its incredible museums like the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen collection but on a recent visit I discovered an incredible treasure that is breaking new ground with many of the world’s top living artists. Founded by Madrid native Lady Elena Ochoa Foster, who is the wife of legendary architect Sir Norman Foster, Ivorypress defies easy description. Technically it is a press that publishes artist’s books but in reality it is more like an art gallery­­–cum–think tank because the collaborations that Ivorypress (and Lady Elena herself, who is intensely involved with each) undertakes with artists like Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Ron Arad and Maya Lin push the envelope of art and knowledge.

On a recent visit, one of the curators described their definition of a book as being ideas that fit inside a box. An example on display was Francis Bacon’s Detritus, “a book” that occupied an entire room; in the center was a glass box holding an old leather suitcase spilling over with scraps, notes and drawings, and on the surrounding walls were glass “pages” holding similar memorabilia that had been found in Bacon’s studio upon his death. Sketches, photos, telegrams and magazine clippings were gathered like a scrapbook to illustrate the mind of the artist or to deconstruct his process in objects. Every “book” is done in editions; some as small as six but in the Bacon case that meant that a perfect facsimile of every scrap was created down to the crease or tear or stain on yellowed receipt. That is what makes this place a press and not a gallery.

Though for a visitor the experience can be much like visiting a gallery or museum. The space, which was designed by Sir Norman Foster on the site of a former press, includes a bookstore, a temporary exhibition area and rooms devoted to the permanent collection, where you may see the Damien Hirst “book,” which is really a collection of his greatest hits. The box, which resembles a casket complete with satin lining, has space for all that hangs around it—his iconic works including a skull, a butterfly, a cross that is a cabinet with pills and more. And display cases also contain Lady Elena’s collection of artist books such as Picasso notebooks from when he was a teenager, Josef Albers book of colors, the only complete set of Goya’s proverbs in existence and the last remaining woodblock for a Miro print. Another “book” on display on a recent visit was Jenny Holzer sayings flashed on a wall by a projector.

Seeing Ivorypress, there is a feeling of visiting a laboratory and a treasure chest all at once but also of a magical coincidence. In 1996 Lady Elena, who was a prominent professor of psychopathology, was seated next to Lord Sainsbury at a dinner. After she told him about her love for artists’ books, he suggested she devote herself to them. The Ivorypress was born. Today, it has offices in the UK and Switzerland but it is only in Madrid where you can visit the Ivorypress Art + Books, the gallery and exhibition space and discover something truly innovative in the world of art. People who run the institution are perfectly positioned because of their passion and their connections (to create something important and impactful.) Take a tour of the Ivorypress with one of its curators, and you will feel blessed to be let in on this special secret in the heart of Madrid that has an impact for art lovers around the world.

painting of a beach

Museo del Prado

Created to house the royal art collection, the Prado made history in 1819 when it became one of the world’s first public art galleries.
Editors' Picks
view of a museum's interior courtyard garden

Museo Nacional Reina Sofía

The Reina Sofia is known for its collection of work by Juan Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, but its biggest star is Picasso’s Guernica.
Editors' Picks

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

This museum is the third leg of Madrid’s “golden triangle of art.” Its paintings constituted the private collection of the Thyssen-Bornemiszas, heirs to a shipping and banking fortune. When the holdings outgrew the family villa near Switzerland where they had been housed, museums and municipalities around Europe bid to take them off the current baron’s hands. The Spanish government eventually purchased the whole collection for $350 million and renovated a palace near the Prado to house it. The museum opened to the public in 1993. When the baron died, his wife, Carmen (a former Miss Spain), continued collecting; in 2004, the museum dedicated a new wing to her acquisitions.

Today the Thyssen boasts almost 1,000 pieces, mostly paintings, ranging from 13th-century Italian primitives to 20th-century Surrealists. Arranged in chronological order, they include work by Dürer, Titian, Rubens and Caravaggio, as well as Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. Also represented are such major American artists as Homer, Pollock and Lichtenstein. Although the collection is smaller than those of the Prado and the Reina Sofía, many visitors cite this museum as one of their favorites, for its logical layout and huge variety.

Editors' Picks
fossils on display in a european museum

National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum in Madrid features sacred artifacts acquired from churches and monasteries all over Spain.
a royal palace

Palacio Real

Now reserved for formal functions, Madrid's Royal Palace is worth a visit to explore twenty of the palace's 3,000 rooms.
Editors' Picks
Enterior View-Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas ,Madrid, Spain-Courtesy of Madrid Tourism

Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas

Hemingway introduced the world to Spanish bullfighting in The Sun Also Rises, and both the sport and its handsome practitioners still have a glamorous aura. But the gore and guts turn off many visitors, not to mention animal rights activists. If you’re still dying to witness Spain’s other “beautiful game” (besides futbol), ask the concierge at your hotel to secure tickets. You’ll want the right seats (sombra not sol, unless you want to roast) and the right occasion—a great fighter in town. When I attended, we asked to be in the section where the real aficionados traditionally congregate. The older men, many of whom never miss a match, taught this neophyte all she’ll ever need to know about technique and form. It was a fascinating (if not a little gruesome) experience. Note: be prepared for plenty of swearing and cigar smoke. This isn’t a child-friendly atmosphere.

Alternatively, drop by the Hotel Wellington bar during one of the férias, when the matadors, trainers and bull breeders are said to go there for drinks. You might also want to read Death in the Afternoon beforehand for a better understanding of the sport.

crystal palace with columns and a pond with a fountain

Retiro Park

The Retiro Park opened to the public in the 19th century and has been a mainstay of Madrid life ever since.
Editors' Picks
old tapestry and a jade book

Royal Collections Gallery

For those interested in learning more about the Spanish monarchy, this is the most important museum in Madrid to visit.
Enterior View-Sorolla Museum at Madrid, Spain

Sorolla Museum

Joaquín Sorolla, a lauded Impressionist painter from Valencia, lived 13 years in this elegant Chamberí house until his death in 1923. His widow granted all of Sorolla’s works to the Spanish public, and following her death the house became a museum dedicated to the artist. Some rooms have been left much as they were when the family lived here, so there is an intimate juxtaposition of his collected treasures and his paintings. The house and peaceful courtyard are reason enough to pay a visit. But step inside and you’ll understand why Sorolla’s light-filled and evocative oil paintings hang in public and private collections throughout Europe and the U.S., including at the J. Paul Getty Museum. His works have been compared to John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer, and there is no better location to explore his talent than in his lovingly preserved former residence.

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Indagare employees walking up stiars

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