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This article is about the Spanish capital. For other entries, see Madrid (disambiguation).


Madrid, the capital of Spain, is located in the center of the country at 40°25'N, 3°45'W. The municipality has a population of 3,092,759.

Madrid is the capital not only of the country but also of the province and autonomous community of Madrid.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Modern Madrid
3 Madrid tourist attractions
4 Nightlife
5 Universities
6 Transportation
7 See also


German map of Madrid]]

After being situated in Toledo and Valladolid, in the 16th century, the capital city of the Spanish Empire was finally established in Madrid. Madrid's fortunes have closely mirrored those of Spain. Befitting its new found prosperity, the capital city of Spain has consolidated its position as the leading economic, cultural, industrial, educational, and technological center on the Iberian peninsula. Madrid is also the undisputed link between the Americas, especially South America, and Europe.

Modern Madrid

Modern Madrid came into its own after the death of the Fascist dictator Franco. Years of a brutal regime left Madrid and much the country in economic shambles due to isolation. With his death, Madrid and Spain as a whole began to re-assert itself on the international stage.

Modern Madrid ranks as an important city in Europe. By attempting to establish itself as the leading southern European city and the most important link between the European Union and Latin America, the city is still in the midst of its transformation.

The modern metropolis is home to over three million people. As expected with any major European capital city, each district (or barrio in Spanish) has its own feel.

Alonso Martínez

This district contains the large Plaza de Colón. This plaza commemorate Christopher Columbus, who was responsible for ushering in the Spanish imperial golden age of the 16th and 17th centuries. This district also contains the main bus terminal as it is a central point of the city. It is within walking distance of the main cultural and commercial areas of the city such as the Prado museum, the expansive Parque del Buen Retiro as well as near the business center on the lower part of the Paseo de la Castellana.


Atocha includes a rather large area which is bordered by the Huertas and Lavapiés districts. The two important sites located in this area are the Reina Sofía Museum and the Atocha Railway Station, one of the two main train stations in Madrid (the other one is Chamartín). The area also contains a number of art galleries and restaurants serving traditional food.

AZCA / Nuevos Ministerios

This is the financial district. The area is populated by skyscrapers, among them Torre Picasso, Edificio BBVA and Torre Europa. A very large (3 interconnected buildings) El Corte Inglés department store is also here. The area is directly linked to Barajas Airport by metro line 8 from Nuevos Ministerios station.


Chueca is among the most authentic and cosmopolitan neighborhoods in the downtown city center. This district was the site of major urban decay during the early 1980s. However, later on during the decade. it became one the most active centers of the so-called 'La Movida', largely due to its new-found status as a popular gay village. It is still quite attractive and has many good and interesting places to eat, as well as some of Madrid's most avant guard fashion and shoe shops.

Las Cortes

This district is small in size but packs a number of powerful sites. The most important include Spanish parliament buildings of the lower house Congreso de los Diputados as well as the upper house, the Senate (El Senado). It also includes one of the three museums of the Madrid golden triangle, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. In addition, we find the highly ornate Banco de España, the Café del Círculo de Bellas Artes, the Zarzuela theater.

Gran Vía

As the name implies, the Gran Vía district contains one of Madrid's most important avenues, the Gran Vía (literally, "Great Street") First and foremost it's a shopping street, but it also contains also a number of tourist accommodations, plenty of nightlife and most of Madrid's largest movie theaters. It is also unfortunately a hub for Madrid's red-light district, especially the side streets.


Traditionally one of the poorer neighborhoods near the city center, this district has maintained much of true 'Madrileño' spirit of the past. Lavapiés is one of the areas with a high concentration of immigrants, and also tends to attract artists and writers adding to the cosmopolitan mix. The presence of immigrants has lead to an inevitable variety of shops and restaurants - this is a good place for good and cheap restaurants of local and international food. It's also one of the best places to search for non-Spanish foodstuff, (herbs and spices etc.) Due to its immigrant character, there are fears (mostly unjustified) of crime in this district.

La Latina

In and around this area are the origins of Madrid. Its difficult to put precise boundaries on La Latina, because, like its immediate neighbors, streets are narrow and wind a lot. There are a few, though not many, spots for nightlife. There are also a number of attractive churches as well as Madrid's town hall. Bordering on La Latina's east side is the famous Rastro flea-market (a prime pick-pocket spot).


Malasaña is a vibrant neighborhood full of lively bars and clubs overflowing with young people. Its streets are currently being renovated, making it a much more attractive quarter (the streetworks are almost finished). It's one of the classic areas for partying the night away. The area's center is the Plaza del Dos de Mayo (celebrating the expulsion of Napoleon's forces from Madrid and consequently Spain).

Madrid tourist attractions

Important cultural and tourist spots include the so-called Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising the famous Prado Museum (with highlights such as Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas and Francisco de Goya's La Maja vestida and La Maja desnuda), the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum (where Pablo Picasso's Guernica hangs); the Plaza Mayor; the Gran Via; the Casón del Buen Retiro (hosting the 19th-century collection of the Prado Museum; currently closed for reform), the Palacio Real, the Templo de Debod, the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, the Puerta del Sol and the Parque del Retiro.

Other nearby towns are popular as day trips from Madrid, including Toledo, Segovia, Ávila, Aranjuez, Alcalá de Henares, the monastery and palace complex of El Escorial, and Chinchón.

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Madrid is also noted for its nightlife and discotheques. It's not uncommon for madrileños to dance all night, head to the Chocolateria San Ginés for chocolate y churros at dawn, go home, shower, shave, and go to work. This nightlife, called la movida and initially focussed on the Plaza del Dos de Mayo, flourished after the death of Franco, especially during the 80's while Madrid's most cherished mayor Enrique Tierno Galván was in office. A particular hub for this night activity is nowadays the nearby gay village of Chueca.


As expected by it status as the capital, Madrid is the largest hub in Spain for university life. Here is a list of schools for higher education.

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

The Complutense University has its origins in the 13th century on the banks of the river Henares. The university achieved the name "Complutense" due to the fact that it was originally situated in the town of Alcalá de Henares, whose Latin name was Complutum. In 1836 it was transferred to the city of Madrid. The Complutense University is one of the oldest universities in the world, as well as the largest and most prestigious (after Salamanca) in Spain. It has a staff of 10000 people and a student population of 117 000, located primarily in the university quarter Ciudad Universitaria at Moncloa.

Other Universities



Madrid is served by Barajas International Airport. Barajas serves as the main hub of recently privatized Iberia Airlines. It consequently serves as the main gateway to the Iberian peninsula from Europe and the rest of the world. Current passenger volumes range upwards of 40 million passengers per year. Given annual increases of 10%, a new fourth terminal is in the process of being constructed. It is expected to significantly improve delays and double the capacity of the airport. Additional runways are also being constructed.

National Rail

Spain's public railway system, the Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles (Renfe) operates the vast majority of Spain's railways. In Madrid, the main rail terminals are Atocha and Chamartín;.

The crown jewel of Spain's next decade of infrastructure construction is the Spanish high speed rail network, Alta Velocidad Española AVE. Currently, an ambitious plan includes the construction of a 7000 km network, centered naturally on Madrid. The overall goal is to have all important provincial cities be no more than 4 hours away from Madrid, and no more than 6 hours away from Barcelona. Currently, AVE high-speed trains link Atocha station to Seville in the south and Lleida in the east (to be extended to Barcelona).


Despite the city's population of some three million, the Madrid Metro is one of the most extensive and fastest-growing metro networks in the world. It is now the second largest metro system in Western Europe, second only to London's Underground. The city is also served by extensive commuter rail called Cercanías.

See also