Overview of Madrid

Geography of Madrid

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Spain is a peninsula located in Southeast Europe. It lies on the Eurasian Plate of the European continental shelf.  The area of Spain is 505,990 square km (195,360 square miles), makings it the third largest country in Europe.

Its terrain is a mostly hilly highland area divided by the Cordillera Central mountains. Significant mountains in Spain include the limestone Cordillera Cantabrica and the rugged Sistema Iberico (north); the massive Pyrenees (northeast); the deeply eroded and rocky Sierra de Cuenca (east), and the lower Montes de Toledo and Serrania de Cuenca (south-central). Further south, the mountains of the Cordillera Betica and Sierra Nevada dominate the landscape. Mainland Spain's highest point (Mulhacen - 3,481 meters) stands in the Sierra Nevada.

In the west side of the peninsula, the Meseta slopes gently down into neighbouring Portugal. Indented coastal areas appear both in the north (Atlantic Ocean) and on the country's east coast (Mediterranean). In the far south, the Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain and Europe from Morocco (Africa), and here, the two continents are only 13 km (8 miles) apart.

The country is drained by an estimated 1,500 small rivers. The longest and most significant rivers include the Douro (Duero) and the Ebro, Jucar, Tagus (Tejo), Guadiana and Guadalquivir.

Regions of Spain

17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities integrate the Spanish State. Both groups are the highest or first-order administrative division in the country.

Autonomous communities are integrated by provinces, of which there are 50 in total. At the same time, provinces are integrated by municipalities. The Spanish autonomous communities and cities are:

  • Andalucía
  • Aragón
  • Principado de Asturias
  • Islas Baleares
  • Canarias
  • Cantabria
  • Castilla-La Mancha
  • Castilla y León
  • Castalunya
  • Comunitat Valenciana
  • Extremadura
  • Galicia
  • La Rioja
  • Comunidad de Madrid
  • Región de Murcia
  • Comunidad Floral de Navarra
  • País Vasco
  • Ceuta (autonomous city)
  • Melilla (autonomous city)

Major Cities of Spain

In 2008 the population of Spain officially reached 46 million people, as recorded by the National Municipal Register. The country can be considered as "very urbanized" with almost 80% of the population living in urban areas.

The most important and populated cities in Spain are:

  • Madrid – Population: 3,255,944 inhabitants
  • Barcelona – Population: 1,621,537 inhabitants
  • Valencia – Population: 814,208 inhabitants
  • Seville – Population: 703,206 inhabitants
  • Zaragoza – Population: 674,317 inhabitants

Climate in Spain

Due to Spanish diverge geography; its climate varies a lot depending on the geographical area that we refer to. The main sorts of climate that we can find in Spain are:

  • Mediterranean climate: It is characterised by warm/hot and dry summers and relatively cold winters. It is typical from the Eastern coast, from Catalonia (border with France) to Andalucía, inland throughout Andalucía, Extremadura and much, if not most, of the centre of the country.
  • Oceanic climate: It is located in the northern quarter of the country, especially in the Atlantic region (Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, and partly Galicia and Castilla y León). Although it can also be found in northern Navarra and in the Pyrenean valleys. Ocean influences both winter and summer temperatures. They remain colder than in other areas of Spain and they are known for the amount of rainy days all year long (up to 140 days per year in the Basc Country)

Apart from these two main categories, other sub-types can be found; like the alpine and continental climates in the Pyrenees, as well as parts of the Cantabrian Range, the Central System, Sierra Nevada and the Iberian System; and a typical desert climate in the zone of Almeria, Murcia and eastern Canary Islands. Low-lying areas of the Canary Islands average above 18°C (64.4 °F) during their coldest month, thus having a tropical climate.

For up-to-date weather information, consult "Agencia Estatal de Meteorología"  

Time zone in Spain

See that Spain uses the Standard Time (CEST – UTC +2) in the summer months, and WEST (UTC+1) in the winter period.

Note: Spain observes CET/CEST, except the Canary Islands that observe WET/WEST – They will be always 1 hour behind the peninsula time.

