The capital of Spain, located in the heart of the peninsula and right in the center of the Castillian plain, 646 meters above sea level, has a population of over three million.
A cosmopolitan city, a business center, headquarters for the Public Administration, Government, Spanish Parliament and the home of the Spanish Royal Family, Madrid also plays a major role in both the banking and industrial sectors. Most of its industry is located in the Southern fringe of the city, where important textile, food and metal working factories are clustered. Madrid is characterized by intense cultural and artistic activity and a very lively nightlife.
The grand metropolis of Madrid can trace its origins to the times of Arab Emir Mohamed I (852-886), who ordered the construction of a fortress on the left bank of the Manzanares river. Later it became the subject of a dispute between the Christians and Arabs until it was conquered by Alonso VI in the 11th century. At the end of the 17th century, a defensive wall was built for the protection of the new outlying areas, tracing the roads of Segovia, Toledo and Valencia. During the 18th century, under the reign of Carlos III, were designed the great arteries of the city, such as the Paseo del Prado and Paseo las Acacias.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Joseph Bonaparte undertook the reform of the Puerta del Sol and vicinity. The commercial street known as the Gran Vía was built as an east-west avenue at the start of the century. In the 1950's the north-south boulevard called Paseo de la Castellana was extended and modern buildings were erected, housing the major financial institutions. Remainings of the distant past are mainly the Baroque and neoclassical strcutures of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and others which will be described later during our guide of the city.
A good number of dishes and recipes can be named which can be considered typical of Madrid. Among them, the Cocido Madrileño must be mentioned; a stew combining chickpeas with vegetables (cabbage, celery, carrots, turnips and potatoes) and chicken, beef and pork and which is turned into a huge succulent meal.
Callos or tripe is another of the typical dishes identified with local cuisine and may be found in some of the well-known restaurants in Madrid. You must not neglect the humble and savoury Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup), Caracoles (snails), Tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), the famous recipe of Besugo al horno (baked bream), so typical in the capital in spite of its distance from the ocean, or dishes in which bacalao (cod) is the main ingredient.
Madrid's sweet tradition can be appreciated through its dessert; from torrijas (a type of French toast), typical in the springtime and likened to Holy Week, to the barquillos (rolled wafers), bartolillos con crema (a type of small pie with custard) the buñuelos (a type of fritter filled with custard whipped cream, etc.) in November, the mazapán (marzipan) and turrón (soft and hard nougat) at Christmas and the rosquillas de anís (anise-flavored doughnuts) during the festival of San Isidro.
In Madrid, as well as in the rest of Spain, the tapa (savoury titbits of a variety of dishes served as appetisers) is an old gastronomic tradition. You can find numerous establishments specialised in serving these tapas. "Ir de tapeo" (going out for tapas) is a tradition; hundreds of bars scattered throughout the streets of Madrid serve a tapa accompanied by a small glass of wine or beer.
The most efficient form to move between 'barrios' in Madrid is to take the metro . The service is faster and more reliable than the buses. This way, you'll be able to see everything Madrid has to offer without getting too tired!
The photo depicts one of the entrances to the magnificent Royal Palace in Madrid. Many parts are open to the public such as the extravagant throne room and lavish banquet hall. From the gardens enjoy an impressive paroramic view of the countryside that stretches beyond Madrid.
Spain’s capital is home to numerous parks and green spaces which offer a large variety of outdoor activities to keep you busy on a sunny day. From the Retiro Park 's row boats and conga players to the enormous Casa de Campo 's views of the city and the Parque del Oeste 's Egyptian temple, Madrid has much more to offer than historic buildings, asphalt streets and museums and galleries.
Madrid boasts a whopping 40 parks which cover about 33 kilometers squared of green land -- quite impressive numbers for a major world capital. A stroll, or "paseo", is a favorite madrileño pastime... so strap on your walking shoes or Sunday best and head to the parks with the rest!
Madrid is Spain's theater capital, with the largest venues located on and off Gran Vía. Logically, the vast majority of plays and musicals are performed in Spanish; it's a great activity to practice your listening skills.
Madrid theaters also house a variety of concerts, from dance performances to flamenco extravaganzas and classical music symphonies. So if you want to get a dose of culture and don't understand Spanish, there are still plenty of options. Below we've listed the most prominent venues, but this is a small sampling of the city's vast offerings.
