I usually read about the history of the countries I am traveling to, it helps me to better understand the local culture and traditions. That is why I want to share with you in Madrid Traveling a few global highlights of the history of Spain and Madrid you will find interesting before your travel.
The caves in the Sierra of Atapuerca, 250 kilometers from Madrid, contain the first evidence of the earliest human beings in Europe, from more than one million years ago. It is believed that these humans in Europe arrived from Africa.
Since then, many different cultures have left their mark and are part of the current Spanish culture. Iberians, Celts, Lusitanians, Tartessians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians established settlements in the Iberian Peninsula previous to the Roman conquest in the second century BC. Some of the greatest military commanders in history like Hannibal Barca or Scipio Africanus battled in these territories.
The final conquest of Hispania, the name given by the Romans to the Iberian Peninsula, took 200 years and the Iberian population and infrastructure were Romanized during the 600 years they held control. The Roman Empire provided the land with roads, aqueducts, temples, and theaters. Furthermore, most of the Spanish present languages, religion and the basis of its laws were born in this period.
It is believed that the origin of the current name of the city comes from the 2nd century BC when the Roman Empire established a settlement called “Matrice” on the banks of the Manzanares River.
The Visigoths, a Germanic tribe, invaded Hispania as the Roman Empire decayed in the fifth century and stayed until the Muslim invasion in the eighth century. Cordoba, Sevilla, and Granada are examples of key locations for the Muslims.
At the end of the IX century, Muhammad I built a castle in the same place where the Royal Palace of Madrid stands today, as well as a citadel around the castle. The Arab walls surrounding this settlement can still be visited today. The Moors controlled the citadel until Alfonso VI conquered them in 1085 in his advance towards Toledo.