Circulo de Bellas Artes
The Circulo de Bellas Artes is one of the iconic buildings of Madrid. Inside there are exhibitions, theatre, dances, concerts, films, regular workshops and activites for children and adults; as well as the facilities they provide for artists, with life drawing/life painting classes and studios for print making and still life studies 6 days a week for those who subscribe. And they have their own radio station.
Most tourists will know it for the magnificent "azotea", the rooftop bar right next to the statue of Athena, with incredible views of the city centre.
The organisation was officially founded on the 16th April, 1880: 138 years ago this week. The group moved around different locations in the surrounding area before finally raising enough money for the prime real estate on C/Alcalá, the building itself being constructed between 1921 and 26, to the design of Antonio Palacios, a famous architect responsible for many buildings in Madrid from around that period, including what is now the Institute de Cervantes, just across the road, the Casino, and Madrid's town hall, as well as designing many of the entrances to the first Metro stations.
The statue of Athena was part of Palacios' original plans, but due to a restricted budget, had to be left off, and so it wasn't until 1964 that she finally made her appearance atop the building.
Entrance to the exhibitions cost 4€. Access to the rooftop bar costs also costs €4, and be aware the drinks up there are also charged at a premium rate, however it is worth going at least once, for the view. Try to go early on in the day though, after 5pm it's super busy.
For access to the life drawing etc you have to become a socio, which costs 20€/month or 12€ if you're a student under 25.