Madrid is the capital and most populous city of Spain. It is also the political, economic, and cultural centre of the country. In the European Union, only Berlin surpasses its size and its metropolitan area is only second to Paris. The Madrid urban agglomeration has the third-largest GDP in the European Union and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, environment, media, fashion, science, culture, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. Madrid is considered the major financial centre and the leading economic hub of the Iberian Peninsula and of Southern Europe, due to its economic capacity, high standard of living and market size.
The King of Spain has the official residence in the Zarzuela Palace. As the seat of the Government of Spain, Madrid also houses the official residence of the President of the Government (Prime Minister) and regular meeting place of the Council of Ministers, the Moncloa Palace, as well as the headquarters of the ministerial departments. Both the residences of the Head of State and Government are located in the northwest of the city.
Located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three art museums: Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which complements the holdings of the other two museums. The Prado Museum collection in Madrid is mainly based on paintings from the 16th to 19th centuries. Among his paintings, he has masterpieces by painters such as Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, El Bosco or Goya. Founded in 1992, the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid continues the periods that the Prado Museum does not cover, beginning to exhibit works from 1881, the year of Pablo Picasso's birth.
Although Madrid possesses modern infrastructure, the look and feel of many of its historic communities and streets have been preserved. Its attractions include the Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace of Madrid; the Royal Theater with its 1850 Opera House restored; the Buen Retiro Park, built in 1631; The National Library building of the 19th century (founded in 1712) contains some of the historical archives of Spain; numerous national museums and the Golden Triangle of Art, Cibeles Palace and Fountain have become one of the symbols of the town.
Day of Isidore the Laborer (San Isidro Labrador), the patron Saint of Madrid, is celebrated on the public holiday of May 15. According to tradition, Isidro was a farmworker and well manufacturer born in Madrid in the late 11th century, who lived a pious life and whose corpse was reportedly found to be incorrupt in 1212. On May 15, the Madrilenian people gather around the Hermitage of San Isidro and the Prairie of San Isidro often dressed with characteristic checkered caps and kerchiefs, dancing and eating in the streets.
Bullfighting was once (for some) a romanticized exhibition style of sport and art, and has been a Spanish cultural reference for centuries. Madrid hosts Spain 's largest bullring, Las Ventas, which was built in 1929. Las Ventas is considered the world centre of bullfighting by many and has a seating capacity of nearly 25,000. Las Ventas also hosts music concerts and other events outside of the bullfighting season.
If you would like to experience the love for football while in town, we would like to remind you that Madrid is home to the giant Real Madrid football team La Liga, who are playing their home games at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. The team is one of the world's most-followed clubs. Their popular home-town rivals, Atlético Madrid, are also well-supported in the city and they play their home games at the Metropolitano Stadium. Atlético is considered an elite European team, having reached three UEFA Europa League titles and two UEFA Champions League finals in the last ten seasons.
A great number of important road, rail and air links converge on the city, providing efficient links to other parts of the metropolitan area and to the rest of Spain and other parts of Europe. The Metro is the quick transit network that both serves Madrid and some suburbs. It allows you to access a great part of the city as this is Europe's second-longest subway network (after London). Cercanías Madrid, consisting of nine lines with more than 90 stations, is the commuter rail service used for longer distances from the suburbs and beyond into Madrid. These are quicker than the Metro with fewer stops within the city centre but run less regularly. This system has Metro (in 22 stations) and Light Metro connections. About half of all metropolitan area journeys are made by public transport, a very high proportion compared to most European cities.
Madrid has a Mediterranean inland climate. Regardless of its altitude, winters are cool with occasional snowfalls and regular frosts between December and February. Summers are dry, average temperatures in the warmest month of July range from 32 to 34°C depending on the place during the day. Precipitation is concentrated in the autumn and spring, and Madrid is the driest city in Europe, along with Athens which has equal annual precipitation. In the summer it is especially scarce, taking the form of around 2 showers and/or thunderstorms during the season.
If you plan to make a trip to the capital to renovate your wardrobe, it is more than recommended that you take note of the best areas to find everything you are looking for. The entire Puerta del Sol area, Preciados street and even Gran Vía are full of shops of all kinds. One of the main advantages of opting for these commercial areas is the great variety of establishments that they boast, something that allows you to stock up on a large number of disparate items without having to travel long distances. Walking through the Gran Vía, in the direction of Alcalá, we can access one of the streets with the most personality in Madrid: Calle Fuencarral. This kilometre space offers shops and establishments for an audience with a little more personality. If there is an exclusive shopping area in the capital that is the "milla de oro", in Serrano Street. Big brands and luxury are usually located in this area.
The Madrilenian cuisine has received plenty of influences from other regions of Spain and its own identity actually relies on its ability to assimilate elements from the immigration.
When visiting the local restaurants in The cocido madrileño, a chickpea-based stew, is one of the most emblematic dishes of the Madrilenian cuisine. The callos a la madrileña is another traditional winter speciality, usually made of cattle tripes. Other offal dishes typical in the city include the gallinejas or grilled pig's ear. Fried squid has become a culinary specialty in Madrid, often consumed in sandwich as bocata de calamares. Traditional desserts include torrijas (a variant of French toast consumed in the Easter) and bartolillos. If you stroll through the city’s centre you can just pass by awesome top-quality restaurants in Espartinas Street, Santa Teresa Street, Santa Maria Street, Ventura de La Vega Street, Jorge Juan Street. The gastronomical quantity and quality are immense!
Madrid is also home to the Madrid-Barajas Airport, the sixth-largest airport in Europe, handling over 40M passengers annually, of whom 70% are international travellers, in addition to the majority of Spain's air freight movements. Madrid's location at the centre of the Iberian Peninsula makes it a major logistics base.
The beaches in Valencia’s coast are the closest to Madrid. Costa da Valencia is a popular weekend getaway for many locals, because of the short distance. La Playa de La Malvarrosa is one of the closest beaches to the capital, in Valencia.
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