Introduction and Information, MadridHOME | Destinations | Madrid
Madrid is Spain's Largest City
Introduction and Information
A Brief Introduction to Madrid, Spain
Madrid is the capital of Spain, as well as the capital of the autonomous community of the same name (Comunidad de Madrid). It is Spain's largest city, with a population of over 6 million in the metropolitan area and is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage, a good example of which is the El Prado Museum. Madrid also boasts some of the liveliest nightlife in the world.
The Location of Madrid in Spain
Madrid is located a little north east from the geographical center of the Iberian Peninsula, in the middle of the Spanish central Castillian plateau (Meseta central), at an average altitude of 650m. Nearly all of the most famous tourist areas are located in the historical centre of Madrid, middle south of the city: Puerta del Sol in the middle, Plaza Mayor a little to the south, Palacio Real to the west, and Plaza de ColÃ³n to the north-east. Some of those hot spots spread up past the Gran Via, which is one of the main streets in Madrid (the largest one being AlcalÃ¡ Street, followed by the Paseo de la Castellana).
The climate of Madrid is continental; mainly dry and quite extreme at times, with frequent rain in winter. Madrid sees perpetual sunshine and a characteristically hot temperature in the summer, but with a fairly cold temperature in the winter. Spring and autumn are fairly temperate with most rainfall concentrated in these seasons, together with winter. Spring is definitely the best time to visit, especially the months of April and May. Rainfall occurs sporadically, and snowfall is not something that happens every year in the city, but there is abundant snowfall in the adjacent mountain ranges nearby.
The culture of Madrid was dominated by its religious and Royal history. Enormous, monolithic cathedrals and churches are plentiful in Madrid, as well as medieval architecture, although nowadays Madrid is just as much a cosmopolitan city as Berlin or London, full of new architecture, lifestyle and culture. Madrid was also the capital of the Franquist dictatorship (1939-1975) and the city still seems to represent a conservative part of Spain to many Spaniards. However, the city is also the epicentre of the famous Movida, Spain's 80s punk movement that bred personalities such as the director Pedro AlmodÃ³var. The heritage of this era is indeed still visible in the city centre, where a party can be found at all times and one of the most liberal and colourful environments of Spain can be seen. The city centre is also known for its great gay tolerance.
The citizens of Madrid, who refer to themselves as Madrileos or the more traditional and currently seldom used term "gatos" (cats), live by a daily routine that is heavily influenced by the climate. Due to the typically extreme midday heat, a "siesta" is observed during which some citizens take a break to cool off, though MadrileÃ±os can usually only afford this 'luxury' during holidays and weekends. Most stores are open all day, just small stores are often closed during this time. Workers and those more afflicted by Western lifestyles choose not to observe this long break and work traditional business hours, which are usually between 9am and 6-7pm. During summer many offices, however, will have a summer schedule requiring workers to start at 8am and finish at 3pm (most commonly without the standard 1-2 hour break for lunch). Offices usually close during the weekend but businesses are often open Saturday morning. Most grocers are closed on Sundays, but some major chain and department stores linked to "culture" (books, music, etc.) will be open throughout the day as it is allowed by law.