30 Best Things to do in Madrid: Top Places to visit

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Looking for the top places to visit in Madrid, Spain? heck out our tips on the best things to do in Madrid, an overview of admission prices and opening times, and where to buy tickets for sightseeing in Madrid.


With 3.3 million inhabitants, Madrid is the largest and capital city of Spain and the fifth largest city in Europe.

Other statistics show that Madrid is the second most visited city in Spain after Barcelona. It attracts tourists with its world-famous museums, beautiful architecture and great food.

Madrid is a vibrant and energetic city, where, like Barcelona, it’s alive until the morning. If you go out for dinner at 7pm, you will probably be almost alone in the restaurant, or with other tourists. The locals dine between 9-10pm and the bars usually open after midnight.


Best Things to do in Madrid: Top Places to visit

Visit world-famous museums (Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, Museo Reina Sofía), explore the Royal Park full of attractions, go for tapas at La Latina, admire the splendour of the Royal Palace or the interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena.

There are plenty of sights and attractions to see in Madrid.

See the best things to do in Madrid:

1. Prado Museum (Museo del Prado)

Do you enjoy the art of the Louvre or the Vatican Museums? Then don’t miss the Prado Museum. One of the most important art museums in the world with nearly 11,000 works ranging from paintings, photographs, sculptures, decorative objects to coins and medals.

Prado Museum Madrid

It is here that you will be treated to the finest collection of European masters by Spanish artists (Francesco de Goya, Diego Velásquez and others) or Italian works from the Renaissance (Raphael).

The first floor is dedicated to such artists as Rubens, Velázquez, Tiziano, Murillo, El Greco. On the second floor you will see beautiful ambits and temporary exhibitions.

Entrance and opening hours of the Prado Museum

The Prado Museum is one of the world’s leading art museums, so be prepared for crowds. It is open daily. Monday to Saturday 10:00-20:00 and Sunday and public holidays 10:00-19:00.

The museum has dedicated hours of 6:00-8:00 pm Monday through Saturday and 5:00-7:00 pm on Sundays, when you can get in for free. The downside is that it’s even more crowded than usual.

Admission to the Prado Museum is €15 and €7.50 for seniors over 65. Children under 18 and students are free. If you want to skip the queue, it’s better to book tickets in advance.

2. Retiro Park

The green heart of Madrid. Retro Park is Madrid’s most popular park, just a short walk from the Prado Museum. It’s the perfect place to relax after exhaustion from the amount of art you’ve had the chance to see at the Prado.

Retiro Park Madrid

The 300-acre park was formerly used exclusively for the royal family, but was later opened to the public. You can stroll around, boat on El Estanque Lake and see art from street artists at the weekend.

Or go to the memorial to the victims of the Madrid terrorist bombings. One of the most popular places in El Retiro Park is the glass Palacio de Cristal. It was based on the glass palace in London. Today, works from the Queen Sofia Museum are on display here.

3. Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcalá is Madrid’s triumphal arch from the 18th century, which was built even earlier than the Arc de Trimphe in France or the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

It is the first arch to be built in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. The arch dominates Plaza dela Independecia and is one of the gateways to Retiro Park.

Madrid sights

The road to the town of Alcalá de Henares, after which the arch was named, used to run around the Puerta de Alcalá.

4. Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol is the central square in Madrid, where one of the eastern gates originally stood. It was decorated with the sun, hence the name of the square – translated as the Sun Gate.

Madrid Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol Square is home to several important points of interest for Madrid’s citizens. Across the main entrance of the Casa de Correos post office building is a stone plaque marking kilometre 0. All distances in Madrid are counted from that point. Even the building itself is worth noticing.

Every Madrid resident knows it, as the clock at the top is used for the TV countdown on New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Eve, it is a tradition for locals to eat a grape wine ball for good luck with every ringing of the bell in the square (12 in total).

