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Villa de Madrid
Puerta de Alcalá at night, at bottom El Retiro gardens.
Flag of Villa de Madrid Coat of arms of Villa de Madrid
Flag Coat of Arms
Coordinates : 40° 23’N , 3°43′0″W
Time Zone : CET (GMT +1)
- summer: CEST (GMT +2)
General information
Native name Villa de Madrid (Spanish)
Spanish name Villa de Madrid
Founded 9th century
Postal code 28001-28080
Area code 34 (Spain) + 91 (Madrid)
Country Spain
Autonomous Community Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid
Province Madrid
Administrative Divisions 21
Neighborhoods 127
Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón (PP)
Land Area 607 km²
Altitude 667 m AMSL
Population 3,228,359 (city) / 5,561,748 (metro) (2005)
- rank in Spain: 1st
Density 5,198 hab./km² (2005)

Madrid is the capital of Spain and the largest city in the Iberian peninsula. It is also the third most populous city in the European Union after London and Berlin. Its economic and political importance, as well as its major cultural influence, rank Madrid as one of the major global cities of the world. Madrid is also the largest city in Spain, as well as in the province and the autonomous community of the same name. It is located on the river Manzanares in the center of the country, between the autonomous communities of Castilla-León and Castilla-La Mancha. Due to its economic output, standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered one of the major financial centers of the Iberian Peninsula, together with Barcelona and Lisbon. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political center of Spain.[1]

As the capital of Spain, Madrid is a city of great cultural and political importance. While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the huge Royal Palace of Madrid; the Teatro Real (Royal theatre) its restored 1850 Opera House, ; the Buen Retiro park, founded in 1631; the imposing 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain's historical archives; an archaeological museum of international reputation; and three superb art museums: Prado Museum, which hosts one of the finest art collections in the world, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace.[2]

The population of the city was 3.5 million (December 2005), while the estimated urban area population is 5.5 million. The entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area (urban area and suburbs) is calculated to be 5.84 million. The city spans a total of 607 km² (234 square miles).[3]

Following the restoration of democracy in 1975 and Spain's integration into the European Union, Madrid has played an increasing role in European finances, marking the city as one of the most important European metropolises. The residents of Madrid are called Madrileños, and the current mayor is Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, of the conservative Partido Popular.

See Wiktionary for the name of Madrid in various languages other than English and Spanish.



[edit] Names of the city and origin of the current name

Almudena's Cathedral, next to the Royal Palace.
Almudena's Cathedral, next to the Royal Palace.

There are numerous theories regarding the origin of the name, "Madrid". Madrid was founded by Ocno Bianor (son of King Tirenio of Tuscany and Mantua) and was named "Metragirta" or "Mantua Carpetana". Others contend that the original name of the city was "Ursa" ("bear" in Latin), due to the high number of these animals that were found in the adjacent forests, which, together with the Madrone tree ("madroño" in Spanish), have been the emblem of the city from the Middle Ages. Nevertherless, it is now commonly believed that the origin of the current name of the city comes from the 2nd Century B.C., when the Roman Empire established a settlement on the banks of Manzanares river. The name of this first village was "Matrice" (a reference to the river that crossed the settlement). Following the invasions of the Sueves, Vandals and Alans during the 5th Century A.D., the Roman Empire could not defend its territories on the Iberian Peninsula, and were therefore overrun by the Visigoths. The barbarian tribes subsequently took control of "Matrice". In the 7th Century the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula saw the name changed to "Mayrit", from the Arabic term "Mayra" (referencing water as a "mother" or "source of life") and the Ibero-Roman suffix "it" that means "place". The modern "Madrid" evolved from the Mozarabic "Matrit", which is still in the Madrilenian gentilic.[4]

