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Spain's first-ever capital...and how Mel Gibson and the Virgin Mary fit in
Tuesday, May 31, 2022 @ 3:44 PM

EVERYONE knows, or should do by now, that Spain's capital is Madrid, even if they didn't realise it was the second-largest in population in the EU – after Berlin, in terms of the city proper, and after Paris in terms of the complete metropolitan area – or that it was the continent's second-highest altitude capital at 657 metres, after Andorra la Vella (1,023).

This village was Spain's first-ever capital city - and it's beautiful by night as well as by day, as this picture by its town hall shows

Anything else you didn't know about Madrid you can find in our intriguing (though we say it ourselves) article on quirky facts about Spain's capital.

But even though Madrid was an inhabited settlement from around the year 852 CE (AD) and was founded as a town by King Alfonso VIII in 1202 – a status that has never changed, so it's still a town rather than a city – it has only been Spain's capital since the mid-16th century, and even that was by mistake.

King Felipe II sought the help of wise men to locate the dead centre of mainland Spain for him to build his Imperial Court on, and they worked this out to be in what is now the heart of Madrid – but their calculations were too far to the north. The exact centre of the country remains under dispute, but the three towns which claim to be right on top of it are all south of the capital.

And here it is in daylight, with said town hall to the right (photo: Zarateman/Wikimedia Commons)

Which means that before around 1561, Spain must have had another capital – right?

Notwithstanding the fact that the nation has been split, across history, into different Kingdoms, with their own capitals, or Emirates during the Moorish reign, with capitals or strongholds of each of these sovereign territories, the country as a whole has had different capitals throughout time.

And as is usually the case, they're not where you think they might be.

Mel Gibson is fascinated by this guy

“I've always been intrigued about the figure of Don Pelayo,” admitted Braveheart actor Mel Gibson, now 66, when interviewed by a daily newspaper covering the northern coastal region of Asturias, La Nueva España, in January 2019.



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