The capital and largest city in Spain, Madrid is located in the geographical heart of the country.
The population of the city is 3,155,359 (2005) and that of the metropolitan area is 5,964,143 (2005 est.).
Covering 531 sq km (205 sq mi), Madrid lies at an elevation of about 640 m (2,100 ft).
Madrid serves as the commercial, cultural, and transportation center of Spain, as well as the capital of Madrid province.
Surrounded by a rolling plateau, Madrid is located along the Manzanares River, a small tributary of the Tagus (Tajo).
The Sierra de Guadarrama, reaching 2,430 m (7,972 ft), overlooks the city in the north.
Madrid's climate is marked by extremes.
Summers are very hot and dry, with temperatures reaching as much as 40 deg C (104 deg F) in July.
In January the average temperature is 4 deg C (40 deg F).
Average annual rainfall is 406 mm (16 in) and falls mostly in the winter.
Madrid is often subject to strong winds, which are dry and dusty in summer and piercingly cold in winter.
Madrid City flag.
Madrid Community flag.
Flag of Spain.
When to come.
The best time to visit Madrid is in April-May and September-October when temperatures are good.
During the summer months the city is not very crowded as most Madrileños leave for coastal areas, however it is too hot even after midnight.
The national currency of Spain is the Euro (€). Bills are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 Euro notes. Coins are 1 and 2 Euros, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro cents.
Here is a great currency converter.
Madrid is on Central European Time, GMT + 1 hour (+ 2 hours during Summer time from the last Sunday in March to the last Saturday in October).
According to Spain's Constitution, Spaniards have freedom of religion, but the vast majority (86%) are Roman Catholics.
Politics and Government.
Spain is a Parliamentary Monarchy and the King Juan Carlos I is the Head of State.
Executive power lies on the Presidente del Gobierno who is elected every four years and appointed at the Congreso de los Diputados.
The two major political parties in Spain are the center-right People's Party (PP) and the center-left Socialist Party (PSOE).
The current mayor of Madrid is Ana Botella of the People's Party.
Spain, like most other European countries, has 220-volt AC, 50Hz current and uses two-pin continental plugs.
Visitors from the UK will need an adapter for electric appliances, and US citizens need a converter/transformer as well in order to use their 110/125V appliances.
Spain uses the Celsius scale to measure temperatures.
Weights and Measures.
The official system of weights and measures in Spain is the metric system, thus:
1 meter = 3.28 feet.
1 kilogram = 2.2046 pounds.
1 liter = 0.2641 US gallons. 1 US gallon = 3.7854 liters.
Weights and Measures Converter Click Here.
In Spain, tipping is not obligatory but always appreciated. A tip of between 5 and 10% in restaurants and hotels would be fine.
Spain was visited by more than 59 million foreign tourists in 2007 and is the second most visited country in the world after France.
Madrid alone received more than 8 million.
The main tourist office in Madrid, Madrid Tourism Center (Tel. 91 588 16 36) is located in the Plaza Mayor, 27, and is open everyday from 09:30 to 20:30 hours.
SPAIN TOURIST FIGURES
||Number of Tourists
Passports and Visas.
No visa is required for citizens of European Union countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, or Japan, who are planning to stay for less than 90 days.
Passports however need to be valid for three months beyond the end of your stay.
Citizens of other countries should consult their Spanish embassy or consulate for information before traveling to Spain.
Driving in Spain.
In order to be allowed to drive in Spain, you need your national driving license, and, in case you are not from a EU country, the International Driving Permit which is usually valid for one year.
To rent a vehicle you must be 21 or over.
It is illegal to drive while wearing headphones or using hand-held mobile phones.
Seat belts must be worn at all times in front seats and rear seats where fitted.
Almost a million foreigners representing 15% of the population live in Madrid (2006 figures), and most of them come from Latin America.
- Ecuador: 185,000
- Romania: 127,000
- Colombia: 82,000
- Morocco: 81,000
- Peru: 49,000
- Bolivia: 37,000
Banks are usually open from Monday to Saturday, 9:00 am to 13:00 pm. Sundays and holidays are closed.
