Spain's buzzing capital
During the 18th century, under the reign of Carlos III, large sections of the city were designed and built, such as the Paseo del Prado and Paseo las Acacias, but modern Madrid came into its own after the death of the Fascist dictator Franco. Years of a brutal regime left Madrid and much the country in massive economic strife so after his death, Madrid and Spain as a whole began to re-assert and regenerate itself, finally taking their rightful place on the international stage. At the beginning of the 19th century, Joseph Bonaparte undertook the reform of the Puerta del Sol and vicinity and the commercial street known as the Gran Vía was built at the turn of the century.
In the 1950's the north-south boulevard called Paseo de la Castellana was extended and modern buildings were erected, housing the major financial institutions that dominate part of the city today. Reminders of the past are mainly the Baroque and neoclassical strcutures of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and various other historical places of interest.