Madrid

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Posted by motoman 03/01/2009 @ 12:04

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Complutense University of Madrid

Alfonso XIIIKing of Spain

The Complutense University of Madrid (Spanish: Universidad Complutense de Madrid, UCM) is among the most important and oldest universities in the world and is the top public university in Spain. It is located on a sprawling campus that occupies the entirety of the Ciudad Universitaria district of Madrid, with annexes in the district of Somosaguas in the neighboring city of Pozuelo de Alarcón.

According to the annual university rankings conducted by El Mundo, the Complutense University ranks as the top public university in Spain, with its Schools of Philosophy, Spanish Literature, History, Pharmacy, Optometry, Journalism, Psychology, and Sociology holding the top national rankings. The University is also a filial to the Spanish Royal Societies of Physics and Mathematics.

The Complutense University's origins lie in the Middle Ages, when King Sancho IV of Castile created the Studium Generale on May 20, 1293. In 1499, Pope Alexander VI granted the request of one of its former pupils, Cardinal Cisneros, to convert it into a full university; the Papal Bull renamed the institution Universitas Complutensis, after Complutum, which was the Latin name of Alcalá de Henares, where the University was originally located.

In the 1509-1510 school year, the Complutense University operated with five faculties: Arts and Philosophy, Theology, Canon Law, Philology and Medicine.

The University flourished in the 16th century, especially under the early benefaction of Cisneros who, as Archbishop of Toledo, was able to endow it richly. Cisneros attracted many of the world's foremost linguists and biblical scholars to Alcalá in order to produce the magnum opus of the University, the Biblia Políglota Complutense or Complutensian Polyglot Bible, published in five massive volumes (including a popular glossary volume) in 1517. The edition was one of the great works of philology of the Renaissance, comprising critical editions of all of the books of the Bible in their original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, as well as the authorized Latin Vulgate text. Cisneros borrowed or acquired most of the known Biblical manuscripts of his day for the project. The complexity of the typography alone ranks it among the greatest achievements of Spanish scholarship. Owing to unfortunate mishaps, most copies of the edition have not survived, but this singular achievement launched the Complutense into the company of the greatest universities of the world.

In 1836 the university was moved to Madrid, with the name of Universidad Central de Madrid (Central University of Madrid), and was located along the Calle San Bernardo in the very center of the city (some of the buildings still stand, and are in use as diverse government ministries).

The University greatly expanded during the nineteenth century, and its accommodations in central Madrid proved to be increasingly inadequate. Besides the greater number of students, after its move from Alcalá the University had been based in a number of preexisting, government-acquired properties – mainly aristocratic mansions and royal châteaux from centuries past, abandoned by their owners for more contemporary lodgings. Though they were not without their charm, the ancient buildings were not precisely ideal as educational settings, and the early XXth century witnessed the students of the Central University attending philosophy lectures and anatomy lessons in elaborate spaces that had served as ballrooms and salons only a few decades prior. Moreover, the haphazard collection of buildings was hardly conducive to the bureaucratic functions of the University as a whole, given that very few of them were actually grouped near each other on the Calle San Bernardo, and, as such, a significant amount of time was lost just in undertaking the distance between the University properties strewn about the center of Madrid in the attendance of routine bureaucratic tasks. This is not to mention the significant inconvenience to students enrolled in faculties too large to fit in a single building, or those who decided to take on multiple studies (implying multiple travels, from one building to another, across the center of Madrid, potentially several times a day).

This curious situation changed by the grace of His Majesty King Alfonso XIII. It was tradition in Spanish Kingdom that, upon the assumption of an important regal anniversary, the individual provinces and territories would make great shows of loyalty and affection towards the benign rulers by way of lavish and elaborate presents as a gesture of allegiance and affection towards the crown (donations of lands, construction of great monuments, and the gifting of enormous amounts of regional wares to the rulers).

To the surprise of many, however, Alfonso XIII declined the anticipated gifts commemorating the Silver Jubilee of his rule (having reached his majority in 1902), instead declaring that it was his dream that a new university should be built in Madrid, replacing the current, scattered, shabby institution with a fine center of learning, “a new Athens”, whereby the perfection of the educational process would be achieved and the lives of students improved, with complete intellectual, moral and physical formation. What’s more, he went on to declare that this should be the magnum opus of his reign, and that he would spend more upon this effort than he had previously ever invested on matters such as the battleships that had so recently played a part in the Moroccan Wars; this would be called, henceforth, la Ciudad Universitaria, or University City.

It was such that on 7 May 1927, a royal decree called into existence the Junta Constructora de la Ciudad Universitaria, and Alfonso XIII officially ceded the royal lands in the proximity of the Palace of La Moncloa, which at the time constituted all of the land between the Royal Palace and the Palace of El Pardo, today comprising a vast swath of western Madrid and stretching well outside the city limits.

The Junta was composed of a number of academics, architects, juridical and financial consultants, and presided directly by the King, although it should be made clear that while this was a government-funded project, it was in no way controlled by the government, the academics firmly holding the reins and the official organisms of the state represented on the board only by the Minister of Education and the Mayor of Madrid; it was the King’s will that the University should be a project for the nation, but directed by the intellectual elite rather than it be compromised by the underhanded ways of politicians. It was for this reason that it was decided that the project should not be funded mainly by way of government funds, but rather via a special lottery, for which an enthusiastic and remarkably effective publicity campaign was organized; the lottery was so successful, in fact, that, combined with the generous donations of the ruling classes and numerous industries, the funds required for construction of the campus buildings were acquired by 1930. Meanwhile, the Weimar Republic and a number of South American nations graciously opted to donate the funds necessary to build the student residences for the University in a show of international intellectual solidarity.

Meanwhile, the Junta had decided that the new University of Madrid would require the innovative architecture befitting the “new Athens”; as such, a team of academics was sent out on an international expedition to visit the finest universities in Europe and North America, in order to combine the best of both continents and design the utopian academic setting. Mssr.’s López Otero, Cásares Gil, Dr. Simonena, Del Amo, and Julio Palácios, amongst others, set about a whirlwind tour which took them to 19 universities in the American northeast, as well as to Paris, Lyon, Oxford, Berlin, Hamburg, and numerous other European cities, all in an effort to discern the best possible building structure. The architectural tendencies of the era, however, ended up having a greater influence than the academic’s visit to Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, La Sorbonne or the University of Berlin; while the final plans from this period are hardly recognizable to anyone familiar with the contemporary campus, the buildings from the era that managed to survive the design revisions, the Civil War and the Franco regime, betray the period’s fondness for the German Bauhaus movement. Indeed, the original buildings, exemplary amongst them the Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odontology, are a paean to structural functionalism and the graceful utilitarianism of the 1920’s.

It is of some irony that Alfonso XIII, who wished the new University to be the defining triumph of his reign, never got to see any of the buildings through to completion, much less inaugurate any of the classes. Deposed in 1931, he found himself exiled in Rome when, on 15 January 1933, Manuel Azaña, President of the Second Spanish Republic (and former professor, as well as graduate, of said University), officially inaugurated the first classes in the new University of Madrid campus in the mostly finished School of Philosophy. During the Second Spanish Republic the Schools of Philosophy, Pharmacy, Medicine, Odontology, Architecture, Agronomy, Chemistry and Physics Sciences would be completed, as well as the Clinical Hospital, the Del Amo Foundation, and the Velazquez House, which housed the School of Diplomacy.

The first graduating class in the new campus was over 40% female students (a dramatic change from the traditional, male-dominated educational system which had until then been the norm in Spain). The last years of the Alfonsine monarchy and the early part of the Second Spanish Republic marked the “silver Age” of Spanish intellectualism, exemplified by the “Generation of '27”, a diverse group of intellectuals which included the poet Federico García Lorca, filmmaker Luis Buñuel, philologist Dámaso Alonso and philosopher Julián Marías, amongst others, many of whom were students of the University of Madrid. A “silver Age” of Spain, it was, indeed, the Golden Age of the Complutense, which at the time counted with one of the most distinguished staffs of its 800-year history, its professorship including luminaries such as José Ortega y Gasset, Julian Besteiro, and Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Its administration at the time also reads like a list of the who’s who of government, the administration being headed by alternating former and future presidents of the Spanish state. At the time, the University of Madrid’s School of Philosophy was widely considered to rival the University of Berlin for the position of being the best in Europe, if not the world.

