Madrid is the capital of Spain and the third most populous city in the European
Union. Madrid is also the largest city in Spain, as well as in the province and
the autonomous community of the same name. It is located on the river
Manzanares in the center of the country, between the autonomous communities of
Castilla-León and Castilla-La Mancha.
Due to its geographical location, wealth and history, Madrid is considered one
of the financial centers of the Iberian Peninsula, together with Lisbon, and
the political center of Spain. As the capital of the Spanish Empire, Madrid is
a city of great cultural and political importance.
While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and
feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. Its landmarks include
the huge Royal Palace of Madrid; a restored 1850 opera house; the Buen Retiro
park, opened in 1631; the imposing 19th-century building containing the Spanish
National Library (founded 1712); the national archives; an archaeological
museum of international reputation; and three superb art museums: Prado Museum,
which houses one of the finest art collections in the world, the Museo Nacional
Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza
Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace.
The population of the city was 3.5 million (December 2005), while the estimated
urban area population is 5.5 million. The entire population of the Madrid
metropolitan area (urban area and suburbs) is calculated to be 5.84 million.
The city spans a total of 607 km (234 square miles). Following the restoration
of democracy in 1975 and Spain's integration into the European Union, Madrid
has played an increasing role in European finances, marking the city as one of
the most important European metropolises.
The residents of Madrid are called Madrileños.