Spotlight City: Madrid, Spain
Madrid is the capital and most populous city of Spain, with a population of about 6,240,000. After London and Berlin, it is the third largest city in the European Union. Madrid is a global hub, with significant influence in politics, education, entertainment, environment, media, fashion, science, culture, and the arts. The city has the third largest metropolitan GDP in the European Union and is considered the major financial centre of Southern Europe. While Madrid is highly modernized, it preserves the look and feel of its historic neighbourhoods, creating an interesting coexistence of the old with the new. Each year, the city is visited by millions of tourists. Madrid is generally a safe city, with low levels of crime.
Threats and Risks to Travelers in Madrid
Madrid is a safe city by international standards. However, petty crime remains a fairly large problem due to thieves that prey on travelers. Pickpocketing and purse-snatching represent the biggest risks. Take care to secure your belongings when travelling. Take extra caution with your belongings in crowded areas such as popular points of interest and on public transit, as thieves frequent these locations.
Best Practices for Personal Security in Madrid
Assume normal precautions in Madrid. Remain attentive of your person when out travelling, and be aware of personal space and exercise caution if you find people bumping into you haphazardly, as this is a common way pickpockets steal. Keep wallets in your front pocket and purses tucked underneath your arm. Thieves often enter cafes and bars, taking whatever is left unsupervised, so keep your belongings close. The area around Calle de las Infantes near Gran Via is particularly notorious for this.
Scams specifically targeting travelers are not uncommon. Be wary of people soliciting you for signatures or help as these are often ploys to get into your wallet. Avoid accepting “free” services or products. Don’t use unofficial taxis, and be aware of your surroundings when withdrawing money at an ATM.
The threat of terrorism exists in Madrid. Attacks have occurred all over Europe in recent months, and the unpredictable nature of terrorism makes it a looming risk.
What to Do in an Emergency
In the event of an emergency, dial 999 or 112 to access emergency fire, medical and police services. Contact the embassy of your country in the UK as they may be able to provide further assistance. Most representations will be present in London itself.
Madrid’s blend of modernization with its historic beauty makes for a unique destination in Southern Europe. The city’s passion and charm flows through each of its intricacies, be it football, European architecture or the high standard of living that it offers. Its cultural and artistic heritage combined with its bustling global activity in every imaginable field makes Madrid a welcome addition to any traveler’s list of destinations.