Madrid Puerta del Sol
El Oso y El Madroño – statue of a bear by the strawberry tree

There is also a statue of a bear by a strawberry tree (El Oso y El Madroño) right in the square, which has been a symbol of Madrid since the Middle Ages and represents the coat of arms of Madrid.

5. Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid)

The Palacio Real is the largest royal palace in Western Europe and one of the largest in the world. It is even more spectacular than Versailles in Paris or Schönbrunn in Vienna.

A French-Italian Baroque-Neoclassical palace that will amaze you with its Italian frescoes, French tapestries, Spanish porcelain, chandeliers, silver, a collection of clocks, works by Goya, Caravaggio and Velázquez and a gilded interior. Each hall is majestic, richly decorated and unique.

In addition to its magnificent interior, the Royal Palace houses the largest collection of Stradivarius musical instruments in the world. Across the courtyard is an armoury with weapons belonging to various Spanish kings (one of the best collections in the world).

The tour also includes the royal pharmacy with hundreds of medicine bottles, ornate cabinets and a faithful recreation of a laboratory.

Behind the palace are beautiful gardens full of flowers and fountains.

The Palacio Real is the official residence of the royal family. But she actually lives in the Palacio de la Zarzuela. The Royal Palace is thus used for official ceremonies and royal functions. It is also sometimes called the Palacio de Oriente because of the Plaza de Oriente, which is right in front of it.

The palace stands on the site of the Moorish fortress palace of Alcázar, which burned down in 1734. The surrounding Campo del Moro Park and Sabatini Gardens offer a magnificent view of the palace.

Changing of the guard takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 11:00-14:00. Please check the official website for any changes.

Admission and opening hours Palacio Real de Madrid

The palace is open from April to October 10:00-19:00 and Sundays until 16:00 and the gardens all week 10:00-18:00.

From November to March it is open 10:00-18:00 and on Sundays 10:00-16:00.

Admission to the Royal Palace of Madrid is €12 and a reduced €6 for children 5-16 years old, students up to 26 years old and seniors over 65 years old.

TIP: I recommend arriving early. It’s one of the most beautiful sights in Madrid and the queues inside can be long (see photo above). I’m sure you book your ticket in advance because they can sell out days in advance.

6. Royal Botanic Garden

A paradise where you can relax perfectly. The Royal Botanical Gardens are just south of the Prado Museum. The gardens are decorated with more than 5,000 species of plants, including exotic trees. They are divided into 4 terraces. In the middle is a statue of King Carlos III, who took care of moving the garden from the banks of the Manzanares River.

There are plenty of benches in the botanical garden where you can just sit. It is an ideal place for families with children.

7. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza)

Madrid is famous for its art. Another world-class museum is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It takes its name from Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon, who used to own the building.

What makes the museum different is that it brings a wide range of art styles that you will see here. Here you will find both English and German school artists (Hans Holbein, Hans Baldung Grien, Albrecht Dürer), as well as a large collection of American abstract expressionism and a number of impressionist and post expressionist works (Monet, Renoir, Degas). This is complemented by the Renaissance masters (Tintoretto, Veronese, Rembrandt).

Admission is 13 € and reduced 9 €. Opening hours are 10:00-19:00.

8. Queen Sofia Museum (Museo Reina Sofía)

The Museo Reina Sofía is Madrid’s finest contemporary art gallery, originally the site of a public hospital. Together with the Prado Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the museum forms the Golden Triangle of Art. Each museum contains different collections that complement each other.

The Reina Sofía Museum encompasses a variety of styles from Cubism, Surrealism and other art movements of the 20th century, including sculpture. It specializes mainly in Spanish artists (Picasso, Dali, Miró), but you can also find other artists from outside Spain (Braque, Kandinsky).

The most famous work is Picasso’s Guernica, a monumental canvas where Picasso was inspired by Hitler’s bombing of Guernica.

Tickets to the Reina Sofía Museum are €12 (half off). Except Tuesday, it is open every day from 10:00-21:00 (free entry from 19:00) and on Sundays only until 14:30 (free entry after 12:30).