Madrid festivals are not nearly as famous as Spain's other bacchanals like the Running of the Bulls, Fallas or La Tomatina, to name a few. Then again, Madrid nightlife is so fierce on a weekly basis that you don't need to plan your trip around a special festival to guarantee a crazy party. Madrileños take their festivals nonchalantly, like any other great excuse to hit the streets and enjoy the company of friends, music and, of course, alcohol.
Major Madrid Festivals
Nochevieja, December 31
New York has Times Square, but Madrid's ball drops from the clock tower at Puerta del Sol , where thousands gather yearly and Spaniards elsewhere watch the raucous on TV. Instead of counting down from 10, the clock chimes 12 to represent good fortune for the 12 upcoming months of the year. Tradition obliges you to eat a grape at every toll - more of a challenge than you might imagine - and uncork your champagne at midnight. After that, it's impossible predict where the night will take you!
Dos de mayo, May 2 On May 2, 1808, the people of Madrid rose up against Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother, to free themselves of French rule. Thus began the 6-year War of Independence and, along with it, a new concept of Spain delineated by the country's first constitution. Madrid celebrates this beloved uprising around the Plaza de 2 de mayo in Malasaña , an important battle site and, since then, a counterculture epicenter (see La Movida ).
Fiestas de San Isidro
San Isidro was canonized on May 15, 1622 for miraculously making water rise to rescue his son from a well, along with a handful of other wondrous deeds. Hence he became Madrid's patron saint and, simultaneously, the "laborer/peasant saint" after his profession.
For more about San Isidro, you can visit the church of the same name on calle Toledo - built over the site where the miracle purportedly took place - about two blocks from the Plaza Mayor . The church holds a small museum with exhibits including the famous well along with a small collection of archaeological findings excavated in the region of Madrid.
Like most in Spain, this Madrid festival has largely lost its religious character. Instead, the city government uses San Isidro as a platform to represent the best of Madrid culture, old and new, from bullfights to break dancing. You'll enjoy a full calendar of concerts, plays, parades, fairs and special art exhibits, most free of charge.
Weekend partying is centered day and night around the Plaza de las Vistillas, Plaza de San Andrés and Puente de Segovia in the Austrias neighborhood, near the Plaza Mayor . At night, bars set up shop on the street, or "chiringuitos." Good luck elbowing your way through the hordes to get a "mini," the Spanish term for a huge plastic cup of mojito, beer, cocktail or mixed drink.
El Chotis, Chulapos, Castizos & Cocido
The chotis is Madrid's typical music and dance, though strangely Scottish in origen. It became popular in the 19th century and was largely danced in the working class neighborhoods of Lavapiés and El Rastro . Those who lived in these areas did not have much money, but they dressed and danced brightly as if they did. Known as "majos" and "majas," or " chulapos " and " chulapas " (a variation of "chulo," which means cool or cocky), Goya immortalized these proud, attractive madrileños in numerous paintings which you can see at the Prado Museum .
" Castizo " is an adjective that describes anything typical of Madrid. Thus the "castizo" madrileños of today dress up like chulapos/as and dance the chotis or head down to the San Isidro Hermitage on the banks of the Manzanares River to eat cocido, a local kind of stew (see Foods in Madrid ).
Gigantes & Cabezudos
Gigants (people on stilts) with "cabezudos" (big, satirical papier mache heads) parade around the city center, usually on the first Saturday afternoon of San Isidro.
You can buy barquillos all year round in front of the Palacio Real , but they are especially prevalent during San Isidro. Barquillos are wafers topped with chocolate or whipped cream to your liking. The vendors, called "barquilleros" dress like "chulapos" with a traditional vest and cap and carry around a "wheel of fortune" where you can gamble for more wafers.
The Plaza de Toros de las Ventas schedules all the best bullfights for the Fiestas de San Isidro, every day at 5pm.
August heat prompts most madrileños to escape the city, but those who stay commiserate merrily throughout the centro at outdoor fairs, bars and concerts. First come the neighborhood festivals of San Cayetano in El Rastro neighborhood and San Lorenzo in Lavapiés , where local residents set up concerts, colorful decorations, games and outdoor food & drink stands. La Paloma, on the other hand, celebrates the Virgen's Assumption during the week of August 15th with traditions similar to San Isidro .