It was also during this time that the University enjoyed its greatest period in terms of visiting professors, serving as a safe haven to the Jewish intelligentsia of northern Europe fleeing the growing influence of anti-Semitic fascism. Unfortunately, those visitors, as well as many of the native professors, were forced to flee once again after the attempted coup led by Francisco Franco on 17 July 1936, which began the Spanish Civil War.

The campus served as one of the primary fronts during the Siege of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War; the International Brigades has its headquarters in the School of Philosophy, and its soldiers occupied all of the campus buildings, which were connected by a series of elaborate trenches. Ciudad Universitaria was literally the final bastion between Republican Madrid and Franco's troops; a small stream used to cross the area now occupied by the School of Communications, and a small wall which preceded it marked the border between nacionales and republicanos.

At war's end in 1939, over 40% of the original campus was completely levelled, and all of the buildings showed significant damage. For a time the Francoist victors of the war considered leaving the area as it was, a virtual moonscape, as a testament to the glory of "the national movement" - the Falange. It was eventually decided, however, that the area should be restored and rehabilitated as a symbol of the new regime, albeit with some alterations - chief amongst them the new plans for a monumental main building with a Sistine Chapel-type interior, and a large church. While those two particular plans never came to fruition, the direct involvement of Franco in the rebuilding of the University meant that, though the original plans were largely followed, chapels were now incorporated into each of the buildings. Today, this creates a curiously contradictory situation, whereby one has certain buildings, such as the School of Philosophy, with streamlined architecture that epitomizes the liberal spirit of the 1920s and borrows heavily from Weimar Germany, and yet clumsily features a first-floor chapel which, fitted into a highly art-deco setting, seems implausible as a place of serious spiritual reflection.

Franco's influence on-campus was not limited to the imposition of his ultra-Catholic ideals. The staff was purged of all liberals and Republican sympathizers, and replaced with members of the Falangist movement. What's more, the University charters were altered to compel all students to reside either in government-sanctioned dormitories or personal family homes. The dormitories staffed with members of the falagist movement, the regime aspired to be able to control all aspects of the student's lives, molding them into devotees of the "nationalist movement". Moreover, there was an active attempt by the government to dominate the University from the very beginning. The original buildings, restored or rebuilt from 1940 until 1945, were all personally reinaugurated, with solemn mass and elaborate ritual, by "El Caudillo" himself; enormous plaques of marble (still visible today) were placed at the entrance of each of these buildings declaring that the institution had been rebuilt under Minister X under the generous and courageous leadership of Generalísimo Francisco Franco on such and such date of such and such year.

Although these buildings were rebuilt in their original, architecturally innovative style, Franco broke completely with the campus plans with the new buildings, and imposed his vision of an "Imperial" Madrid harkening back to the ultra-Catholic age of Philip II and the styles exemplified by the palatial monastery of El Escorial. Although a lack of funds fortunately prevented the entire campus from taking on the turreted look imposed by his regime upon other parts of Madrid (a clear example being the castle-like Ejercito del Aire building), this particular architectural style defined a few of the new buildings, including the José Antonio Dormitory, named after the founder of the fascist Falangist movement, José Antonio Primo de Rivera (since converted into one of the University's secretarial buildings and subsequently renamed). The campus also took on a more somber look immediately after the war, on account of Franco ordering that all the trees replanted on the campus of the cypress genus, trees traditionally planted in cemeteries in Spain, as a symbol of the "fallen martyrs of the national movement" (this situation was remedied over the last half-century, and the campus now actually features some of the most diverse flora of Madrid.

Despite their dedicated efforts, however, period events indicate that Franco was not successful in his attempts to dominate the minds and hearts of the University's students; despite the enormous political repression of the era, it is evident that even in those early years of the dictatorship and after a brutal Civil War, the infamously political students of the University of Madrid were already actively revolting against the government. Its buildings destroyed during the war, the University had been compelled to move back into the pre-Ciudad Universitaria mansions and châteaux; the students took advantage of their lodgings in the city center, and took the opportunity to hold lightning protests and rallies on the Gran Via and other main thoroughfares whenever possible. Seeking to avoid any potentially embarrassing or undermining displays of civil disobedience and revolt in the face of his newly-minted regime, Franco ordered that all efforts be devoted to finishing the University buildings with all due haste, in order to get the students back out into the then-distant Moncloa area and away from the city center as soon as possible. Even though the press of the era was too heavily censored to report on the matter, students from that time recall, with some glee, that the landmark accomplishment of Franco's University rebuilding efforts, the construction of the School of Law and the School of Philosophy in a mere 5 months, due not to the zeal on the part of the builders, but rather to the panic of the unshakeable dictatorship.

During the Franco Regime, the Complutense University was at the forefront of the resistance movements; the politically-active university students came to be ranked, along with the labour and nationalist movements, as one of the chief threats to the stability of the dictatorship. Consequently, members of the Secret Police were infiltrated into the classes in order to monitor the students, and the Falange Party was given the task of patrolling the grounds. The 1960s, in particular, saw some of the most polemic moments in the University's history. From 1963 until the late 1970s, members of both the local and government police were kept perpetually stationed on campus; officers on horseback were frequently ordered to charge the spontaneous anti-Franco protests that would form along the main university thoroughfares, and several times entire departments were shut down in response to confrontations between the authorities and the student body. During the 1970s, the School of Medicine was shut down entirely throughout an entire semester due to conflicts with the police, and on numerous occasions the police was actually reported to have staged charges within the actual buildings, although there was an unspoken rule of sanctuary, generally respected, by which the police refrained from actually entering classrooms to arrest suspected protesters.

During the later years of the Francoist regime, the new Somosaguas campus was specifically planned to accommodate the Schools of History and Political Science, respectively, in order to move the most politicized sectors of the University to the relatively isolated town in the outskirts of Madrid. To this day the Somosaguas Campus lies almost completely disconnected from the rest of the University, as well as the Metro lines - in terms of public transportation, it is accessible only by way of a twenty minute bus ride (and by the new light metro line, only since June 2007).

On campus, one of the lasting symbols of this era is graffiti from the early 1950s that still dominates a portion of the School of Philosophy's rotunda: painted in chemicals used for photo developments (which also happen to be permanent and shine when exposed to sunlight), the message calls for freedom of expression in the University and freedom from the Falange Party, which at the time exercised its jurisdiction over the campus. Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz & Manuel Lamana, the students who painted the message, would later be caught and sentenced to twenty years hard labour building the Valle de los Caídos, from which they would later stage a spectacular escape, as fictionalized in the 1998 film Los años bárbaros.

The Complutense University would also be the site of intense, and often bloody, marches and protests during the politically-charged years of the post-Franco Transition period.

In 1970 the University returned to its original name. When, later, the people of Alcalá de Henares decided to open a university within the old campus buildings in that city, they were obliged to name it Universidad de Alcalá de Henares to clearly separate it from the Complutense University.

The Complutense University has played a major role in the political development of Spain since its founding. Its graduates have been members, at either Congressional or Ministerial level, in all of the governments of Spain since the Enlightenment, and their positions in the Second Spanish Republic and the post-Franco transition to democracy were particularly notable. The current first Deputy Prime Minister, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, and the former President, José María Aznar, are both graduates of the university. The Complutense University has also played host to some of the most significant figures of the intellectual world, with a long tradition of visiting professors amongst which feature some of the greats of world academia (most notably, Albert Einstein). A significant part of the European intelligentsia flocked to its halls during the 1930s, when democratic Spain provided a refuge from the rising terrors of fascism; while the tradition of distinguished visiting professors somewhat diminished during the Franco years, the University has recovered its former splendour in the decades since, although it continues to employ very few non-Spanish academics. This last fact may explain its poor international profile. The contemporary Complutense University has nevertheless counted numerous Nobel Laureates not only amongst its graduates, but also amongst its faculty members over the years.

Currently, the Complutense University is the largest university in Spain. During the 2004-2005 academic year the University recorded an enrollment of 91,598 students and employed a staff of 9,500, of which over 6000 are directly involved in teaching duties; the University operates on government subsidies, grants and enrollment funds, with a current annual budget of over 500,000,000 euros. The University currently offers nearly 80 possible majors, 230 individual degrees, and 221 doctorate programs. The University has over 30 libraries, with over 2 million works in print, a particularly rich archive of over 90,000 historical documents, and one of the most extensive film collections in Europe.

The Complutense University of Madrid is a member of the Europaeum.