9. Gran Vía

An emblematic and probably the most famous street in Madrid, lined with Art Deco buildings. Gran Vía is a hub of shopping, entertainment, culture and nightlife until the early hours of the morning. It connects the districts of Salamanca and Arqüelles.

Gran Vía Madrid

10. Plaza de España

Plaza de España is at the very end of Gran Vía. With an area of 36,900m2, it is one of the largest squares in Spain. It is lined with restaurants, shops, theatres, cinemas and plenty of benches. The square is dominated by the Torre de Madrid, which used to be the tallest concrete building in the city.

Madrid sights Plaza de España

11. Go for tapas at La Latina

Typical food in Madrid? Definitely tapas. The best area to eat is La Latina. A lively neighbourhood with narrow, winding streets that boasts the largest concentration of tapas bars.

A popular local custom is the tapeo, a circuit across tapas bars where locals eat, drink and socialise with friends.

See our complete range of accommodation in Madrid.

12. El Rastro

If you’re planning a visit to Madrid on Sunday, don’t miss El Rastro, Europe’s largest flea market with 3,500 stalls. Here you can find everything from antiques to furniture to clothes.

The market extends for several blocks south of La Latina station. It’s lively, fun and full of locals and tourists. There are bands playing and it has a great atmosphere.

El Rastro Madrid

The market takes place on Sundays from 8:00-15:00. For 250 years. It spreads out in the streets along the main artery of the Ribera de Curtidores market.

13. Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is Madrid’s main square, which is exclusively for pedestrians. The cobbled square was once a marketplace, a stage for bullfights, royal processions and the execution ground for local heretics. It is completely surrounded by three-storey residential buildings. You can get in through one of the 9 entrances.

Plaza Mayor Madrid

Today it is a place where you can soak up the atmosphere of the city. Just sit in the café and watch the surroundings and the baroque architecture with the statue of Felipe III. on horseback in the middle of the square.

14. San Miquel Market (Mercado de San Miquel)

From Plaza Mayor, continue west. The Mercado de San Miquel, Madrid’s most famous market, is just a short walk away. In a beautiful Art Nouveau building. It’s crowded, but it’s worth it.

This is where you will be served a variety of tapas delicacies, seafood, paper cones full of meat and other delicacies.

Madrid market mercado de san miquel

The market opens at 10am. Get out here as soon as you can to avoid the crowds. It’s better to bring cash.

The markets are typical of Madrid. You will find several of them here and you will have a great meal everywhere. You don’t have to go to the restaurant at all. At the markets you can taste all kinds of delicacies from different parts of the world.

Other popular markets in Madrid include:

  • Mercado San Antón
  • Mercado de San Ildefonso
  • Mercado de San Fernando
  • Mercado de la Cebada

The first two markets lie north of the centre, the other two south of the centre.

Locals mostly buy their food at the large Mercado de Maravillas market, but it is further away from the centre.

15. Temple of Debod (Templo de Debod)

A piece of Egypt in Madrid. This is exactly how one could describe the Templo de Debod from the 2nd century BC. And how did he get here? The temple was donated to Madrid in 1968 by the Egyptian government itself as an expression of gratitude for its help in saving key Egyptian monuments that were threatened by the rising waters of the Aswan Dam.

Madrid monuments Templo de Debod

Templo de Debod is located in the Parque del Oeste. You can’t get inside the temple, but it is still worth seeing. Go here in the evening, when the setting sun reflects the whole temple in the local pools.

16. Plaza du Colón

Plaza du Colón is another of Madrid’s important squares, where Christmas markets and other events are held throughout the year.

The Plaza du Colón is an open space dominated by the Colón towers, built from top to bottom and covered with panels of pink glass and topped with a green structure.

Other attractions include the white marble Columbus Monument on a 17-metre high pedestal, the Spanish flag 12 metres wide and 14 metres high, and the Garden of Discovery with its monument to the discovery of America, a concrete structure covered with reliefs and inscriptions.

The National Archaeological Museum is located right next to the square.

17. Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena (Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena)

The Almudena Cathedral by Francisco de Cubas is another Spanish cathedral that took more than a century to build. The first is Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, where construction began in 1882 and is due to be completed in 2026. Construction work on Almudena Cathedral began a year later and was completed in 1993.

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena Madrid / what to see in Madrid

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena is one of the largest cathedrals in the world and the most important religious building in Madrid. It also has one first place – on 15.6.1993 it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II. becoming the first cathedral to be consecrated outside Rome.

It is located directly opposite the Royal Palace.

Interestingly, cathedrals form the imaginary heart of most historic European cities. For example, the Duomo in Milan, the Duomo in Naples or St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

Almudena Cathedral lies on the imaginary edge of the historic centre. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s one of the most beautiful places in Madrid.

It may not be as glamorous as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, but its playful ceiling full of vibrant colours, 15th century altarpiece and huge organ with 5,000 pipes will get you just the same.

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena Madrid / things to see in Madrid

The cathedral also includes a museum with objects about the history of the Diocese of Madrid and a view from the dome of the Royal Palace, which is adjacent to the cathedral.

Admission and opening hours of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Almuden is open daily except Sundays 10:00-21:00 from July to August and 10:00-20:00 the rest of the year. Entrance fee is 1 € (voluntary).

The museum, crypt and dome are open Monday to Saturday from 10:00-14:30. Admission is €7 (reduced for children over 10 and students under 26).

18. Flamenco show

What dance do you associate with Madrid? It’s probably flamenco, right? Flamenco has its origins in Andalusia, Murcia and Exremadura, but it is still intrinsically linked to Madrid. The show usually runs for an hour and it’s customary to have tapas (or other Spanish food) and sangria by candlelight.

One popular spot is Las Carboneras, just off Plaza Mayor. Reservations are required in advance. Ticket includes performance, food and drink.

19. National Archaeological Museum

No other place will introduce you to the history of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula as well as the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid. You can even go back to ancient Greece and Rome, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Don’t miss the famous bust of the Iberian woman from the 5th century – La Dama de Elche or the prehistoric cave paintings in Altamira.

The museum is well organized and interesting. It is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building and regularly hosts family activities. Twice a month there are workshops for children aged 9 and up, where they learn about archaeology.

It is open Tuesday to Saturday 9:30-20:00 and Sunday and public holidays 9:30-15:00. Admission is just €3 (reduced €1.50) and free after 2pm on Saturdays and Sunday mornings.

20. Palacio de Cibeles (Cibeles Palace)

The Palacio de Cibeles is one of the most beautiful buildings in Madrid. Built in 1919, the palace was formerly used as the headquarters of the post office. Today it is the seat of the city council. V 8. The first floor has a restaurant overlooking the bustling Plaza de Cibeles right in front of the building.

The lookout is open every day except Mondays 10:30-14:00 and 16:00-19:30. Tickets cost €3 and €2.40 for children aged 2-14 and seniors over 65.

Plaza de Cibeles is dominated by the famous fountain, which depicts the goddess Cybele sitting on a chariot drawn by lions. Real Madrid Football Club and other national football and basketball clubs celebrate their triumphs here.

21. Churros and hot chocolate

Spanish hot chocolate is a must if you’re going to Madrid in the colder months. It’s so thick, sometimes you need a spoon for it. You dip sweet, fried churros into the chocolate.


You can get great chocolate at San Ginés Chocolatéria, which serves churros with chocolate from 19th century. It is located north of the Plaza Mayor. You can enjoy a slightly quieter meal at Chocolateria 1902. During the winter months, there are plenty of chocolate stalls dotted around Madrid.

22. Maritime Museum of Madrid

Spain has been a maritime power in the past. It already suggests that there will be a lot to see at the Maritime Museum. Historical maps and drawings, weapons, navigation and other items related to the navy. A great place for children too.

The Maritime Museum is open daily 10:00-19:00 except Mondays (10:00-15:00 in August). Admission is free, but a €3 donation to the museum’s upkeep is appreciated.

