"Madrid" Madrid by MM212

Madrid Travel Guide: 5,493 reviews and 11,281 photos

By Iberian standards, Madrid is a relatively new city. It was officially founded by the Arab Emir Mohamed I when, in the 10th century, he built a fortress (alcázar) on the site of el Palacio Real and named it Mayrit. The primary purpose of Mayrit was to protect Toledo, to its south, from the threat posed by the Christian north. While a small town did develop around alcázar in the following years, it was not until centuries later, when in 1561 Madrid was made the official capital of Spain, that a true city was born and grew into a capital befitting an empire. Today, with its several million inhabitants, monumental architecture, and rich culture, Madrid continues to be a magnificent capital of a glorious past and present.

Rich in history, culture, art, architecture, entertainment, and fine cuisine, Madrid is a fascinating place to visit. It is a city that never sleeps, with madrileños pouring into the streets in greater numbers during the night than in daytime. Late at night, whether at a bar, café, or in a plaza, is when madrileños are the most energetic. It is the best time to meet locals and to immerse oneself in local culture. Visitors often find it hard to manage both day time sightseeing and night time bar hopping, so best not forget that this is why the siesta was invented!

My first visit to Madrid was a quick weekend trip from Paris in January 1996. The city left such an impression that I returned in the following month (this time from New York) for a several day trip during which I was also able to see Segovia and Toledo. Then, after a ten-year absence, I returned in Easter 2006 to this beautiful city and found it equally fascinating. And again in November 2007 for quick 3-day trip. I've finally returned in Sep 2014 for a one night business trip.

  • Last visit to Madrid: Sep 2014
  • Intro Updated Sep 17, 2014
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