Stop and Visit Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

Madrid is the capital and largest city in Spain, as well as the capital of the autonomous community of the same name, the Comunidad de Madrid.  The city has a population of nearly 3.4 million, making it the third-largest city within the European Union after London and Berlin, and its extended metropolitan area, with a population of roughly 6.5 million, is also third-largest in Europe, after London and Paris. Madrid is unquestionably the political, cultural and economic hub of Spain, and although the city now boasts a very modern infrastructure and the third-largest GDP in the European Union, it continues to have a comfortable old-world feel and welcoming atmosphere, making it one of the most oft toured cities in all of Europe.

Madrid is located in the center of the Iberian Peninsula on the banks of the Manzanares River. It has an average altitude of 650 meters and a continental climate, featuring dry, hot summers and fairly cold winters, characterized by overnight frost and the occasional snowfall.  Nearly all of the city’s tourist areas are located in the city’s center, including the well-known areas of Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, and Plaza de Colón. The major streets in Madrid include the Gran Via, Alcalá Street, and Paseo de la Castellana.

The culture and landscape of Spain can best be described as a unique mixture of conservatism and liberalism.  Enormous churches and cathedrals are plentiful throughout the city, as are cafes, bookstores, bars and clubs, featuring some of the liveliest nightlife on the planet.  In fact, Madrid has the largest number of bars per capita of any European city and a very active social scene, as some Madrileños (citizens of Madrid) and tourists are known to literally dance the night away, often partying until as late as 5AM-7AM.

The lifestyle of the Madrileños—or the more traditional yet seldom used term “gatos” (cats)—is heavily influenced by the city’s climate.  Some of the more traditional citizens still practice the midday “siesta”—a break from the heat of the midday sun—although most Madrileños can only afford this luxury on holidays and weekends.  Tourists will be happy to know that most of the stores in Madrid now remain open throughout the day, as do restaurants and other must-see attractions including the Santiago Bernabeu, home of Real Madrid, nominated the best club of the 20th century by FIFA. See here for Real Madrid tickets Primera Division.
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A few of the interesting neighborhoods to check out when visiting Madrid include:

  • Barrio de las Letras/Huertas.  Once home to some of Spain’s most famous writers, including Cervantes and Quevedo, this neighborhood abounds with unique architecture and plays host to the Plaza de Santa Ana, a breathtaking city square.
  • Tribunal/ Malasaña.  This alternative area is considered an ideal destination for young locals, tourists or anyone wishing to enjoy the cafes, bookstores and nightclubs of Madrid.
  • Salamanca.  Looking to shop?  If so, the Salamanca, with a bounty of charming boutiques, unique shops and department stores is definitely the place to be.

Of course, these are just a few of the countless places to explore when visiting this bustling and fascinating city, but whether you’re goal is to experience remarkable history, visit museums, art galleries and majestic architecture, shop for souveneirs, or dance the night away at one of over a hundred bars and nightclubs, there is simply no better place to be than the exhilarating city of Madrid, Spain.