Located in central Madrid on a small hill in Parque Oeste (West Park), near Plaza de España, is Templo de Debod. The oldest monument in Madrid. A real Egyptian Temple in Madrid! So how did a Temple built around 200BC on the banks of the Nile end up in Madrid?
The shrine was initially constructed 15 kilometres south of Aswan in Egypt and dedicated to the goddess Isis. Originally it was a small single room chapel. However, later additions extended it on all four sides to form a small temple 12x15m. The Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius completed it.
In 1960, due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam and reservoir, numerous monuments and archaeological sites were endangered in the area. UNESCO made an international appeal to save the historical legacy. Spain responded. As a sign of gratitude for the help provided, the Egyptian state donated the Temple of Debod to Spain in 1968.
The temple was transported stone by stone (more than 1,300 ashlars) to Madrid in Spain. It was reconstructed in the same orientation, east to west, as at its original location. The Templo de Debod opened to the public in 1972. A fountain and gardens surround the monument. Sadly the water feature was drained for maintenance at the time of my visit.
Best place in Madrid to watch the sunset
Arguably the best place to watch the sunset in Madrid is from the Templo de Debod (in my opinion the rooftop terrace at Círculo de Bellas Artes is a close second). More specifically, walk a short distance to an elevated grassy hilltop in the Parque Oeste. Here you will find groups of people sitting on blankets with picnics or just sipping beer and wine watching the setting sun.
The park’s elevated location offers excellent views of the city, including the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral, and Madrid’s largest park, the Casa de Campo.