Due to its long history in the capital, the Complutense University enjoys great support from Madrid-based institutions, at a local, national and international level. The School of Medicine operates the Hospital Clínico Universitario de San Carlos, as well as a number of other specialized clinics located on-campus, some of which are operated jointly with the Ministry of Health or perform specific research for the Ministry. The School of Medicine is not the only one with government involvement; indeed, despite past conflicts, the Complutense University shares a close bond with the Spanish government, as made evident by the fact that the presidential residence of La Moncloa and the Spanish Constitutional Court are both located directly on-campus (with the political center of the city at walking distance).

The School of Communications, meanwhile, enjoys equally good relations with the press (large part of its professors being former reporters, editors, or directors of major Spanish and international newspapers). Moreover, the School is known particularly for its role as one of the main pre-screening locales for the nation; indeed, all major Spanish film productions are screened first before an audience of Complutense students, with the main actors or production figures of the films attending a post-screening press conference. Most recently, Blanca Portillo, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas and Yohana Cobo pre-screened Pedro Almodóvar's Volver; past pre-screening visitors have included director Santiago Segura, actor Alejo Sauras, and writer E. Annie Proulx. Each year, the Madrid Círculo de Bellas Artes extends special invitations to the Complutense students during its series of annual conferences featuring prominent philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists. Likewise, all of the faculties have been able to benefit greatly by lectures given by some of the most illustrious figures in recent history, of all fields, from singer-songwriter / Catalan activist Joan Manuel Serrat to historian Ernst Gombrich, from writer Umberto Eco to communist politician Santiago Carrillo. Alejandro Amenábar wrote his first film, Tesis, while still attending the Complutense University. All the on-campus scenes in the film were shot in the School of Communications, which Amenábar himself had attended, and the building itself serves as major device in the plot. Amenábar dropped out of the Complutense in part due to his antagonistic relationship with one of his professors, who kept failing him; as revenge, Amenábar named one of the main villains in Tesis, Professor Castro, after his teacher. Castro still teaches at the University.

The Complutense University publishes a bi-monthly newspaper, the Gaceta Complutense, and also features a fully-operational radio station, Radio Complutense (107.5 FM), which broadcasts for 12 hours daily; both are run from the School of Communications.

While the University has a select number of registered dormitories, these are located on the fringes of the campus, within border neighbourhoods, and therefore no students truly live on campus proper. Due to the costs, and the fact that university-affiliated lodging is not required, the majority of the Complutense's student live independently, either in non-affiliated dormitories or in actual apartments.

In modern times, the Complutense University's student body continues to be highly politicized, with an active student government which most recently called for a student strike to protest the Bologna process. All political parties have the right to on-campus representation, though there is a decided tilt towards leftist politics amongst the student body. Upon petition, student political groups can be granted actual offices within the University, some examples being En Construcción, the radical-leftist student organization with offices in the School of Communications, or Erre Que Te Erre (rqtr), the gay liberation front with offices in the School of Political Sciences on the Somosaguas Campus, notable for having been the first gay-rights group established in a Spanish university. In May 2006 the University hosted a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic and advocating the abolition of the monarchy and declaration of the Third Spanish Republic.

Separately from the political groups, the Complutense features a number of social and sports-related groups. The University counts on a strong Erasmus-support group and every school features a Tuna (traditional Spanish band), which compete in the nation-wide competitions. In terms of sports, aerobics, gym, yoga, swimming, tennis, diving, tai-chi, and numerous other courses are offered. In terms of team sports, the Complutense features male and female basketball, soccer, and volleyball divisions, as well as rugby. Chess, badminton, golf, judo, karate, squash, table-tennis, and archery teams also exist. Internal university games are held several times a year, with all of the different schools competing; the Complutense also participates in the regional university games, held each March at the Puerta del Hierro Stadium in Madrid, and the selected national competitions. All students, professors, staff-members, and family of staff-members have the right to be evaluated and attended to at the Complutense University Center for Sport and Fitness Medicine.

Besides an extensive series of accords permitting student/professor exchanges and study abroad opportunity with prestigious universities throughout the world, the Complutense University of Madrid currently operates four full-time institutions outside of Spain.

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Madrid

Location of Madrid

Madrid (pronounced in English, in Spanish, and colloquially in Spain ) is the capital and largest city of Spain. It is the third-most populous municipality in the European Union after Greater London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the fourth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, and the Ruhr Area.

The city is located on the river Manzanares both in the centre of the country and Community of Madrid (which comprises the city of Madrid, its subsequent conurbation and extended suburbs and villages); this community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political center of Spain. The current mayor is Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón from the center-right People's Party. He has been in office since 2003, when he left the Presidency of the Autonomous Community of Madrid and stood as the candidate to replace outgoing mayor José María Álvarez del Manzano, also from the PP. In the last local elections of 2007, Ruiz-Gallardón increased the PP majority in the City Council to 34 seats out of 57, taking 55.5% of the popular vote and winning in all but two districts.

Due to its economic output, standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the major financial center of the Iberian Peninsula; it hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Spanish companies, as well as the headquarters of three of the world's 100 largest companies (Telefónica, Repsol-YPF, Banco Santander).

While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the huge Royal Palace of Madrid; the Teatro Real (Royal theatre) with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro park, founded in 1631; the imposing 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain's historical archives; an archaeological museum of international reputation; 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 Sofía, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace.

The population of the city is roughly 3.2 million (as of December 2005), while the estimated urban area population is 5.1 million. The entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area (urban area and suburbs) is calculated to be 5.84 million. The city spans a total of 698 km² (234 sq mi).

There are several theories regarding the origin of the name "Madrid". According to legend Madrid was founded by Ocno Bianor (son of King Tyrrhenius of Tuscany and Mantua) and was named "Metragirta" or "Mantua Carpetana". Others contend that the original name of the city was "Ursaria" ("land of bears" in Latin), due to the high number of these animals that were found in the adjacent forests, which, together with the strawberry tree ("madroño" in Spanish), have been the emblem of the city from the Middle Ages.

Nevertheless, it is now commonly believed that the origin of the current name of the city comes from the 2nd century B.C., the Roman Empire established a settlement on the banks of the Manzanares river. The name of this first village was "Matrice" (a reference to the river that crossed the settlement). Following the invasions of the Germanic Sueves, Vandals and the non-Germanic Alans during the fifth century A.D., the Roman Empire could not defend its territories on the Iberian Peninsula, and were therefore overrun by the Visigoths. The barbarian tribes subsequently took control of "Matrice". In the 7th century the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula saw the name changed to "Mayrit", from the Arabic term "Mayra" (referencing water as a "trees" or "giver of life") and the Ibero-Roman suffix "it" that means "place". The modern "Madrid" evolved from the Mozarabic "Matrit", which is still in the Madrilenian gentilic.

Although the site of modern-day Madrid has been occupied since pre-historic times, in the Roman era this territory belonged to the diocese of Complutum (present-day Alcalá de Henares). There are archeological remains of a small village during the visigoth epoch, whose name might have been adopted later by Arabs. The origins of the modern city come from the 9th century, when Muhammad I ordered the construction of a small palace in the same place that is today occupied by the Palacio Real. Around this palace a small citadel, al-Mudaina, was built. Near that palace was the Manzanares, which the Muslims called al-Majrīṭ (Arabic: المجريط, "source of water"). From this came the naming of the site as Majerit, which later evolved into the modern-day spelling of Madrid. The citadel was conquered in 1085 by christian king Alfonso VI of Castile in his advance towards Toledo. He reconsecrated the mosque as the church of the Virgin of Almudena (almudin, the garrison's granary). In 1329, the Cortes Generales first assembled in the city to advise Alfonso XI of Castile. Sephardi Jews and Moors continued to live in the city until they were expelled at the end of the 15th century. After troubles and a large fire, Henry III of Castile (1379–1406) rebuilt the city and established himself safely fortified outside its walls in El Pardo. The grand entry of Ferdinand and Isabella to Madrid heralded the end of strife between Castile and Aragon.

The Kingdom of Castile, with its capital at Toledo, and the Crown of Aragon, with its capital at Zaragoza, were welded into modern Spain by the Catholic Monarchs (Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon).

Though their grandson Charles I of Spain (also known as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) favoured Seville, it was Charles' son, Philip II (1527–1598) who moved the court to Madrid in 1561. Although he made no official declaration, the seat of the court was the de facto capital. Seville continued to control commerce with Spain's colonies, but Madrid controlled Seville.

