The capital of Spain emerged from the Moorish city of Madschrit in the 10th century AD. With three million inhabitants, it is now the third largest city in the EU after Paris and London. The relatively unimportant city was chosen as the capital by the Spanish kings because of its central location on the Iberian Peninsula. Madrid did not actually become an economic and cultural center of Spain until the 19th and 20th centuries. Consequently, the city's medieval architectural landscape is far outdone by such ancient cities as Toledo, Seville and Granada. No city can compete with Madrid, however, when it comes to nightlife: the multitude of bars, bodegas and restaurants are impossible to overlook.
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Culinary temple of Madrid
Opened in 1916 as a market hall, the cast-iron building was converted into Madrid's first culinary market in 2009. In the meantime a fantastic gastronomic range has been established there. With over 10 million visitors, it is regarded as the culinary temple and modern quintessence of Spanish cuisine. Everything is available; Iberian ham, fresh seafood, Mediterranean rice dishes or special cheeses from Castile, Asturias or the Basque Country. Over 30 fixed and mobile stalls guarantee a wide selection.
Of the fairytale splendour of the Bourbon rulers
Italian architects were to bring the splendor of Versailles to Madrid for the Spanish king, Philip V, in the middle of the 18th century – it nevertheless became a very Spanish building: austere, square and powerful, lush and baroque, but above all gigantic. The Palacio offered the king and his court seven floors and 100,000 square meters of space. Today, 50 of the 280 royal apartments are open to the public. The visit resembles a somewhat rushed short trip through a fairytale world full of precious paintings, tapestries, ceiling frescoes, stucco ornaments, chandeliers, furniture, clocks, crockery, swords, rifles, armor, maps, books – and finally through the Royal Pharmacy. Even if there is hardly time for detail, one gets an impression of the immeasurable splendor that the Bourbons allowed themselves, while most of their subjects lived on a little bread and lamb.
Oasis in the metropolis of millions
More than 200 years ago, in 1781, Charles III had the Botanical Gardens built next to the Prado. And more than 200 years old are also the oldest of the approximately 30,000 trees, bushes and flowers from all over the world, among which visitors wander as if in a large garden. They came from the Spanish colonies in America and the Philippines. Since 2005, the Jardín Botánico has also housed the bonsai collection of former Prime Minister Felipe González.
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