It was first settled in the 9th Century as the site of an Arab palace, the location of which is now occupied by the more modern Palacio Real, built in 1738. Madrid became the capitol of Spain in 1561.
Today, Madrid is known as a major world city, a powerful center for Spanish politics, economy, and culture, and finance. It is considered the financial capitol of southern Europe, and the city is renowned for its high quality of living. It is also known for its architecture, history, fashion, and for interweaving historical aspects of the city with modern design.
People Born in Madrid
Madrid in People's Lives
John Scott-Ellis: I traveled here at the request of my parents, around 1939, to check on my sister, who had come here to become a volunteer nurse in aid of the soldiers of the Spanish Civil War.
Jorge Luis Borges: My family moved here in 1919, when I was 20 years old. I fell in love with this city, and with Spanish literature, particularly with the unique, anti-modernist ultraist literary movement, which would later inspire me toward my imaginist leanings. I began writing, mainly poetry. My first piece that was published was a poem called "Hymn to the Sea." While in this city, I mixed with the literary circle, and met Ramon Gomez de la Serna. In 1921, when I was 22 years old, my family decided to move back to Buenos Aires, and I went with them, now with a new vision of becoming a writer.
Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra: Having been born into a Spanish family in Peru, and having spent my youth attempting to blend in seamlessly with the more esteemed true Spanish-born young men of the navy, I viewed this city as an inspiring pinnacle to reach for. While stationed in Havana, I petitioned my superiors repeatedly for a chance to come here, and was finally granted my dream in 1785. I breathlessly sailed to this city, at the age of 41. However, once I finally reached this city of ideals, I was disappointed to find that prejudice against my Peruvian birth was even more pronounced. Despite this, I did find favor with King Charles III of Spain, who promoted me to a Ship Captain in 1786, and knighted me into the prestigious Order of Santiago in 1788. Shortly after this, I was made Commander of the Naval Department of San Blas, and so left Spain to return to that town.
Julius Caesar: After being elected quaestor back in Rome in 69 BC, at the age of 31, I left to be stationed here for a time. In truth, the exact city in Spain that I was stationed in is unknown, but as the Spanish capital, this one is being used by default. While serving here, I contemplated and strategized much about power. I came across a statue - now lost - of Alexander the Great, and was deeply struck by the fact that at my age, Alexander had been ruling the world. What did I rule? I returned to Rome two years later, in 67 BC, inspired and hungry for power.
Mario Vargas Llosa: I moved here in 1958 to accept a graduate school scholarship to the prestigious Complutense University of Madrid. When my scholarship ended in 1960, I could not afford to remain at the school, and moved to Paris, under the misguided impression that I was to recieve a scholarship to another graduate university there. I returned to live permanently in this city in 1990, now one of the most famous and acclaimed literary writers of South America. I became a Spanish citizen in 1993. In 2011, I was officially made a member of Spanish nobility by Juan Carlos I of Spain, given the title Marquis of Vargas Llosa. Together with Lima, this city is the closest to my heart.
Napoleon Bonaparte: After defeating the Spanish forces guarding the pass into this city in the Battle of Samosierra in December of 1808, I invaded and conquered this city with an enormous army. Moore and British forces within were swiftly attacked. The British forces were driven into the sea, and our annihilation of them was so complete that they began to consider withdrawing from Spain entirely. After this 1808 campaign, I never returned to Spain again.
Natalie Portman: I traveled here in 2005 to film scenes of the movie Goya's Ghosts. We filmed on location at the Palacio de el Pardo.
Viggo Mortensen: After finishing university, I moved to Europe and lived here briefly, in 1980. I fell in love with the city, and it remains one of my favorite places in the world. I now own a home here.
Zuzanna Bijoch: I traveled here in 2014 for a high fashion photo shoot.