[edit] History

Main article: History of Madrid

[edit] Middle Ages

Although the site of modern-day Madrid has been occupied since pre-historic times, in the Roman age this territory belonged to the diocese of Complutum (present Alcalá de Henares). But the first historical data on the city comes from the 9th century, when Muhammad I ordered the construction of a small palace in the same place that is today occupied by the Palacio Real. Around this palace a small citadel, al-Mudaina, was built. Near that palace was the Manzanares, which the Muslims called al-Majrīṭ (Arabic: المجريط, "source of water"). From this came the naming of the site as Majerit, which was later rendered to the modern-day spelling of Madrid). The citadel was conquered in 1085 by Alfonso VI of Castile in his advance towards Toledo. He reconsecrated the mosque as the church of the Virgin of Almudena (almudin, the garrison's granary). In 1329, the Cortes Generales first assembled in the city to advise Ferdinand IV of Castile. Sephardi Jews and Moors continued to live in the city until they were expelled at the end of the 15th century. After troubles and a large fire, Henry III of Castile (1379–1406) rebuilt the city and established himself safely fortified outside its walls in El Pardo. The grand entry of Ferdinand and Isabella to Madrid heralded the end of strife between Castile and Aragon.

[edit] Renaissance

Puerta de Alcalá, outside el Parque del Buen Retiro, was the gate used by merchants to enter the city to sell their goods at Sunday market.
Puerta de Alcalá, outside el Parque del Buen Retiro, was the gate used by merchants to enter the city to sell their goods at Sunday market.
Comunications Palace, also known as "Casa de Correos", in Cibeles Square.
Comunications Palace, also known as "Casa de Correos", in Cibeles Square.

The Kingdom of Castile, with its capital at Toledo, and the Crown of Aragon, with its capital at Zaragoza, were welded into modern Spain by the Catholic Monarchs(Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon). Though their grandson Charles I of Spain (also known as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor favored Madrid, it was Charles´ son, Philip II (1527–1598) who moved the court to Madrid in 1561. Although he made no official declaration, the seat of the court was the de facto capital. Sevilla continued to control commerce with Spain's colonies, but Madrid controlled Sevilla. Aside from a brief period, 1601-1606, when Felipe III installed his court in Valladolid, Madrid's fortunes have closely mirrored those of Spain. During the Siglo de Oro (Golden Century), in the 16th/17th century, Madrid had no resemblance with other European capitals: the population of the city was economically dependent on the business of the court itself.

[edit] End of Renaissance and early modern Madrid

Felipe V, Spain's first Bourbon King and, therefore, French, decided that a European capital could not stay in such a state, and new palaces (including the Palacio Real de Madrid) were built during his reign. However, it would not be until Carlos III (1716–1788) that Madrid would become a modern city. Carlos III was one of the most popular and benevolent Kings in the history of Madrid. He was popularly known at the time (and henceforth) as Madrid's best mayor. When Carlos IV (1748–1819) became King of Spain, the people of Madrid revolted. After the Mutiny of Aranjuez, which was led by his own son Fernando VII against him, Carlos IV resigned, but Fernando VII's reign would be short: in May 1808 Napoleon's troops entered the city. On May 2, 1808 (Spanish: Dos de Mayo) the Madrileños revolted against the invading French army, whose brute reaction would have a lasting impact on French rule in Spain and France's image in Europe in general.

After the war of independence (1814) Fernando VII came back to the throne, but soon after, a liberal military revolution, Colonel Riego made the King swear allegiance to Spain´s new (and first) Constitution. This would start a period where liberal and conservative governments alternated in power, that would end with the enthronement of Isabel II (1830–1904).

[edit] The 20th century in Madrid

Isabel II could not suppress the political tension that would lead to yet another revolt, the First Spanish Republic, and the return of the monarchy, which eventually led to the Second Spanish Republic and the Spanish Civil War. During this war (1936–1939) Madrid was one of the most affected cities of Spain and its streets became battlegrounds. Madrid was a stronghold of the Republicans from July 1936. Its western suburbs were the scene of an all-out battle in November 1936. It was during the Civil War that Madrid became the first city to be bombed by airplanes specifically targeting civilians in the history of warfare. (See Siege of Madrid (1936-39)).

