Madrid History


Despite the fact that the site of modern-day Madrid has been occupied since pre-historic times, during the Roman times it was a very basic rural community. The origins of the modern city come from the 9th century, when Muhammad I constructed a small palace on the site that is today occupied by the Palacio Real. Around this palace was built a small citadel, which slowly grew towards the north. Despite the fact that historically, Seville was favoured as the capital, it was King Philip II who moved the court to Madrid in 1561. During Spain’s Golden Age, during the 16th and 17th centuries, Madrid bore little resemblance to other European capitals, but it nonetheless expanded dramatically and became one of the most powerful European cities. More recently, during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), Madrid was one of the most heavily affected Spanish cities – it was a stronghold of the Republicans from July 1936 and it was during this time that it became the first European city to be bombed by airplanes. During the dictatorship of Franco, in particular during the 1960s, the south of Madrid became highly industrialised, which saw massive migrations into the city from the more rural areas. After the death of Franco, in order to stabilise the political situation, emerging democratic parties accepted King Juan Carlos I as both Franco's successor and as the heir of the historic dynasty. This led Spain to its current position as a constitutional monarchy, with Madrid as its capital. The city has benefited from increasing prosperity during the 80s and 90s and has thus consolidated its position as one of the most important economic, cultural and technological centres of Europe.