MADRID became Spain’s capital simply through its geographical position at the centre of the Iberian Peninsula. When king Philip II moved the seat of government there in 1561, his aim was to create a symbol of the unification and centralization of the country. The city has a few natural advantages -300km far from the sea on a 700meters-high plateau, freezing in winter an burning in summer, and only the determination of successive rulers to promote a strong central capital ensured its success.
Today is a vast, predominantly modern city, with a population over five million and growing. The streets are heart of the city, and a pleasant surprise, with odd pockets of medieval buildings and narrow atmospheric alleys.
As a tourist destination, Madrid has been greatly underrated. The monarchs did acquire outstanding picture collections, which formed the basis of Prado museum.
This has long ensured Madrid a place on the European art-tour, and the more so since the 1990s arrival of the Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza galleries, state-of-the-art homes of fabulous arrays of modern Spanish painting as well as European and American masters. However, other less renowned -but equally
Despite its recent rapid growth, Madrid still seems small for a capital city, and its layout is pretty straightforward. At the herad of Madrid is the Puerta del Sol square and around it lies the oldest part of the city. Within this very compact area, you’re likely to spend most of your time.
The city’s three big art museums lie in a “golden triangle” just west of Retiro park along the Paseo del Prado, while over the river are the oldest downtown Habsburg parts, centred on the beautiful arcaded Plaza Mayor.
Galleries and sights aside, though, the capital has enough going for it in its own citylife and style to ensure diverting stay. As you get to trips with the place you soon realize that it’s the inhabitants that are the capital key attraction: hanging out in the traditional cafés and chocolaterías or the summer terrazas, packing the lanes of the Sunday Rastro flea market, or playing hard and very, very late in a thousand bars, clubs, discos and tascas.
Whatever other Spanish cities might claim, the Madrid scene remains the most vibrant and fun in the country.
Accommodation Close to the Airport
AXOR Madrid Barajas Hotel ****
Breakfast, VAT and WIFI included
MADRID CENTER GENERAL AVIATION SERVICES
Madrid – Barajas
(+34) 91 393 69 06 (+34) 91 393 69 07
(+34) 91 393 66 71
Frequency: 131.925 MHz
MADRID BARAJAS AIRPORT DATA
Madrid – Barajas Airport
H-24 – Slot requested – Noise restrictions 2300 to 0700 LT
- Winter UTC+1
- Summer UTC+2
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