EL CHOTIS (TYPICAL DANCE ) GIGANTES Y CABEZUDOS BULLFIGHT IN “LA PLAZA DE LAS VENTAS” (MADRID BULLRING)
On the whole, Madrid weather is dry and sunny. Nonetheless, this continental climate is characterized by extremes: July and August are absolutely scorching and the chilly, short winter between December and February surprises most visitors.
The little rain that falls in Madrid tends to be concentrated in October/November and again during the spring (March-May).
Autumn and spring are the most pleasant seasons. Late July & August heat leave the city nearly abandoned, which can be a plus or a minus, depending on the type of experience you're looking for.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 49 Km from Madrid by road and 1,000 above
sea level, is one of the former royal residences.
Aranjuez is located in the southern of Madrid, near the Tajo River. For this reason has a special vegetation and weather conditions. Alcalá de Henares. It lies 30km from Madrid and is an urban complex full of artistic and historic sights. In the old part the former university is outstanding. It used to be the most important one in Spain and was founded by Cardinal Cisneros in 1496.
Location: South of the Community of Madrid Distance: 18 km to Madrid Surface: 45 km² Population; 204.535 inhab. (INE 2007) - 4.545,22 hab./km²
The Town of Móstoles is located in the South area of the Community of Madrid. It’s only 18 km far from the Capital City of Madrid.
As it is so closed to the City centre, it’s population has increased a lot for the last few years, being now the biggest town in the Community of Madrid. Móstoles has passed, in the 40s, from being nearly a rural area with only 4000 inhabitants, to the middle of the 60s when it became a dormitory city in the outskirts of Madrid with 212.000 inhabitants. Today Móstoles has nearly 300.000 inhabitants.
And it has every kind of means of transport, such as trains, metro station or buses, so it’s very easy to commute to the City Centre in just a few minutes.
Móstoles became famous on May 2 , 1808 , when, although it was only a small village, one of its two mayors, Andrés Torrjeón , declared war on France , following the uprising the same day in Madrid which started the Peninsular War . A resident of Móstoles, Manuela Malasaña , became a popular heroine of the uprising that day; a metro station in Móstoles and a neighbourhood in Madrid are named after her. This year we have celebrated the bicentenary of the said uprising with different acts and the presence in the city of the Royal family.
Some of the most important monuments in Móstoles are; the Mudejar -styled church of La Asunción , whose tower provides a home for storks; the Baroque hermitage of La Virgen de los Santos (from the 17th century) and the Monument To The Mayor (1908), located in Pradillo Square.
Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción “El Bosque” Theatre
The Rey Juan Carlos University ( Spanish : Universidad Rey Juan Carlos , URJC ) is a public university located in Madrid ( Spain ), whose name refers to king Juan Carlos I of Spain . It was created in 1996 and has the Latin motto Non nova, sed nove ("Not new things, but in a new way"). Its headquarters are located in Móstoles , where the Rectorate is, although URJC is divided in four campus:
High School of Experimental Sciences and Technology in Móstoles (since 1998 ).
Faculty of Health Sciences in Alcorcón (since 1998 ).
Faculty of Law and Social Sciences in Vicálvaro ( Madrid ) (since 1998 ).
Faculty of Communication Sciences, School of Tourism and Technical School of Telecommunication Engineering in Fuenlabrada (since 2000 ).
High School of Commercial Management and Marketing in Somosaguas ( Madrid ).
ESERP High School in Madrid .
High Centre of Research and Teaching, located in the so-called Nuncio's Palace in Aranjuez .
URJC Rectorate Building
URJC Building located in Manuel Becerra
Square in Madrid
1st Department Building, Móstoles Campus
2nd Department Building, Móstoles Campus
2nd Classroom Building (right) and 2nd Laboratory Building (left), Móstoles Campus
The catalogue of studies of this university comprises: Computer Science , Chemical engineering , Environmental Science , Odontology , Infirmary , Physiotherapy , Audiovisual Communication , Telecommunications , Tourism , Journalism , Law , Economy , among others.
The Rey Juan Carlos University organizes its summer courses in the beautiful city of Aranjuez .