Geography of Madrid

The capital of Spain, Madrid (3,2 million inhabitants in 2016) is the country largest city. It is also the capital of the autonomous region and province of Madrid.

The city of Madrid is located in the historic region of New Castile, near the geographic centre of the Iberian Peninsula.

Madrid is Spain's administrative, financial, and transportation centre. In general terms is a modern city, with boulevards and fashionable shopping areas. However, the old quarters still conserve picturesque old streets. Its landmarks include the huge royal palace, a restored 1850 opera house; the Buen Retiro park, opened in 1631; the imposing 19th-century building containing the national library (founded 1712), the national archives and an archaeological museum; and three superb art museums - the Prado, which houses one of the finest art collections in the world, the Queen Sofía Museum of modern art and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace.

The city is also well known for its vibrant nightlife and food culture.

Districts in Madrid

Madrid is divided into 18 neighbourhoods that cover from the Airport area (about 15km from the city centre) to la "Puerta del Sol" the popular km0 in Spain.

  • Austrias: It is the oldest part of Madrid. Its centre is located at "la Plaza Mayor"
  • Barrio de Las Letras: Known as the literature neighbourhood, it was the place where many important Golden Age writers use to live and gather
  • Barrio de Salamanca: The fanciest district in Madrid, where to discover the most luxury brand stores, Michelin-starred restaurants and the most sophisticated nightlife
  • Casa de Campo: Casa de Campo is a short drive from the city centre. It is also the largest urban park in Spain
  • Castellana: Castellana is Madrid's new financial district, where you can also find the Santiago Bernabeu football stadium
  • Chamberí: The most aristocratic architectural district in the heart of Madrid
  • Chueca: One of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in town where to shop, get cultural and taste fine food, always following the latest trends
  • Conde Duque: Next to the military quarters, this neighbourhood is well known for its traditional taverns and original stores
  • La Latina: When looking for the best street markets, such as "El Rastro" or the city's flea market, as well as the best tapas in town, La Latina is definitely the district where to look for
  • Lavapiés: The most cultural mixed neighbourhood. A melting pot of cultures and traditions, Lavapiés has never lost its essence
  • Madrid Río: The biggest green area for sports and leisure by the Manzanares' river
  • Malasaña – Triball: The most hipster and bohemian district. The city's centre of vintage expressions and underground culture
  • Paseo del Arte: Paseo del Arte hosts the biggest and most important museums in Madrid
  • Princesa: It goes from Plaza de España to Moncloa, and it's the most touristic area where all main touristic sites can be found
  • Retiro: The most famous park is located right in Madrid's city centre. It is prefect to enjoy a sunny day, around its little lake, and some contemporary and temporary exposition at the crystal palace (Palacio de Cristal)
  • Salesas: Salesas is often described as the "indie neighbourhood". The latest trends and hand made stuff can be found around its streets
  • Sol-Gran Vía: Together with "Princesa", this is Madrid's most touristy area, and Spain's km0 (Peninsula geographical centre)
  • Aeropuerto-Feria de Madrid: 15km from Madrid's centre, you can find the city's trade show centre and the airport

To find our more about each of Madrid neighbourhoods, visit EsMadrid.com.

Climate in Madrid

Madrid's sheltered location on Spanish geographical centre makes it the driest place in Spain. Consequently, winters in Madrid are cold compared to other parts of Spain, with average temperatures of about 6-8 °C (43-46 °F). The coldest month is January.

Snowfalls are rare, sporadic, to few days per year. In January 1941, Madrid reported the record of 8 snow days in a month.

Contrary, during summer time, the temperatures raise up to 35-40 °C (95-104 °F) making it recommendable not to stay outside and avoid the sun during peak hours, due to the lack of wind and the excess of pavement that makes the real feel of hot even higher.

Madrid enjoys one of the highest numbers of hours of daylight between the rest of the European capitals. The average hours of daylight in December, January and February (winter months) is 10 hours. During summer time, days can reach up to 15h of sun.

Update 8/06/2018

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