Madrid at a glance

San Nicolas
San Pedro

    The origin of Madrid is not associated with a place  known as such, but rather with an inhabited territory since Paleolithic  due to it's abundant  hunting and water. It kept  its ancient name of  "Matrice" (Mother of  waters) through the Roman and Visigothic ages. Madrid became a town with the arriving of Muslims.  That was the way they translated the primitive name for "Mayrit" which means, a stream between two  hills. In the year of 870 the Emir Muhammad the First ordered to build a Castle on the top of one  of those hills, mostly for military reasons, because "Mayrit" was a major  strategic point of defense for the town of Toledo  from Christians advance during the Reconquista. In 1083 King Alfonso VI had conquered the fortress, however the lands of Madrid weren't distributed among the feudal sirs, they were linked to the royalty.
 The king's long ruling greatly contributed to the growth of the city. Due  to the good geographical location (situated in the center of Spain), the Emperor Carlos I, transformed the Castle in a Royal Palace by establishing good economical, political, cultural conditions. In 1561 his son, King Felipe II, has declared Madrid a capital of Spain. King Carlos III, who's reign began in 1759, became known as the best Mayor of Madrid for his  efforts in urban developments, embellishment, lighting and public cleaning service. In 1808 Spain  was invaded by Napoleon.  On May 2th of that very year, the people of Madrid rebelled against the French army. Although the uprising was repressed, it the Napoleon Army wasn't able to impede the fight that extended all over the country.  It was  the beginning of the Guerra de la Independencia, and will finish in 1814 with the Spanish victory. When the King Fernando VII came back to Spain, he gave Madrid the title of  "Heroica" in addition to the older titles: "Muy Noble y Muy Leal" in gratitude of people's courage.   The XVII century is known as the Spanish Golden Age because of the profitable artistic creations. This converted Madrid into the main cultural center. Painters such as Velázquez moved to the Court to realize his genius work of art; the main writers come from Madrid and provinces, Cervantes,  Quevedo, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca. Born the Spanish lyrical sort par excellence, the Zarzuela, reaching the topduring c. XIX in Madrid, "La Gran Vía" by Chueca or "La Verbena de la Paloma" by Bretón are some examples of masterpieces. Finally, the XVIII century is mostly known for the masterworks of famous painter Francisco de Goya, who expressed the life and customs of the city, as well as the rebellion against French army. Madrid, a city with its own heroes, legends and folklore, is an open city to receive traditions from other Spanish provinces.

Plaza de Oriente
Banco Bilbao

    Madrid is a place to visit for: art and culture  museums, such as the Museo del Prado which is one of the most famous art galleries in the World, churches, theatres, beautiful architecture,  monuments like the Puerta de Alcalá, wonderful places as the Plaza Mayor, the Paseo del Prado or the Plaza de  Cibeles, magnificent buildings, the Palacio Real the Plaza de Toros de Las  Ventas. There are numerous parks throughout the  city, the main being the Parque del Retiro. This is the city where one can enjoy festivals and celebrations, bars and cafés and excellent cuisine. Other interesting places to visit around the city: Alcalá de Henares  (Cervantes´ home town),  Real Sitio de Aranjuez, Monasterio de El Escorial, Valle de los Caídos, Chinchón, as well as the beautiful landscapes of the  Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, which are excellent for skiing.

The legend says that this tree in Retiro park was brought to Madrid from Mexico by Hernán Cortés about 500 years ago!

Madrid, Summer of 2001
Home to St. Petersburg 

Last up date 08/01/01
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