One may well risk an assumption that the Arabs, in that second half of the 9th century, when they decided to build a fortress, had no hidden intent of creating or developing a city, nor did they think themselves in any special role of being "founders" since the specific circumstances of their castle-fortress lead one to think that this structure had only defensive, strategic and military ends.

But there are appreciable differences between accepting the hypothesis of a fortress far removed from any pre-existing urban center, or of a castle situated in the environs of a town, however small it may be.

Both possibilities are thought-provoking, and furthermore, perfectly possible: that the Arabs should construct a magnificent fortress midst the thick woods of a low-lying mountain area, or that they came upon a Visigothic village, peaceful under the shelter of political anonymity and with fertile, prosperous agriculture.

The medieval Arabic writers who talk of Madrid and of the Moslem construction of the castle, leave no room for doubt on the absolute Islamic paternity of the edifice, but never include the slightest reference, even the most passing, to an existence of any urban center near the castle.

If such had existed, it is difficult to believe that the chroniclers would not have mentioned it, especially by reason of minimal distance between castle and Visigothic town, even granting that the concept of distance could be different in the 9th century.

However much we may weigh the problem of distance between Moslem castle and Visigothic village, the latter was practically a stone's- throw from the former, for the place where tradition says Visigothic Madrid was located, is none other than the nearby, if not immediate Valley of San Pedro, through which the street of Segovia runs today.

But what was this Valley of San Pedro, supposedly the scene of that Visigothic Madrid, before the Moslem invasion?

Of course, an ideal place to live, a geographic place that unites unbeatable qualities to make life peaceful and well organized. The buildings that went up along the course of the ravine, as well as the side-streets and houses must have been perching on the slopes of the two hills that pressed from the north and the south on the Valley.

There is an abundance of water, as much from the ravine, which rises in the very center of the village, as from other springs that come from slopes of the hills, and supply more than a sufficient amount of water for the townspeople.

And at this point, we come to the historic moment of the Moslem invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, in the year 711.

During the first century or so of their rule, which was almost total in the peninsula, the Valley of San Pedro would be no more than a tiny, insignificant point in a vast geographic area, especially if the small Visigothic town were not there.

The Moslem soldiery would encounter an extensive, natural area of low hills, rich in meadowlands, stream-beds, and hillocks. They would find a varied, and changing landscape, abundance of rivers, streams and creeks, which would lend support to a lush variety of vegetation, which in turn would spawn a prolific animal life.

That was, most likely, the land vista offered to the Saracen invaders, and of which we can even today catch a certain idea, with all their changes and imaginable mutations, in the Monte del Pardo and in the Casa de Campo.

To the north of this extensive growth, as a natural wall closing in the panorama, lie the line of peaks of the Central System, such as many centuries later, from the windows of the Royal Fortress (Alcázar), by then converted into the Palace of the Austrian-Hapsburgs, the fine, contemplative, objective eyes of the King's painter, Velázquez, saw them.

To the left of the Manzanares, yielding with the river's natural course, rose a strong promontory, possibly with a flattened peak and surrounded by rough, wooded gullies, from whose tops one caught sight of the superb panorama of the entire region, and in the background the mountains of the Sierra.

To the south and lower down, after waters of the Manzanares and other mountain streams, have joined the river Tajo (Tagus), there stood the historic City of Toledo, capital of the Gothic monarchy which the Arabs destroyed.

Although the Emirate first, and the Caliphate of Córdoba later, never showed much affection for Toledo, this city continued to hold a certain charisma, emphasized by its central location in the peninsula.

And therefore, it was that on this hillside, the Moslems decided to raise a fortress, to guard the road running between the Sierra and the region of Toledo.

It is in that moment that officially begins the history of Madrid, a city at one time only an enclosed enclave, but now called to ambitious destinies.

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