Madrid is a metropolis (»European City of Culture 1992«), in which high-rise and functional buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries dominate over buildings from earlier eras. The cityscape is divided into five areas: the historic old town, the older city center, the Ensanche (newer extension), the outer ring of the new districts and the adjoining suburbs and satellite towns. A distinction is also made between the Habsburg and Bourbon Madrid and the Madrid of the Franco era.
The historic old town essentially corresponds to the size of the former Moorish town, of which only little has been preserved. The building structure here is from buildings from the 17th to 19th centuries. Century. The oldest churches in Madrid are San Nicolás de los Servitas (12th century) and San Pedro el Viejo (preserved the 14th century tower). The old Mozarabic church of San Ginés (11th century) replaced a cross-domed structure in the Mudejar style (facade 1869). The Royal Palace (Palacio Real) was among others. by G. B. Sacchetti 1738–64 based on designs by F. Juvarra (Draft 1735) built as a four-wing complex in place of the Alcázar, which burned down in 1734 (museum since 1962); The Armería (largest weapons collection in Europe) has been located in a side wing since 1893. To the south stands the new Cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena (started in 1883 when the diocese of Madrid-Alcalá was founded; it was only consecrated in 1993 in the presence of the Pope); to the west is the Parque Campo del Moro, then to the north is the Parque del Oeste with the Nubian temple of Debod (4th century BC; demolished because of the construction of the Aswan Dam and erected here as a gift from Egypt in 1970). On the banks of the Manzanares is the church of San Antonio de la Florida with frescoes by F. de Goya, who also found his final resting place here.
The arcaded Plaza Mayor, already planned under Philip II, but not until 1617-1919 under Philip III. (Equestrian statue) realized (restored and further standardized by J. de Villanueva after several fires in 1790), formed the first center of Madrid. The Descalzas Reales monastery complex (donated in 1554) with the tomb of Johanna von Österreich (* 1535, † 1573) is now a museum. San Isidro el Real, built 1626–64 as a Jesuit church and since 1768 the grave church of the city saint San Isidro Labrador (* 1082, † 1130), served as a cathedral until 1993.
The older city center (bounded by a system of ring roads, including the Calle Carranza, the Paseo del Prado and the Ronda Toledo, instead of the wall of Philip IV) is determined by the design will of the kings of the 17th and 18th centuries. The square of the Puerta del Sol (the gate was demolished in 1570) developed into the second center point of Madrid (km 0 for all distances from Madrid). Under the Bourbons, the focus of urban design was the eastern edge with the magnificent avenue Paseo del Prado (1775-82), the Museo del Prado, the Reina Sofía Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Parque del Retiro and the Puerta de Alcalá triumphal arch (1764-78); the Cybelebrunnen (chariot and figure of the goddess of Francisco Gutiérrez, * 1727, † 1782) on the Plaza de la Cibeles is the symbol of Madrid. With the »CaixaForum« (opened in 2008; Architects: Herzog & de Meuron), a new cultural center was created between the Prado and the Reina Sofía Museum. The breakthrough of the Gran Via (1910–30) and the construction of the Paseo de Recoletos were major interventions in the grown building structure of the older center.
As a result of the strong population growth, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the urban area (Ensanche) was expanded in systematic sub-blocks, characterized by checkerboard floor plans; in between, in the southeast, there is the sector of the Atocha train stations (new building by José Rafael Moneo [* 1937 ], 1984–92) and Delicias; in the northwest, the Plaza de Espãna with the Cervantes monument (1927) was laid out.
The western bank of the Manzanares was included in the expansion before the civil war: construction of the exhibition grounds (1948/49) and expansion of the Casa de Campo park (1941 ff.). In the area of the northern Ensanche there are, inter alia, Embassy building from the 1st half of the 20th century, the sports palace and to the east the bullring (with museum, 1951). As a north-south central axis, Pedro Bidagor Lasarte, who was trained on German models, developed the boulevard Paseo de la Castellana into the third center of Madrid during the Franco era. In this northern area are, inter alia. the Nuevos Ministerios (1940-42), the Torre de Madrid (1954-59) and the España skyscraper (1947-53, both by J. Otamendi), the IBM building (1966-68, by M. Fisac), the Torres de Colón (1967-76, from Antonio Lamela Martinez, * 1926, † 2017), Bankinter (1974–76, by Moneo and R. Bescós), La Unión y Fénix Español (1965, by L. Gutiérrez Soto), Bankunión (1972–75, by José Antonio Corrales [* 1921, † 2010] and Ramón Vázquez Molezun [* 1922, † 1993]), Adriatica de Seguros (1979, by J. Carvajal), the glass tower of the Banco de Bilbao (1979-80, by Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza [ * 1918, † 2000]), the multifunctional complex AZCA (1979-80) with the 113 m high Tower de Europa (1974-87, by Miguel Oriol e Ybarra) and the 155 m high Torre de Picasso (1977-88, by Yamasaki Minoru), the Palacio de Congresos (1970; upper facade with colored wall ceramics, designed by J. Miró, 1980), other modern bank and administration towers and the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (1944–46).
In the northwest, the Ciudad Universitaria extends over the former royal park area of Moncloa. The buildings of the Complutense University have been built here since 1930, initially under the influence of Bauhaus architecture. Even further to the northwest are the Hipódromo de la Zarzuela (1935) and the Palacio de la Zarzuela (originally 1634–38, rebuilt in the 20th century; today the residence of the Spanish king) and the Palacio El Pardo (built in 1547 by Charles V)).
The most spectacular building after democratization were the two Torres KIO inclined towards each other as a gate-like closure of the Castellana (completed in 1996; also called »Puerta de Europa«). Also noteworthy is the Cuatro Torres business district with its four towers, completed between 2007 and 2009, which are the tallest skyscrapers in Spain with a height of up to 249 m.
The development of the outer zones was largely unregulated. Satellite cities with high-rise buildings and partly chessboard-like street layouts have developed since 1960.