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  History of Madrid

   
 

Madrid MadridfactsAlthough the site of modern-day Madrid has been occupied since pre-historic times,in the Roman era this territory belonged to the diocese of Complutum (present-day Alcalá de Henares). There are archeological remains of a small village during the visigoth epoch, whose name might have been adopted later by Arabs. The origins of the modern city come from the 9th century, when Muhammad I ordered the construction of a small palace in the same place that is today occupied by the Palacio Real. Around this palace a small citadel, al-Mudaina, was built. The citadel was conquered in 1085 by Christian king Alfonso VI of Leonand Castile in his advance towards Toledo. He reconsecrated the mosque as the church of the Virgin of Almudena (almudin, the garrison's granary). In 1329, the Cortes Generales first assembled in the city to advise Alfonso XI of Castile. Sephardi Jews and Moors continued to live in the city until they were expelled at the end of the 15th century. After troubles and a large fire, Henry III of Castile (1379–1406) rebuilt the city and established himself safely fortified outside its walls in El Pardo.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor Madridfacts 03The grand entry of Ferdinand and Isabella to Madrid heralded the end of strife between Castile and Aragon, and the beginning of the influence of the Renaissance in Spain. The Crown of Castile, with its capital at Toledo, and the Crown of Aragon, with its capital atZaragoza, were welded into modern Spain by the Catholic Monarchs (Queen Isabella ofCastile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon). Though their grandson Charles I of Spain (also known as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) favoured Seville, it was Charles' son, Philip II (1527–1598) who moved the court to Madrid in 1561. Although he made no official declaration, the seat of the court was the de facto capital. Seville continued to control commerce with Spain's colonies, but Madrid controlled Seville.

Aside from a brief period, 1601–1606, when Felipe III installed his court in Valladolid, Madrid's fortunes have closely mirrored those of Spain.

Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcala Madridfacts 02During the Siglo de Oro (Golden Century), in the 16th/17th century, Madrid knew its ultimate glory; El Escorial, the great royal monastery built by King Philip II of Spain, invited the attention of some of Europe's greatest architects and painters. Diego Velázquez(painter of Las Meninas and The Surrender of Breda), regarded as one of the most influential painters of European history and a greatly respected artist in his own time, cultivated a relationship with King Philip IV and his chief minister, the Count-Duke of Olivares, leaving us several portraits that demonstrate his style and skill. El Greco, another respected artist from the period, infused Spanish art with the styles of the Italian renaissance and helped create a uniquely Spanish style of painting.

Madrid was one of the cultural centers during the Spanish Golden Century. The Spanish court attracted many top Spanish artists and writers to the city, including Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote de la Mancha) and the aforementioned Diego Velasquez. Furthermore, in the city were born many of the great writers of this period: Lope de Vega, Francisco de Quevedo, Calderon de la Barca and Tirso de Molina, the Plaza Mayor, which was built in the city during the Habsburg period as a central plaza. It is located near another famous plaza, the Puerta del Sol.

New palaces (including the Palacio Real de Madrid) were built during Philip V´s reign. However, it would not be until Charles III (1716–1788) that Madrid would become a modern city. Charles III was one of the most popular kings in the history of Madrid, and the saying "the best mayor, the king" became popular during those times. When Charles IV (1748–1819) became king the people of Madrid revolted. After the Mutiny of Aranjuez, which was led by his own son Ferdinand VII against him, Charles IV resigned, but Ferdinand VII's reign would be short: in May 1808 Napoleon's troops entered the city.From 19th century to present day

  Cibeles Fountain

Fuente cibeles MadridfactsOn the second of May (Spanish: Dos de Mayo), 1808, the people of Madrid rebelled against the occupation of the city by French troops, provoking a repression by the French Imperial forces and triggering the Spanish War of Independence.
After the war of independence (1814) Ferdinand VII came back to the throne, but after a liberal military revolution, Rafael del Riego made the king swear respect to the Constitution. This would start a period where liberal and conservative government alternated, that would end with the enthronement of Isabellla II (1830–1904). She could not suppress the political tension that would lead to yet another revolt, the First Spanish Republic. This was later followed by the return of the monarchy to Madrid, then the creation of the Second Spanish Republic, preceding the Spanish Civil War.

Madrid was one of the most heavily affected cities of Spain in the Civil War (1936–1939). The city was a stronghold of the Republicans from July 1936. Its western suburbs were the scene of an all-out battle in November 1936 and it was during the Civil War that Madridbecame the first European city to be bombed by airplanes (Japan was the first to bomb civilians in world history, at Shanghai in 1932) specifically targeting civilians in the history of warfare. (Siege of Madrid (1936–39).

During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, especially during the 1960s, the city experienced unprecedented, extraordinary development in terms of population and wealth, becoming the largest GDP city in Spain, and ranking third in Western Europe. The municipality is extended, annexing neighbouring council districts, to achieve the present extension of 607 km². The south of Madrid became very industrialized, and there were massive migrations from rural areas of Spain into the city. Madrid's newly built north-western districts became the home of the new thriving middle class that appeared as result of the 1960s Spanish economic boom, while south-eastern periphery became an extensive working class settlement, which was the base for an active cultural and political reform.

After the death of Franco, emerging democratic parties (including those of left-wing and republican ideology) accepted King Juan Carlos I as both Franco's successor and as the heir of the historic dynasty – in order to secure stability and democracy. This led Spain to its current position as a constitutional monarchy, with Madrid as capital.

Benefiting from increasing prosperity in the 1980s and 1990s, the capital city of Spain has consolidated its position as an important economic, cultural, industrial, educational, and technological centre on the European continent.

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