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The history of Madrid Spain essentially starts with the founding of a settlement in the area by Romans in the second century BC. The name of this early settlement was Matrice, and this is believed by some historians to have led to the current name of the city. When it comes to interesting facts about Madrid, it is also worth noting that there are also those who believe that the city's name has Arabic origins. The Moors were the first ones to establish more than just a primitive settlement in present-day Madrid, and they did so with the building of a fortress in 854. Mayrit was the name of the Moorish settlement, and the general area would remain a dominion of the Moors until the Arab ruler of Toledo turned present-day Madrid over to the Christian King Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085.
While other regional cities, such as Toledo and Segovia, were already well established in and around the year 1,000, it took Madrid a little longer to develop into a true place of interest. For quite some time, Madrid was little more than a village that passed from empire to empire, and rulers of the day had little interest in making anything out of it. One of the more interesting facts about Madrid is that it wasn't awarded town status until 1202. The city didn't really start to get the attention of the King of Castile until the 1300s. By this time, the relatively unruly nature of Madrid led the king to appoint a governor, and in the early 1300s, the royal court and parliament met here for the first time. This effectively ushered in a period of increasing significance that would have a big impact on the history of Madrid Spain. It may have taken a while, but in 1561, the growing city became the Spanish capital. The culture of Madrid would never be the same, as all of the sudden it was thrust onto the grand stage, both politically and culturally.
Interesting facts about Madrid abound, including that it was King Felipe II who moved the capital of Spain from Toledo to Madrid. There weren't a lot of identifiable reasons for this, other than the fact that Madrid is found in the geographic heart of the country. The new capital didn't exactly take to its role in dynamic fashion at the start, however, as Felipe II was more focused on getting El Escorial finished. Things eventually started to get done in Madrid in the subsequent years, however, and by 1600, some of the city's current top attractions were already established. These attractions include the stately Plaza Mayor and the delightful retreat that is Retiro Park. It is also worth noting that the city became a major center of art in the 1600s, with artists such as Velazquez and El Greco bringing attention to Spanish art in general. To this day, the art culture of Madrid is world famous.
Various social and economic problems plagued Madrid in the 1600s and 1700s. By 1759, King Charles III took it upon himself to clean things up. Street lights were put in place, various monuments erected, and the massive Palacio Real established. Things seemed to be going well until Napolean appointed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as the King of Spain in 1808. This led to the Peninsula War, which saw Madrid and its people putting up with French rule until 1812. One of the most significant events in the history of Madrid Spain was the Dos De Mayo rebellion, which saw Madrid locals rebelling against French forces near the Palacio Real. The rebellion was put down rather quickly, though it remains one of the proudest moments in the story of Madrid. The great Spanish painter, Francisco Goya, immortalized the rebellion with his two paintings El Dos De Mayo and El Tres De Mayo, both of which are on display at the wonderful Prado Museum.
In the 1800s, Spain started to lose control of the overseas territories that it had established over the period of centuries, and this affected both the country and the capital in many different ways. Over time, the Spanish parliament was dissolved, and when a military directorate was formed in 1923, then King of Spain, Alfonso XIII, fled Madrid and the country. This saw the indoctrination of the Falange party, which was fascist in nature and followed in line with what was going on in Italy and Germany at the time. When Italy's Mussolini and Germany's Hitler tried to take control of Spain with the help of the Falange party in 1936, the Spanish Civil War broke out. As a result of fascist bombing attacks on Spain during the war, the legendary Picasso painted Guernica, which is hailed as the most significant Spanish painting. This somber masterpiece is on display at the also wonderful Reina Sofia Museum and depicts the suffering of the innocent.
The Spanish Civil War lasted until 1939, and following its end was a long period of Fascist rule under the controversial leader, Francisco Franco. Democratic rule returned to Madrid and the rest of Spain in 1975, when Franco passed away. In many ways, Spain was reborn after Franco's death, and tourism started to become an industry. The culture of Madrid definitely changed for the better in 1975, and today, the city is one of the most highly visited in Europe.
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