Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. Aside, from it's role as a city, Madrid is also one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain (Madrid Autononmous Community). It is the third-most populous municipality in the European Union after Greater London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-most populous city by urban area in the European Union after Paris and London.
Madrid sits in the geographic centre of the Iberian Peninsula and has long been an important stop on any art tour through Europe. The famous Museo del Prado on the city's 'Museum Mile' houses important works by Spanish and European masters from the Renaissance onwards, while the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiza houses one of the most extensive private collections in the world. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is devoted to 20th century Spanish art, with works by Miro, Dali and Picasso.
Visitors wishing to take a break from all that art may want to see the Plaza de Toros, Spain's largest bullring, where regular bullfights are still held. Sports fanatics who like something a little less blood-thirsty can watch Real Madrid, or Atletico de Madrid, Spain's most famous football teams kick off.
Due to its elevation as the highest capital city in Europe, Madrid's climate is somewhat extreme with hot summers and bitterly cold winters. Spring is arguably the best time to visit and explore the squares and alleyways in the heart of this sometimes overcrowded city.
Madrid is a city of great monuments. Among its highlights are the medieval centre dating back to the Habsburg Empire and the Prado Museum. But Madrid is not just a cultural destination. It is also a lively metropolis with many pubs, cafes, discotheques and nightclubs open late into the night. Don't be surprised if you get stuck in a traffic jam at four in the morning, and the people you meet are not necessarily going off to work.