The so-called Habsburg Madrid is a large area in the Spanish capital city covering what was the city centre in the Middle Ages. Under the reign of the Habsburgs, the court moved from Valladolid to Madrid and a big urban expansion began. This period saw the building of some of the most emblematic monuments in the 16th and 17th centuries, which are now among the most visited spots in the city. Such is the case that there are different organised tours for visitors, either following a historical itinerary or taking advantage of the spatial proximity of monuments dating from different periods.
But if you prefer to visit this area on your own, starting at Génova 5, you can stroll this route in a nice walk of about eighty minutes, or take the underground to Sol and start your tour from there, saving some time.
These places are worth a visit:
- Puerta del Sol: In the Habsburg period it was not the square that we know today, which dates back to the 19th century, but one of the gates in the medieval city where two of its main roads (del Arenal and Mayor) intersected.
- Plaza Mayor: This porticoed square was the trading centre of the city in the 15th century, but with the arrival of the court, it became a setting for all kind of public events.
- San Justo Street: Residential area since the 16th century, this street gathers several palaces and noble houses.
- Palacio de Santa Cruz: Philip V turned the old prison into a palace, which now houses the Spanish Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ministry.
- Plaza de la Villa: Here you can find one of the oldest civil buildings in Madrid, the Gothic-Mudéjar Casa y Torre de los Lujanes (15th century).
- Calle Mayor: This road joined the now disappeared Royal Alcazar, residence of the Habsburgs, with Puerta del Sol. It was witness to an intense institutional and trading life and a number of historical events.
- San Ginés de Arlés: One of the oldest churches in Madrid. It holds paintings by Giordano and El Greco.
Convent of Las Descalzas Reales: Next to the also relevant San Martín square, this convent for enclosed nuns is one of the monuments that best represent the Renaissance in Madrid.