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Why are Madrilenians known as cats?

The fact is that Madrilenians are popularly known as cats but, do you know what the origin of this nickname is? Several legends circulate on the subject, so we are going to tell you the two best known ones.

The first of these legends has to do with the eternal struggle between Moors and Christians that took place in the Iberian Peninsula for centuries. It was the year 852 and Muhammad I arrived in Madrid and built a great wall that surrounded the Manzanares Valley and the Sierra de Guadarrama. Inside a mosque named “Almudaina”. It is the time of Mayrit’s founding. Years later, in 1083, the Christian army of Alfonso VI approached Mayrit to conquer this Arab citadel. In full capture of the current Madrid, a nimble soldier took the decision to climb the great wall, which measured 12 meters high, with the help of just one dagger.

Such was his skill in climbing the wall that Alfonso VI said aloud: “It looks like a cat.” Once at the top, the soldier changed the Arab flag to the Christian one. This was the signal for the troops to start taking the city. After the feat, the climbing soldier began calling him a cat and also the members of his family. They say that after a few years the last name was changed to Gato (cat) and that all the stones are descended from the agile soldier. And from there to the present, in which all those born in Madrid are known as gatos (cats).

There is another theory that says that, in Christian times, you had to pay a toll to enter the city through one of its doors: from Alcalá, from Toledo, from Hierro, from Felipe IV. But since not everyone had money, they escaped from that rate by climbing doors like cats. And hence the name.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the people of Madrid, especially the “old Madrileños” (parents and grandparents born in the city) are known as cats 🙂