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, autonomous community and province, Spain
Madrid (mədrĭdˈ, Span. mäᵺhrēᵺˈ), autonomous community and coextensive prov., (2011 pop. 6,421,874), 3,099 sq mi (8,027 sq km), central Spain. Madrid, the capital of Spain, is also its capital and most important city. Situated on the central plateau (Meseta), it is bounded on the NW by the rugged, frequently snow-capped Sierra de Guadarrama, which is crossed by several passes and separates the roughly triangular Madrid from Castile and Léon; it is bordered on the E and S by Castile–La Mancha. It is watered by the Jarama, Henares, Tajuña, and Manzanares rivers, tributaries of the Tagus. Cereals, potatoes, beets, asparagus, tomatoes, and grapes are grown. Industry, once predominantly based on agriculture, is now highly diverse, including construction, metallurgy, lumbering and the manufacture of motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and ceramics. There are lime, gypsum, and stone quarries. Other leading towns include Alcalá de Henares, Getafe, Colmenar Viejo, Chamartín, and Aranjuez. Aranjuez, Escorial, and El Pardo are known for their fine royal palaces.


, city, Spain

Madrid (mədrĭdˈ, Span. mäᵺhrēᵺˈ), city (1990 pop. 3,120,732), capital of Spain and of the autonomous community and prov. of Madrid, central Spain, on the Manzanares River. The newest of the great Spanish cities, it lacks the traditions of the ancient Castilian and Andalusian towns. Lying on a vast open plateau, it is subject to extremes of temperature; the daily variation is sometimes 40℉ (22℃). Madrid is almost in the exact geographic center of Spain and is the nation's chief transportation and administrative center. Its commercial and industrial life developed very rapidly after the 1890s and is rivaled in Spain only by that of Barcelona. Besides its many manufacturing industries, Madrid is foremost as a banking, education, printing, publishing, tourism, and motion-picture center. Many corporate headquarters are located there. An archiepiscopal see, Madrid also has a university, transferred from Alcalá de Henares in 1836.

The general aspect of Madrid is modern, with boulevards and fashionable shopping areas, but the old quarters have picturesque streets. Its landmarks include the huge royal palace; a restored 1850 opera house; the Buen Retiro park, opened in 1631; the imposing 19th-century building containing the national library (founded 1712), the national archives, and an archaeological museum; and three superb art museums—the Prado, which houses one of the finest art collections in the world; the Queen Sofía Museum of modern art; and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace. Also noteworthy is the modern Ciudad Universitaria [university city].

Madrid was first mentioned in the 10th cent. as a Moorish fortress. Alfonso VI of Castile drove out the Moors in 1083. The Cortes of Castile met in Madrid several times, and Ferdinand and Isabella as well as Emperor Charles V often resided there, but Madrid became the capital of Spain only in 1561, in the reign of Philip II. The city developed slowly at first, but it expanded rapidly in the 18th cent. under the Bourbon kings (especially Charles III). From that period date the royal palace and the Prado. At the beginning of the Peninsular War a popular uprising against the French took place at Madrid on May 2, 1808, and a fierce battle was fought in the Puerta del Sol, the city's central square. In reprisal, hundreds of citizens were shot at night along the Prado promenade. The events of that day were immortalized by two of Goya's most celebrated paintings, both in the Prado gallery. Madrid again played a heroic role in the Spanish civil war (1936–39), when, under the command of Gen. José Miaja, it resisted 29 months of siege by the Nationalists, suffering several bombardments and air attacks and surrendering, thus ending the war, only late in Mar., 1939.


See R. Levine, Madrid and the North of Spain (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the capital of Spain and the country’s largest political, economic, and cultural center, the capital of the province of Madrid and of the historical region of New Castile. The city lies in the center of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Meseta Plateau at an elevation of more than 650 m, south of the Sierra de Guadarrama, along both banks of the shallow Manzanares River (Tagus basin). It has a subtropical Mediterranean climate of the continental type, with hot, dry summers. Temperatures average 4.9 °C in January and 24.2°C in July. The average annual precipitation totals about 440 mm, falling mainly in winter. An insufficient water supply necessitated the construction of reservoirs near the Sierra de Guadarrama, from which the water is brought into the city by canals.

