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The lions at its doors will eye you earnestly. You cannot climb up onto then, but you will definitely find a good photo opportunity here.

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Congreso de los Diputados

A witness to the history of Spain.

These big, unfriendly-looking lions protect the Congres de los Disputados in Madrid. Police officers will not allow you climb up onto them, but you can get close enough to take a snap. This temple with sober lines inspired by the antiquity was built in 1850 under Queen Isabel II. Parliamentary sessions were held in this very place until just a few years ago but under the roof of the old Espíritu Santo church, abandoned by its monks. The current building is not permanently open to the public so if you don't feel like waiting for it to open (early December each year), it's best to arrange a group visit by calling 91 390 65 25 and 91 390 65 26 or by emailing guias.congreso@sgral.congreso.es. Inside you'll be guided through the various rooms, such as the chamber where politicians debate (with the bullet holes from Antonio Tejero's failed coup d'etat of 23 February 1981), the Sala de los Pasos Perdidos (the Hall of Lost Steps) and the library. It is the ideal way to learn about the history of democracy in Spain. Between explanations, maybe you'll spot a politician walking through the corridors. You must remain alert. From outside you can see the successive extensions of the chamber with its vanguard stone and crystal façades. The square in front was designed as a lookout to the Paseo del Prado: the Neptune Fountain, the Ritz Hotel, the El Prado Museum, Jerónimos Church and the Academia de la Lengua. Record it all in your retina.



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