Aside from a brief period, 1601-1606, when Felipe III installed his court in Valladolid, Madrid's fortunes have closely mirrored those of Spain. During the Siglo de Oro (Golden Century), in the 16th/17th century, Madrid bore little resemblance to other European capitals, as the population of the city was economically dependent on the business of the court itself, and there was no other significant activity.

In the late 1800s, Isabel II could not suppress the political tension that would lead to yet another revolt, the First Spanish Republic. This was later followed by the return of the monarchy to Madrid, then the creation of the Second Spanish Republic, preceding the Spanish Civil War.

Madrid was one of the most heavily affected cities of Spain by the Civil War (1936–1939). The city was a stronghold of the Republicans from July 1936. Its western suburbs were the scene of an all-out battle in November 1936 and it was during the Civil War that Madrid became the first city to be bombed by airplanes specifically targeting civilians in the history of warfare. (See Siege of Madrid (1936-39)).

During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, especially during the 1960s, the south of Madrid became very industrialized, and there were massive migrations from rural areas of Spain into the city. Madrid's south-eastern periphery became an extensive working class settlement, which was the base for an active cultural and political reform.

After the death of Franco, emerging democratic parties (including those of left-wing and republican ideology) accepted King Juan Carlos I as both Franco's successor and as the heir of the historic dynasty - in order to secure stability and democracy. This led Spain to its current position as a constitutional monarchy, with Madrid as capital.

Benefiting from increasing prosperity in the 1980s and 1990s, the capital city of Spain has consolidated its position an important economic, cultural, industrial, educational, and technological center on the European continent.

The region of Madrid has a temperate Mediterranean climate (Koppen Csa) with cooler winters, due to altitude, including sporadic snowfalls and minimum temperatures usually below 0 °C (32 °F). Summer tends to be hot with temperatures that consistently surpass 30 °C (86 °F) in July and that can often reach 40 °C (104 °F). Due to Madrid's high altitude and dry climate, nightly temperatures tend to be cooler, leading to a lower average in the summer months. Precipitation levels are low, but precipitation can be observed all throughout the year. Summer and winter are the driest seasons, with most rainfall occurring in the autumn and spring.

Madrid derives almost 50 percent of its water supply from dams and reservoirs built on the Lozoya River, such as the El Atazar Dam.

Although the site of Madrid has been occupied since prehistoric times, the first historical data that concerns the city dates from the middle of the ninth Century, when Mohammad I ordered the construction of a small palace (site occupied now by the Palacio Real). Around this palace there was built a small citadel (al-Mudaina). The palace was built overlooking the River Manzanares, which the muslims called Mayrit meaning source of water (which in turn became Magerit, and then eventually Madrid). The citadel was conquered in 1085 by Alfonso VI in his advance towards Toledo. He reconsecrated the mosque as the church of the Virgin of Almudena (almudin, the garrison's granary), now the Catedral de la Almudena. In 1329 the Cortes first assembled in Madrid to advise Fernando IV. Jews and Moors continued to live in the city in their quarter, still known today as the "Moreria", until they were expelled. The Royal Palace of Madrid and the buildings and monuments of the Paseo del Prado (Salón del Prado and Alcalá Gate) deserve special mention. They were constructed in a sober Baroque international style, often mistaken for neoclassical, by the Bourbon kings Philip V and Charles III. The royal palaces of La Granja de San Ildefonso (in Segovia province) and Aranjuez (south of Madrid), are good examples of baroque integration of architecture and gardening. They have a noticeable French influence (La Granja is known as the "Spanish Versailles"), but with local spatial conceptions which in some ways display the heritage of the Moorish occupation.

Plans for the construction of a new cathedral for Madrid dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena began in the 16th century, but the slow construction did not begin until 1879. Francisco de Cubas, the Marquis of Cubas, was the architect who designed and directed the construction in a Gothic revival style. Construction ceased completely during the Spanish Civil War. The project was abandoned until 1950, when Fernando Chueca Goitia adapted the plans of de Cubas to a neoclassical style exterior to match the grey and white façade of the Palacio Real, which stands directly opposite. and was not completed until 1993, when the cathedral was consecrated by Pope John Paul II.

The financial district in downtown Madrid between the streets Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, Orense, General Perón and Paseo de la Castellana, its original conception (and its name) to the "Plan General de Ordenación Urbana de Madrid", approved in 1946. The purpose of this plan was to create a huge block of modern office buildings with metro and railway connections in the expansion area of northern Madrid, just in front of Real Madrid stadium (currently named the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium) and beside the brand new government complex of Nuevos Ministerios. A botanical garden, a library and an opera house were also included in the plans, but these were never built. Cuatro Torres Business Area is a business park currently under construction. The area will contain the tallest skyscrapers in Madrid and Spain (Torre Espacio, Torre de Cristal, Torre Sacyr Vallehermoso and Torre Caja Madrid). The buildings are expected to be finished by 2008.

Madrid Barajas International Airport Terminal 4, designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers (winning them the 2006 Stirling Prize), and TPS Engineers, (winning them the 2006 IStructE Award for Commercial Structures) was inaugurated on February 5, 2006. Terminal 4 is one of the world's largest terminal area, with an area of 760,000 square meters (8,180,572 square feet) in two separate terminals. Consisting of a main building, T4 (470,000 square meter), and satellite building, T4S (290,000 square meter), which are separated by approximately 2.5 km. Hong Kong International Airport still holds the title for the world's largest single terminal building (Terminal 1) at 570,000 square meter. The new Terminal 4 is meant to give passengers a stress-free start to their journey. This is managed through careful use of illumination, available by glass panes instead of walls and numerous domes in the roof which allow natural light to pass through. With the new addition, Barajas is designed to handle 70 million passengers annually.

Madrid is full of green spaces and parkland, in central Madrid the largest park is Parque del Retiro, spreading out to the north-east of Atocha Railway station, which is the core center for high-speed AVE trains, with current lines to Valladolid (North-West), Barcelona (North-East) and Seville (South).

Parque del Retiro, formerly the grounds of the palace built for Felipe IV, is Madrid’s most popular park. Its large lake in the middle once staged mini naval sham battles to amuse royalty; these days the more tranquil pastime of pleasure boating is popular. Inspired by London’s crystal palace, the palacio de cristal can be found at the south-eastern end of the park.

In the Retiro Park is also the Forest of the Departed (Spanish Bosque de los Ausentes), a memorial monument to commemorate the 191 victims of the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks.

Atocha Railway Station is not only the city’s first and most central station but also home to a distinctive indoor garden with 4,000 square meters of tropical plants. Atocha station has become a hothouse destination in itself for plant lovers, with more than 500 species of plant life and ponds with turtle and goldfish in, as well as shops and cafes. It's a nice place to visit on a cold or wet day with its even temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, or even on a scorching summer day as a retreat from the heat.

Casa de Campo is an enormous rural parkland to the west of the city, the largest of all Madrid’s green areas. It’s home to a fairground, zoo and an outdoor municipal pool, to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the park and city take a cable car trip above the tree tops.

The Royal Botanic Garden or Real Jardin Botanico was an 18th century creation by Carlos III, it was used as a base for the plant species being collected across the globe. There is an important research facility that started life as a base to develop herbal remedies and to house the species collected from the new-world trips, today it is dedicated to maintaining Europe’s ecosystem.

During the end of the Middle Ages, Madrid experienced astronomic growth as a consequence of its establishment as the new capital of the Spanish Empire. As Spain (like many other European countries) continued to centralize royal authority, this meant that Madrid took on greater importance as a center of administration for the Spanish Kingdom. It evolved to become an important nucleus of artisanal activity that eventually experienced industrial revolution during of the 19th century. The city made even greater strides at expansion during the 20th century, especially after the Spanish Civil War, reaching levels of industrialization found in other European capital cities. The economy of the city was then centered on diverse manufacturing industries such as those related to motor vehicles, aircraft, chemicals, electronic devices, pharmaceuticals, processed food, printed materials, and leather goods.

Madrid is a major centre for international business and commerce. It is one of Europe's largest financial centres and the largest in Spain.

During the period from 1992 to 2006, Madrid experienced very significant growth in its service sector. The importance of the Barajas Airport to the city's economy is substantial. The construction of housing and public works, such as the ringroads and train network, constituted a major pillar of the economy up to 2006. As Spain has become decentralized politically, Madrid has taken on a smaller administrative profile as compared to the rest of the Spanish state.