23. Skyscraper Circulo Bellas Artes (Circulo de Bellas Artes)

The 1920s Art Deco skyscraper Circulo Bellas Artes is famous for its rooftop observation deck on the 7th floor. The viewpoint can be reached by lift and offers spectacular views of the Gran Vía. There is also a bar and restaurant.

Circulo de Bellas Artes Madrid Sights

The Circulo de Bellas Artes is one of the most important private cultural centres with more than 1,200 works of art including paintings, sculptures, engravings and furniture and more than 300 books and historical documents. It hosts exhibitions, conferences, workshops, concerts and other activities to promote culture and the arts.

Opening hours are Mon-Thu 12:00-01:00, Fri-Sat 10:00-02:00 and Sun 10:00-01:00. Admission to the rooftop view is €5.

24. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Whether you’re a fan of Real Madrid, Barcelona or AC Milan, a visit to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium is almost a must. One of the world’s largest stadiums, it can hold up to 80,000 people. Home of Real Madrid, the most successful European football team with 11 European Cups.

Madrid Santiago Bernabéu stadium

The biggest experience is attending the game, but if you can’t get tickets, you can check out the stadium with an audio guide. During the tour, you will see the President’s Box, the press room, the players’ tunnel, the locker rooms, the pitch and the trophy exhibition.

Admission is 15 €. Tickets can be purchased online.

25. Sorolla Museum (Museo Sorolla)

Joaquín Sorolla was an important Spanish painter of the 19th and 20th centuries, for whom Mediterranean seascapes were typical. The building of the Sorolla Museum was formerly the artist’s studio and today houses many of his paintings and drawings.

In addition to the art, enjoy the beautiful garden here.

Madrid monuments museo sorolla

Opening hours of museo Sorolla: Tue-Sat 9:30-20:00 and Sun and holidays 10:00-15:00. Full admission is 3 € and reduced 1,5 €.

26. CaixaForum

CaixaForum building of 21th century is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable contemporary monuments in Madrid. A brick building topped with a rusted iron canopy, with vertical gardens adjacent to it.

3-4 times a year it hosts world-class contemporary art, photography and multimedia exhibitions. It is a short walk from the Prado Museum. Open daily 10:00-20:00.

27. Plaza de Toros de las Ventas

In the Plaza de Toros you will experience performances by the best matadors of Spain. Las Ventas Arena is the largest in the country. Bullfighting takes place most Sundays from March to mid-October and almost daily during the San Isidro festival in May and early June.

If you don’t want to go to the bullfight, you can the arena, including the museum, as part of the tour. Open daily 10:00-18:00.

28th Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great (Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande)

The Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great lies to the south-west of the centre. It will captivate you with its monumental exterior in neoclassical style. But the main thing is inside – a large dome decorated with frescoes by the famous Spanish painter Francisco Goya.

Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande Madrid

Admission to the Basilica of Saint Francis the Great is €5 (reduced €3). On Saturday you can take a peek inside for free.

Opening hours vary according to the season. The church is open daily 8:00-10:30am and on Sundays 10:00am-1:30pm and 6:30pm-8:00pm. The museum has longer opening hours – Tue-Sat 10:30-12:30 and 16:00-18:00 (in summer 17:00-19:00). Box offices close half an hour beforehand.

29. Foro de Moncloa

Where to get Madrid like in the palm of your hand? From the Foro de Moncloa, you’ll be lucky. It is a 110-metre high former broadcasting tower in the north-west of the city, which is the highest viewpoint in the city.

The top is reached by one of the two panoramic lifts on the side of the tower. These take you up to 92 metres to a viewpoint that looks like a flying saucer.

Madrid prospects foro de moncloa

Through the huge glass windows, you’ll have views of many of Madrid’s sights and even the peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains north of Madrid.

Open daily except Monday 9:30-20:00. Admission is 4 € and reduced 2 € (1 € for children under 7 years).

