Introduction to Madrid
With settlement in this area since prehistoric times, it’s fair to say Madrid has worn a few different sombreros. Spain’s capital, Madrid, has variously been a Roman village, a fortified city under the Moors, the political centre of the Spanish monarchy since the 16th century and then a war-torn metropolis during the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939).
Modern-day Madrid is now home to over 3 million people and more than 6 million in the metro region. With the Old City within the city centre, visitors can see how the capital has embraced its past while looking towards the future with well-preserved historic barrios and streets as well as spacious city squares, classical manicured gardens and medieval alleyways juxtaposed with modern infrastructure, futuristic edifices and structures, fashion weeks and international music festivals.
After the death of General Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from 1936 to 1975, the post-Franco Madrid saw an explosion of freedom of expression and ideas that are now starting to come together. The reinvented capital is known as a cultural destination with a plethora of museums, attractions and traditional pastimes, as well as having a renowned after-hours scene where the party doesn’t get started until 3am in a city that’s said to contain the most bars and clubs in Europe per capita. Madrid is also one of Europe’s largest financial centres and a world economic leader where the traditional siesta has now sadly been relegated to weekends and public holidays, but hey, that’s progress!
Locals, known as Madrileños, reside in one of the most cosmopolitan and gay-friendly cities in Europe with a variety of cultures and people from all continents calling Madrid home. This mix has delivered one of the most liberal and vibrant communities in Spain where art, culture and ideas come together for the benefit of Madrileños and visitors alike.