Madrid is the undisputed capital of Spain. I do not say that using a historic or political agenda but because its geography, aesthetics and culture all say so.
Madrid sits right in the centre of Spain and dominates travel throughout the county. If you want to go from North to South, East to West or even between destinations that do not have Madrid directly in-between them, you more often than not have to go through Madrid.
Aesthetically most Spanish cites are unique, Andalusian cities have many Arabic influences, Barcelona has architecture unique to Catalonia and the cities immediately east of Madrid look like well-preserved medieval outdoor museums. Madrid’s architecture, apart from being very Spanish is not that striking. It’s difficult for me to fully explain my reasoning for this because if you got to know Madrid and someone showed you a picture of a typical street within its centre you would be able to recognise it as Madrid. Decorated balconies protruding either side of two lane streets on five to six storey buildings. However being typically Mediterranean and being unique is something different. Its architecture doesn’t tell a story like in the other Spanish cities. Instead it has a style you see around many big European cities that went through refurbishments or growth in the early 20th century. Tall, fairly grand buildings on open streets with varying adaptions to this foundation in each district. So Madrid’s architecture is something I would describe as European rather than truly Spanish.
The last thing that solidifies Madrid as the undisputed capital of Spain is its culture. It is the grand cultural hub of the country. Spain is obviously a major tourist destination so it contains many, many museums, theatres, parks and various centres for music but Madrid has the most and the biggest. The Reina Sofia, the Museo del Prado, Theatro Real and Retiro Park all have a home in Madrid and are all arguable the best of their category in Spain.
Its status as capital of Spain is undisputed, it is the biggest, most populated, most central and most European of all the country’s major cities but is it the best? No. If you heard some negative connotations about the cities architecture that is because I am far from believing that the city is Spains most beautiful. Nor, in my opinion is the city the most culturally colourful, despite the many cultural hubs. Many people who visit or who have lived in the city love it but I don’t. It is missing a little character that other Spanish cities have in abundance. That is not say I don’t like it, I just don’t love it.