Madrid has currently over 3,000,000 inhabitants and is thus the most populated city of Spain. For this reason it is quite often regarded as excessively crowded and stifling. Whereas this fact may be true (as it is the case of any other capital city around the world) it doesn’t make this city any less interesting, enjoyable or attractive. As evidence, in the lines below I will introduce you to a bunch of facts that make Madrid unique and special:
- Madrid has been the capital of Spain since the 17th century and its name is Arabic for “magerit”, meaning ‘place of many streams’.
- People from Madrid are called madrileños but are commonly also referred to as gatos, “cats”, because according to a historical legend, during the Arabic invasion there was a Christian soldier who climbed the walls surrounding the former Muslim city with the agility of a cat. Thanks to this artful soldier the Spanish troops were able to retake the city and later on, both he and his descendants assumed the name of gatos.
- Madrid enjoys about 250 cloudless days per year – more than almost any other city in Europe.
- Madrid is the third-largest city in the European Union right after London and Berlin and its airport, Barajas, is the tenth busiest one in the entire world.
- The Statue of the Fallen Angel located in Madrid’s Parque del Retiro is considered the only public sculpture in the world dedicated to Satan. This one-of-a-kind work depicts Lucifer falling from heaven and was built in 1877 by Spanish sculptor Ricardo Bellver.
- Sobrino de Botín, founded in 1725, is the oldest operating restaurant in the world and, of course, located in Madrid. Historical figures such as the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya or the American novelist Ernest Hemingway used to frequent this place. The first worked there as a waiter before being accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, whereas the latter used to enjoy roast young suckling pig, Botín’s specialty, very much. This fact would be reflected in his novel The Sun Also Rises: “We lunched upstairs at Botin´s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles of rioja alta.”