Madrid was founded in the 9th Century by the Ummayad Dynasty of Al-Andalus. Initially, it served as a stronghold in the north of the Emirate, which was governed from Cordoba 400 km away in the south. It was not until much after the Spanish Kingdom of Castille captured Madrid from its Muslim founders, around 1560 C.E., that Madrid was made the capital of Spain, a position it retains day today. The iconic gateways or baabs of the medieval Islamic medina no longer remain, but in their place, Puerta de Alcalá, Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Toledo, to name but a few, are the more modern Neoclassical representations. These were symbols of triumph throughout the more modern European disputes, against the French and during the Civil War of Spain 1933-1936. Each of Madrid’s districts has its own flavour, infused with a different aspect of Spanish character, representing the diversity of Iberia itself. Whenever we pass through the capital of Spain, we usually arrange a day to spare in the big city. If you are planning a whistle-stop tour of several cities or even countries, it’s strongly recommended to give yourself a day’s break in Madrid to stretch your legs and sample some of the city’s delights.