Even so, the Community of Madrid (centered upon the city of Madrid) experienced the highest growth of all the Spanish regions between 2004 to 2006. Its growth rate was higher than for the country as a whole by 1.4% during the period 2000-2006, and that of the Eurozone by 13%.

Madrid has become the 23rd richest city in the world and third richest in Europe in terms of absolute GDP; the economic output for the year 2005 was of $201.5 billion, behind the considerably larger cities of Paris ($460 billion) and London ($452 billion) and ahead of Moscow and Barcelona. Additionally in terms of GDP per capita, Madrid, in specific the Madrid region is the richest in Spain and one of the richest in Europe. At 133.9% of the European average of 25,800€ (34,572€/$48,313) Madrid is slightly ahead of the Basque Country (130.8%) plus all other 8 Spanish regions above 100%. Similarly, Madrid is just 97.8% of New York's purchasing power. However, another Spanish city - Barcelona is placed higher at 101.8%.

Madrid is, along with Barcelona and Lisbon one of the cities in the Iberian Peninsula that attracts most foreign investment and job seekers. One of the reasons for this are the wages in Madrid; despite minimum wage being just 600€ in Spain, the average salary in Madrid during 2007 was 2004€, clearly above the Spanish average of 1686€. However in terms of net earnings, Madrid places second in Spain behind Barcelona; whilst Barcelona is 81.4% of the Index (New York), Madrid is one place below as 28th in the world, at 78.6%..

One downside of Madrid's quick growth especially over the last 15 years has been the rising cost of living. The city has grown to become the 22nd most expensive city in the world in 2008, the highest any Spanish city has ever featured. Although Madrid is still at 80.7% of New York, dramatic rises since 2005 show that Madrid could easily be challanging the cities higher above the ranks very soon.

The population of Madrid generally increased from when the city became the national capital in the mid-16th century and stabilised at about 3 million from the 1970s.

From around 1970 until the mid 1990s, the city's population dropped. This phenomenon, which also affected Barcelona and other European cities, was caused in part by the growth of satellite suburbs at the expense of the downtown. Another reason might have been the slowdown in the rate of growth of the European economy.

The demographic boom accelerated in the late 1990s and early 2000s due to international immigration, in response to a strong pick-up in Spanish economic growth. For example, according to census data, the population of the city grew by 271,856 between 2001 and 2005.

As the capital city of Spain, the city has attracted many immigrants from around the world. While more than 83.8% of the inhabitants are Spaniards, there are many recent immigrants who come from Latin America, Europe, Asia, North Africa and West Africa representing 16.2% as of 2007.

The ten largest immigrant groups include: Ecuadorian: 104,184, Romanian: 52,875, Bolivian: 44,044, Colombian: 35,971, Peruvian: 35,083, Chinese: 32,666, Moroccan: 32,498, Dominican: 19,602, Brazilian: 14,583, and Paraguayan: 14,308. There are also important communities of Filipinos, Equatorial Guineans, Bulgarians, Indians, Italians, Argentines, French, Senegalese and Polish.

The new democracy heralded a successful movement towards increased autonomy for the regions of Spain, considered as autonomous regions, under the umbrella of Spain.

The Municipal Corporation consists of 55 Concejales (councillors), one of them being the Alcalde (Mayor)- currently Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón Jiménez.

The Plenary session, integrated by the Mayor and the Councillors, is the organ of political representation of the citizens in the municipal government. Some of its attributions are: fiscal matters, the election and destitution of the Mayor, the approval and modification of decrees and regulations, the approval of budgets, the agreements related to the limits and alteration of the municipal term, the services management, the participation in supramunicipal organizations, etc.

Madrid has tended to be a stronghold of the People's Party, which has controlled the city's mayoralty since 1989.

Madrid is one of Spain's most popular destinations and is renowned for its large quantity of cultural attractions.

Madrid is considered one of the top European destinations concerning art museums. Best known is the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three museums. The most famous one is the Prado Museum, the most popular Golden Triangle of Art member known for such highlights as Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas and Francisco de Goya's La maja vestida and La maja desnuda. The other two museums are the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, established from a mixed private collection, and the Reina Sofia Museum. This is where Pablo Picasso's Guernica hangs, returning to Spain from New York after more than two decades.

Other nearby towns are popular as day trips from Madrid, including Toledo, Segovia, Ávila, Aranjuez, Alcalá de Henares, the monastery and palace complex of El Escorial, the former summer home of the royal family at Aranjuez, El Atazar Dam, El Pardo and Chinchón.

Madrid is notable for its nightlife and night clubs. On weekends, Madrilenian youth are famous for dancing all night long, stopping only to go home, take a shower, shave (or not), and go to work.

What is also popular is the practice of meeting in parks or streets with friends and drinking alcohol together (this is called 'botellón', from 'botella', bottle), but in recent years, drinking in the street is punished with a fine and now young madrileños drink together all around the city instead of in more well known places. Many places host bands (concerts in Madrid). Nightlife and young cultural awakening flourished after the death of Franco, especially during the 80s while Madrid's mayor Enrique Tierno Galván was in office. This new movement was called la movida and it initially gathered around Plaza del Dos de Mayo (Malasaña area). Some of the most popular night destinations include the neighbourhoods of: Bilbao, Tribunal, Alonso Martinez or Moncloa, together with Puerta del Sol area (including Opera and Gran Via, both adjacent to the popular square) and Huertas (barrio de Las Letras), destinations which are also filled with tourists day and night. The district of Chueca has also become a hot spot in the Madrilenian night life, not only for gay people but also for straight people looking for fun in their crowded clubs and popular discos.

Madrid hosts the largest Plaza de Toros (bullring) in Spain, Las Ventas, established in 1929. Las Ventas is considered by many to be the world center of bullfighting and has a seating capacity of almost 25,000. Madrid's bullfighting season begins in March and ends in October. Bullfights are held every day during the festivities of San Isidro (Madrid's patron saint) from the middle of March to the middle of June, and every Sunday, and public holiday, the rest of the season. The style of the plaza is Neomudéjar. Las Ventas also hosts music concerts and other events outside of the bullfighting season.

Madrid is home to Real Madrid, who play in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Their supporters are referred to as vikingos, vikings, or, more commonly, merengues, meringues. Their hometown rivals, Atlético Madrid, are also well supported in the city, and their supporters are called los sufridores, the sufferers. The players are referred to as colchoneros, mattresses, in reference to the teams red & white jerseys having been determined by mattress material being the cheapest at the time of the club's formation. Madrid's contribution to the sport is further noticed by the fact that it hosted the 1982 FIFA World Cup final. Along with Barcelona, Glasgow and Lisbon Madrid is one of four cities in Europe to contain two UEFA 5-star stadia: Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu and Atlético Madrid's Vicente Calderón both meet the criteria.

Some of Spain's best and more well-known footballers are Madrileños, including Real Madrid legend Emilio Butragueño and co (La Quinta del Buitre, "The Vulture's Cohort"), Liverpool's Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres and Real Madrid veterans Raúl González and Iker Casillas.

The city is also host to two basketball teams in the Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto (ACB league), and the Circuito Permanente Del Jarama, a motorsport race circuit which formerly hosted the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix. Historically, the city serves as the last stage of the Vuelta a España cyclist classic in the same way as Paris does in the Tour de France.

Skiing is possible in the nearby mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama, where the ski resorts of Valdesqui and Navacerrada are located.

The city bid for hosting the 1972 and 2012 Summer Olympics, which were lost to Munich and London respectively. Nevertheless, Madrid is currently bidding to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

State Education in Spain is free, and compulsory from 6 to 16 years. The current education system is called LOGSE (Ley de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo).

Children from 3 to 5 years old in Spain have the option of attending the infantil (popularly known as prescolar) or Pre-school stage, which is non-compulsory and free for all students. It is regarded as an integral part of the education system with infantil classes in almost every primary school. There are some separate Colegios Infantiles or nursery schools.

Spanish students aged 6 to 16 undergo primary (Colegio) and secondary school (Instituto) education, which are compulsory and free of charge. Successful students are awarded a Secondary Education Certificate, which is necessary for entering further (optional) education as is Bachillerato for their University or Formacion Professional (Vocational Studies). Once students have finished their Bachillerato, they can take their University Entrance Exam (Pruebas de Acceso a la Universidad, popularly called Selectividad) which differs greatly from region to region.

The secondary stage of education is normally referred to by their initials, eg. ESO or Educación Secundaria Obligatoria for secondary education.

