General Information

Before traveling to Madrid, it is very interesting to know the past of the Spanish capital and discover all the cultures that have been installed over the centuries in the city. From the Islamic and medieval Madrid, to the time of the Bourbons, passing through the Madrid of the Austrias and arriving at the ‘Movida madrileña’.

‘Madrid’ comes from the Arabic ‘Magerit’, which means "land rich in water". This name was used by the Arabs to identify the hilly enclave near Sierra de Guadarrama that Philip II chose to establish his court in 1561. But before that, the first historical evidence of the city dates back to the year 865. At that time, the emir Muhammad I ordered to build a citadel in the village of Mayrit, on the banks of the Manzanares River. Hence, the etymological relationship between the name of the city and water. Because of this, the motto of the first shield of the city was: "I went on water built / My walls of fire are / This is my badge and my coat of arms". Madrid would be an Islamic city until 1083, when Alfonso VI of Castile conquered the town.

Felipe II traslada la capital de Toledo a Madrid
Philip II moves the capital of Toledo to Madrid

Madrid was the capital of a great empire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and it played a very important role in Europe. But in spite of that, its architecture did not reflect that international role that it had to play. Other European courts were characterized by ostentation, while the churches and palaces of Madrid were very sober buildings. This austerity answered to the spirit and protocol that characterized the Habsburg dynasty. In fact, the kings of this dynasty rarely left the quarterdeck and they were hardly seen in public.

All of this changes in 1701, when Philip V, the first Bourbon of Spain, arrives in Madrid and meets a city of narrow streets, full of churches and sober palaces. From then on the kings undertake a series of urban reforms to adapt the image of the city to the taste of European courts: fountains, gardens, monumental arches and the new Royal Palace change the face of the city.

At the beginning of the 80s, the Malasaña neighborhood became the epicenter of what is now known as ‘Movida madrileña’, a counter cultural phenomenon that forever changed the image of Madrid. Specifically, on the afternoon of 9th February 1980, the School of Roads of Madrid hosted a concert tribute to Canito, the battery of the group Tos who had died in a traffic accident. In that concert played Jam, Nacha Pop, Paradise, Alaska and the Pegamoides, Tabs, Mario Tenia and the Solitaires and The Rebels.

Despite having a cultural origin, the movement soon took on a much greater scope at a sociological and national level, extending to other Spanish cities. It even had political support that aimed to show a turning point between the Francoist society and the new society of the democracy. This image of a "modern" Spain, or at least open to modernity, would be used internationally to combat the negative image that the country had acquired over four decades of dictatorship. Nevertheless, and despite this counter cultural movement, a large part of the country`s social and economic structures were inherited from the previous regime.

Concierto en homenaje a Canito
Concert in homage to Canito,
1980


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