Madrid has served as the capital of Spain since 1562. Its southern, elevated location allows for warm, dry summers and cool winters. Madrid is filled with gracefully tree lined avenues and boulevards, trendy and cosmopolitan buildings, and older areas with winding streets and quaint cafes. The historic quarters of Madrid are graced with columns, arches, churches, fountains, even an Egyptian Temple. The world-famous Prado National Museum, housed in an 18th-century building, features the works of Rubens, Goya, El Greco, Bosch, Velazquez, Titian and many others.
Madrid has hills and mountains in abundance for climbers and hikers. Parque de Nieve, an amateur athlete's dream, is an indoor, artificial slope that can be configured with different terrains, and separate areas for skiing, snowboarding and tubing. In Madrid one learns that to relax is to be Spanish. People sleep late. Shops seem to open and close of their own accord. In the right company, lunch can become an all-day activity. It is nearly impossible to describe Madrid's unending list of evening activities. Nightspots in Madrid stay open until 4AM, giving visitors plenty of time to explore the excellent restaurants, tapas bars, open-air cafes, jazz and night clubs.