This orientation walk is designed as a 2.5-hour introduction for visitors to Madrid during which our docent—a local scholar—will help contextualize the city’s landscape, architecture, cuisine and culture within the broad chronology of Spanish history.
During the course of this walk we’ll gain insight into the history and the urban development of Madrid, which has been the capital of Spain since the mid-sixteenth century. Starting with the city’s Arabic underpinnings, our docent will trace the trajectory of Spanish monarchy through to French occupation and Civil War and dictatorship in the 20th century. The approach will very much be an overview of these events, designed to give us our bearings, as both Spanish monarchy and the Civil War and Franco, are dealt with more deeply in other Context walks.
Much of our walk will focus on the medieval core of the city near Plaza Mayor, which has remained remarkably unchanged since the period of the Habsburg dynastic rule of the Spanish throne (1506-1700). We’ll pay particular attention to Philip II who took the decision to make Madrid the capital of Spain, in 1561, and how the city became the administrative and political head of the Spanish Empire, one of the largest in western history, and which included enclaves and colonies in America, Asia and Africa.
We’ll also look at non-academic topics like cuisine, local craftsmanship, and the cultural life of Madrilenos. We’ll poke our heads into the market and learn about jamon Iberico and the timing of mealtimes. We may also stick our heads into one of the most traditional and popular chocolate cafes in the city. We will certainly stop in Puerto del Sole where the uprising against the French in 1808 took place and where the terror attacks of 2004 are commemorated, allowing us to discuss the history of strife and conflict that have shaped Spanish and Madrid’s history.
Beyond covering the basics of Spanish history and culture, this introductory walk is an opportunity to discuss your plans in Madrid with a native docent and ask any questions regarding timetables, local customs and transportation in the city.
For more information, check out Context Travel.
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