Madrid today is a modern and exciting capital bustling with life whose history we can explore by strolling down its streets, through its parks, and by its monuments.
After belonging to the Moorish Kingdom of Toledo, the Reconquest of Spain reached Madrid in 1083, under Alfonso VI. Madrid’s oldest church, San Nicolás, dates from this period.
Reverence of San Isidro, the city’s patron saint, and the Virgen de Almudena, also began during this era.
Under the Catholic Kings the church of Los Jeronimos was built, but it was not until the era of the Habsburgs that Madrid would become the capital of the kingdom, and its cultural flowering would begin.
It is worth getting lost on a walk through the old Madrid de los Austrias quarter, from the Plaza Mayor to the Plaza de la Villa historic square, where one can view emblematic buildings like the Torre de los Lujanes tower and the Las Descalzas Reales convent while experiencing the ambiance of Madrid’s bustling city centre.
Felipe V, the first Bourbon monarch, commenced construction on the Royal Palace.
Carlos III, meanwhile, breathed new life into Madrid’s architecture by ordering the construction of the Puerta de Alcalá gate, the Cibeles and Neptune fountains, and the Museo del Prado building, today one of the world’s most important art galleries.
El Prado is part of the Art Triangle, whose other vertices are comprised of the Museo Thyssen and the Reina Sofía Contemporary Art Museum, in turn forming part of the Prado-Recoletos Axis, where the Botanical Garden and the Caixa Forum Foundation are located.
It was also Carlos III who opened the Parque del Retiro to the public. In it we find examples of architecture and sculpture ranging from the 17th to the 21st centuries, but it is also a place where locals and visitors alike converge and flock for leisure.
Madrid continues to grow today, evident in the new cityscape traced by its skyscrapers, including the Puerta de Europa, the Torre Picasso, and those located in the Cuatro Torres business park. Nearby we find the Santiago Bernabéu football stadium and the Real Madrid museum, one of the city’s most visited.
Madrid also enjoys a strategic geographical location, a hub from which one can quickly visit interesting sites like La Granja, Segovia, Aranjuez, Toledo and El Escorial.
Madrid is much more than the capital of Spain: it is history, music, cuisine and culture. A must-visit and a city you will not want to leave.