Spain’s capital is one of Europe’s most enticing and electric cities. As sophisticated as it is welcoming, Madrid is a cultural whirlwind that will appeal to the most discerning art and architecture aficionado. Because it was not founded and developed until 1561, when Phillip II made it the capital, Madrid lacks the glamour and old-world ambiance found in other Spanish cities such as Barcelona. However, it makes up for it in the many museums and galleries that showcase vast collections of art.

The city is home to elaborate and breathtaking monuments, among them the Palacio Real and the building that houses the Prado Museum. In addition to being one of Europe’s most important cultural destinations, it has a reputation for being a hotspot for trendy bars, nightclubs and restaurants and like many other cosmopolitan cities, offers a pulsating nightlife that lasts till dawn with festive locals leading the way. Madrid is no stranger to heartache. During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s, many battles were fought downtown and as a result, heavy artillery destroyed the city. After the war, Madrid started on the path to modernization and rebuilt itself as one Europe’s leading cities.

In more recent history, the city was struck with unbearable tragedy when bombs ripped apart four commuter trains in one of its biggest stations, Atocha. On the morning of March 11, 2004, a series of coordinated terrorist bombings killed 192 and injured 2,050 as trains were filled to capacity with commuters at the height of rush-hour. Along with the support of the world and in true Madrileño form, the people of Madrid bound together to cope, question and try to overcome the worst Spanish attack in recent history.

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