Madrid is home to a large number of public and private universities. Some of them are among the oldest in the world.

The Autonomous University of Madrid is one of the most prestigious universities in Spain. It is the number one ranked public university in Spain, and was instituted under the leadership of the famous physicist, Nicolás Cabrera. The Autonoma is widely recognised for its research strengths in theoretical physics. Known simply as la Autónoma in Madrid, its main site is the Cantoblanco Campus, situated 10 miles (16 km) to the northeast of the capital (M-607) and close to the municipal areas of Madrid, namely Alcobendas, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Tres Cantos and Colmenar Viejo. Located on the main site are the Rectorate building and the Faculties of Science, Philosophy and Fine Arts, Law, Economic Science and Business Studies, Psychology, Higher School of Computing Science and Engineering, and the Faculty of Teacher Training and Education. The Medical School is sited outside the main site and beside the Hospital Universitario La Paz.

Another important university is the Complutense University of Madrid which is the largest university in Spain and one of the oldest universities in the world. It has 10,000 staff members and a student population of 117,000. Nearly all academic staff are Spanish. It is located on two campuses, in the university quarter Ciudad Universitaria at Moncloa in Madrid, and in Somosaguas. The Complutense University of Madrid was founded in Alcala de Henares, old Complutum, by Cardinal Cisneros in 1499. Nevertherless, its real origin dates back from 1293, when King Sancho IV of Castile built the General Schools of Alcalá, which would give rise to Cisnero's Complutense University. During the course of 1509-1510 five schools were already operative: Artes y Filosofía (Arts & Philosophy), Teología (Theology), Derecho Canónico (Canonical Laws), Letras (Liberal Arts) and Medicina (Medicine). In 1836, during the reign of Isabel II, the University was moved to Madrid, where it took the name of Central University and was located at San Bernardo Street. Subsequently, in 1927, a new university area was planned to be built in the district of Moncloa-Aravaca, in lands handed over by the King Alfonso XIII to this purpose. The Spanish Civil War turned the "Ciudad Universitaria" into a war zone, causing the destruction of several schools in the area, as well as the loss of part of its rich scientific, artistic and bibliographic heritage. In 1970 the Government reformed the High Education, and the Central University became the Complutense University of Madrid. It was then when the new campus at Somosaguas was created in order to house the new School of Social Sciences. The old Alcalá campus was reopened as the independent UAH. Complutense also serves to the population of students who select Madrid as their residency during their study abroad period. Students from the United States for example, might go to Madrid on a program like API (Academic Programs International) and study at Complutense for an intense immersion into the Spanish Language. The beautiful setting of the campus allows students living temporarily in Madrid to have access to all of the city's public features including Retiro Park, El Prado Museum, and much more. After studying at the University, students return home with a fluent sense of Spanish as well as culture and diversity. University of Alcalá in 1977.

Other local universities, among many others, are the Technical University of Madrid, as the result of merging the different Technical Schools of Engineering; the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, rebuilt at Alcalá de Henares in 1975; the Carlos III, whose philosophy is to create responsible free-thinking people with a sensitivity to social problems and an involvement in the concept of progress based on freedom, justice and tolerance and the Universidad Pontificia Comillas, involved in a number of academic exchange programmes, work practice schemes and international projects with over 200 Higher Education Institutions in Europe, Latin America, North America and Asia.

Other universities in Madrid: Rey Juan Carlos University (public), Universidad Alfonso X, Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, Universidad Camilo José Cela, Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca Campus de Madrid, Saint Louis University (Madrid Campus) and Universidad San Pablo CEU (all of them private).

Madrid is also home to the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía, the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid and many other private educational institutions.

Madrid is served by Barajas International Airport. Barajas is the main hub of Iberia Airlines. It consequently serves as the main gateway to the Iberian peninsula from Europe, America and the rest of the world. Current passenger volumes range upwards of 52 million passengers per year, putting it in the top 10 busiest airports in the world. Given annual increases close to 10%, a new fourth terminal has been constructed. It has significantly reduced delays and doubled the capacity of the airport to more than 70 million passengers per year. Two additional runways have also been constructed, making Barajas a fully operational four-runway airport.

Spain's railway system, the Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles (Renfe) operates the vast majority of Spain's railways. In Madrid, the main rail terminals are Atocha in the south and Chamartín in the north.

The crown jewel of Spain's next decade of infrastructure construction is the Spanish high speed rail network, Alta Velocidad Española AVE. Currently, an ambitious plan includes the construction of a 7,000 kilometre (4,350 mi) network, centered on Madrid. The overall goal is to have all important provincial cities be no more than 4 hours away from Madrid, and no more than 6 hours away from Barcelona. As of 2008, AVE high-speed trains link Atocha station to Seville, Málaga and Toledo in the south and to Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona and Barcelona in the east. AVE trains also arrive to Valladolid and Segovia.

Serving a population of some four million, the Madrid Metro is one of the most extensive and fastest-growing metro networks in the world. With the addition of a loop serving suburbs to Madrid's south-west "Metrosur", it is now the second largest metro system in Western Europe, second only to London's Underground. In 2007 Madrid's metro system was expanded and it currently runs over 399 kilometers (298 miles) of line. The province of Madrid is also served by an extensive commuter rail network called Cercanías.

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Real Madrid C.F.

Real Madrid C.F. emblem

Real Madrid Club de Fútbol (Spanish IPA: , also known as Real Madrid, Los Blancos, Los Merengues) is a professional association football club based in Madrid, Spain. It is the most successful team in Spanish football and was voted by FIFA as the most successful club of the 20th century, having won a record thirty-one La Liga titles, seventeen Spanish Cups, a record nine European Cups and two UEFA Cups. Real was a founding member of FIFA and the now-defunct G-14 group of Europe's leading football clubs as well as its replacement, the European Club Association.

Founded in 1902, Real Madrid has since spent all of its history in the top flight of Spanish football. In the 1940s, the club, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and the Ciudad Deportiva were rebuilt following the Spanish Civil War. The club established itself as a major force in both Spanish and European football during the 1950s. In the 1980s, the club had one of the best teams in Spain and Europe (known as La Quinta del Buitre), winning two UEFA Cups, five Spanish championships in a row, one Spanish cup and three Spanish Super Cups.

The club's traditional home colours are all white. Its crest has been changed several times in attempts to modernise or re-brand; the current crest is a modified version of the one first adopted in the 1920. Real's home is the 80,354-person-capacity.Santiago Bernabéu football stadium in downtown Madrid, where it has played since 1947. Unlike most European football clubs, Real Madrid's members (socios) have owned and operated the club since its inception.

It has a long-standing and fierce rivalry with FC Barcelona, although Atlético Madrid is actually the closest professional football club. The El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona has been played since 1929. Real is the world's richest football club (€366m) in terms of revenue.

Football was introduced to Madrid by the professors and students of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, which included several Oxbridge graduates. They founded Football Club Sky in 1897, playing on Sunday mornings at Moncloa. It split into two clubs in 1900: New Foot-Ball de Madrid and Club Español de Madrid. The latter club split again in 1902, resulting in the formation of Madrid Football Club on 6 March 1902. Three years after its foundation, in 1905, Madrid FC won its first title after defeating Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Cup final. The club became one of the founding sides of the Spanish Football Association on 4 January 1909, when club president Adolfo Meléndez signed the foundation agreement of the Spanish FA. After moving between grounds the team moved to the "Campo de O'Donnell" in 1912. In 1920, the club's name was changed to Real Madrid after King Alfonso XIII granted the title of Real (Royal) to the club.

In 1929, the first Spanish football league was founded. Real Madrid lead the first edition until the last match, a loss to Athletic Bilbao meant they finished runners-up to Barcelona. Real Madrid won its first League title in the 1931–32 season. The Whites won the League again the following year, becoming the first side to have won the championship twice.

Santiago Bernabéu Yeste became president of Real Madrid in 1945. Under his presidency, the club, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and the Ciudad Deportiva were rebuilt following the Spanish Civil War. Beginning in 1953, he embarked upon a strategy of signing world-class players from abroad, the most prominent of them being the signing of Alfredo di Stéfano. Thus, he built the world's first multinational side.

