Madrid Spain Map, History and Culture

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Interactive Map of Madrid, Spain

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People often refer to Madrid as the capital of Spain, but it is also one of 17 autonomous regions in Spain. The autonomous region in Spain includes the capital city of Madrid and is bordered to the north by Castilla y Leon and the south by Castilla la Mancha.

Madrid is the 6th smallest territory in Spain at approximately 3,100 square miles of total area; however, it is the 3rd most populated with around 6.6 million people residing.

City List:

  • San Sebastián de los Reyes
  • Alcorcón
  • Getafe
  • Collado Villalba
  • Tres Cantos
  • Alcala de Henares

Quick Facts:

  • Population: 6.6 million
  • Languages: Spanish, Castilian Spanish
  • Ethnicities: Spanish, Castilian, Basque, Catalan, Andalucian
  • Capital: Madrid

The History of Madrid

Like much of the Iberian Peninsula, the Romans conquered the region of Madrid during the 3rd Century BC and ruled until their fall in 476 AD. After the Roman Empire fell, the Germanic tribe known as the Visigoths, invaded the vulnerable region of Madrid and established it as their own.

Visigothic Madrid was lackluster and insignificant. It wasn’t until the Muslim Invasion during the 11th Century that Madrid was put back on the map.

During the al-Andalus period in 9th Century AD, the Muslims set up a defensive military post to stop the Christian Reconquest from penetrating further south into the region. The military post was called the fortress of Madrid, which became the foundation for the city of Madrid.

During the Christian Reconquest, King Alfonso VI was able to reconquer the city of Madrid during his quest to conquer the city of Toledo in Castilla la Mancha.

By the 13th Century, Madrid had been fully recovered by the Christians and had maintained the laws of the land that were granted during King Alfonso’s reign. The Land of Madrid was erected to include various provinces that had been established throughout the Madrid region.

These provinces included San Sebastian de Los Reyes, Corbena, Las Rozas de Madrid, Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Torrejon de Velasco, Alcorcon, San Fernando de Henares, and Grinon.

After the Land of Madrid was established, Castilian monarchs favored the city and gave Madrid political power by allowing the region to possess a seat on the Courts of Castile. This permission gave Madrid the right to vote in the Court proceedings.

By 1561, Madrid had become the capital of the Spanish Monarchy by King Philip II; however, harmony was not present in the city. Many citizens of Madrid opposed the control that the Catholic churches had over different cities in the region. This led to division, tension, and financial disadvantages among those living in the region.

In the 1700s, Philip V attempted to unify the region by creating an Intendent. The Intendent was an attempt to give those on the outskirts of the region an improved way of life by having a centralized Intendent of the region. Unfortunately, the Intendent was unsuccessful in unifying Madrid as a whole, leaving the outlying cities to continue to impoverish while the city of Madrid flourished.

By 1833, Madrid became its own province during the 1833 territorial division of Spain. Originally, the region was going to be called New Castile; however, in 1850, the region expanded to include the municipality of Valdeavero, in which the region ultimately became part of Castilla la Mancha.

At this point, Madrid would still be the capital of Spain and have special privileges that other regions in Castilla la Mancha did not have. This was a cause of concern to Castilla la Mancha in that they did not want the municipalities of their region to feel inadequate or unequal to Madrid.

During the Spanish Constitution of 1978, it was decided that Madrid would be given its official autonomy under Article 144 of the Constitution. On February 25, 1983, Madrid became an autonomous territory in Spain.


Castilian Spanish is the primary language of Madrid. Castilian Spanish is the traditional native Spanish spoken in Spain, specifically in central and northern Spain. Castilian Spanish is considered European Spanish, as it is different than the Spanish that is spoken in the western hemisphere.

When explorers from Spain arrived in the New World and taught the inhabitants Spanish, the dialect changed and became what is called Latin Spanish or American Spanish today. Therefore, Castilian Spanish is the type of Spanish that is spoken throughout the central and northern regions of Spain today.


The primary religion of Madrid is Roman Catholicism, which can be attributed to the Christian Reconquest after the Muslim Invasion. Because of the Christian Reconquest, Christianity was preserved in the region and spread to future children who led the reconquest.

Churches and cathedrals were constructed during this time, which allowed Roman Catholics to continue teaching Christianity in the region. Many of these Christian churches and cathedrals in Madrid are still present today.


Much of the region of Madrid is commercialized, as it is the capital city of Spain; however, don’t let the urban name fool you. Some untouched areas in the region showcase the distinct geography of Madrid.

Many mountain ranges billow throughout northern Madrid. The Guadarrama Mountains have dense forests rather than bare rock. This gives Madrid much of its Pine and Oaktree population for the total region. These forests are home to many animals and vegetation, preserving the existence of some nearly extinct animals.

The forests are abundant for a small region, and the soil of the region is rich in nutrients to allow for forest repopulation to occur if need be.

The geography of Madrid is definitely one that is dense, considering the region surrounds the commercialized capital city of Madrid.


The culture of Madrid can be found in the symbols that represent Madrid. Madrid is strong in its history, which includes its flag and coat of arms. The flag is honored by standing indoors next to the Spanish flag, and outside of public buildings in Madrid. The coat of arms displayed on the flag is red to represent the Castillian territories that Madrid was once a part of, and the seven stars represent the administrative provinces of Madrid.

Immigration & Migration Patterns

When the Land of Madrid was established, the region quickly grew, especially in the capital city of Madrid. This caused many immigrants from neighboring territories to move to the region.

Because of this, many different Spanish ethnicities can be found in Madrid, including Basque, Castilian, Catalan, and Andalucian. The most common ethnicity found in Madrid is Castilian, as Madrid was once a part of the regions of Castilla y Leon and Castilla la Mancha.

Emigration as a whole from Spain was at its highest between 1846 and 1932 for a few reasons. First, there was much unrest throughout Spain during the wars that took place throughout the peninsula.

Second, there were many opportunities that the western world had presented to the Spaniards. For these reasons, it is estimated that around 5 million Spaniards emigrated from Spain to the western world during this time period.


Most of Madrid is made up of the Castilian ethnicity. This means that those with Castilian lineage may also have a connection to the region of Madrid, as this region was once part of both Castilla la Mancha and Castilla y Leon.

Castilians ventured outside of their territories during the Spanish emigration of the 1800s due to the impoverished nature that the region was left in after the many wars on the peninsula. Castilians emigrated to wealthier territories, both within Spain as well as in the west.

For this reason, it would be likely to see the Castilian lineage in various Spanish territories, nearby European countries, and various countries in the western hemisphere (the southern United States, Central America, South America, and eastern Caribbean countries).

Caleb Pike
About the author

Caleb Pike is an avid hiker and nature lover, with a passion for exploring the great outdoors. He's a writer, photographer, and adventurer, always seeking new trails to blaze and peaks to conquer.