During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, especially during the 1960s, the south of Madrid became very industrialized and there were massive migrations from rural environments into the city. Madrid's south-eastern periphery became an extensive slum settlement, which was the base for an active cultural and political reform.

After the death of Franco, emerging democratic parties (including those of left-wing and republican ideology) accepted Franco's wishes of being succeeded by Juan Carlos I - in order to secure stability and democracy - which led Spain to its current position as constitutional monarchy.

Befitting from the prosperity it gained in the 1980s, the capital city of Spain has consolidated its position as the leading economic, cultural, industrial, educational, and technological center on the Iberian peninsula.

[edit] 21st century

On 11 March 2004, Madrid was hit by a terrorist attack when terrorists placed a series of bombs on multiple trains during the rush hour, three days before the 14 March 2004 elections. This was the worst massacre in Spain since the end of the civil war in 1939. Madrid suffered another terrorist attack, on the part of ETA, 30 December 2006. An explosion took place in the building attached to Terminal 4 of Madrid Barajas International Airport.

See 2006 Madrid Barajas International Airport bombing

Europride 2007 (July 1) will be hosted by Madrid, Spain.

Madrid has also expressed its desire to become an Olympic city, and became a candidate for the 2012 games, which were awarded to London after Madrid was eliminated in the third round of the ballot. However, the mayor of the city has already stated that Madrid's Olympic dream did not end at Singapore, as the city will again present itself as a candidate to host the 2016 Olympic games.[5]

[edit] Economy and demographics

[edit] Economy from Middle Ages to 20th century

In the Middle Ages, the village experienced a big development as a consequence of the establishment of the new capital of the Spanish Empire in Madrid. The administrative functions that it held since then, as well as the centralist character of the government found by the house of Bourbon ("Casa de Borbón" in Spanish) triggered the development of the artisan activity, that turned into industrial since the middle of the 19th century, having its major expansion during the 20th century, especially after the Spanish Civil War, but never reaching European levels of industrialization. The economy of the city was then centered on diverse sectors such as those related to motor vehicles, aircraft, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, processed food, printed materials, and leather goods. Besides its many manufacturing industries.[6]

[edit] Economy from 1992 to 2006

New CTBA skyscrapers being built in Madrid.
New CTBA skyscrapers being built in Madrid.

Despite of the tendency of moving the production centers to industrial parks located in the outskirts of the metropolitan area, the city of Madrid remains as the second most important industrial center in the country, only exceeded by Barcelona. During this period, Madrid experienced a very significant growth in its tertiary activities. In this sense, the importance of the Barajas Airport for the city's economy is remarkable, adding to the administrative and financial functions associated with being the capital of Spain. Construction (housing and public works such as the ring structure of roads and trains system) has constituted a major pillar of the economy up to 2006. Nevertheless, Madrid, like the rest of the country, is lagging behind the rest of Europe in the introduction of new technologies.[7] In addition, inflation in Spain far above European average over this period has made Madrid and the rest of the country lose competitivity.

Nevertherless, regarding the city's Economic environment, it has also been stated that despite the growth of the economy of the country as a whole has been moderated compared to the last two quarters, the economy of the Autonomous Region of Madrid continued to grow in the second quarter of the year, above the rate for Spain as a whole, and for the EMU, reaching a year-on-year increase of 4.2%. The growth outlook for the city of Madrid points to a year-on-year increase of 4.0% in 2006[8] which makes Madrid one of the most dynamic and thriving cities in the European Union.[9]

Madrid is developing a new series of activities with a touristic, ludic and cultural character. The appointment of Madrid as European City of Culture in 1992 was a very important milestone in this process, encouraged both by public and private iniciatives.[10]

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