Most shops and businesses open from Monday to Saturday, 10:00 am to 14:00 pm and 17:00 pm to 20:30 pm.
Big shopping malls such as La Vaguada and department stores like El Corte Inglés remain open non-stop from 10:00 am to 20:30 pm.
On Sundays and holidays almost all businesses are closed.
- January 1st: New Year's Day.
- January 6th: Día de Reyes.
- March 19th: Saint Joseph.
- March-April: Easter Thursday and Good Friday.
- May 1st: Día del Trabajo (May Day).
- May 2nd: Madrid Day.
- May 15th: San Isidro. Madrid's Patron Saint.
- October 12th: Día de la Hispanidad (Spain's National Holiday).
- November 1st: All Saints Day.
- November 9th: Virgen de la Almudena. Madrid's Patron virgin.
- December 6th: Constitution Day.
- December 8th: Immaculate Conception.
- December 25th: Christmas.
ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) are the easiest way of obtaining cash in Spain as there are thousands of them and can be found outside bank offices and airports.
The two main ATM networks that operate in Spain are Servired and 4B, and all major cards are accepted: VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club, etc.
Remember that ATM cards use a 4-digit PIN number.
There are public phone booths everywhere in Madrid.
Most take coins but others will need phonecards which can be bought at tobacco shops (estancos).
Some phone booths accept credit cards as well.
All Madrid phone numbers begin with 91 followed by seven digits.
The dialing code to call to Spain from overseas is 34.
To call from Madrid to the USA and Canada is 00 1.
To call from Madrid to the UK is 00 44.
To call from Madrid to Germany is 00 49.
An example of how to make an international call:
||85 96 35
Phone Numbers of Interest in Madrid:
Local Police: 092
National Police: 091
Police 24 hours crime reporting: 902 102 112
Fire Department: 080
Red Cross: 91 522 222
Tourist Information: 010 from within Madrid. (+34) 91 540 40 40 or (+34) 91 540 40 10 from outside Madrid.
Letters and postcards sent from Spain to the US and Canada cost 0.78 Euros up to 20 grams.
Letters and postcards sent from Spain to the UK and other EU countries cost 0.57 Euros up to 20 grams.
Letters and postcards within Spain cost 0.29 Euros.
Stamps (sellos) are sold at post offices and any tobacco shop (estanco).
To post a letter or postcard just look for any of the yellow post boxes (buzones) spread all over the city.
The main post office, the Palacio de Comunicaciones, is located in the Plaza de Cibeles.
Spanish Post Office (Correos) website: http://www.correos.es
Universities in Madrid
- Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Public university.
- Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Public university.
- Universidad Europea de Madrid. Private university.
- Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio. Private university.
Embassies in Madrid
|Embassy of the United States of America
CALLE SERRANO, 75
28006 – Madrid
Phone: 91 587 22 00
Fax: 91 587 23 03
Nearest metro stations:
Rubén Darío and Gregorio Marañón.
|Embassy of the United Kingdom
CALLE FERNANDO EL SANTO, 16
28010 - Madrid
Phone: 91 700 82 00
Fax: 91 700 82 10
Nearest metro stations:
Alonso Martínez and Colón.
|Embassy of Germany
CALLE FORTUNY, 8
28010 - Madrid
Phone: 91 557 90 00
Fax: 91 310 21 04
Nearest metro station: Ruben Dario.
|Embassy of Canada
CALLE NUÑEZ DE BALBOA, 35
28001 – Madrid
Phone: 91 423 32 50
Fax: 91 423 32 53
Nearest metro station: Velázquez.
|Embassy of Japan
28006 - MADRID
Phone: 91 590 76 00
Fax: 91 590 13 21
Nearest metro station: Gregorio Marañón.
|Embassy of Australia
PLAZA DESCUBRIDOR DIEGO DE ORDAS, 3
28003 - Madrid
Phone: 91 353 66 00
Fax: 91 353 66 92
Nearest metro station: Rios Rosas.
|Embassy of New Zealand
PLAZA LEALTAD, 2, Planta 3º
28014 - MADRID
Phone: 91 523 02 26
Fax: 91 523 01 71
Nearest metro station: Banco de España.