Madrid is the capital city of Spain and its most populated, with roughly 6.5 million people in its 230 square mile metro area. The city is situated in the heart of Spain on the Manzanares River and is surrounded by the autonomous communities of Castile-La Mancha, Leon and Castile. The Spanish monarchy reside in the city as well as the government and the area can be judged as the cultural heart of Spain. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times but the first historical document dates from the 9th century. Various theories surround the meaning of the name Madrid. Some believe that the original city name of “Ursaria” (Latin for “land of bears”) was a nod to the nearby bear-inhabited forests. The strawberry tree has been the city emblem since the Middle Ages. The most common belief is that the name originated from the 2nd century BC during the Roman Empire’s settlement on the banks of the Manzanares River.
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