Madrid, Spain

According to, Madrid is the capital of Spain. The city is located in the central part of the country at the foot of the Sierra de Guadarrama at an altitude of 646 m.

​​The first mention of the city in historical documents dates back to the 9th century. In those days, the local territories were dominated by Muslim Arabs (Moors). During the reign of Emir Muhammad I, an impregnable fortress Majirit towered on the site of the modern city. It is believed that the name Madrid comes from the name of this medieval fortress. In the 11th century, the fortress and the city that grew around it were conquered from the Arabs by Christians. Madrid becomes the capital of Spain in 1561. Today the city is known as one of the most significant cultural centers in Europe: there are numerous historical and architectural monuments and major European museums.

One of the most significant buildings in the city is the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) – the official residence of the kings of Spain.. But members of the royal family do not live here, the palace is used for ceremonies and official receptions. It was on this spot that the Moorish fortress Majirit was built in the 9th century. Under the Habsburgs, the fortress was rebuilt into the Alcazar castle, which completely burned down in 1734. Under King Philip V, the founder of the Bourbon dynasty, the construction of a new palace began on the site of the burnt Alcazar. The palace was built between 1738 and 1764 according to the designs of the Italian architects Filippo Juvarra and Francesco Sabatini. Now the Royal Palace of Madrid considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. The best Spanish, Italian and German craftsmen worked on its interior decoration. Here are collected unique collections of paintings and sculptures, furniture, porcelain, clocks and musical instruments. In total, the palace has about 300 halls, 50 of which are open to the public. Museums such as the Museum of Painting and Decorative Arts, the Royal Library, the Numismatic Museum, the Museum of Music, the Royal Pharmacy and the Museum of Weapons are located here. The palace is surrounded by the vast park ensembles of Campo del Moro and Sabatini, the building of the Royal Opera House El Real (19th century), Plaza de la Armas and the main church of the city – Almudena Cathedral (19th century) adjoin the palace. A beautiful panoramic view of the Royal Palace and gardens opens from the oldest bridge in the city – Segovia, which was thrown over the Manzanares River at the end of the 16th century.

The most famous square in Madrid, Plaza Mayor, is adjacent to the Royal Palace. In the Middle Ages, the square was the main trading point of the city, a place for public executions and bullfights. In the center of the Plaza Mayor there is an equestrian statue of Philip III, on whose orders the square was built. Around the perimeter of the square there are buildings made in the Baroque style. Cafes and restaurants are located on the first floors of the buildings. In the vicinity of Plaza Mayor, there are the buildings of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the City Hall, the Church of San Pedro el Viejo with a 14th-century tower made in the Mudéjar style (a mixture of Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance styles), the Church of Santa Cruz (17th century), the baroque chapel of San Isidro (17th century), the Cathedral of San Miguel (18th century) and the Cathedral of San Andres Apostle (17th century), as well as the tower of Luhanes (15th century), built in the Moorish style.

A little to the east is the geographical center of Madrid and Spain – Plaza Puerta del Sol. A zero mark is set here, from where distances are counted throughout the country. On the square there are monuments to Charles III and the symbol of the city – “The Bear and the Strawberry Tree”. At the Post Office building (18th century) located on the square, which is crowned with a clock, residents of the city and tourists gather on New Year’s Eve to hear the ringing of the clock announcing the onset of the holiday. In the vicinity of the square, you can visit the convent of Descalzas Reales (16th century). Since its foundation, the monastery has attracted noble ladies who have lost their husbands or have never been married. Coming to the monastery, the ladies brought all their wealth. During the existence of the monastery, a lot of art objects and precious jewelry have accumulated here. Currently, a museum is open in the monastery.

To the east of the Plaza Puerta del Sol goes De Alcala street. At the beginning of the street is the Academy of Fine Arts, which exhibits works of art from the 15th to 20th centuries. Here you can see the work of Van Dyck, Rubens, Raphael, Titian, El Greco, Velazquez, Murillo, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Antonio Lopez-Garcia, Juan Luna and Fernando Botero. Also on De Alcala street is Plaza de la Cibeles. The area was named after the ancient Greek goddess Cybele. It is formed by four buildings: the Buenavista Palace (late 18th century), which now houses the General Staff of Spain, the Linares Palace (late 19th century), the Central Post Office (early 20th century, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city) and the Bank of Spain (late 19th century). In the center of the square is the fountain of the goddess Cybele (end of the 18th century), crowned with a statue of the goddess driving a chariot drawn by lions. At Plaza de la Cibeles, there is Plaza de la Independencia, where the monumental gate Puerta de Alcala, built at the end of the 18th century in honor of the arrival of King Charles III in Madrid, has been preserved.

Madrid, Spain

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