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A Visit to Madrid


Madrid, Spain's capital, is one of the nation's most popular and attractive tourist venues, as well as being the main travel hub for a large part of the country's tourist traffic. Situated at the geographic center of the peninsula, Madrid is a cosmopolitan city of some 3 million inhabitants (and many more if we count the surrounding suburban area). The city sits at an altitude of some 675 meters in the heart of the Castillian central plateau, and boasts an active cultural, artistic and industrial/economic environment as well as housing the country's central government.

The city's steeped in history and traces its origins to a Moorish fortress built on the banks of the Manzanares River in the late 800's. By the 11th century, Christian forces under Alfonso VI had captured the Arab stronghold. The beginnings of the city proper date back to fortifications built in the 17th century to protect outlying areas; while the layout of today's central arteries was done during the enlightened 18th century reign of Carlos III. Most of the historic buildings remaining today date from the 17th and 18th centurys.

Getting there

By air
Madrid's Barajas Airport is one of Europe's busiest. It is situated some 13 km to the east of the city - and takes about 30 minutes in normal traffic conditions. A city bus service runs regularly between the airport and the centrally located Plaza de Colón.
By train
There are two major train stations in the city: Chamartin in the north serving most major Spanish cities as well as France; and Atocha on the southern side which serves Portugal and Extremadura, and is the base of operations for the high speed AVE trains to Córdoba and Seville. For more information check the RENFE (Spanish National Railway System) Web Site.
By road
Madrid is the hub Spain's national highway system - mainly 4-lane divided highways connecting the capital with:
  • N-I Burgos-Irún (Basque Region)-France
  • N-II Barajas Airport-Zaragoza-Barcelona-France
  • N-III Cuenca-Valencia-Alicante
  • N-IV Aranjuez-Córdoba-Seville-Cádiz
  • N-V Badajoz-Portugal
  • N-VI Segovia-Vallodolid-La Coruña (Galicia)
  • N-401 Toledo


  • The Madrid Metro underground train system is the fastest, most economical way to get around town. It covers all of the city and its environs. 10 trip discount tickets are available at any Metro station.
  • Bus: Madrid also boasts an extensive bus network. 10 trip discount tickets (known as "Bono-bus") are available at most newstands.
  • Taxi: There are taxis stands and circulating taxis all over the city. Rates are reasonable, but not cheap.

Where to stay and what to do

Madrid is tourist's delight with something for just about everyone. Finding a place to stay is seldom a problem, the hotel capacity is over 50,000 beds. The city's filled with historic buildings, its museums are among Europe's finest, the restaurants offer splendid fare and the nightlife goes on 'til the wee hours - 3 AM traffic jams are not at all unusual. All in all, Madrid's a place to enjoy in every sense of the word.

Information Links for Madrid

Madrid from Cyberspain's Cities of Spain
Good overview with lots of general information about the captal city of Madrid.

Madrid Softguide Index
Nicely organized alphabetical index to Spain's capital city with refererences for transport, accomodations, restaurants, tourist venues, cultural events, general information, etc. Includes a search function.

Madrid Maps
A helpful set of maps of the city from the Softguide Index.

Madrid Weather
Madrid has more than its fair share of sunny days, but remember it can get very hot in July and August; and quite cool in the dead of winter. Check the Weather Underground link for up-to-date weather information.