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DISCOVER MADRID



Capital city of Spain since 1562. It is the most populous city in Spain with 3,165,235 inhabitants according to the census of 2014, most due to the immigration boom during the period of 1940-1970. Its metropolitan area has 6,543,031 inhabitants making it the fifth most populous metropolitan area in Europe acts as headquarters for many international organizations such as: World Tourism Organization (WTO), the headquarters of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the Iberoamerican Organization Youth (OIJ), and the headquarters of the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB) among others.


In economic terms, it is the fourth richest city in Europe, after London, Paris and Moscow with a gross domestic product of 103,500 in 2005. The main economic activity of Madrid with 80% of the market are services which can be divided by financial services that accounts for 31.91%, trade 31.84% and other services with a 21.34%.

In its beautiful historical center you will find a huge catalog of historic buildings, government, museums, statues, galleries and public areas to spend a nice time during your visit to Madrid. You will not find any corner of Madrid that has no cultural value or beauty to admire. If the culture does not captivate you and just want to relax and have fun, Madrid also offers exceptional nightlife with a variety of bars, pubs, cafes and nightclubs for all tastes.

Location
Madrid is located in the center of the peninsula on a plateau between the mountains of the Central System, Iberian System and the Toledo Mountains. Its a average height of 667 meters above sea level (one of the highest capitals in Europe).

History
The city of Madrid has rich paleontological sites dating back to the middle Miocene era, about 18 million years ago, where now stands the bridge of Toledo Cerro San Isidro, hydropower, Moratines Street, stands the halt of O'Donnell the Imperial Station and Paseo de las Acacias.  By then dominated the presence of un-horned rhinoceros (Hispanotherium).

Madrid was founded by Mohamed ibd Abd al Rahman, son of Abderrahman II, who reigned between 852 and 886. He began to build a fortress on hill on which today the royal palace to monitor the steps of Christians traveling from the north. Later the fort was home to 932 Ramiro II and Alfonso VI.

In 1516 Madrid begins to grow because unofficially many consider it as the capital of the Hispanic world. One begins to see how the bureaucrats begin to take the largest buildings to establish their offices. Madrid grew furiously with the creation of new jobs created by the movement of money and influence.

Madrid did not gain real importance until Philip II moved the royal court there in 1561. This event made apparent the need for urban reforms to accommodate new flow of people to the city. Madrid's population triples and passes from 4,060 residents in 1530 to 37.500 in the year 1594. The rapid growth brought problems for the city. The discontent of the growing number of people from starvation and price hike begins to be apparent. People not longer fit into the walls and it was necessary to create another more economic belt around the city.

The urban area of Madrid during the reign of the Bourbon family experienced significant improvements. Toledo Bridge, the Royal Palace, healing and cleaning projects, cobbled streets, street lighting, and night surveillance among many other improvements built. 
 
The discontent of a crowd of people mainly from lack of food and implementation of new laws explode twice with the Esquilache riot on March 1766 and the Aranjuez riot  on March 1808 despite the attempts of the royal Bourbon family promote economic, urban and cultural development of the city. Shortly after, the development of Madrid came to an abrupt end as a consequence of the Napoleonic wars and will not be recovered until the third decade of the nineteenth century.

Weather
The climate of Madrid is a Mediterranean climate and is heavily influenced by the altitude and the surrounding mountains. The average temperature of the region is 15° C. Winters are cold and dry with temperatures dropping to an average of 10° C. The hottest months are July and August with average temperatures reaching 20° C. Madrid annually receives 420 mm of precipitation; July and August are the months with less rain.

Gastronomy
To define Madrid cuisine is not an easy task. Its dishes are created using the best recipes, traditions and ingredients from the kitchen of immigrants who have come to call Madrid home through its history. There are a multitude of dishes made with fish due to the great quality fish market in the city, the second largest in the world after Tokyo to be more specific. Some dishes must try during your visit are: Madrid stew, tripe, garlic soup, baked sea bream accompanied with tortilla and a glass of local wine.

