All you need to know about Madrid

Madrid is not only the capital of Spain and its largest city; it is also the country’s seat of government, the residence of the Spanish monarch and, perhaps most importantly, is recognised as a global city and a major financial hub of Southern Europe.

From medieval times Madrid grew as an important Spanish administrative centre, but in the 19th and 20th centuries manufacturing took precedence. Now, like most of Western Europe, the city thrives on tertiary industries such as entertainment, media, education, tourism and, in particular, business services. Politics also plays a major role in the city’s economy; several important international organisations have their headquarters in Madrid, including the World Tourism Organisation and the Public Interest Organisation Board.

Madrid is filled with impressive and varied architecture, much of which is from the Hapsburg’s reign and the late 19th century. Among its most iconic landmarks are the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Teatro Royal, Alcala Gate, Puerta del Sol Square, Campo del Moro Gardens and the Almudena Cathedral. The city is also famed for its abundance of greenery; the Parco del Retiro is located close to the centre and provides residents and visitors alike with some quiet respite from the hustle and bustle. Sports enthusiasts can visit the Santiage Bernabeu stadium, which is home to the prestigious Real Madrid Football Club. Those seeking to experience traditional Spain should head to the Plaza de Toros – the largest bullring in the country.

Public transport in Madrid is extensive and very efficient. The Spanish capital hosts the second largest underground train system in the world, as well as over ground local trains which extend to the suburbs, and numerous bus routes that travel almost everywhere else. Madrid Barajas International Airport is situated just over eight miles north-east of the city centre and can be reached via a 24 hour express bus service, frequent commuter trains, and the underground metro. There are also several trains in operation between Madrid and other major Spanish and European cities including Renfe, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, Lisbon, Milan and Paris.