Plaza Daoíz y Velarde is a refreshing site where you can escape from the surrounding car hassle that is characteristic of Madrid. It’s car-free and pro pedestrian. This location has many different purposes: it has terraces & restaurants; locals walk the dog around here, sit & relax on the benches… it has a playground & a municipal sports center.
This place is versatile — so many things take place here. I’ve seen everything from 500 karate kids attending competitions to elders chatting on benches, parents having drinks while kids are playing around… In summer, the people refresh themselves at the fountain, while neighbours are walking 20 dogs.
I think it’s a good place to get a feeling of how locals live their lives. If possible, better come from 17:00-23:00. It’s a great location to enjoy its terraces, as you have much to see from your chair and you can choose between sushi or good tapas at Alquitara.
The building in the middle is now a popular municipal sports center, but before it used to be the old barracks of the soldiers who fought against Napoleon on May 2nd. Its architecture has been well-maintained; you can walk around it through its outdoor corridors full of roses. You may see the train rails and the kid playground at the end, unfortunately here was the location of 11M, the Al Queda train bombs. The building was used to aid many victims and received a memorial plaque.
The cycle of life can’t be stopped by anybody. Madrid thrives!