No matter if you are a first-time or an experienced visitor to Madrid, you will learn today some interesting facts about Madrid that you probably don`t know.
Have you ever visited Madrid? If so, you will probably know that there is always something new to discover in the capital of Spain. That is why this wonderful city has captured the hearts of millions from across the globe.
Madrid is worldwide known for its sunny weather, crazy nightlife, fabulous art and local cuisine, just to name a few.
Unlike other capitals that you may have visited, you will find that Madrid has a unique lifestyle. And that’s what this article is about. We will look at 10 unique and fun facts about Madrid.
Without further ado, let’s check out some interesting facts about Madrid. Before you visit the city, it’s better that you go through these facts, as it will help you get the most out of your trip.
10 Interesting facts about Madrid
1. Do you know there is a goblin in El Retiro park?
According to legend, King Felipe V was stunned by the plants, as they seemed to grow from absolutely nothing. And the flowers moved from place to place every day, ensuring that the monarch’s stroll was never the same.
The only plausible explanation was that there was a goblin living in the park!
When the park was opened to the public, many couples in love flocked to El Retiro in search of the goblin.
You can imagine that there is no evidence that anyone has ever found this strange character. But in 1985 a small statue was erected in the park, try to find it! This is just one of the 10 interesting facts about El Retiro Park.
2. The miracle of La Almudena Virgin
The Virgin of La Almudena is the patroness of Madrid and there are several legends about this icon.
The most popular assures that the residents sealed the image of the Virgin with two candles inside the town’s walls for protection when Muslim armies were approaching.
When Madrid was reconquered 4 centuries later, the spot on the wall hiding the icon crumbled, unveiling the statue with the two candles still burning.
One interesting fact is that the statue can still be seen today inside the Cathedral.
3. Madrid houses 3 pieces of the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989.
It was built by the German Democratic Republic during the Cold War to prevent its population from escaping Soviet-controlled East Berlin to West Berlin, which was controlled by the major Western Allies.
What you probably don´t know is that Madrid´s Berlin Park has been home to 3 pieces of the Wall since 1990. Besides, this park is a relaxing place to stroll, read a book, or have a picnic. In my opinion, this beautiful green space is well worth a visit.
On the outskirts of Madrid, there is another piece of the Berlin Wall located in the Europa Park.
This park in Torrejón de Ardoz houses replicas of 17 of the most emblematic monuments from Europe‘s major cities, such as the Eiffel Tower, London Tower Bridge, Brandenburg Gate, Trevi Fountain, and Belem Tower.
4. What does Madrid mean?
There are a lot of myths circulating about the name Madrid. According to legend, “Ursaria” was the city’s name, and it referred to the bears that ruled the area.
Some scholars are of the opinion that the word Madrid is derived from “Matrice”, a Roman settlement on the Manzanares River. Today, the earliest recorded name of Madrid is “Magerit”, which means “place of water”.
5. St. Pantaleon´s blood miracle
Next to the Plaza de Oriente lies one of the great mysteries of Madrid.
The Royal Monastery of the Incarnation has an exceptional heritage that makes it one of the most recommended visits in the city.
However, from all its extensive collection there is a unique object that stands out.
It is a vial containing a few drops of Saint Pantaleon’s (martyred for embracing the Christian faith) blood. Every July 27, coinciding with the saint’s feast day, undergoes a curious metamorphosis.
Throughout the year the blood remains in a solid state but, some hours before July 27, the blood begins to liquefy and acquires a brighter color.
This miracle can be admired face to face but it just lasts 48 hours, when the blood solidifies again.
6. Why some locals are called “gatos” (cats)?
One of the most interesting facts about Madrid relates to the origin of the nickname “gatos” (cats in English) given to some locals.
The story dates back to 1083, when the Christian army wanted to conquer the Moorish citadel of “Magerit”, the first documented name of Madrid.
The city was surrounded by a 12-meter-high wall. One of the Christian soldiers got ahead of the rest and began to climb it with just the help of a dagger that he was sticking into the wall.
At the top of the wall, he changed the Arab flag for the Christian one, and the conquest of the city began. After that show of agility, they began to call the soldier and his descendants “gato” (cat).
Nowadays, this nickname is given to locals born in Madrid descending from some (at least 2) generations of citizens also born in the capital of Spain.
Believe it or not, there are not that many. Take into account that many people from other Spanish regions have moved to Madrid over the years.
7. Madrid has a unique statue of the devil
Retiro Park is home to the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, which represents Lucifer falling from Heaven.
The most curious thing is that the sculpture is believed to be located just 666 meters above sea level. As you know, 666 is the number of the Beast.
At the base of the fountain, you can see eight monster heads, which make the whole more gloomy.
There are even many locals who are not aware of this interesting fact about Madrid. For more exciting information about Madrid, read on!
8. Why is there an ancient Egyptian temple in Madrid?
Near Plaza España, you will find an ancient Egyptian temple from the second century B.C. which originally stood in the Nile Valley.
However, due to the construction of the Aswan Dam, many valuable monuments were in danger of disappearing.
As a sign of gratitude for the aid given by Spain, particularly in helping to save the Abu Simbel sacred buildings, the Egyptian government donated this temple.
The Debod Temple was then dismantled, transported to Spain, reconstructed stone by stone in its current location, and opened to the public in 1972.
Although it was not originally built in Madrid, the temple is currently the oldest building in the city.
9. Galileo Galilei, part of Madrid´s history
At the heart of the Plaza de Oriente lies a bronze monument dedicated to Philip IV of Spain, a 17th-century work by Pietro Tacca.
It stands out as one of the essential landmarks in Madrid as it is considered the first equestrian statue in the world supported only by the hind legs of the horse.
One interesting fact about this famous monument is that the sculptor asked the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei for advice, as that position caused great balance difficulties.
After a complex study of weights and support points, it was decided to use a variable thickness of bronze, very thin on the animal’s head and almost solid on the hindquarters and tail, which also serves as a support.
10. Madrid is home to a magnificent royal palace
In Western Europe, there are more palaces than you can see. Of all these old palaces, Madrid´s Royal Palace is on top of the list.
This magnificent palace has 3,418 rooms, and is the largest functioning royal palace and the largest by-floor area in Europe.
The Royal Palace was built in place of another palace called Moorish Alcazar, which was destroyed when a fire broke out. The fire spread so fast that it destroyed the castle.
This terrible fire destroyed numerous works of art. The good news is that some guards tossed out a few pieces of art out the windows of the rooms. One of these paintings is Velázquez’s worldwide famous Las Meninas.
An interesting fact about Madrid´s Royal Palace is related to the sculptures of twenty Spanish kings, placed on Plaza de Oriente.
Although the initial idea was to adorn the upper cornice of the Royal Palace, it was feared that the roof would not support its weight. There is another legend stating that the mother of King Charles III, had a nightmare in 1760 where the sculptures fell from the ceiling and crushed her.
So, this was a description of 10 interesting facts about Madrid. If you want to discover the city, you may want to visit the locations and attractions included in this article.
You will have an immersive experience of life in Spain, especially in Madrid. We bet that you won’t forget your stay in Madrid in your lifetime.
If you love food and want to visit the markets or dine at the best places in Spain, then you may want to spend most of your time in Madrid.
In fact, Madrid will be your best choice if you love artwork or want to go somewhere to entertain your kids.
No matter what you are looking for, Madrid can make you happy. You can do tons of things in Madrid even if you are on a tight budget.
You will never get bored no matter how long you stay in Madrid, as there will always be something exciting to do or see.