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Madrid is the capital city of Spain, and is located almost exactly in the geographical centre of the Iberian Peninsula. Madrid is the largest city in Spain and has a population (city) of 3.228 million (July 2005) and 5.843 million (metropolitan area). Madrid is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage, for which El Prado museum is a good example. It also boasts one of the liveliest night lifes in the world.
Madrid is located in central Spain and it is also capital of the autonomous community of the same name (Comunidad de Madrid). It lies at an average 600m of altitude in the middle of the Spanish central castillian plateau (Meseta central). Nearly all of the most famous tourist areas are located in the centre of Madrid: Puerta del Sol just in the middle, Plaza Mayor a bit to the south, Palacio Real to the west, and Plaza de Colón to the north-east. Some of those hotspots spread up past the Gran Via, which is one of the main streets in Madrid (the largest one being the Paseo de la Castellana).
The nearest airport is Barajas International Airport, about 15-20 minutes from Madrid. It is connected to the city by the Metro line eight. Taxis from the airport to the city centre cost about €20. In February 2006, a huge new terminal building, designed by Britain's Richard Rogers and Spanish´s Antonio Lamela, was inaugurated at Barajas. All One World alliance flights depart from the new Terminal 4 (T4). Due to a dispute between the regional and national governments, work on the Metro connection to the new terminal has only just begun and will not be completed until 2007. In the meantime, bus services run from the remaining terminals to T4 and there are additional bus services running from the centre of Madrid (Plaza Colón and Avenida de América). It is also planned (according to www.elpais.es) that a commuter train line from Atocha and Chamartín will arrive to the airport by 2009.
Not only is Madrid the capital of Spain, but it is also the hub of the country's rail network. Major routes include frequent trains to Barcelona on the east coast (5 hour journey), where it is possible to continue on to the French coast, and to Paris to the north with access to most of the rest of Europe.
Spain's high-speed train (AVE - Alta Velocidad de España) makes the Madrid-Seville run in in two and a half hours. The AVE line to Barcelona will probably become operational during 2007. It currently operates only between Madrid and Lerida via Zaragoza.
Northern bound trains arrive and depart from Chamartín station, while trains to Barcelona, Valencia and southern Spain depart from Atocha railway station.
There is more information available at Spanish Railway System Renfe (+034 902-240-202).
Madrid has eight gigantic international and intercity bus stations. Information on where buses to a particular destination depart from can be found at Tourist Office!
Many of the international buses, and those headed south of Madrid, arrive at and depart from Estacion Sur de Autobuses (Calle de Mendez Alvaro, Tel:+034 91-468-4200) which is connected to the rest of the city by Metro. Buses to and from Barcelona are based from the Avenida de America bus terminal (Ave. de America), also connected to the Metro.
Information provided by Wikipedia
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