Madrid 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 is characterized by intense cultural and artistic activity and a very lively nightlife. Coat of Arms
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. Remaining of the distant past are mainly the Baroque and neoclassical structures of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), the Palacio Real (Royal Palace).
Henry III of Castile (1379-1406) rebuilt the city after Madrid's big fire .
The kingdoms of Castilla, with its capital at Toledo, and Aragón, with its capital at Zaragoza, were welded into modern Spain by Charles I of Spain. Though Charles favored Madrid, it was his son, Philip II (1527-1598) who moved the court to Madrid in 1561.
End of Renaissance and early modern Madrid Felipe V decided to build new palaces (including the Palacio Real de Madrid). However, it would not be until Carlos III (1716-1788) that Madrid would become a modern city. Carlos III was one of the most popular kings in the history of Madrid, and the saying "the best mayor”
The 20th century in Madrid Isabel II could not calm down the political tension that would lead to yet another revolt, the First Spanish Republic, and the comeback of the monarchs, which eventually led to the Second Spanish Republic and the Spanish Civil War. During this war (1936-1939) Madrid was one of the most affected cities and its streets were battle zones. Madrid was a stronghold of the Republicans from July 1936. Its western suburbs were the scene of an all out battle in November 1936, when the Nationalist forces tried to take the city. Thereafter, the city was besieged for almost three years, until it surrendered in March 1939. It was during the Civil War that Madrid became the first city to be bombed by airplanes specifically targeting civilians.