With a population of 3.3 million, the Spanish capital Madrid is the third largest
city in the European Union. The rise of the city began in the 16th century under the
Spanish line of the House of Habsburg, when Philip II moved the royal court to Madrid.
In the 18th century Charles III contributed much to the economic upturn of the city
by modernizing the public infrastructure.
During the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 Madrid was heavily destroyed by air raids. After the end of Franco's dictatorship the so-called Movida Madrileña – a hedonistic cultural movement that celebrated everything shrill and modern – began to emerge in Madrid. Pedro Almodóvar became its internationally best-known representative. Even today Madrid is a center of attraction for party people from all over Europe, it is more original, more ›Spanish‹ and not as touristy as the more fancy and fashionable Barcelona, the great Catalan rival in the northeast of Spain.
Also in terms of cultural offerings, Madrid does not need to hide behind Barcelona. The Museo del Prado, with its exhibition of classical art up to the mid-19th century, is one of the most important art museums in the world. Here you can find masterworks by Velázquez, El Greco, Botticelli, Bosch and Goya, among others. The Museo Reina Sofía, on the other hand, shows modern art after the mid-19th century, including important works by Dalí, Miró and Picasso.
Due to the very progressive laws of gay marriage and anti-discrimination, approved by Spain's government and parliament in 2005, Madrid was chosen to host the EuroPride 2007. The parade in the very center of Madrid – with more than a million participants and visitors – became the hottest and most colourful gay pride parade Europe had ever seen.
Annual gay events and highlights in Madrid are New Year's Eve, the international fetish weekend Sleazy Madrid in spring, Madrid Gay Pride in July, the gay film festival LesGaiCineMad in November, and the international bears week Mad.Bear in December.
As you can see on our Madrid Gay Maps, Overview and Chueca, the center of Madrid's gay scene is in the Chueca district. Most of the gay bars, cafes and shops and some smaller clubs are located in or close to Chueca.