If there is anything I have learned whilst living in Madrid, it is that the Spanish culture is very rich and interesting. Today, I want to share some basic information points about Madrid. I already told you in another article about the main neighbourhoods, and my 10 reasons to visit the city, but today I want to give you some general information about the culture of Madrid. Let’s go! These are the main points I want to highlight…
- Madrid is the capital city of Spain, and in region of the Community of Madrid.
- The city is located south of what is called “Central Plateau”. Before the rule of the Romans, the tribe of the carpetanos occupied the area.
- Madrid’s population is more than 3.27 million people (2019) and its surrounding area is the second most inhabited in the European Union: around 6.5 million people live here.
- The symbol of the city is called “El oso y el madroño”: it is a bear sniffing a Spanish fruit tree, similar to strawberries. This symbol has a statue, which is located in the center of Madrid, in Puerta del Sol, and the iconic symbol is also found on the traditional shield.
- The city has an area of 505,000 km2 and is 646 meters above sea level.
- Madrid is known for immense cultural and artistic activity and a lively nightlife.
- Both the royal family and the president of the Government live in Madrid. Also, Madrid is home to the head offices of the government, and its ministries and courts (congress and senate).
- It plays a leading role in both the banking and industrial sectors. It is the fourth richest city in Europe from an economic point of view.
Madrid: general history
- Madrid became the capital of Spain in 1561.
- The great metropolis of Madrid originated in the times of the Arab emir Mohamed I (852-886), who ordered the construction of a fortress on the left side of the Manzanares River. Later that fortress was subject to dispute between Arabs and Christians until Alfonso VI conquered it in the eleventh century. At the end of the 17th century, a wall was built to protect it from the surrounding area, giving rise to the doors facing Segovia, Toledo and Valencia. During the eighteenth century, under the reign of Carlos III, the great monuments of the city such as the Paseo del Prado and Acacias were designed.
- Formerly, the city of Madrid was enclosed by a great wall, with only 3 entrances. One of them, the Puerta de Alcalá, can still be seen. It is one of the most important monuments of the city, and is located in the roundabout Plaza de la Independencia. In addition, it is a main entrance point for the Retiro Park. In addition, it was the first triumphal arch built in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. It is a monument of neo-classical style, even older than the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin or the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
- The Royal Palace is the largest in Europe: it contains 3418 rooms. However, this palace is only used for ceremonies. Although it is the official residence of royalty, kings live in the Palacio de la Zarzuela, in Monte del Pardo. You can take a guided tour of the Royal Palace, the neighbouring impressive Almudena Cathedral, and its neo-Romanesque crypt.
My personal recommendation!
There is a walk that I love, which connects the culture of Madrid with its history: the “Sabatini Gardens”. These gardens are located on the north facade of the Palace, and were built in the 30s of the 20th century. The tranquility that is in this green area of public access is wonderful: I love getting lost between the hedges and the pond, sitting down to read in silence and taking beautiful pictures with the Palace in the background. The sunset is the best time to be there, since the light of the sunset casts a magical golden glow. Then, I really like to walk to the Palace side, through the Plaza de Oriente. The Palace, at night, takes on a new charm. Finally, I finish my walk by walking straight through Bailén, crossing the viaduct of Segovia, ending in La Latina to have a drink.
I hope this brief guide about Madrid is interesting. In addition, for those who have not visited the city yet … I look forward to your visit!
See you next time!