Greater Madrid is a sprawling conurbation covering 1,200 sq km, of which the city proper occupies 607 sq km. Greater Madrid is divided into 18 administrative regions. Madrid is Spain’s most densely populated city, with 3.2 million inhabitants as of Jan. 1, 1973. From 600,000 in 1900 the population rose to 1.5 million in 1950 and 2.0 million in 1960, chiefly owing to the influx of people from other areas. There are also about 16,000 permanent foreign residents. The gainfully employed population comprises about 40 percent of the total inhabitants and 82 percent of all men; most are employed in service occupations, including transportation, commerce, and financial institutions. About one-third of the work force, or about 400,000-500,000 persons, is employed in industry, particularly construction.

Municipal administration. The municipal government is headed by a mayor (alcalde), appointed by the central government. The city council is composed partly of representatives of such corporate groups as trade-union syndicates and professional associations and partly of persons directly elected by heads of households.

History. The city arose around the Moorish fortress of Majrit, which has not been preserved, and was first mentioned in the chronicles in 932. In 1083 the fortress was captured from the Arabs, and in 1118 it was granted the privileges of a city as a reward for the population’s active participation in the Recon-quest. During the 14th and 15th centuries Madrid was the residence of the Castilian kings and the seat of the Cortes. In 1520 the inhabitants took part in the revolt of the Comuneros. After Philip II transferred the capital to Madrid in 1561, the city expanded rapidly, becoming a commercial and industrial center. In March 1808, the city was captured by French troops, and the uprising that broke out there on May 2 touched off the Spanish Revolution of 1808-14. Madrid was also the center of the revolutions of 1820-23 (crushed by French troops in May 1823), 1834-43, 1854-56, and 1868-74. In 1868 a Spanish group of the First International was created in Madrid, and in 1920 the Spanish Communist Party (since 1921, the Communist Party of Spain) was founded here. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), Madrid was the chief stronghold of the republican forces. In early November 1936 the fascist rebels entered the suburbs of Madrid, and the heroic defense of the city, which lasted until Mar. 28, 1939, was one of the most glorious events of the Spanish Civil War. During the 1960’s and early 1970’s there were many demonstrations by workers, students, and members of the progressive intelligentsia against the Franco regime.

Economy. The city’s economic importance stems from its commercial and financial activities and its industry, exceeded only by that of Barcelona. Prior to the mid-19th century it was primarily an administrative and political center. With the building of railroads, Madrid, previously somewhat isolated, became an internationally important transport junction. The main airport is Barajas. The strengthening of the economy stimulated the development of a diversified industry, chiefly enterprises of the light and food industries. After World War II and especially during the 1950’s and 1960’s major enterprises of the heavy industry were established. The structure of industry and of the economy as a whole changed, with considerable expansion in the service fields. Madrid also became an important center of international tourism.

The Madrid region accounts for about 10 percent of the value of the country’s total industrial output, including 19 percent of the output of the metalworking and machine-building industries, 15 percent of the output of the construction and chemical industries, 15 percent of the leather output, 8 percent of the output of the wood-products industry, and 6 percent of the output of the food and condiments industry. The city also produces transport machinery (motor vehicles, aircraft, locomotives), electrical goods (radios, electrical appliances), plastics, porcelain ware, perfumes, leather goods, garments, knitted goods, silk and woolen fabrics, synthetic fabrics, scarves, and tapestries. Traditional handicrafts include embroidery and the making of lace, fans, castanets, and jewelry. There is a large printing industry. In the city are many offices of leading monopolistic associations, banks, insurance companies, the central stock exchange, and commercial firms.


Architecture. The center of the city is bounded by three squares: the Puerta del Sol, the Plaza Mayor, and the Plaza de España. Southeast of the former Royal Palace is the historical nucleus of Madrid; here stands the 14th-century Torre de San Nicolas, built in the Mudejar style, one of the city’s few surviving medieval structures. Many outstanding architectural works were lost during reconstruction in the 19th and 20th centuries. The face of old Madrid, with its irregular layout, has been preserved only to the southwest of the Puerta del Sol, located on the site of the eastern gate of the medieval city; ten streets radiate outward from the square. Landmarks dating from the 16th to the 18th century include the Bishop’s Chapel (1520, in the plateresque style); the ensemble of the Plaza Mayor (1619; architect, J. de Mora) and the Church of San Antonio de los Alemanes (1624), both in the Herreresque style; the mid-17th century baroque churches of San Gines and San Isidro el Real; and the Hospicio (Almshouse), built in 1731 by the architect P. de Ribera in the Churrigueresque style.

