The history of Madrid is colorful. Too colorful, in fact. From many different characters to plenty of stories to recall, we’ve selected 5 most interesting things you just have to know about the history of Madrid. Still need accommodation? Check out some of our favorite rooms and apartments available for rent in Madrid! 

The history of Madrid in a (really really small) nutshell

5 Non-Boring Things You Have to Know About the History of Madrid

1. They call me Mayrit, they call me Matrit,…

That’s not my name! Dating back to the 8th Century, Madrid carried the name Mayrit as well as Matrit. The name comes from Arabic origins, meaning “A place of many springs.” It was also called Magerit at some point, which meant “The source of water” (ironic, considering how dehydrated you can get during the summer), until it finally got stuck with ‘Madrid’. Other name suggestion was also ‘Ursa’ which meant ‘bear’ in Latin. Wonder what some called Madrid behind its back…

See also: 13 Absolutely Necessary Things To Do in Madrid

2. Destined for royalty

You’ve probably heard of Madrid’s Royal Palace, but did you know that it’s actually the largest palace in Western Europe? (Do you ever wonder how many Wi-Fi routers they must have in there?) Take that, Buckingham Palace! You’ve probably heard of King Felipe VI and his royal family, who unfortunately (or luckily) don’t live in the actual Royal Palace. Almost every building in Madrid is there because the royals said so, including the Retiro park. And although we’ll never be royals, we salute you. 

See also: Madrid Day Trips You MUST Experience

3. Famous last words: “I think I am going to faint!”

Or something along those lines. These were supposedly the last words of the ex-queen Isabella II who was a rather interesting character in the royal history of Madrid (and one of our favorites). From many lovers to her happy-go-lucky attitude, she was definitely the one to remember. And she still is – the plaza close to the Royal Palace is named after her and it includes her statue. She died on 9th of April in 1904 but the (sometimes questionable, but who are we to judge) stories of her adventurous life can be heard on plenty of Madrid tours.

4. Ernest Hemingway’s favorite city

You’ve all heard of the guy and so has Madrid (and its streets). He’s known as one of the people who put Madrid (and its many pubs) on the literary and touristy map. Madrileños called him “Don Ernesto” and had without a doubt many stories to tell of Ernest Hemingway and his nightly adventures in Madrid. But how can you possible blame him – his love affair for Madrid is inspiring for any traveler! Ah, Don Ernesto.❤

To go to bed at night in Madrid marks you as a little queer. For a long time your friends will be a little uncomfortable about it. Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night. Appointments with a friend are habitually made for after midnight at the cafe.

Unless it’s August. Then everything will be closed for vacaciones. You’ve been warned.

5. El Clásico history

El Clásico is what they call football matches (or should we say fights…) between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The rivalry has very little to do with football and is, dare we say, entirely political – or at least it started like so. Who can blame them – they’re the two greatest cities in Spain with very different views on practically everything. The old vs the new. The classic with the modern. The Més que un club vs Hala Madrid. Bring it on.

See also: Guide to Being Vegan in Madrid