MADRID: Located on the river Manzanares and the capital of Spain since 1562 its location is in the heart of the peninsula and right in the centre of the Castillan plain. Madrid is a cosmopolitan city, business centre, headquarters for the Public Administration, Government, Spanish Parliament and the home of the Spanish Royal Family, Madrid also plays a major role in both the banking and industrial sectors. Most of its industry is located in the Southern fringe of the city, where important textile, food and metal working factories are clustered.

Madrid has preserved many of its historic neighbourhoods and streets. It’s landmarks include the huge Royal Palace of Madrid; the Teatro Real (Royal theatre) the Buen Retiro park, 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) an archaeological museum; and three superb art museums: Prado Museum, which hosts one of the finest art collections in the world, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornenisza Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace. The museums in Madrid have a good collection of the rare artworks by Pablo Picasso.

Food and Cuisine of the Region: Madrid has a number of “typical” dishes, some of the most well known are the following: Callos a la Madrileña— A hot pot of spicy beef tripe. Cocido Madrileño— Chickpea stew with meat and vegetable products. Oreja de Cerdo— Pigs ear, fried in garlic. Sopa de Ajo— The garlic soup is a rich and oily soup which generally includes paprika, grated Spanish ham, fried bread and a poached egg. A variation of this soup is known as Sopa Castellana. Patatas Bravas— Fried potatoes which have been previously boiled, served with a patented spicy sauce. Chocolate con Churros or Porras— Simple fried crispy, non-sweet dough with a very thick chocolate drink.

Spanish dishes popular throughout the country are also widely served in Madrid, examples of which are the following: Tortilla de Patata— also known as the Spanish omelette, Bocadillo de Calamares— Fried battered calamari served in a ciabatta sandwich with lemon juice. Sepia con alioli— Fried cuttlefish with garlic mayonnaise. Paella Valenciana— The world renowned rice-dish from Eastern Spain. Gazpacho Andaluz— Cold soup from southern Spain. Empanadas Gallegas— Meat or tuna pies Revuelto de ajetes con setas— Scrambled eggs with fresh garlic sprouts and wild mushrooms. Setas al ajillo/Gambas al ajillo— Shrimps or wild mushrooms fried in garlic.

Boquerones en vinagre— Anchovies marinated in vinegar with garlic and parsley. Ensaladilla Rusa (Russian Salad)— This potato salad dish of Russian origin, widely consumed in parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, is strangely enough, extremely popular in Spain. Jamon Iberico (ham) would be considered a crime by most Spaniards.

Other typical Spanish pork products include items such as chorizo (delicious spiced cured sausage) or morcilla (black sausages generally made with rice or onion). Meat is of generally a very high quality in Spain and particularly in Madrid. Ordering beef steaks is highly recommended, since most comes from free range cows from the mountains north of the city. Pork cuts which are also highly coveted are those known as Presa Iberica and Secreto Iberico, an absolute must if found in the menu of any restaurant. Although Madrid is located right in the centre of Spain it is known in the country as the “Best port in Spain” having higher quality seafood than most coastal regions.