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Madrid is the capital of Spain and the country’s largest city. It is also the most populated city, with its 3.3 million inhabitants and more than 6.5 million in its metropolitan area.
Madrid has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets, while having a modern image and top-notch infrastructures.
Madrid’s history dates back from the 9th century, when the emir of Córdoba Muhammad I decided to build a small palace. Before that, signs of occupation since prehistoric times and ruins of a small Visigoth village prove that the area was inhabited.
It was not until King Felipe II moved his court to Madrid, that the town developed to become a city.
Madrid was not always the great city it is today. It is the capital of Spain since 1561.
Prior to this, Toledo served as the capital city. However, it was not until the 17th century, during Spain’s golden age, that Madrid started to become a large metropolis. Later on, King Carlos III who reigned from 1759 to 1788 made some major improvements to the city and carried out important civil works.
Today Madrid is home to the Spanish Royal family as well as the Spanish Government. It is also the political, economic and cultural center of Spain.
Madrid is divided into 21 areas or districts (distritos). These are further subdivided into 128 different neighborhoods (barrios). Each barrio has its own unique personality and charm, and dozens of places to explore.
Because the current division of the city covers a wide area, you as a visitor will be interested only in some barrios, particularly those where most of the highlights are.