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Community of Madrid Travel Guide

Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid (© Matej Kastelic - iStockphoto.com)
Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid.

Introduction

Centred around the Spanish capital, the Community of Madrid is an autonomous region of its own totalling nearly 6.4 million inhabitants, making it the third most populous autonomous community in Spain after Andalusia and Catalonia. Most of the population lives in the Madrid metropolitan area, the European Union's third largest metropolitan area after the Greater London and the Parisian region, comprising the city of Madrid and twenty surrounding municipalities.

The Community of Madrid's gross regional product per capita at purchasing power parity is 30% above the national average and is similar to that of Germany.

The Community of Madrid was only created in 1983 from the province of Madrid, which until then belonged to Castile–La Mancha (or New Castile).

Famous people from the Community of Madrid include (chronologically): the writers Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega, the statesman and dramatist José Echegaray (Nobel Prize in Literature), the dramatist Jacinto Benavente (Nobel Prize in Literature), the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, the opera tenor Plácido Domingo, the politician Javier Solana (former Secretary General of NATO and EU HR) the singer Julio Iglesias, the former Prime Minister José María Aznar, the singer Enrique Iglesias, and the actress Penélope Cruz.

Cuisine

The Madrilenian cuisine is an amalgamation of the cuisines of various regions of Spain. For breakfast it is popular to eat churros con chocolate, a tubular doughnut dipped in hot chocolate or café con leche. The region's most emblematic main dish is the cocido madrileño, a chickpea-based stew with vegetables, potatoes, and various meats such as beef, chicken, pork belly, morcilla and chorizo. Among other local specialties are the besugo a la madrileña (baked sea bream), carne al desarreglo (beef stew with white wine) and callos (beef tripe with chorizo, morcilla, serrano ham, bell peppers and/or chickpeas).

Some of the best tapas bars in the country are found in the Spanish capital. Popular tapas include bocadillos de calamares (battered squid ring sandwich), calamares a la romana (battered squid rings), caracoles a la madrileña (snails cooked in a spicy sauce), gambas/setas al ajillo (prawns/mushrooms with garlic), gallinejas (sheep chitterlings), huevos estrellados (fried eggs served with fried potatoes), oreja a la plancha (grilled pig'sear), patatas bravas (fried potato dices served with spicy tomato sauce or mayonnaise), and tortilla de patatas (omelette with potatoes).

If you are looking for a sweet treat, try the rosquillas tontas y listas, glazed or dusted doughnut-shaped pastries traditionally eaten for the Feast of Isidore the Labourer (San Isidro Labrador) in May, and found almost exclusively around Madrid. The anise-flavoured variant is rosquillas de anís. Another Madrilenian specialty are the bartolillos con crema, a small custard-filled pie eaten around Easter. Other popular desserts, not particularly specific of the Community of Madrid, include barquillos (crispy biscuit roll), buñuelos (fried dough balls filled with custard whipped cream), and torrijas (French toast).

Attractions

Madrid
Gran via at night, Madrid (©  Ljupco Smokovski - Fotolia.com)
must-see Madrid
El Escorial ※
Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (© dasharosato - Fotolia.com)
must-see El Escorial
Buitrago del Lozoya
Buitrago del Lozoya (photo by Diego Sanz Siguero - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
very good Buitrago del Lozoya
Aranjuez ※
Royal Palace of Aranjuez (© leonp - Fotolia.com)
must-see Aranjuez
Alcalá de Henares ※
Alcalá de Henares (© tella0303 - Fotolia.com)
very good Alcalá de Henares
New Castle of Manzanares el Real
New Castle of Manzanares el Real (photo by Ramón Durán - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)
very good New Castle of Manzanares el Real

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