5 Things That Will Surprise You About Madrid

Madrid is a wonderful city which is a part of one of the most culturally fascinating countries in the world, Spain. It’s not all tapas and sangria, either (although these things are obviously fabulous). So, what are some of the less commonly known aspects of this amazing capital city?


There’s A World Class Theme Park

Parque Warner Madrid (or Warner Bros Movie World Madrid, for non native speakers), is an incredible theme park spanning thousands of square feet, about 25km from Madrid’s centre. It was opened in 2002 as part of the popular Six Flags chain, but it’s now operated by Time Warner. When you think of Spanish theme parks, you tend to think of small water parks. Whilst this one has expanded recently to include water rides, it’s got some internationally recognised movie themed rides, including Batman, Superman and Scooby Doo.


Parque Warner Madrid 005“ (CC BY 2.0) by  Roller Coaster Philosophy 


Blackjack Originated in Madrid

… Sort of. The game of 21 was the game to precede blackjack, and its first even written reference was by Miguel De Cervantes, who was actually from Madrid himself. Cervantes was a gambler, and may well have enjoyed this game just like the characters in his books; of which his most famous was Don Quixote. Of course, back then he wouldn’t have been playing Blackjack online, like you can now. Things were very different in the old days, but they still knew how to have a good time!


Madrid Is Home to Spain’s Largest Airport

Madrid Barajas airport is located just 12km from the city centre of Madrid, and is indeed the country’s largest. In terms of world traffic, it’s Europe’s fifth busiest airport, and it ranks in the top 15 in the entire world. This just proves how much of an international hub Madrid really is. The airport boasts four terminals, and was recently renamed Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas in 2014.


Everyone in Madrid Is A Cat

Erm… yes. You read that right. Let’s explain! So way back in the 11th Century, the city was under Arabic invasion. The historic legend goes that the troops of the King at the time were ridiculously agile; climbing the wall gates to surprise their enemy. One soldier managed to climb all the way down a wall using his dagger as a foothold. This was incredibly impressive, as he managed to get down unnoticed, and switch the Moorish flag for the Spanish/Christian one. He did this with the grace and agility of a stealthy cat, and so ever since, the residents have been known as ‘gatos’, which means ’cats’ in Spanish!


Norwegian cat“ (CC BY 2.0) by  Moyan_Brenn 


Madrid Is Home to Picasso’s Guernica

Throughout the art world, the Guernica is widely renowned as the most emotionally evocative piece in history. Hanging in the Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, it’s provoked huge discussion and recognition onto one of the darkest aspects of the country’s past – the civil war. The painting’s depictions are staggering and thought-provoking, just like the horrors of the war itself. The treatment of the Basque region in the bombing of Guernica is something that Picasso wanted to expose, although there lies a faint glimmer of hope in his portrayal. The painting itself is a must see for fans of both culture and history – it’s inspired songs, study and debate for decades, and is as complex as the conflict itself.

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