The biggest city in Spain and the third largest in Europe, the Spanish capital Madrid is the perfect choice for a short break or a quick getaway.
Founded in the 9th century Madrid has a rich history, a thriving art and culture scene, fantastic food, exciting nightlife and there are plenty of sights and attractions to discover in this beautiful city.
Check out 9 fascinating facts about Madrid you may not know.
1. The Spanish Royal Family doesn’t live in the Palacio Real (Royal Palace)
One of the largest royal palaces in Europe, the Palacio Real is only used for state ceremonies and the Spanish Royal Family actually reside in the Palace of Zarzuela, located on the outskirts of Madrid. The Palacio Real was built on the site of the old Alcázar, the Moorish castle that was destroyed by fire in 1734, and the old city wall around this area can still be seen.
2. Plaza Mayor’s name has changed numerous times
In the heart of Madrid, you will find the city’s main square ‘Plaza Mayor’, which used to be known as "Plaza de la República, “Plaza del Arrabal", "Plaza Real” and "Plaza de la Constitución"; to reflect historical events and reigns.
3. Puerta del Sol is very popular on New Year’s Eve
Many Spaniards visit Puerta del Sol to ring in the New Year and to eat 12 grapes to the midnight chimes of the Real Casa de Correos clock. Many believe the origins of this tradition dates back to 1909 where wine producers from Levante gave away surplus grapes and claimed eating grapes on New Year’s eve was very good luck.
4. There are three major Art Museums
Known as the Golden Triangle of Art, there are three major art museums in Madrid, which are located in a close proximity to each other; Museo del Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia.
5. Madrid’s coat of arms is a Bear eating from a Strawberry Tree
The coat of arms originated from the Middle Ages, when bears used to roam free in the forests of Madrid where the trees would produce fruit resembling strawberries. You can find a statue of the ‘Bear and the Strawberry Tree’ or in Spanish ‘El Oso y El Madroño’ representing Madrid’s coat of arms in Puerta de Sol. It’s also on the badge of the football team Atlético de Madrid.
6. It has the Oldest Restaurant in World
Botin has officially been declared as the oldest running restaurant in the world by Guinness Book of Record. Founded in 1725, you can still enjoy the delicious cuisine of Madrid today.
7. Real Madrid is the best football team in the World
We’re not being biased! FIFA named Real Madrid the 'Best Club of the 20th Century'. Real Madrid have stayed in La Liga and is one of the three Spanish clubs not to have ever been relegated to the second division.
8. It has a statue of the Devil
Fuente del Ángel Caído is a fountain in Buen Retiro Park depicting the fallen angel Lucifer. Madrid is one of the highest capital cities in Europe and ironically the fountain is located 666m above the sea level!
9. Madrid is more than a City
Madrid is also the name of the region and is the economic, political and culture hub of the country.