History of Madrid

  • Iglesia de los Jerónimos
    iglesiadelosjeronimos.jpg
  • Medieval Madrid
  • Hapsburg Madrid
  • Bourbon Madrid
  • La movida
  • Madrid in the 21st century

Magerit, ‘land rich in water’. This is how the Arabs called this area on the central plain of the Iberian Peninsula, close to Sierra de Guadarrama, where King Phillip II of Spain later established the royal court. Later on, it grew into the big city that’s come down to us.

The first historical record of Madrid dates back to the year 865, when Emir Muhammad I commissioned the construction of a fortress in the village of Mayrit, on the banks of the river Manzanares. ‘Mayrit’ means ‘plenty of waterways’, which is why the city’s first recorded coat of arms read, ‘I was built on water / My walls are made of fire / This is my flag and my coat of arms’. Madrid belonged to the Islamic world until 1083, when Alfonso VI of Castile took over the city.

Few vestiges have remained from this era. On Calle Mayor, next to the Institute of Italian Culture, there used to stand the Grand Mosque and, most probably, as in every Muslim city, the souk. On the site of the former mosque rose the Church of Santa María, of which some remains can still be seen. Close by, on Cuesta de la Vega, there’re parts of the old town walls that enclosed the medina or citadel. It was inside these walls that the Christians found a statuette of Virgin Mary with a candle that had been burning for over four hundred years at the time they seized the area. Almudena, derived from the Arabic al-mudayna that translates as ‘the little city’ or ‘citadel’, has been, since then, the name mostly used by Madrileños to refer to the Virgin.

Muralla cristiana

In the Medieval district of Madrid you can go to the National Archaeological Museum, with a really interesting collection of decorative objects from the Visigoth Kingdom of Toledo to the Late Middle Ages. The rooms dedicated to Medieval and Renaissance art in the Lázaro Galdiano Museum and the Prado Museum are well worth a visit too. It is also worth noting Madrid’s Christian City Walls, on which construction began after the fall of Toledo during the reign of Alfonso VI and continued, coinciding with the instability of borders and domains, during the 12th Century and first third of the 13th Century up to the year 1212.

USEFUL ADDRESSES 

 

  • Landmarks, museums, parks, medieval squares and stately homes are waiting for you in the traditional part of town, where you can find a bargain at El Rastro or go out for tapas.

    Classic Madrid
  • El Madrid más clásico
  • Discover the Spanish painter’s legacy. All of the works and places that represent the essence of the artist in Madrid.

    Goya’s Madrid
  • Estatua de Francisco de Goya / José San Bartolomé LLaneces © Museo Nacional del Prado
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  • Go back to seventeenth-century Madrid, the setting of the adventures of the popular captain created by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

    Alatriste’s Madrid
  • El Madrid de Alatriste - La rendición de Breda o  Las lanzas - Diego Velázquez
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  • Numerous gods and goddesses protect Madrid's streets, perched atop its fountains and on the rooftops of its tallest buildings, making the city a veritable Olympus.

    Mythological Madrid
  • Madrid mitológico. Ganímedes sobre el ave Fénix.

OFFICIAL PRODUCTS

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