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History of Madrid, Spain

The history and orientationThe city of Madrid is located on the Castilian plain or meseta (center of Spain). It was initially settled by the Moors around 852 AD. The Moors first built an alcazar (or f...

The history and orientation

The city of Madrid is located on the Castilian plain or meseta (center of Spain). It was initially settled by the Moors around 852 AD. The Moors first built an alcazar (or fortress) with the intention of protecting themselves from the Christian forces coming from the north. According to a general belief, they chose this specific location because of the Manzanares stream that offered a rich water supply. The city’s name, Madrid, is believed to be derived from the Arabic word for “source of water” or “stream”.

After approximately two centuries, in 1085, the city of Madrid was conquered by the Christians, it continued to remain a small settlement. It became big when King Philip II decided to establish his court in the city, in 1561. By that point Madrid’s population continued to grow rapidly. In just a century it went from about 20,000 people to a little more than 150,000. Experiencing such rapid development, Madrid became one of the most powerful cities in the empire. Despite the fact that Spain had numerous enemies at the time, Madrid still managed to grow. We can still see the leftovers of the early dynasties in present day Madrid: old buildings and construction projects, such as the Plaza Mayor (1590-1790), the City Hall (1630) and the Royal Palace (1764), built before the Moorish Fortress was burned to the ground, at around 1734.

The modern Madrid

Going past the main historic periods (such as the French, Bourbon, Republican and Nationalist), we can observe now that much of the towns structures were built around the 19th and 20th centuries. Let us take the Gran Via as an example, where you can view the brilliant skyscrapers from the 1900s, continuing to the beautiful Plaza de Espana, decorated with the same skyscrapers from the late 1950s.

If we leave the center and head north, along the shady and heavily circulated Paseo de la Castellana, we will encounter a number of modern buildings, like the Tores Kio for example. The Tores Kio is located at the Plaza de Castilla. We can see another remarkable building, the Terminal 4, located at Madrid’s Barajas Airport. The Terminal 4 was designed by Estudio Lamala and the Richard Rogers Partnership, in Madrid. The newer buildings of Madrid may not be as interesting as the ones presented for the average tourist. HoweverArticle Search, these new structures continue to pass on the dynamic spirit of a flourishing city.


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