In addition to serving as the seat of government, Madrid is renowned as the capital of Spanish cultural and artistic heritage. In contrast to the provincial diversity of the country’s far flung regions, Madrid is a thoroughly cosmopolitan European city. Still thoroughly Spanish, Madrid is a trove of art and architecture from across the continent.

Known as the Museum Triangle, Madrid’s museum district is home to three of the best in the world: the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, which between them house the highest concentration of masterpieces per capita. Here along Paseo del Prado visitors will marvel at international works as well as pieces from Spain’s own Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Puerta del Sol at the city center is commanded by the Royal Post Office, an enchanting example of the architecture echoed throughout the rest of the city. From the whimsical extravagance of the belle epoch to the daring flourishes of modern Spanish architects, the city’s built environment tells a story that spans the ages.

Madrileños balance this reputation of tradition with an incredibly active nightlife. The Spanish are known for their late dinner hour, sometimes not even beginning until 10pm. Here, eating is not merely the processing of food, but an experience, meant to be drawn out and savored. As the city’s culinary tradition has jetted into the 21st century, leading Europe in innovative cuisine, the Spanish tradition of experiential dining has endured. Consequently, the nightlife is not only for the young, but for all generations of spirited locals as family dinners reach into the wee hours of the morning. Touting the most bars per capita of any European city, Madrid is a late night wonderland for those who like to see and be seen.

Traditional Spanish culture is easily accessible in the capital city as well, with the flair of flamenco and the drama of a bull fight well within your reach.