In 1955, acting upon the idea proposed by the French sports journalist and editor of L'Équipe Gabriel Hanot, and building upon the Copa Latina (a tournament involving clubs from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy), Bernabéu met in the Ambassador Hotel in Paris with Bedrignan and Gusztáv Sebes and created what today is known as the UEFA Champions League. It was under Bernabéu's guidance that Real Madrid established itself as a major force in both Spanish and European football. The club won the European Cup five times in a row between 1956 and 1960, which included the 7–3 Hampden Park final against Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960. Winning the competition five consecutive times saw Real permanently awarded the original cup and earning the right to wear the UEFA badge of honour. The club won the European Cup for a sixth time in 1966 defeating FK Partizan 2–1 in the final with a team composed entirely of nationally born players (known as the Ye-yé team) – a first in the competition. The name "Ye-yé" came from the "Yeah, yeah, yeah" chorus in the Beatles' song "She Loves You" after four members of the team posed for Diario Marca dressed in Beatles wigs. The Ye-yé generation was also European Cup runner-up in 1962 and 1964.

In the 1970s, Real Madrid won 5 league championships and 3 Spanish Cups. The club played its first UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final in 1971, being defeated by English side Chelsea with 2-1. On 2 July 1978, club president Santiago Bernabéu passed away while the World Cup was being played in Argentina. In his honor FIFA decreed three days of mourning during the tournament. The following year, the club organized the first edition of Santiago Bernabéu Trophy in the memory of its former president.

By the early 1980s, Real Madrid had lost its grasp on the La Liga title until a new batch of home-grown stars brought domestic success back to the club. Spanish sport journalist Julio César Iglesias gave to this generation the name La Quinta del Buitre ("Vulture's Cohort"), which was derived from the nickname given to one of its members, Emilio Butragueño. The other four members were Manuel Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel and Miguel Pardeza. With La Quinta del Buitre (reduced to four members when Pardeza left the club for Zaragoza in 1986) and notable players like goalkeeper Francisco Buyo, right defender Miguel Porlán Chendo and Mexican striker Hugo Sánchez, Real Madrid had one of the best teams in Spain and Europe during the second half of the 1980s, winning two UEFA Cups, five Spanish championships in a row, one Spanish cup and three Spanish Super Cups..

In the early 1990s, La Quinta del Buitre split up after Martín Vázquez, Emilio Butragueño and Míchel left the club. In 1996, President Lorenzo Sanz appointed Fabio Capello as coach. Although his tenure lasted only one season, Real Madrid was proclaimed league champion and players like Roberto Carlos, Predrag Mijatović, Davor Šuker and Clarence Seedorf arrived at the club to strengthen a squad that already boasted the likes of Raúl, Fernando Hierro and Fernando Redondo. As a result, Real Madrid (with the addition of Fernando Morientes in 1997) finally ended its 32-year wait for its seventh European Cup. In 1998, under manager Jupp Heynckes, The Whites defeated Juventus 1–0 in the final thanks to a goal from Predrag Mijatović.

In July 2000, Florentino Pérez was elected club president. His campaign vowed to erase the club's debt and modernize the club's facilities. However, the primary electoral promise that propelled Pérez to victory was the signing of Luís Figo. The following year, the club controversially got its training ground rezoned and used the money to begin assembling the famous Galáctico side including players such as Zinédine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luís Figo, Roberto Carlos, Raúl and David Beckham. It is debatable whether the gamble paid off, as despite a European Cup win in 2002, followed by the League in 2003, the club failed to win a major trophy for the next three seasons.

Ramón Calderón was elected as club president on 2 July 2006 and subsequently appointed Fabio Capello as the new coach and Predrag Mijatović as the new sporting director. Real Madrid won the La Liga title in 2007 for the first time in four years but Capello was sacked. In the 2007–08 season, The Whites won the domestic league for the 31st time, achieving the first consecutive league title in eighteen years.

The first crest of Real Madrid had a simple design consisting of a decorative interlacing of the three initials of the club, "MCF" for Madrid Club de Fútbol, in dark blue on a white shirt. The first change in the crest occurred in 1908 when the letters adopted a more streamlined form and appeared inside a circle. The next change in the configuration of the crest did not occur until the presidency of Pedro Parages in 1920. At that time, King Alfonso XIII granted the club his royal patronage which came in the form of the title "Real", roughly translated as "Royal". Thus, Alfonso's crown was added to the crest and the club styled itself Real Madrid Club de Fútbol. With the dissolution of the monarchy in 1931, all the royal symbols (the crown on the crest and the title of Real) were eliminated. The crown was replaced by the dark mulberry band of the Region of Castile. In 1941, two years after the end of the Civil War, the crest's "Real Corona", or "Royal Crown", was restored while the mulberry stripe of Castile was retained as well. In addition, the whole crest was made full color, with gold being the most prominent, and the club was again called Real Madrid Club de Fútbol. The most recent modification to the crest occurred in 2001 when the club wanted to better situate itself for the twenty-first century and further standardize its crest. One of the modifications made was changing the mulberry stripe to a more bluish shade.

Real Madrid traditional home colours are all white, although it initially adopted a blue oblique stripe on the shirt (the design was kept in the club crest); but unlike today, dark blue socks were worn. The striped shirt was replaced by an all-white version, modeled after the shirt worn by Corinthian F.C., in 1902. In the same year, the blue socks were replaced by black ones. By the early 1940s the manager changed the kit again by adding buttons to the shirt and the club's crest on the left breast (which have remained ever since). On 23 November 1947, in a game against Atlético Madrid at the Metropolitano Stadium, Real Madrid became the first Spanish team to wear numbered shirts.

Real's traditional away colours are all black or all purple. The club's kit is currently manufactured by Adidas whose contract extends from 1998. Real Madrid's first shirt sponsor, Zanussi, agreed for the 1982–83, 1983–84 and 1984–85 seasons. Following that, the club was sponsored by Parmalat and Otaysa before a long-term deal was signed with Teka in 1992. In 2001, Real Madrid ended their contract with Teka and for one season used the Realmadrid.com logo to promote its website. Then, in 2002, a deal was signed with Siemens Mobile and in 2006, the BenQ Siemens logo appeared on the club's shirt. Real Madrid's current shirt sponsor is bwin.com following the economic problems of BenQ Siemens.

After moving between grounds the team moved to the "Campo de O'Donnell" in 1912, which remained its home ground for eleven years. After this period, the club moved for one year to the Campo de Ciudad Lineal, a small ground with a capacity of 8,000 spectators. After that, Real Madrid moved its home matches to Estadio Chamartín which was inaugurated on 17 May 1923 with a match against Newcastle United. In this stadium, which hosted 22,500 spectators, Real Madrid celebrated its first Spanish league title. After some successes, the 1943 elected president Santiago Bernabéu decided that the Estadio Chamartín was not big enough for the ambitions of the club. A new stadium was built and was inaugurated on 14 December 1947. This was the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium as it is known today, although it did not acquire this name until 1955. The first match held on Bernabéu was played between Real Madrid and the Portuguese club Belenenses and won by The Whites with 3–1, the first goal being scored by Sabino Barinaga.

The capacity has changed frequently, peaking at 120,000 after a 1953 expansion. Since then, there have been a number of reductions due to modernizations (the last standing places went away in 1998–99 in response to UEFA regulations which forbids standing at matches in the UEFA competition), countered to some extent by expansions. The last change was an increase of about five thousand to a capacity of 80,354, effected in 2003. A plan to add a retractable roof has been announced.

The Bernabéu has hosted the 1964 European Championship final, the 1982 FIFA World Cup final, the 1957, 1969 and 1980 European Cup finals and is due to host the 2010 Champions League Final. The stadium has its own Madrid Metro station along the 10 line called Santiago Bernabéu. The Bernabeu has recently been upgraded to Elite Football Stadium status by UEFA.

On 9 May 2006, the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium was inaugurated at the City of Madrid where Real Madrid usually trains. The inaugural match was played between Real Madrid and Stade Reims, a rematch of the 1956 European Cup final. Real Madrid won the match 6–1 with goals from Sergio Ramos, Cassano (2), Soldado (2), and Jurado. The venue is now part of the Ciudad Real Madrid, the club's new training facilities located outside Madrid in Valdebebas. The stadium holds 5,000 people and is Real Madrid Castilla's home ground. It is named after former Real footballer Alfredo di Stéfano.

Manuel Sanchís Hontiyuelo holds the record for Real Madrid appearances, having played 712 first-team matches between 1983 and 2001. Forward Raúl comes second, having played 686 times. The record for a goalkeeper is held by Iker Casillas, with 440 appearances. With 127 caps (47 while at the club), Luís Figo of Portugal is Real's most capped international player.

