Madrid the capital of Spain and of the autonomous community of Madrid, is also the largest and most populous city in country. It rates as the fourth richest city in Europe and is the seat of the central government which includes the Senate, Congress, ministries and the Supreme Court. For many years Madrid was primarily an administrative and industrial city before developing the financial sector and activities in the field of communications in the 1990s, which included the organization of trade fairs and conventions. The transport network also improved over the years and Madrid now has Europe’s fourth biggest airport and more high speed train connections than any other city in the world.
The city relies on its modern, attractive image to appeal to cultural and leisure tourism. It is a city in which it is impossible to be bored! The fashion industry has a marked impact on the local economy and includes some magnificent shopping areas to suit every taste and budget. Streets such as Serrano, Ortega and Gasset are nicknamed the "Golden Mile" due to the high concentration of upmarket boutiques, the area around Chueca/Fuencarral offers ‘alternative’ clothing possibilities for youngsters while the renowned Gran Via features shops representing of all the leading international brand names, not forgetting the wealth of shopping centres and outlet stores spread throughout the city.
From a gastronomic point of view, Madrid has an extremely high quality selection of more than 5,000 restaurants covering every imaginable style and speciality, boasting a total of 19 Michelin stars as well as the oldest restaurant in the world. Madrid is also home to the world’s most revolutionary gastronomic space where the appreciation of food and drink is transmitted as much through hearing, sight and touch as it is through taste. The city is home to outstanding museums such as the world-famous Prado and the Reina Sofia National Art Centre, and hosts numerous events such as the Book Festival and the Rock in Rio Music Festival, which gets the city up and dancing every year! Sport also plays an important role in the capital as witnessed by the city being named European Capital of Sport in 2001, its annual hosting of the Madrid Masters Tennis Tournament and the fact that it has two leading soccer teams playing in “the best league in the world”. Finally, Madrid’s legendary nightlife cannot be overlooked with its plethora of exciting bars, clubs and discos – if you’ve got the energy, you can eat, drink and be merry and dance the night away until dawn!.
As Spain’s biggest business centre, it is logical for Madrid to have all the facilities necessary for successful events, whatever the number of people or budget. There are several convention centres, amongst which are the Municipal Congress Centre at Campo de las Naciones, the Príncipe Felipe Congress and Convention Centre and the IFEMA trade fair exhibition centre providing the opportunity to arrange anything from a small board meeting to a massive congress with more than 20,000 delegates. There is also a range of unusual and original venues such as a complex right in the heart of Madrid which is made up of two former theatres or the more historic Madrid Casino, established in 1836, whose gastronomic advisor is the legendary chef Ferran Adrià whilst the two star Michelin chef Paco Roncero runs the kitchen on a daily basis. Special events can be organised in authentic estates or "fincas" just a few kilometres from the city centre a selection of singular spaces are also available such as bull rings that can be used for dinners or product launches or else private events held in sports facilities such as the "Magic Box", the Madrid Arena, Real Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium or golf clubs which can be privatised to run tournaments for corporate clients. To accommodate visitors, Madrid has more than 200 hotels with over 80,000 beds between them offering a wide range of styles and prices to suit every requirement including a specific discerning public that seek out "designer" properties with personality. Furthermore, hotel rates in Madrid are usually amongst the most competitive in the whole of Europe.