Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The city is located on the river Manzanares in the center of the country. As the capital of Spain, Madrid is a city of great cultural and political importance.
Although the site of modern-day Madrid has been occupied since pre-historic times, in the Roman age this territory belonged to the diocese of Complutum (present-day Alcal de Henares). But the first historical data on the city comes from the 9th century, when Muhammad I ordered the construction of a small palace in the same place that is today occupied by the Palacio Real.
Madrid is home to mountain peaks rising above 2,000m, holm oak dehesas and low lying plains. The slopes of Guadarrama are cloaked in dense forests of Scots Pine and Pyrenean oak.
Madrid hosts the largest Plaza de Toros (bullring) in Spain, Las Ventas, established in 1929. Las Ventas is considered by many to be the world center of bullfighting and has a seating capacity of almost 25,000. Madrid's bullfighting season begins in March and ends in October. Bullfights are held every day during the festivities of San Isidro (Madrid's patron saint) from the middle of March to the middle of June, and every Sunday, and public holiday, the rest of the season.
Madrileos tend to make not one plan for the evening but three or four. While the busiest nights are Friday and Saturday (with Thursday a close runner-up), the locals go out every night and miraculously manage to work or study during the day. Perhaps the secret lies in the tradition of consuming tapas - snacks of olives, anchovies, chorizo (sausage), gambas (deep-fried shrimp) and local specialties like orejas (pig's ears), callos (tripe), mollejas (sweetbreads), snails in hot sauce and bulls testicles. Nightlife centers on three major districts - Chueca (Madrid's gay village, which specializes in trendy restaurants), Calle Huertas (traditional Spanish music, jazz clubs and bars) and Malasaa (mainly bars and clubs frequented by a young crowd). All bars and clubs are licensed but hours are flexible. It can be hard to tell bars and clubs apart, since bars often have a dancefloor and not all clubs charge for entry.