Raúl is Real's all-time top goalscorer, with 311 goals in 686 games (1994–present). Four other players have also scored over 200 goals for Real: Alfredo di Stéfano (1953–64), Carlos Santillana (1971–88), Ferenc Puskás (1958–66) and Hugo Sánchez (1985–92). Hugo Sánchez holds the record for the most league goals scored in one season (38 in 1989–90). Di Stéfano's 49 goals in 58 matches was for decades the all-time highest tally in the European Cup, until it was surpassed by Raúl in 2005. The fastest goal in the history of the club (15 seconds) was scored by Brazilian Ronaldo on 3 December 2003 during a league match with Atlético Madrid.

Officially, Real Madrid's highest home attendance is 83,329 for a Copa del Rey match in 2006. The current legal capacity of Santiago Bernabéu is 80,354. The club's average attendance in 2007–08 season was 76,234, the highest in European Leagues. Real have also set records in Spanish football, most notably the most domestic titles (31 as of 2007–08) and the most seasons won in a row (5, during 1960–65 and 1985–90). With 121 matches (from 17 February 1957 to 7 March 1965), the club holds the record for longest unbeaten run at home in La Liga.

The Whites also hold the record for winning the UEFA Champions League nine times and for the most semi-final appearances (21). Raúl González is the all-time UEFA Champions League top scorer, with 64 goals. The team has the record number of consecutive participation in the Champions' Cup with 15, from 1955–56 to 1969–70. The fee of €76 million (over $100 million, £45.8 million) for Zinédine Zidane's transfer from Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001 is the highest ever paid in the history of football. The club's record sale came on 1 September 2008, when they sold Robinho to Manchester City for €42 million (£32.5 million).

During most home matches the majority of the seats in the stadium are occupied by season ticket holders, of which there are average of 68,670. To become a season ticket holder one must first be a socio, or club member. Not all members are able to get a season ticket. In addition to members, the club has more than 1,800 peñas (official, club-affiliated supporters' groups) in Spain and around the world. Real Madrid has the first highest average all-time attendance in Spanish football and regularly attract over 65,000 fans to Santiago Bernabéu; it was the second best-supported La Liga team in the 2004–05 season, with an average gate of 71,900.

The club has a large and diverse fanbase, who hold some long-standing rivalries with other clubs; It semiannually contests the El Clásico with FC Barcelona which is its most notable rival. Some of Real Madrid's fans are the so-called Ultras Sur supporters. They are known for their right-wing politics. The Ultras Sur have developed an alliance with some S.S. Lazio Irriducibili fans. On several occasions they have racially abused opposing players, and have been investigated by UEFA for doing so.

The rivalry with Barcelona projects what some regard as the political tensions felt between Castilians and Catalans. Madrid is the seat of the government and of the royal family. Especially during the Francoist era, it came to represent the conservative centripetal forces. On the other hand, almost all the ideas that have shaped Spain's modern history - republicanism, federalism, anarchism, syndicalism and communism - have been introduced in Spain -and become stronger- in Catalonia, namely in Barcelona. Fashions, whether in clothing, philosophy or art, used to enter via Barcelona before they gained greater acceptance in the rest of Spain.

During the 1950s, the rivalry was intensified further when the clubs disputed the signing of Alfredo di Stéfano, who finally played for Real Madrid and was key in the subsequent success achieved by the club. The 1960s saw the rivalry reach the European stage when they met twice at the European Cup, Real Madrid winning in 1960 and Barça winning in 1961. In 2000, the rivalry was reinforced following the controversial decision by Luís Figo to leave Barça and sign for Real Madrid. The two teams met again in the 2002 UEFA Champions League semi-final. Real Madrid, the eventual champion, won the clash dubbed by Spanish media as the Match of the Century. As the two biggest and most successful clubs in Spain, the rivalry is renewed on an annual basis with both teams often challenging each other for the league championship.

The club's nearest neighbour is Atlético Madrid, which is also seen as a viable rival by Real Madrid fans. Although Atlético was originally founded by three Basque students in 1903, it was joined in 1904 by dissident members of Madrid FC. Further tensions came because initially Real supporters came from the middle class while the Atlético supporters were drawn from the working class. Today these distinctions are largely blurred. They met for the first time on 21 February 1929 in matchday three of the first League Championship at the former Chamartín. It was the first official derby of the new tournament, and Real won 2–1. The rivalry first gained international attention in 1959 during the European Cup when the two clubs met in the semi-final. Real won the first leg 2–1 at the Bernabéu while Atlético won 1–0 at the Metropolitano. The tie went to a replay and The Whites won 2–1. Atlético, however, gained some revenge when, led by former Real Madrid coach José Villalonga, it defeated The Whites in two successive Copa del Generalísimo finals in 1960 and 1961.

Between 1961 and 1989, when Real dominated La Liga, only Atlético offered it any serious challenge, winning Liga titles in 1966, 1970, 1973 and 1977. In 1965, Atlético became the first team to beat Real at the Bernabéu in eight years. Real Madrid's record against Atlético in more recent times is very favorable. A high point coming in the 2002–03 season, when The Whites clinched the La Liga title after beating Atlético 4–0 at the Vicente Calderón Stadium.

It was under Florentino Pérez presidency (2000-2006) that Real Madrid started harbouring its current ambition of becoming the world's richest professional football club. The club ceded part of its training grounds to the city of Madrid in 2001 and sold the rest to four corporations: Repsol YPF, Mutua Automovilística de Madrid, Sacyr Vallehermoso and OHL. The sale wiped out its debts, paving the way for the club to buy the world's most expensive players such as Zinédine Zidane, Luís Figo, Ronaldo and David Beckham. The city had rezoned the training grounds for development, a move which in turn increased their value, and then bought the site. Although there is no evidence thereto, the critics allege that the city overpaid for the property to help with the club's finance.

The sale of the training ground for office buildings cleared Real Madrid's debts of €270m and enabled the club to embark upon an unprecedented spending spree which brought big-name players to the club. Moreover, the money gained was spent on a state-of-the-art training complex on the city's outskirts.

After the 2004–05 season, Real Madrid ended Manchester United's eight-year reign as the biggest earners in world football. Real's income to the year ending 30 June 2005 jumped 17 per cent to €275.7m (£190m). Though Pérez's policy resulted in increased financial success based on the exploitation of the club's high marketing potential around the world, especially in Asia, it came under increasing criticism for being focused too much on marketing the Real Madrid brand and not enough on the performances of the team.

In January 2007, Real Madrid paid their debts of €224 million and fell to second spot behind Manchester United. However, they reached the top again two months later after completing an image rights deal with Adidas worth 762 million. Manchester United's debt was €872 million in 2007, down from €1.25 billion in 2005.

In September 2007, Real Madrid was considered the most valuable football brand in Europe by BBDO, and is ranked as the second most valuable club in football with a value of €951 mil (£640 million / $1.285 billion) as of May 2008. Also, it is the richest club in football (as of December 2008) with a revenue of €351 mil (£236 million / $474 million).

Spanish teams are limited to three players without EU citizenship. The squad list includes only the principal nationality of each player; several non-European players on the squad have dual citizenship with an EU country. Also, players from the ACP countries—countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific that are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement—are not counted against non-EU quotas due to the Kolpak ruling.

There have been 41 managers of Real Madrid since the appointment of the club's first professional manager, Arthur Johnson in 1910. The longest-running manager in terms of time and games is Miguel Muñoz (1960–1974) with 604 matches. Argentine Luis Carniglia is Real's most successful permanent manager in terms of percentage of wins with 69.81%, while Jacinto Quincoces is team's least successful (37.21%).

Since its foundation, Real Madrid has been owned and operated only by its members (all Spanish) called socios, unlike most European football clubs. Santiago Bernabéu Yeste remains the longest-running president of The Whites (35 years, from 1943 to 1978). On July 2000, former Real's player Alfredo di Stéfano is appointed Honourary President of the Club.

Historically, Real Madrid is Spain's most successful team, having won 57 domestic trophies, and one of the most recognized football clubs in the world, having won 18 European trophies, making them the second most winning team in Europe and third in the world for official international competition won, all recognized by UEFA and FIFA. The club was placed first in the FIFA Clubs of the 20th Century's selection on 23 December 2000. It also received the FIFA Order of Merit in 2004. Added to this, Real is allowed to wear the UEFA Badge of Honour on their shirt during UEFA Champions League matches as they have won more than five European Cups.

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Source : Wikipedia