Madrid' (Span. pron. Madh-reedh'), the capital of Spain, is situated in the dep. of Madrid (part of the ancient province of New Castile), in 40o 24' N. lat. and 3° 25' W. long., 880 miles by rail from Paris. It is built on a treeless, ill-watered plateau, on the left bank of the Manzanares, 2060 feet above the sea-level. The Manzanares is merely a mountain-torrent falling into the Jarama, a tributary of the Tagus; water is brought from the Guadarrama Mountains by an aqueduct 42 miles in length. The sole recommendation of Madrid as capital is its central position in the Peninsula. Swept during winter by icy winds from the snow-capped mountains on the north, and exposed in summer to a burning sun, it has a climate which, though dry and bright, shows extreme variations of temperature (104° to 14°). The average of the eight warmer months (March to October) is 66° F., and that of the four remaining ones 44°, but the difference at the same time between sun and shade is sometimes as great as 20°. At the beginning of the 19th century the pop. was about 160,000 ; in 1860 it was 298,00; in 1870, 332,000; and in 1905, 550,000. Madrid in the 10th century was known as Medina Magerit, a fortified post of some importance on the frontier of the Moorish kingdom of Toledo. Retaken by the Christians of Castile in 939, it was not finally conquered till 1085. On the high ground where the royal palace now stands was the stronghold that gave the place celebrity. The city received its earliest charter in 1202, and the Cortes were first held in it by Ferdinand VI. (1309). Under Isabel the Catholic it became a place of some importance owing to the more frequent presence of the court. It received such privileges from the Emperor Charles V. that its pop. rose rapidly from 3000 to 6000 households. When in 1561 Madrid was declared capital of Spain by Philip II., it contained about 30,000 inhabitants. With the court came the great nobles, who built palaces, and innumerable friars, who established convents; nevertheless till the middle of the 17th century the city presented a mean appearance. Philip IV. made some improvements, and in his time Madrid, though still unpaved and filthy, was the seat of one of the most brilliant courts of Europe. The greatest benefactor of the city was Charles III., many of whose splendid works still exist. Madrid, during the domination of Napoleon, made a gallant attempt (1808) to shake off the foreign yoke; but although taken by the allied forces under the Duke of Wellington in 1812, it was not finally rid of the French till 1813. Madrid, aided by the suppression of the convents (1836), the introduction of railways (1850), and an abundant supply of good water (1858), has rapidly advanced in importance and prosperity.
The general aspect of the city is clean and gay, whilst the older parts are picturesque ; no trace now remains of the mediaeval city. The new streets are generally fine, broad, and planted with trees; the houses well built, lofty, and inhabited by several families living in flats. A great feature is the magnificent open spaces, chief of which is the Prado, running north and south through the eastern part of the city, and, with its continuations, three miles long : it contains four handsome fountains with groups of statuary, a fine obelisk to commemorate the gallant struggle of the citizens with the French (May 2, 1808), monuments to Columbus, Isabel the Catholic, etc. The picture-gallery here, founded by Charles III., is one of the finest in Europe, and contains many of the masterpieces of Velasquez, Murillo, Raphael, Tintoretto, Rubens, Teniers, and Van Dyck. Two other parks are the Buen Retiro, the fashionable promenade on the east of the city, and the Casa de Campo on the west. Midway between its extremities the Prado is crossed at right angles by the Calle de Alcala, the finest street in the city, about a mile in length, and leading from outside the fine triumphal arch rebuilt by Charles III. to the Puerta del Sol, the square which is the heart of Madrid; here converge the principal tramway lines, and in it and the streets branching off from it are situated the principal shops and places of business. The finest square is the Plaza Mayor, formerly the scene of bull-fights and autos-da-fe; it contains a gigantic equestrian statue of Philip III., its founder. On the west of the city are the new cathedral and the royal palace ; the latter, commenced in 1738 to replace the ancient Alcazar, which had been burned down, was finished in 1764 at a cost of £3,000,000. Other fine buildings are the palace of justice, formerly a convent; the houses of parliament; Buena Vista Palace, now the ministry of war; and the new national bank. Besides a flourishing university, founded by Cardinal Ximenes, and two high schools, Madrid contains 120 municipal (besides pauper) schools, with an aggregate of 12,000 pupils. Madrid is well provided with newspapers and public libraries, the chief being the National Library, with more than half a million volumes, and the library of the university. The opera-house is one of the finest in the world ; all the theatres must by law be lit by electricity. The bull-ring, situated outside the gates on the east, is a solid structure seating 14,000. Iron-founding, and the manufacture of furniture, carriages, and fancy articles are carried on on a small scale. The manufacture of tobacco employs many hands, chiefly women. The publishing trade is important, and books are well printed and cheap. The old tapestry-factory still turns out beautiful work, as do the potteries at Moncloa.