Most of the buildings dating from the 18th and first quarter of the 19th centuries were constructed in the classical style, notably the Royal Palace, built between 1738 and 1764 by G. B. Sacchetti from plans drawn up by F. Juvarra; the 17th- and 18th-century Town Hall; the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts, rebuilt in 1774 by the architect J. de Villanueva; the Church of San Francisco el Grande, built between 1776 and 1785 by the architect F. Sabatini; the Prado Museum; and the Hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida (1792-98), containing frescoes by F. Goya (1798).

Rapid growth began in the mid-19th century, chiefly in a northeasterly direction. After the first subway was opened in 1919, Madrid annexed many of its suburbs. Noteworthy examples of the eclectic and art nouveau styles of the 19th and early 20th centuries include the palaces of the Cortes (1843-50; architect, N. Pascual), museums (1866-94; architect, F. Jareno), and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena (from the late 19th century, architect, M. de Cubas). In 1929 a general plan for the reconstruction of Madrid was prepared by the architect S. Zuazo. Many urban-planning projects were undertaken between 1931 and 1939 under the republican government (chief architect, F. de Escondrilla).

During the 1950’s, a new general plan was drawn up by the architect J. L. Sert, and housing developments were constructed in the northern, eastern, and southeastern sections. Such satellite towns as Escorial and El Pardo were built. Today, Madrid is a city of large parks, covering about one-third of the total area, wide prospects and squares, and skyscrapers. The well-planned sections, primarily in the northwest, contrast with the outlying industrial areas and the congested districts to the south of the old center. In 20th-century architecture eclecticism (exemplified by the Ministry of Aviation, 1943-51, architect, L. G. Soto) is found side by side with various modern trends. Examples of modern architectural styles include the Ciudad Jardin (garden city) and the University City, begun in 1931 by the architect M. Lopez Otero, destroyed in 1939, and rebuilt during the 1950’s by M. Fisac and other architects; the Central Tuberculosis Sanatorium (1935); the Zarzuela Hippodrome (1935) and the Institute of Construction and Cement (1951), both by the engineer E. Torroja; numerous residential developments, including Cano Roto, built in 1957-59 by the architects J. L. Iniguez de Onzofio andA. Vazquez de Castro; and skyscrapers erected during the 1960’s, notably the White Towers designed by F. J. Saenz de Oiza and other architects.

Monumental sculpture includes the equestrian statues of Philip III (1613, by Giambologna) and Philip IV (1640, cast by P. Tacca from a wooden model carved by J. Montañés), 18th-century fountains, monuments to Columbus (1885, by A. Melida and J. Suñol) and to Goya (1905; architect, M. Benlliure), and two bronze monuments to Cervantes (1835, by A. Solá; 1927, architect, P. Muguruza; sculptor, C. Valera).

Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. The city’s institutions of higher learning include the University of Madrid, the Catholic University, the Autonomous University of Madrid, the Royal College of Maria Cristina, the Conservatory, and the School of Dramatic Art. It is also the site of the Royal Spanish Academy, the Royal Academy of History, the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences, the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, the Royal National Academy of Medicine, the Council for Scientific Research, many learned societies and research institutions, the Astronomical Observatory, and the Botanical Gardens. There are 18 libraries, the largest of which are the National Library, with more than 2 million volumes, the library of the University of Madrid, and the library of the former Royal Palace. The principal museums are the Prado (National Museum of Painting and Sculpture), the National Archaeological Museum, the Natural Science Museum, the Armeria, the Naval Museum, the Municipal Museum of Madrid, the National Museum of New Art (chiefly 19th-century art), the National Museum of Contemporary Art (20th-century art), the National Museum of the Spanish People, the National Anthropological and Ethnological Museum, the Romantic Museum, the National Museum of Decorative Art, the Cerralbo Museum (paintings), and the Museum of the Duke of Alba (paintings).

Musical theaters include the Royal, Zarzuela, and Teatro Lirico, and the National Orchestra and the Madrid Chamber Orchestra are based in the city. The principal drama theaters are the M. Guerrero National Theater, Espanol, Larra, Comedia, Eslava, Bellas Artes, Calderon, Benavente, Infanta Isabel, and Valle Inclan. The Spanish National Film Library is located in Madrid.


Soria Marco, B. Madrid antiguo y moderno. Madrid, 1959.
Curel, R. Madrid. Paris, 1964.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the capital of Spain, situated centrally in New Castile: the highest European capital, at an altitude of about 700 m (2300 ft.); a Moorish fortress in the 10th century, captured by Castile in 1083 and made capital of Spain in 1561; university (1836). Pop.: 3 092 759 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005