High in the center of La Meseta Central, that rises in the heart of Spain, is the uniprovincial Community of Madrid, where the country’s historic capital of the same name is located. The autonomy itself is a relatively new construct, one that was met by an intense political debate during the transition to democracy. The negotiators of Spain’s future constitution had wanted all of the future autonomies to maintain their historical borders. This would have placed the city of Madrid in his ancestral home of Castile–La Mancha (the former Kingdom of New Castile), with special status as the Spain’s capital. However, Manchegos and Castellano-Manchegos objected to this privileged designation and after much deliberation, within the wider framework of the Spain’s future, it was decided Madrid would become its own autonomy.
The name “Madrid” is derived from the Latin “Matrice”, after the Manzanares River that crossed the ancient Roman settlement. Germanic Sueves and Vandals ruled the area during the Dark Ages, until “Mayrit” (as it would become known in Arabic), became part of Islamic Al-Andalus. The name then evolved from the Mozarabic “Matrit”, before falling to the Christian Kingdom of Castile in 1085, becoming the city of “Madrid”.
It would not become the political center of Spain until 1561, when King Philip II moved his court there following a fire in the city of Valladolid (present day Castile and León). This gave rise to the expression: “Sólo Madrid es corte” (Madrid is the only court). Although, this can also be switched up to: “Madrid es sólo corte” (Madrid is just court).
Unlike other cities in Spain, there is little left from medieval Madrid. It has the tragic designation as the first city whose citizens were bombed by airplanes when Francoist forces laid siege to the city in 1936. Many of the historic buildings that withstood this bombardment were erected during the reign of the Habsburgs. Simple facades and elaborate interiors typify this period. Charles III arrival in 1759 saw the beautification of Madrid, in order to make it one of Europe’s great capitals.
Today the city is home of many of the world’s finest museums and noted for its exceptional nightlife. The locals have a reputation as warm and open, going by the “Madrileños”. As to be expected in Spain’s capital, they speak Castilian Spanish, albeit with an accent, where “-d’s” at the end of words become “zetas“, ie: Madríz (pronounced; Mad-reeth). It is customary to eat tapas and dishes from all parts of Spain, with a “Madrileño” twist. The typical sandwich is a “Bocadillo de calamares” (Calarmari sandwich, sometimes served with mayonnaise).
In addition to the capital of Madrid, there are the cities of Alcalá de Henares (with medieval Moorish, Jewish and Christian Quarters) and Getafe (primarily an industrial town in near the geographic center of Spain).
Here’s a short video about Alcalá de Henares which is also the birth place of Cervantes.
For the other autonomies