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Timeless Travels Magazine - - A WEEKEND IN... MADRID -

Madrid be­gan in 852 CE when the Moors built a fortress near the Man­zanares river. The Moors had landed in Gi­bral­tar early in the 8th cen­tury and within a few years had con­quered most of the Ibe­rian penin­su­lar. They es­tab­lished an in­de­pen­dent emi­rate based in Cor­doba, south­ern Spain, and in 852 they built a fortress to pro­tect the north­ern ap­proach to Toledo: and this stood on the site of Madrid’s present day royal palace. Named Mayrit (later cor­rupted to Magerit, then Madrid), a small com­mu­nity arose around the fortress.

Af­ter the fortress had fallen to the Chris­tians in the north in the 11th cen­tury, many of the ear­li­est in­hab­i­tants of the town were monks, en­cour­aged by Span­ish rulers to es­tab­lish monas­ter­ies there. In the 13th cen­tury a dis­pute arose over hunt­ing rights on land owned by the Church. It was agreed that while the Church owned the soil, Madrilenos had rights to all that was above it, namely game. Thus Madrid ac­quired its sym­bol – a bear (the Church’s em­blem) sniff­ing a tree.

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