History of Madrid

The history of Madrid can be summarized in the following chronology of events.

Lower Paleolithic First archaeological signs of human occupation date from that period.

Roman period There are no clear proof of Roman settlements.

5th century AD Archaeological remains reported in 2007 indicate Visigoth occupation.

865 Muhammad I (b. 852, d. 886), son of Abd al-Rahman II, ordered the construction of a citadel and the fortification of the village of Mayrit.

1083 King Alfonso VI of Castille conquered Madrid to the Moors during his campaign against Toledo, which he also took over.

1172 Isidro de Merlo y Quintana died. After he was beatified in Rome in 1619, he was named as the Patron Saint of Madrid.

1202 Madrid is granted official status of Town.

1222 King Fernando III established the city’s coat of arms: a rampant bear eating fruits from a strawberry tree.

1346 King Alfonso XI issued a warrant that is considered the origin of the modern City Council. It was decided that the council had to be replaced by twelve regents, two mayors and one bailiff.

1434 Madrid suffers nine weeks of storms and floods.

1460 Works began to expand Plaza de San Salvador, known today as Plaza de la Villa.

1463 Thanks to its weekly market and the San Miguel and San Mateo fairs, the city was granted special privileges.

1465 King Enrique IV granted Madrid the title of “Muy Noble y Muy Leal” (“Very Noble and Very Loyal”) in gratitude for the city’s loyalty to him.

1477 A permanent Corregidor, or local judicial administrator, was assigned to Madrid.

1516 The Habsburg Dynasty began. Carlos I was crowned King of Spain.

1525 King Francis I of France was taken prisoner and brought to the Torre de los Lujanes tower.

1536 King Carlos I ordered the reconstruction of the Alcázar de Madrid palace, and turned it into a royal residence.

1544 Carlos I granted the city the title of “Imperial and Crowned” following Juan Hurtado de Mendoza’s petition.

1561 King Felipe II decided to establish the Royal Court in Madrid more permanently. In so doing, he turned the city into the capital city of a vast empire.

1566 Felipe II ordered the construction of the city’s third wall.

1590 The Casa de la Panadería or Baker’s House was built.

1596 The city’s first General Hospital was built.

1616 Writer Miguel de Cervantes died in his Madrid home, located in Calle Cervantes, 2.

1616 King Felipe III ordered the construction of Plaza Mayor. Designed by Juan Gómez de Mora, it was completed in 1619.

1618 Felipe III acquired and extended an area with new gardens and fountains. It is now El Retiro Park.

1625 King Felipe IV ordered the construction of a fourth wall. This wall remained in place through to the mid-19th century.

1630 Building works on the Buen Retiro palace complex began. Of the original constructions only the Salón de Reinos hall and Salón de Baile ballroom –also known as Casón del Buen Retiro) remain.

1700 The Bourbon Dynasty began. Felipe V was crowned king, inheriting the title from King Carlos II.

1714 The Real Academia de la Lengua, or Royal Spanish Academy, was founded.

1734 The old Alcázar was destroyed in a fire on Christmas Eve. Four years later, building works on what is now the Royal Palace began. It was completed in 1764.

1759 King Carlos III arrived in Madrid from Naples. He led a series of urban reforms and the construction of buildings such as the Real Aduana (1769), the Real Casa de Correos (1768), the Gabinete de Historia Natural, the Museo Nacional del Prado (1785), the Royal Botanical Gardens (1781), and Apolo (1780), the Cibeles (1782), La Alcachofa (1782) and Neptuno (1784) fountains.

1769-1778 Puerta de Alcalá was built.

1790-1854 Final restoration works took place at Plaza Mayor, giving it the look and shape you can see today.

1798 The new San Antonio de la Florida Hermitage was raised with the impressive frescoes of Goya inside.

1808 On May 2, the people of Madrid started a rebellion against the occupation of the city by French troops, provoking a brutal repression that lead to 500 deaths.

1808-1813 Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, ordered the demolition of highly congested areas, in order to transform them into public squares and roads. The space that currently constitutes Plaza de Oriente was created then.

1814 King Fernando VII granted Madrid the title of “Very Heroic” for its people’s behavior on May 2, 1808.

1818 The Museo Nacional del Prado was founded.

1851-1858 The Canal de Isabel II channel was built, as well as the infrastructure needed to bring water to Madrid from the Lozoya River.

1857-1861 Puerta del Sol underwent restoration and expansion works.

1854 The walls that limited the city’s growth since 1625 started to be demolished.

1860 Madrid’s expansion was approved and entrusted to Carlos María de Castro.

1866 Queen Isabel II laid the Spanish National Library’s first stone.

1884 Construction works on the Bank of Spain began and ended in 1891.

1892 Architect Arturo Soria’s project for the construction of the Ciudad Lineal neighborhood began.

1898 The first tramway routes were officially inaugurated, one going from Sol to Serrano, and the second one from Recoletos to the old racecourse.

1910 King Alfonso XIII began demolition works on numerous buildings to prepare for the creation of Calle Gran Vía. These works lasted through 1929.

1919 Alfonso XIII officially opened the first Ferrocarril Metropolitano, or Metro, line from Sol to Cuatro Caminos.

1929 Alfonso XIII founded and officially opened construction works on Ciudad Universitaria.

1931 The Second Republic was proclaimed on Puerta del Sol. Building works on Las Ventas Bullring were completed, and the Madrid Barajas Airport was officially opened.

1932 Construction work to build a new ministerial complex at Nuevos Ministerios began, on the site of the old racecourse.

1934 Works began on the construction of today’s viaduct over Calle Segovia, replacing the old 19th century iron structure.

1936 The start of the Civil War turned Madrid into a besieged city for three years.

1939 General Franco occupies Madrid and ends the Civil War.

1947 The city’s public transport system is established.

1967 The new Chamartín station was opened, as well as the tunnel connecting it to Atocha.

1974 The M-30 highway was officially opened. At this time there were half a million cars in Madrid.

1975 The monarchy was restored with the crowning of King Juan Carlos I.

1979 On April 3, the first democratic municipal elections took place.

1981 The right-wing lead by lieutenant colonel Antonio Tejero coup fails.

1990 The Auditorio Nacional de Música was officially opened on Calle Príncipe de Vergara.

1992 Madrid was designated as European Capital of Culture. Throughout the year a number of new sites were officially opened, including: the new Puerta de Atocha train station and the AVE high-speed Madrid-Sevilla rail route, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Casa de América, and Juan Carlos I Park.

1993 After 114 years of construction, Pope John Paul II finally consecrated La Almudena Cathedral.

1997 The Teatro Real was reopened as an opera house.

2004 Islamic terrorists attacked Atocha train station in Madrid with bombs. 191 people killed, hundreds injured.

2007 The new annex building at Museo Nacional del Prado was officially opened.