Madrid is a south-western European city, the capital of Spain, and the largest municipality of the Community of Madrid. The population of the city is almost 3.2 million with a metropolitan area population of around 6.5 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-largest in the European Union after London and Paris. The city spans a total of 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).
The city is located on the Manzanares River in the centre of both the country and the Community of Madrid (which comprises the city of Madrid, its conurbation and extended suburbs and villages); this community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political, economic and cultural centre of Spain. The current mayor is Manuela Carmena from Ahora Madrid.
The Madrid urban agglomeration has the third-largest GDP in the European Union and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, environment, media, fashion, science, culture, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. Due to its economic output, high standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the major financial centre of Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula; it hosts the head offices of the vast majority of major Spanish companies, such as Telefónica, Iberia and Repsol. Madrid is the 17th most livable city in the world according to Monocle magazine, in its 2014 index.
Madrid houses the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), belonging to the United Nations Organization (UN), the SEGIB, the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), and the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB). It also hosts major international regulators of Spanish: the Standing Committee of the Association of Spanish Language Academies, headquarters of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), the Cervantes Institute and the Foundation of Urgent Spanish (Fundéu BBVA). Madrid organizes fairs such as FITUR, ARCO, SIMO TCI and the Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week.
While Madrid possesses modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighbourhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the Royal Palace of Madrid; the Royal Theatre with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro Park, founded in 1631; the 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain’s historical archives; a large number of national museums, and the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three art museums: Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum, Caixa Forum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which completes the shortcomings of the other two museums. Cibeles Palace and Fountain have become the monument symbol of the city. Madrid is home to two world-famous football clubs, Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid. (quoted from wikipedia)
WHAT TO EXPECT
As the nation’s capital, Madrid is the epicenter of Spanish culture, business, and politics. This city is the foremost financial and industrial center of the country. In Spain all roads lead not to Rome, but to Madrid. Strategically located in the center of the country, it is the starting point of all the main highways and high speed train lines which connect it to all major Spanish cities. The immense amount of passengers which fly to Madrid’s Barajas International airport make it the 4th largest in Europe and 10th largest globally. It also boasts more flights to South America than any other airport. It is home to Spain´s largest stock exchange, as well as the most important national and international companies. Madrid offers the perfect opportunity to conduct international business. The gateway to South America, Madrid has an increasingly important role within Europe and worldwide. The majority of business takes place on the Paseo de la Castellana, the financial and political hub of Madrid. But there’s more than business and politics when it comes to Madrid. Its geographical location gives it a priceless advantage, an excellent climate. Enjoy the weather, with a pleasant stroll on a sunny winter day, or sit down and enjoy the spring breeze in one of the many “Terrazas” (Spanish Cafés).
ARTS & CULTURE
From the historical Plaza Mayor to the unique Prado Museum, Madrid is a city brimming with culture. The masterpieces of some of the world´s most respected artists, including Goya, Velázquez and Picasso are housed in the city´s world famous “Big Three” art museums. The capital is full of smaller museums and galleries, offering everything from traditional art to the best in contemporary sculpture and design. It´s not just the art that is breathtaking – the many royal and historic monuments along with many buildings, spanning centuries of Spanish architecture, contribute to making Madrid one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe. But there is more to Madrid than just art and beautiful buildings. Music and dance can be found in every corner of the city, with big name performers, Broadway theater shows and classical ballet adding to the buzzing local art and cultural scene. Madrid’s combination of art, music, performance and design make it one of the world´s great cultural capitals.
Madrid offers the very best in entertainment and nightlife, along with an energy and capacity for fun that is hard to beat. Madrid’s nightlife is legendary and has something for everyone, from the fashionable rooftop bars to the mega-clubs that stay open until dawn. During the summer outdoor terraces spring up all over the city as its residents relax and enjoy the great Spanish weather. Madrid is also at the epicenter of the recent Spanish dining revolution, and is therefore the perfect place to sample both modern and traditional cuisine. But having a good time in Madrid means more than just enjoying its nightlife. The many parks located throughout the city are also great for playing sport and escaping the summer heat – the Parque del Buen Retiro is situated in the center of the city and is famous for its wide walkways and beautiful ornamental lake.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Like in any big city, visitors can sometimes become the target of petty crime so it’s worth taking some sensible safety precautions to ensure your stay in Madrid is a memorable one for all the right reasons:
- Follow the same safety measures that are recommended by the police in your home country, and be even more alert since you are in a foreign city.
- When you’re walking around the city only carry essential documents with you, and avoid showing valuable items such as money, jewellery and camera equipment.
- Take care when using cash machines / ATMs and avoid using credit cards in street markets or to pay small amounts.
- Keep an eye on your belongings at all times, and pay careful attention to your bag and wallet while travelling on public transport and when in large crowds. Don’t leave your belongings or computer unattended in the University common areas such as the library or the cafeteria.
- In establishments, do not leave your belongings (telephone, camera, etc.) on top of tables; do not hang your bag on the back of chairs.
- Be wary of dubious offers of assistance from strangers (warnings of stained clothes, vehicle break-downs etc.).