Madrid, Spain, Europe

Founded: Castilians defeated the Moors and captured Madrid in 1083. Philip II made Madrid the capital of Spain in 1561.
Location: Province of Madrid, near the geographic center of the Iberian Peninsula. It lies on top of a sand and clay plateau known as the Meseta (from the Spanish word mesa, or table).
Time Zone: Spain is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight Savings Time is observed late March to late October.
Elevation: At 2,100 ft (635 m) above sea level, Madrid is one of the highest capitals in Europe.
Latitude and Longitude: 40°26'N, 3°42'W. Madrid shares roughly the same latitude as New York City, New York, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Climate: Winters are cold, but mostly dry. Night temperatures often fall below 32 ° F, and snow occasionally falls on the city. Spring is warmer and pleasant although night temperatures remain low. Summer is often divided into two smaller seasons. Early summer is quite pleasant, but late summer in July and August is often unbearably hot. Autumn is a little wetter but more pleasant than summer.
Temperature: January is typically the coldest month, and temperatures range from 35 to 47°F (2 to 9°C). July: 63–87°F (17–31°C); September 57–77°F (14–25°C).
Average Annual Precipitation: 16.5 inches (419.1 mm)
Government: Mayor and city council
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: The peseta (about 125 pesetas per one US dollar). Notes come in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 pesetas. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 pesetas.
Telephone Area Codes: Spain Country Code: 34; Madrid City Code: 91

2. Getting There


Six major highways lead to all corners of the country.

Bus and Railroad Service

There are two main train stations in the city: Chamartín and Atocha. Trains from the north arrive at Chamartín, while trains from the south, east, and west arrive at Atocha. The station is also the terminus for the high-speed AVE trains, which travel south to Cordova and Sevilla. The railways in Spain are operated by the state-owned RENFE. Buses depart for destinations throughout Spain from two main stations in the Madrid area.


All domestic and international flights arrive at the Barajas International Airport.

3. Getting Around

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Madrid's Metro system is made up of ten lines. It is cheap and efficient but not the best way to get around in the summer months when the tunnels become unbearably hot. The metro operates from 6 AM to 1:30 AM. Madrid has an extensive bus system with more than 150 lines. Buses stop operating at 1 AM. Taxis and buses known as buhos (owls) operate during the late night hours. There are 20 buho bus lines.

The Cercanías trains (greater Madrid light railway) serve the outskirts of Madrid and towns nearby. In Madrid the railway stations are underground, but they go above ground on the outskirts of the city. The modern trains are comfortable. They are equipped with heat and air conditioning. Prices vary on distance traveled.


Tourists and Madrileños alike use the Cercanias trains to visit the picturesque towns of Toledo, Segovia, Avila, El Escorial, and Aranjuez. World-class museums, bullfights, and flamenco dancing are also popular attractions.

8. Public Safety

Madrid is mostly a safe city although it shares the same social problems as other cities of its size. Madrileños have no problems staying out at all hours of the night, most without facing any problems. Some areas of the city, however, are notorious for prostitution and drug deals. Purse snatchers and pickpockets prey on tourists in crowded areas.

11. Shopping

Madrid's shopping is more sedate and traditional than other European cities. Small boutiques and specialized stores command a major presence in the city. Small food stores, where expensive hams and olive oils from the region are featured, are found throughout the city. El Corte Inglés is just about the only department store similar to those found in the United States.

12. Education

Madrid is one of the most important centers of education in the country and home to some of its most prestigious universities. Among them are the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Open University).

13. Health Care

While Madrid has 56 hospitals and approximately five physicians per 1,000 residents, health care lags behind other major European cities. Many hospitals lack adequate staff and equipment. Madrileños suffer from an abnormally high rate of respiratory problems caused by pollution.

17. Performing Arts

From flamenco dancing to bull-fighting (considered an art form by aficionados), Madrid has much to offer. Bullfights in Madrid are held at Las Ventas bullring, considered the mecca of bullfighting. Fans of flamenco often go to the small clubs of Lavapiés, where performances often don't get under way until well past midnight.

22. For Further Study


Madrid's Underground Metro. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

National Library. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

National System of Spanish Railways. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

Postal Service. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

Prado Museum. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

Government Offices

Spanish Embassy
2700 15th St. NW.
Washington D.C. 20009

Community of Madrid. [Online] Available http:/ (accessed January 29, 2000).

Municipality of Madrid. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000). National Statistical Office. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Instituto de turismo de España
José Lázaro Galdeano 6
28017, Madrid, España


El Pais. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

Madrid Daily. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

The Broadsheet. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).

El Mundo. [Online] Available (accessed January 29, 2000).


Besas, Peter. Behind the Spanish lens: Spanish cinema under fascism and democracy. Denver, Colorado: Arden Press, 1985.

Carr, Raymond. Modern Spain, 1875–1980. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Cross, Esther and Wilbur Cross. Spain. Enchantment of the World Series. Chicago: Children's Press, 1994.

Kent, Deborah. Madrid. Chicago: Children's Press, 1999.

Pérez-Díaz, V. M. The Return of Civil Society: The emergence of Democratic Spain. Harvard University Press, 1993.