Madrid like most cities has gone through it share of wars and occupations. The Romans actually settled in Madrid in the 2nd century and by the 5th century they were overthrown by the Visigoths, a barbaric German tribe. In the 7th century the city was controlled by Islam and by the 9th century the modern city was taking shape thanks to Muhammad I who ordered the construction of a small palace, which is now Palacio Real. The Christian’s conqueror the city in 1085 and turn the Muslim mosque into the church of the Virgin of Almudena. In the 14th century a fire destroyed most of the city and then it was rebuilt by Henry III of Castile. The first Spanish revolt was in the late 1800s, which lead to the creation of the Second Spanish Republic. The dictatorship that controlled Spain during the 1960s lead to the current constitutional monarchy and Madrid was named the capital. The economic growth of the 1980s and 1990s elevated Madrid’s position as an important industrial, cultural, economic and technological center for the entire European continent.
Madrid is divided into 21 districts and then it is subdivided into 128 barrios or wards. Madrid is filled with parks.
The tree population of Madrid is over 500,000, second only to Tokyo.
The most popular park is Parque del Retiro which was once part of a palace built for Felipe IV.
The Atocha railway station has a 4,000 sq meter indoor garden filled with tropical plants and the shops and cafes inside the station are always busy.
Madrid has some exquisite art museums. In fact there are over 73 museums that contain exhibits that cover a wide range of human achievements and discoveries. The Prado Museum is the most famous, but the Reina Sofia Museum is the home of Picasso’s Guemica, which was returned to Madrid after hanging in New York for over twenty years.