The capital of the Spanish kingdom lies at the foot of the Sierra Guadarrama 40 degrees north, a high plateau 650 meters above sea level. In winter it is quite cold, in summer dry and hot. Madrid is one of the cities in Europe with the greatest number of cloudless days. It has grown tremendously since the beginning of the century.
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The industries and urban developments spread along the main arteries and when one looks at a street map the irregular pattern of the old town stands out from the regular street pattern of its surrounding newer parts. Madrid is a very lively, modem city.
The central point is Puerta del Sol which is also the inner city transport crossroads where underground and bus lines meet. The Madrid of the Austrians is here, the wellknown part of the city with Plaza Mayor and its arcades, one of the most beautiful squares in Spain.
Around the Plaza de la Paya is the medieval city. Madrid is a world renowned cultural and intellectual city with its 3 million inhabitants. It has large avenues and parks, and famous sights like the Royal Palace and the Prado Museum.
Further attractions in the area are the cloisters San Lorenzo de El Estorila, the largest work of art of the Spanish Renaissance, and the Autodrom Madrid-Jarama, the famous Formula 1 racing track.