Activities

Shopping
Madrid promises a pleasant afternoon of shopping in the city. Its streets are adorned with shops and boutiques of all styles from modest local designers to prestigious international designers. The main shopping areas can be divided into 4 areas.

Zone 1 consists of the Golden Mile and Goya commercial area. In this area, located between the Calle de Alcalá and Paseo de Recoletos, you'll find the most exclusive of Madrid international and national fashion shops and jewelry. Most notably: Dior, Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Giorgio Armani,
Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada.

Zone 2 consists of the Vanguard Road located between Fuencarral, Hortaleza and Sagasta Street. The area is characterized by its youth and modern brand alternative stores, comics, book, tattoos and art and decor shops.

Zone 3 is known as the heart of the city located northwest of zone 2. The areas that make up the area are La Puerta del Sol and Gran Via. Its historic streets are home to a variety of shops, restaurants and hotels.  Its streets are among the busiest in Europe and offer many places to visit and places of entertainment.

Zone 4 is undoubtedly the most traditional of all areas. Zone 4 is located around Calle de Toledo and El Rastro up to the Plaza Mayor. In the area includes traditional small shops, cafes and restaurants. Take advantage of the great deals to take home a nice souvenir.

No important area in which you find yourself, you do not forget; Madrid clothing is elegant so you need to go shopping to keep yourself looking great.

City tours
There is no better way to see the beautiful architecture, old neighborhoods and most spectacular places of the city then by a guided city tour. Enjoy tours on foot or by transport. You can choose from dozens of tour guide companies, or if you prefer, hire a private guide for a more intimate experience throughout the city. For your convenience, most guides speak the languages most commonly spoken by tourists. Madrid boasts an impressive number of museums, sculptures and art galleries to visit. Do not miss the opportunity to see for yourself.

Bodies of Water
Although the sea does not reach Madrid; the city boasts pristine lakes from melting mountain water highlighting: the natural pools of The Pastures, The clips of Rascafría, Marsh of San Juan, natural pool Riosequillo and Green Pond La Pedriza.

Natural pools of The Pastures


The pools are the most frequented by the locals during the summer. They are located in the path of Arroyo de la Venta. When pools began operating in 1978 using 100% natural water but were subsequently treated with chlorine. General Admission is 5.50 euros. Among the facilities you will find include picnic area bar, lawns, bathrooms, locker rooms and an infirmary.

The Rascafría dams

Natural pools located in the Valley Paular 50 km north of downtown Madrid. Its waters are shallow. The park is divided into three pools located in the bed of the river Lozoya. In its surroundings you will find large green areas with tables, kiosks, toilets and garbage cans that families refer for get togethers. Free admission.

San Juan Marsh

It is distinguished by being the only reservoir of Spain where swimming is allowed. Located 50 kilometers south of Madrid along the M-501 between San Martín de Valdeiglesias, El Tiemblo, Cebreros y Pelayos de la Presa. Marsh San Juan has 14 kilometers of beach surrounding it that visitors frequent especially on weekends between June and September.

Natural swimming Riosequillo

In the community of Buitrago of Lozaya 60 kilometers north of Madrid it is one of the big pools around Madrid, the natural pool of Riosequillo. The Canal de Isabel II with a size of 4,500 square meters built the pool in 1993. It is peculiar to other pools for using water directly from the Riosequillo Reservoir. In the surroundings you will find restaurants, dressing rooms and utilities, children's games, sports area, green areas and first aid station.

Charca Verde

Charca Verde, sometimes known as the beach of the Madrid mountains, located in La Pedriza. Its picturesque passages and fresh clear water makes it a popular place for bathers during the warm days during summer. This small pool of 20 meters in diameter is excluded from the fast life of the city, perfect for anyone looking to spend a quiet, relaxing evening. To get here you have to walk half an hour from the nearest parking.

