History of Madrid and what to see?
History of Madrid: when it arose, who founded it, what wonderful buildings were built there?
Madrid is the capital and largest city of the Kingdom of Spain. It is located in the very center of the Iberian Peninsula and is the largest economic, political, cultural and geographical center of the country. The city is located on an area of 700 square kilometers and consists of 21 administrative districts.
The population of the city is about 3.5 million people
A Brief History of Madrid
Although archaeological excavations indicate that there were Visigoth settlements near modern Madrid, the official history of the city dates back to the 9th century. When the Emir of Cordoba Muhammad I built a small fortress here along with a palace.
It originated on the banks of the Manzanares River, approximately in the same place where the Royal Palace now stands. The Arabs called Manzanares “El Majerit” (literally: “source of water”) – it was it that over the centuries was transformed into a name familiar to everyone.
In 1085, Alphonse VI of Castile conquered this city from the Arabs, but over the next few centuries the settlement had the character of an ordinary, that is, completely unremarkable fortress, not far from the border with the Mauritanian regions of Spain.
Only in 1561, by order of Philip II, did the royal court move to this city, although Madrid is not officially declared the capital of the entire (then) vast Kingdom of Spain. What prompted the “ruler of half the world” to take this rash step, history cannot give an answer.
It is possible that Philip, known for his harsh and unsociable character, was attracted by the completely lifeless mountainous area in which this city is located. No wonder his huge palace and monastery arose there – how to get to the Escorial for free.
It is also possible that geographical perfection also played a role – the city is located almost equidistant from eastern, western, northern and southern Spain, representing the absolute center of the country.
However, until the 18th century, Madrid could not be compared with any of the European capitals – the city existed solely for and at the expense of the royal court. The royal court, according to etiquette, spent too much time in other castles, including Escorial.
Only with the accession of the Bourbons (Philip V) urban plans begin to take on clear outlines: a truly royal palace appears in the city, regular European streets are built, palaces of the nobility grow, parks are created.
Philip’s heir, Charles III makes Madrid a real European capital. Work is underway to improve the city, the medieval walls are partially destroyed.
The famous gates of Puerta de Alcala are erected, a porcelain factory appears in the Buen Retiro Park, the Madrid Botanical Garden is laid, the vast Paseo del Prado Boulevard is laid out and the building of the Prado Museum is designed, the Reina Sofia Museum is founded …
In 1789, already after the death of Charles III, the census recorded that the inhabitants of the capital were already about 140,000 people.
In 1808, the city was captured by the army of the Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte. In May 1808, an uprising broke out, which, although it was brutally suppressed by the invaders, resulted in a war of liberation, a “guerilla”, with the support of the British, which finally broke the back of the invaders.
In the second half of the 19th century, another restructuring of the city began, which continued throughout the beginning of the 20th century. The remains of the fortress walls were broken, and new wide streets and boulevards were laid in their place.
The construction (1879) of Madrid’s first cathedral, Santa Maria la Real de La Almudena, was finally begun, completed only in 1993. Beautiful public and commercial buildings emerged, such as the Palace of the Library and Museums, which is home to the National Library of Spain, the Archives of Spain and the Museum of Modern Arts, the Metropolis Building at the intersection of Calle de Alcala and Gran Via, the monumental structure of the Bank of Spain.
War and Restavration
In 1936-1939, Spain was in a state of civil war and it is not surprising that Madrid became the scene of the most fierce fighting. From July 1936 to March 1939 the city was a stronghold of the Republicans and was seriously damaged during the fighting.
Madrid became the first city in the world to have its civilian population bombarded by aircraft. During Franco’s rule, the southern part of the capital underwent global industrialization, and the population grew significantly due to migrants from the poorer areas of Spain.
In 1975, the restoration of the monarchy took place in Spain, and King Juan Carlos II ascended the throne, ruling to this day. Significant changes have taken place in the country and its capital, both in political and cultural life. And first of all, they are associated with the return of the status of the royal capital of Madrid, as well as the growth of the well-being of its inhabitants.
Note that Madrid is not the historical capital of the country, unlike, say, Toledo, and became such only at the behest of King Philip II. A gloomy and self-centered person who considered himself as a personification of Spain..
For this reason, the main city of the vast kingdom is located in a deserted and very dry place. In a word, ill-suited for a large city… Today, however, there are enough green spaces, gardens and parks in Madrid!
Top attractions of Madrid
The main attractions of the Spanish capital are its museums. There are a lot of them here, and some of them claim the championship not only in Spain, but in general in the world. First of all, you should visit in Madrid:
The Prado Museum, founded in the reign of King Charles III, that is, in the era of the so-called “enlightened absolutism”. In 1819 it received the status of the Royal Museum.
It is the largest in Spain and also claims to be the largest art museum in the world. The Louvre in Paris, however, will certainly want to argue – how to get to the Louvre for free.
The Reina Sofia Museum is dedicated to contemporary art, it contains the creations of such great masters as Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso. It is here that the famous “Guernica” by Picasso is located, dedicated to the barbaric bombardment of the Basque city by fascist aircraft.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which was once a private collection. It was bought out in 1993 by the Spanish government and is now state-owned. It contains an exceptionally rich collection of paintings from various eras and trends: from the Renaissance to the works of the Impressionists, Surrealists, Cubists…
In addition to the baron’s collection, bought out by the state, the collection that remained in the family’s ownership has been exhibited here for a long time. Since the head of the family, Carmen Thyssena-Bornemisza, renews the lease over and over again.
All three of the above museums, known as Madrid’s “Golden Art Triangle”, are within walking distance of each other on the famous Prado Boulevard. One of the most famous pedestrian streets in Madrid. The boulevard stretches from Cibeles Square to Atocha Square.
Also, once in Madrid, you can not help but
Plaza Mayor. It was created during the reign of King Philip III from 1617 to 1619, designed by the architect Juan Gomez de Mora. Since then, and still serves as the central square of Madrid – its name, in fact, is translated as follows: “main square”
Puerta del Sol (translated from Spanish – “Gate of the Sun”). It is located on the site of the former fortress gates. It is the central point of the city and the official central point of the whole country.
It is here that the so-called “zero kilometer” is located, from which all distances in Spain and the famous monument “The Bear at the Strawberry Tree” are measured.
Plaza de España, located near the Royal Palace. The royal palace, built in 1738-1764, resembles the French Versailles in its splendor, and perhaps even surpasses the latter in size.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena, patron saint of the city. The main temple of Madrid rises on the square directly opposite the royal palace and was consecrated in 1993.
Encarnacion Monastery – built in the 17th century by Queen Margaret of Austria
Bullring “Las Ventas”. It was built by the architect Ayuso in the neo-Moorish style and can accommodate 23,000 spectators.
The Buen Retiro Park, spread over an area of 40 hectares, is the largest and most famous park in Madrid.
The Sorolla Museum, for it is one of the iconic sights of the Spanish capital. Located in the personal home of the famous Spanish impressionist.