|Location:||Spain, Northeast of the geographical center of the Iberian Peninsula|
|Area:||607 square kilometers|
|Elevation:||667 m. above sea level|
|Population||3.4 million (City) / 6.3 million (Total Metro area)|
Right in the heart of the Spanish central Castilian plateau is Madrid, the capital city of Spain as well as the country’s seat of government, the Spanish Parliament and home to the Spanish Monarchy. This cosmopolitan and populous city is the third largest in the European Union, with an aggregate population of about 3.4 million in the city alone. An ancient and historical city, its official and recorded names have changed throughout the centuries – from “Ursaria” (Latin for “land of the bears”) which some claim is its original name, “Majerit” which means “place of abundant water” to “Mayrit” or “Matrit” (a derivative from the Arabic word “Mayra” which means water as a “giver of life”) and finally evolving to “Madrid.” Its inhabitants are called Madrilenos and the predominant language used is Spanish.
This illustrious city has charted a long history of prominence in politics, religion, culture, finance and industry on the European continent. Its origins can be traced during the 9th century as a small citadel built under the reign of Arab Emir Mohamed I to the conquest by Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile in the 11th century turning Madrid as a lordship under Leon VI of Armenia. This was revoked during the 14th century by John I and in the 16th century, Philip II, the son of Charles I of Spain moved the Royal Court from Barcelona to Madrid, making it the capital of modern Spain. The Middle Ages were “golden years” for Madrid as its rise to glory continued under the reigns of Philip V and Charles III who turned it into the modern city known today – landmarks such as the Palacio Real de Madrid as well as the main thoroughfares of Paseo del Prado and Paseo las Acacias were built during this eras. Whilst it was involved in periods of wars and revolts from the 19th century onwards, Madrid maintained a position of economic and political strength. Today it is one of the major financial powerhouses of Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula and one of the most visited destinations in Spain as well as in the whole continent. Madrid is also one of the cleanest and greenest cities in Europe.
The city of Madrid is composed of 21 districts, whilst the Madrid Metropolitan Area covers both the city and 40 other municipalities surrounding it. Ever proud of its glorious heritage, Madrid is a treasure trove of fine art, impressive historical architecture and Spanish culinary traditions. Music and local festivities are also very much a part of the daily life in Madrid, and its vibrant nightlife is one of its main crowd-drawers. The city has also been consistently in the forefront of education in Spain with a large number of schools and a long tradition of academic excellence – the Complutense University of Madrid is one of the oldest universities in the world. Famous Madrilenos include playwright Lope de Vega, author of “Don Quixote” Miguel Cervantes, world-class tenor Placido Domingo, international artist Julio Iglesias among others.