Art Walk

You will not find anywhere else with the concentration of culture and beauty in Madrid or the world like the Art Walk. In the corridor a little more than a kilometer in length are 15 institutions, museums prestigious galleries in the city. These include: Museo del Prado, Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Reina Sofia Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Mapfre Foundation. Sala Recoletos, Casa de America, CentroCentro Cibeles Palace, Naval Museum, National Museum of Decorative Arts, Royal Botanic Gardens, CaixaForum Madrid, Royal Observatory of Madrid, Teatro Circo Price, The House On and the National Library. Not all sites are free to enter. Do not forget to bring money. The price usually ranges between 3 and 7 euros.

Sites of Interest

El Rastro

Outdoor market opened Sundays and holidays in the historic center of Madrid. El Rastro got it name given that it was a slaughterhouse at its early stage in the late fifteenth century. At the end of the eighteenth century slowly other traders began to offer their products. It was not until 1928 that slaughterhouses moved to the neighborhood of Legazpi. The market grew and grew to have more than 3,500 stands in 2000 of which most sell second-hand goods. In the market you will find everything from shoes, furniture to books, and more.

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

Sports Complex owned by Real Madrid Football Club, inaugurated on December 14, 1947 after three years of construction. It is located on the Paseo de la Castellana , in the district of Chamartin in Madrid. In the beginning it was called Real Madrid Football Club Stadium and had a capacity for 75,145 spectators. The stadium underwent several renovations over the years. The first was in 1954 with the lateral expansion to accommodate 125,000 spectators. The second took place in 1966 when the stadium was chosen as headquarters by FIFA and was forced to reduce the amount standing spectators from 125,000 to 90,800 to comply with the Official Rules.  Hire a Bernabéu Tour to learn more about this wonderful stadium.

Cibeles Fountain

One of the most significant fountains in Madrid recognized by the locals as La Cibeles.  Architect Ventura Rodríguez designed the fountain in 1782. Located in the historic center of Madrid at the intersection between the Paseo de Prado and Calle Alcalá. The source can find the goddess Cibeles on a cart pulled by a pair of lions. Communications Palace, the Palace of Buenavista, the Bank of Spain and the Palacio de Linares are some iconic structures adorn its surroundings. It is currently used as a preferred place to celebrate the victories of Real Madrid.

Gran Vía

One of the main streets in Madrid that many compare to Times Square in New York.  Gran Vía passes through the center of Madrid for 1.3 kilometers from Alcalá Street up to Plaza of Spain. The proyect was approved in August 1904 and construction began on April 4, 1910 of the need to connect the city center to the north.  It was necessary to demolish 312 houses and expropriated 30 plots for construction. A walk along the Gran Vía will leave you mesmerized by the beauty and detail of the surrounding buildings. Along the route you will find a world of shops, theaters, cafes and restaurants that fill the ground floor of the buildings as well as bustling squares.

Prado Museum

The building where today is located the Prado Museum was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785 by order of Charles III. From its humble beginnings with a catalog of 311 paintings, the Prado Museum has grown into one of the most important museums throughout Spain. Its more than 27,000 works are witness to this. Its collection includes 7,825 paintings, 8,637 drawings, 5,493 engravings, 932 sculptures (besides 154 pieces), 1,101 pieces of decorative arts, 38 weapons and armor, 2,155 medals and coins, 981 photographs, 155 maps and 4 books. Its recommend to reserve all the morning to be able to tour the entire museum. General admission 14 euros, 23 euros entry with guide. The museum also has locker service, bookstore, café, auditorium, conference room, shop and library.

Royal Palace

Residential office of the King of Spain although the current kings lives in the Palacio de la Zarzuela. Its main use is for state ceremonies, receptions and ceremonial events. Its 3.418 rooms make it the largest royal palace in Western Europe. It is also known as the Palacio de Oriente given its location next to the Plaza de Oriente. The original palace was built by Philip V in 1734 but rebuilt to its current state after a fire. The new palace was commissioned the architect Filippo Juvarra in a more dignified baroque style of the time. Its stylish interior displays paintings, fine furniture and decorations worthy of a King.

