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General Information about Madrid

In this article, travelers will find useful information about Madrid: 

Frequently asked questions 

  • Documentación necesaria para visitar Madrid What documentation is necessary to travel to Spain and Madrid? Do I need a visa or can I travel to Spain with my passport? 
  • El tiempo en Madrid What is the climate like in Madrid? When is the best time to visit the city? Does it rain a lot? 
  • Precios en Madrid What are the general prices like in Madrid? Is it very expensive to eat out? How much does a beer or a coffee cost? 
  • Días festivos en Madrid When are Madrid's public holidays and observances? Do the attractions close on all bank holidays? Does Madrid celebrate any public holiday in particular? 
  • Horario comercial en Madrid When do the stores open and close in Madrid? What days of the week do museums close? Do the shops close on Sundays? 

More information

Statue of the bear and strawberry tree
Statue of the bear and strawberry tree

Almudena Cathedral
Almudena Cathedral

Retiro Park's lake
Retiro Park's lake

Madrid is the capital of Spain and is also known as Villa y Corte. It is the biggest city in the country and the third largest in the European Union with over 3 million inhabitants (more than 6 million in its metropolitan area).

El oso y el madroño

Madrid is known as the city of the "Bear and the Strawberry Tree" (villa del Oso y el Madroño). The nickname comes from the mid thirteenth century, which according to the legend is a result of a dispute between the Council and the clergymen of the city's parishes about the right to certain forests and fields. It was resolved by agreeing that the forests belonged to the Council and the meadows to the clergymen. To commemorate the agreement, the Council added a Strawberry tree to the shield of the municipality with a black bear leaning on its trunk. 

Madrid as capital of Spain

The Government’s headquarters, the Cortes and the official residence of the Kings of Spain are all located in Madrid.  

In financial terms, Madrid houses the headquarters of numerous international and national companies. The capital is also a haven of culture, with world-famous museums such as the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum.

Madrid has been the capital of Spain since mid-sixteenth century, when Philip II transferred the capital form Toledo to Madrid. During five years, it was moved to Valladolid (1601 to 1606) and then returned to Madrid.

Madrid’s inhabitants

Madrid’s inhabitants are called “madrileños” or “matritense” (in English Madrileans). In the past, the city’s residents were also called “gatos” (cats). This popular nickname dates back to the medieval times, when the city was conquered by Alfonso VI. To get over the walls, the soldiers had to climb like cats and since then have been given this name. 

Helpful telephone numbers

  • Emergency: 112
  • Municipal police: 092.
  • National Police: 091.
  • Prefix of Spain: +34.
  • Prefix of Madrid: 91.
  • Madrid tourist information: 902 100 007.
  • Foreign tourist assistance service: 902 102 112.