Why Is Madrid the Capital of Spain?

And how did it grow from a backwater to a global capital?

Tomas Pueyo

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Source: ChatGPT, so take with a grain of salt. This is directionally correct though, as I spot-checked. I welcome a better-sourced graph. I didn’t include some countries with very special situations, like Turkey’s Ankara, to keep the message simple. Ankara also has its weird reasons for being the capital, which I’ll eventually cover.

Most of the capitals of countries around the Mediterranean have existed for thousands of years. In fact, Romans didn’t found the majority, but rather further developed the biggest and best positioned ones. London is an exception because it required a bridge that locals couldn’t build.

London in Roman times. Source.

Indeed, bridges are a common theme in European capitals:

Nearly all the capitals have bridges because they have rivers.

But can you name Madrid’s river?
No?
You sure?
Fret not. Madrid’s river is puny. It is weak. It is an affront on capital rivers. It is a feeble stream.

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Tomas Pueyo

2 MSc in Engineering. Stanford MBA. Ex-Consultant. Creator of applications with >20M users. Currently leading a billion-dollar business @ Course Hero