Madrid has one of the most important historic centers of all the great European cities. Near the Plaza Mayor is the area known as the "aristocratic centre" where the jewel in the crown is the Royal Palace, an imposing building dating from the 17th century. Nearby is the Plaza de Oriente square, the Teatro Real opera house, and the modern cathedral of La Almudena. The Puerta del Sol square is surrounded by a varied and select area of shops and businesses, and the "Paseo del Arte" art route, world class museums, palaces and gardens.
Madrid's lively nightlife is another key attraction of Spain's capital, due to its variety and the exciting atmosphere to be found in its bars, pubs, clubs and flamenco halls. Madrid possibly has the largest number of bars per capita of any European city.
Popular festivities and the San Isidro bullfighting festival are regarded as being the most important in the world.