Madrid City Guide


Once a small market town, chosen as Spain’s capital by King Felipe II in 1561 for its location at the heart of the kingdom, Madrid is now the country’s largest city, with a population of over 5 million.

While you’ll discover the odd eighteenth-century square or medieval building, Madrid's a predominantly modern metropolis, which sits on a rocky plateau 667m (or 2,188 ft) above sea level.

But while its architecture may not match up to that of Spain’s more historic cities, such as Toledo and Salamanca, it’s Madrid’s culture, atmosphere and locals (“madrileños”) that ensure it’s never short of visitors.

Divided by busy thoroughfare the Gran Vía, the city’s old town lies to the south, while the newer districts predominantly sit to the north.