Palacio de Liria

Lonely Planet review

This 18th-century mansion, rebuilt after a fire in 1936, nestles amid the modern architecture just north of Plaza de España as a reminder of the days when Madrid's streets were lined with mansions like these. It holds an impressive collection of art, period furniture and objets d’art . To join a guided visit, you need to send a formal request with your personal details to the palace, which is home to the Duke and Duchess of Alba, one of the grandest names in Spanish nobility – ask at the tourist office for details. The waiting list is long and most mere mortals content themselves with staring through the gates into the grounds, but watch this space – we've heard rumours that they might be about to become more accessible.