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The old part of Madrid - the centre area today - was built in the times of Philip IV (1621-1655). Its origins date from the second half of the 9th century - from the moslem conquest by Emir Muhammad I (860-886), who built the "alcazaba" or moslem fortress and the first walled enclosure of Madrid: the Almudena.

When it became part of the Kingdom of Castile was used as a place of rest by the Castilian kings. Moslems, Mozarabs, Jews, Christians and Mudejares inhabited medieval Madrid. It became the court in 1561 for the first time, in the reign of Philip II (1556-1598) and in 1606 became definitively the capital in the time of Philip III (1598-1621). In the 17th century, Madrid with the court and its convents was full of baroque splendor.

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Suggested itinerary:

1 - Sun Gate: the true "heart" of Madrid. It was built in 1478 as a gate of the wall around the Arrabal Square. From the square, the most important 17th century streets of Madrid lead off: Alcala and Saint Jerome streets. The Post House built in the reign of Charles III, is still preserved and is today the seat of the Presidency of the Autonomous Community of Madrid. The shape of the square as it is today dates from the 19th century.

2 - Saint Gines Church: a former parish church of the Arrabal with the same name used to stand there in medieval times. Today's church is from the 16th-17th century.

3 - Isabel II Square or "Opera": called Hontanillas Ravine in medieval times, was used to be the moat of the wall in the 12th century. Especially outstanding today is the Royal Theatre, built by Antonio Lopez Aguado, in 1850.

4 - Christian Wall Tower of the XII century: In Escalinata Street, the former moat of the 12th century wall, stands this tower attached to the dividing wall of a 19th century house.

5 - Saint James Church: in the square of the same name. Used to be a medieval church built by the Castilian conquerors belonging to the military order of Saint James. Today's church dates from the beginning of the 19th century.

6 - Factor Street: The former parapet walk of the Almudena wall (9th-10th century).

7 - Almudena: the first walled enclosure of Moslem Madrid. By its site it is located the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Almudena, whose construction began at the end of the last century by the Marquis of Cubas.

8 - Moslem Wall: practically the only remains of the wall still preserved in Madrid. The section belongs to the first walled enclosure or "almudena", built by Muhammad I, at the end of the 9th century.

9 - Uceda Palace: Was built in the first half of the 17th century by Philip III's favorite, the Duke of Uceda. It is one of the best examples of palace architecture of the post-Herrera style and was built by Juan Gomez Mora. Today it is the Military Headquarter.

10 - Sacrament Church: It was built next to the convent for the Bernardino Nuns- vanished today - by the architect Bartolome Hurtado, in the second half of the 17th century. Today it is the Military Chapel. Inside, there are 18th century paintings.

11 - Saint Nicholas of the Servitas Church: The oldest church of Madrid; a 12th century Mudejar tower, a nave from 15th century and a portal from 17th century. It stands inside a former parapet walk.

12 - The Villa Square: A Moslem market place in the Upper Middle Ages turned into a square, during the reign of Henry IV of Castile (1454-1474). Seat of the Madrid Municipal Institution (in the Saint Salvador Church, vanished today). It used to have the jurisdictional stone column of the City and the market place all through the Middle Ages.

13 - The Villa House: The first building especially built to house the Madrid City Council. It was built in the second half of the 17th century by Juan Gomez Mora, in a post-Herrera style with late baroque ornaments in its portals.

14 - The Lujanes Tower and House: They are the oldest buildings of the Villa Square and dating from the 15th century, Mudejar period. Today, they house two 18th century institutions, The Royal Economic Society of Madrid and The Academy of Moral and Political Science, apart from municipal installations (the old Municipal Newspaper Library).

15 - The House of Cisneros: Originally it was a plateresque palace built in the first half of the 16th century. Today's building is the result of Luis Bellido's reconstruction, between 1910 and 1915. Part of the original facade is preserved in Sacrament Street.

16 - Cord Square: Its name comes from the palace on the square, where a franciscan cord appeared on the facade.

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