Wonder at the main staircase, designed by Juan Bautista Sacchetti, made of marble and granite, the painted ceiling of the Throne Room and many other impressive works protects the Royal Palace. Its facade, restored in 1973, features some sculptures of famous people and the shield of Spain. In surroundings you will find the Armory Square, Plaza de Oriente, Campo del Moro and Sabatini Gardens.

El Retiro Park

Huge oasis gardens, green areas and sculptures in an area of 188 hectares that allows locals to unwind from the bustle of city life. Not only is the park the lungs of the city, also serves as a hotbed of culture and sport. Walk paths on foot, bike or inline skates, take a boat ride, or enjoy ice skating classes in the winter. There are activities for everyone. Enjoy puppet shows, puppet shows, musicians, hand readers, diviners and seers.

Bullring Las Ventas

Imposing bullring located in Guindalera in the Salamanca district of Madrid which measures 61.5 meters in diameter with capacity for 23,793 spectators. Built in 1929 by architect Joseph Espelius. Its size distinguishes it is as the third largest forum in the world after the Monumental Bullring Mexico City and the Plaza de toros Monumental de Valencia, Venezuela. Hire a tour to learn all about the square and the bullfighters, or if you prefer, come during the bullfighting season from March to October and witness how bullfighters tame these fearsome animals.

Main Square

In the heart of Madrid it is the charming old square renamed several times during its history. Originally named Plaza del Arrabal after architect Juan Gomez de Mora Spanish built it in 1619.  Later called: Plaza de la Constitución, Plaza Real, Plaza de la República and finally Plaza Mayor. During its history the square suffered three major fires. The first of these occurred in 1631, second in 1670 and the third and most harmful of 1790, destroyed 1/3 of the square. After this incident the buildings were reduced in size from 5 to 3 floors.

In the center of the square you can see the statue of Felipe III created by Italian sculptor Giambologna and his disciple Pietro Tacca in 1616 and set in place in 1848. An interesting aspect of the square is the uniformity of the buildings around which it can be credited to the architect Juan Gómez de Mora in order to create a backdrop for popular flamboyant celebrations, bullfights, beatifications, coronations and religious celebrations.

What once was market site, now offers ample place where locals can shop or dine at some of the stores that are set around the square. The Plaza Mayor has also become an important stage for festivals and concerts throughout the year.

Puerta de Alcalá

One of the five former royal gates that gave access to the city of Madrid. It is located at the roundabout in the intersection of Calle de Alcalá and Calle de Alfonso XII. Puerta de Alcalá was inaugurated in 1778 by Francisco Sabatini, Italian architect who is credited with the construction or restoration of many significant works Madrid and Royal Palace of Madrid, Real Casa de la Aduana, Convent of San Pascual de Aranjuez, and San Francisco el Grande Basilica among other works.

Sun Gate

One of the most famous and busiest squares in Madrid just steps from the Plaza Mayor. Built between 1854 and 1860. His name comes from being the place where originally was located one of the doors that opened into the city which was adorned with a figure of the sun. Within the semicircular the square youl`ll find the Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, The Clock House Post and Kilometer Zero.

Temple of Debod

Egypt old building, dedicated to the gods Amon and Isis, located in the center of Madrid west of the Plaza of Spain. Temple Debub was one of the four temples that were donated to various partner nations in the international uprising to save the temples of Nubia, among these include: Dendur to the United States, Ellesiya to Italy, Taffa to Holland and Debod to Spain. Originally the temple was build at the beginning of the second century. C. by King Nubian Adijalamani of Meroe in a small town of Debod on the banks where the river Nile crosses the Tropic of Cancer.

The original temple was dismantled in 1961; the stones were put in boxes and boats shipped to Madrid and then by truck to its current site. The temple was rebuilt using the anastylosis method and opened to the public on July 18, 1972.