30. Puerta de Toledo

Puerta de Toledo dates from the 19th century and used to be one of the 3 access gates to Madrid. The gate represents the victory of King Ferdinand VII. in the Spanish War of Independence after the French occupation.

Puerta de Toledo Madrid

From the Arc de Triomphe, walk along Calle de Toledo to the baroque Puente de Toledo Bridge, which spans the Manzanares River. There is a park with lots of greenery around.


Things to see in Madrid – Map

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of the best things to do in Madrid. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places I mention in the Madrid guide. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.

Things to do in Madrid: practical information

  • Visit the museums of the Golden Triangle of Art and the Royal Palace as early in the morning as possible, when the crowds are not so large.
  • Book your ticket to the Royal Palace online. It can sell out several days in advance.
  • To avoid queues, book your tickets online for the Prado Museum.
  • Many monuments and museums offer times when you can get in for free. Information can be found above for each location.
  • Enjoy Madrid from a different perspective with a sightseeing bus that will take you past some of the most beautiful sights in Madrid. Or try riding a tuk tuk.

Where to stay in Madrid?

  • Riu Plaza España – If you’re looking for the best accommodation with spectacular views from the rooftop terrace, the iconic hotel in Plaza España is one of the best options.
  • Emperador – Luxury hotel right on Gran Vía with a rooftop terrace with pool and fantastic views of Madrid.
  • Hotel II Castillas Madrid – A mid-range hotel with a strategic location close to the main sights in Madrid.
  • Hotel Mora by MIJ – a pleasant hotel in a quiet part of Madrid, but with good access to the centre.
  • Hostal La Vera – a cheap and clean guest house in a historic building in the centre of Madrid, just 10 minutes from Plaza Mayor or the Prado Museum on the other side.

See our complete range of accommodation in Madrid.

What to taste in Madrid? What is the traditional food in Madrid and what do the locals drink?

Madrid is known for its wide range of traditional food and drinks. One of Madrid’s most popular dishes is the cocido madrileño, a stew of chickpeas, chorizo and pork. Other traditional dishes include potato omelette, callos (tripe) and tortilla española (Spanish potato omelette). There are also many different types of Spanish tapas, or small plates of food that are commonly served with wine or beer.

As for drinks, locals enjoy all kinds of alcoholic beverages, such as sangria and tinto de verano (red wine mixed with lemonade), as well as a variety of beers, including lagers and dark beers. Madrid is also known for its vermouth, a fortified wine made from herbs and spices. It is usually served on ice with a slice of orange or other garnish as an aperitif.

If you have a question about tips on the best things to do in Madrid, let us know in the comments below. Have a safe journey!

More information about Spain

BARCELONA: Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain, along with Madrid. Check out tips on the things to do in Barcelona (entrance fees, opening hours, photos, map) or plan your trip with the Barcelona in 3 Days itinerary.

VALENCIA: Valencia is another beautiful city in Spain. We’ve put together a complete guide to visiting Valencia, including tips on the best things to do in Valencia.

GRANADA: Granada is a historical gem, home to the world-famous Alhambra Palace. Read more our tips on the best things to do in Granada.

SPAIN: In our list of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain, we give you tips on what to see in Spain.

Summary: Best things to do in Madrid

What are the best things to do in Madrid?

Visit world-famous museums (Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, Museo Reina Sofía), explore the Royal Park full of attractions, go for tapas at La Latina, admire the splendour of the Royal Palace or the interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena.
There are plenty of sights and attractions to see in Madrid. You can read about all the interesting places including practical information in the article.

Do I need to book in advance for sightseeing in Madrid?

To avoid queues on site, it’s best to make reservations for the Museo del Prado and Palacio Real de Madrid.

Where to go for the best views in Madrid?

From the dome of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena you can enjoy views of the Royal Palace and Madrid. The Palacio de Cibeles is one of the most beautiful buildings in Madrid, with views of the surrounding area. The Circulo Bellas Artes skyscraper is the place to experience the iconic view of Gran Vía.

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