When visiting Spain, gamers head to the Casino Gran Madrid, one of Spain’s first 18 casinos and the first to open in the capital city. Players avail themselves of table games, poker, slots, and dining.
The casino operates two locations. Casino Gran Madrid Colon stands near the heart of Madrid, just east of Paseo de Recoletos. The four-story building features a striking frog sculpture near the entrance. Guests dine at the Mandarin restaurant and have two bars to choose from.
Casino Gran Madrid Torrelodones is located about 20 kilometers northwest of the city, just off the Autovia del Noroeste, a highway leading to Valladolid, Salamanca, and Segovia.
Guests at the Torrelodones dine at the Zero restaurant, enjoy music and food in the stylish Cubik Gastro Market, and enjoy plays, shows, and banquets in the Mandalay hall.
Both locations run poker tournaments and table games in luxurious accommodations, as well as many real money slots.
When you’re done gaming or need a break, Madrid offers many exciting distractions. Here are a few ideal spots to investigate on your next visit.
1 – Corral de la Moreria
Flamenco dance began in Spain and spread to the rest of the world. Flamenco dance appears in many movies and is easily recognized by the dancers’ postures and movements. Flamenco music evokes tension and feelings of excitement so well that film soundtracks use it without the dance.
Many travelers speak highly of Corral de la Moreria, where diners enjoy an award-winning floor show.
2 – Museo Nacional del Prado
In 1785 Charles III, founder of several museums and historical archives commissioned a National History Cabinet building. Charles’ grandson Ferdinand VII and his queen, Maria Isabel de Braganza, established the National Art Museum of Spain in the same building in the late 1700s.
As one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious cultural institutions, Museo Nacional del Prado serves a dual purpose. It commemorates Charles III’s campaign to transform Madrid into a significant center of culture and the arts while housing many of Spain’s most precious artworks.
The building takes its name from the meadow (the Prado) where it stands, and the grassy tree-shaded lawns remind visitors of the property’s humble origins. Statues of famous people from antiquity line the front wall near the main entrance.
Visitors browse thousands of drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures in the permanent collection. The museum includes the most extensive collection of Italian artwork outside of Italy. Temporary exhibits enhance the experience throughout the year.
3 – Parque del Buen Retiro
Parque del Buen Retiro began as a private royal retreat in the 1500s. The park arose around San Jeronimo el Real Church and now covers more than half a square mile. The monarchy expanded and improved the park for several hundred years before converting it to a public space in the 19th century.
Park visitors enjoy boating on a large artificial lake situated close to the northern entrance. A statue of Alfonso XII (1874-1885) overlooks the lake from atop a massive column.
In addition to the old church, some buildings from the Buen Retiro Palace remain standing. These buildings now serve as museums of fine art.
Additional buildings, including Palacio de Velázquez, constructed for various exhibitions also serve as museums for visitors. And the Paseo de la Argentina, a statue-lined walkway, winds through the grounds.
One of the park’s most famous buildings is the Crystal Palace, aka Palacio de Cristal. The palace stands beside the artificial lake, where it houses native plants and flowers.
4 – Museo Arqueologico Nacional
Although an earlier proposal to create a national antiquities collection failed, Queen Isabella II established the Museo Archeological Nacional in 1867 just before she was deposed.
The museum holds artifacts spanning thousands of years of history and prehistory in the Iberian peninsula. Visitors browse exhibits featuring statues and other pieces from as far back as 3,000 BCE.
Iberia’s ancient cultures included tribes known as Celtiberians, who had their own distinctive culture, though related to the Celts of Gaul and Germany.
Collections also include pieces from late antiquity and the post-Roman period of the Visigoths. Collections representing Spain’s history through the Reconquista in the Medieval period include sculptures and other items acquired from around the world.
5 – Plaza de la Cibeles
Many photographers include shots of this famous public square in their collections. Historic buildings surround the plaza, which takes its name from a Phrygian goddess statue, Cybele.
The Madrid City Council uses offices in the Cybele Palace overlooking the square. Visitors and government employees enjoy the ambiance of bustling city traffic moving around the statue and its fountain.
Plaza de la Cibeles stands at the intersection of four Madrid neighborhoods, and some people regard it as the heart of the city.
6 – Palacio Real
Europe’s largest royal palace stands in Madrid. Although now only used for ceremonies, Palacio Real served as home for the Spanish monarchy for many years. When state functions are not in progress, the palace remains open for public tours.
The original structure dates to the 800s. A Moorish Alcazar, or castle, the fortress played an essential role in the Reconquista period’s wars. But after King Alfonso VI of Castile captured Madrid in 1083, the castle lost military importance.
King Felipe II moved his court to Madrid in 1561, where the Spanish Cortes had convened since 1329. The monarchs settled in the castle, but the original structure burned down in 1734.
King Felipe V built the present-day palace on the ruins of the former castle. King Carlos III (1759-1788) was the first modern Spanish monarch to reside in the Palacio.
7 – Casa de Campo
Madrid’s largest park is more than ten times the size of Parque del Buen Retiro. It is five times as large as New York’s Central Park. Casa de Campo is one of the largest city parks in the world.
Visitors enjoy a 49-acre amusement park, Parque de Attraciones de Madrid, Madrid Zoo, walkways, and nature preserve. The park’s long history includes expansions and renovations. It houses both native and non-native plants, and many animals live in the forest.
The park is popular with hikers, runners, and families. Visitors from other nations mingle with native Spaniards in a very relaxed, welcoming environment.
The History of Madrid
No one knows exactly when people first settled in the area of Madrid. Archaeological evidence shows people dwelt in the region thousands of years ago, in the Neolithic period and possibly earlier.
Although most of the Visigoths remained in southern France for over 100 years, they eventually crossed the Pyrenees mountains in the early 500s and established their kingdom. The kingdom lasted until the Moorish invasion of 711.
The Reconquista began in the year 732. Christians organized in the northern mountains and gradually pushed south over the next 700 years. The modern city of Madrid started with a fortress established by Muslim forces from Cordoba in the mid-800s.
Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile conquered the city in 1085, and Christians from Western Europe began settling there. The city rose to prominence over the next few centuries and became a favored home of the monarchs by the mid-1400s.
After Phillip II moved his court to Madrid in 1561, the city remained the imperial government’s seat for the rest of the century. After a five-year hiatus in Vallodid, Phillip’s successor moved the court back to Madrid. The city has remained Spain’s capital ever since, even during the Napoleonic forces’ occupation during the early 1800s.
The fall of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent civil war led to destruction and many changes in Madrid. But after the violence ended, the city again flourished as the capital of Spain. With King Juan Carlos I’s accession to the throne in 1975, the restoration of the Spanish monarchy was complete, and Madrid experienced another period of modernization and growth.
The city continues to celebrate its long heritage and position as the capital city of Spain.
Madrid is one of Europe’s most historic cities. Whether you stop at the Casino Gran Madrid on a tour of European casinos or stop at the casino on a Madrid tour, you won’t be able to see everything in a day.
If you’re undecided about planning your next gaming vacation, Spain is well worth consideration. And in all of Spain, there is no city like Madrid.