7 things that you probably didn't know about Madrid

Yes, it's some kind of Egyptian building that was brought to Madrid one day or something, I don't really know but let's go there for a couple of beers this afternoon yeah?

... Is the type of thing that every one of us has said way too much. Madrid is a surprising city, with many random sculptures carrying some kind of obscure history or other bizarre legends hiding behind equally bizarre street names.

But there comes a point where your pathetic explanation to why you have to take a picture with the bear in Puerta del Sol ("because it's the symbol of the city, what else do you need?") will not satisfy your visiting friend's unfulfilled thirst for knowledge.

And if you have no visiting friends, well, it is after all always nice to know stuff.

So here are a seven fun - or just odd - facts about Madrid that will most probably answer some of the questions that you promised yourself you would Google when you got back home. And which you most probably always failed to do.

1. CATS AND MADRILEÑOS: WHAT'S THE DEAL

You've probably heard it before and wondered briefly why the people from Madrid refer to themselves as "gatos" - cats, for anyone who hasn't been following what the learning outcome for this year is supposed to be. Hopefully, you haven't started calling your friends like that, thinking that it was just another Spanish word for "mate".

The history of this particular designation has to be traced back to the 11th century, in 1085 to be precise, when Madrid was still under Moorish control.

The troops of King Alfonso VI has arrived at the gates of the city, ready to attack, when one of the soldiers, in all smoothness, started climbing the walls using only his dagger and with the agility of, wait for it, a cat. Arrived at the top of the wall, he replaced the Moorish flag with the Christian one and it is thanks to him that Madrid fell back to the hands of Alfonso VI. His nickname, Gato, has remained until today.

2. THE FIRST WOMAN TO ATTEND UNIVERSITY

You know her: her lifelike bronze silhouette and casual posture scares you every time you walk by her without really paying attention on Calle del Pez.

And I've got news for you. This famous statue of a woman reading a book on the streets of Malasaña did not come out of the blue.

She even has a name, Julia, which refers to a 19th century legend by which a woman of the same name would have dressed herself up as a man so that she could attend the Universidad Central in San Bernardo.

This would make Julia the first woman ever to attend university in Spain. So next time you pass her, you can tip your hat to the patriarchy hooligan that she is.

3. ÁNGELES RODRÍGUEZ HIDALGO, THE GRANDMOTHER YOU WISH YOU HAD

Continuing with the legendary statues, but on a slightly different note, is the unexpected bronze lady that you can find on Avenida de Peña Gorbea. It was built in memory of Ángeles Rodríguez Hidalgo, after she died in 1993.

She was not a revolutionary, or a political figure, or a great artist. She worked in the post office, had been a widow since she was 41, she had five children and also a few grandchildren.

The reason why she has been immortalized with stone, you ask?

Because she was, and until she couldn't hear well enough to keep on being, absolutely mad about heavy metal and hard rock.

Her grandson introduced her to the genre and from then on, she assisted to every single AC/DC concert in Madrid and discovered a passion for motorbikes.

Her popularity grew to the point that she had her own column in the Heavy Rock magazine. Basically, she was a legend. And thanks to Carmen Jorba, who moulded the statue, she will always be.

4. WHY PEOPLE GO MAD OVER A BEAR AND A TREE

I dare you to claim that you've never wondered, while you were waiting in line behind dozens of tourists for yet another picture.

So why is Madrid symbolized by a bear eating off a strawberry tree? There are, in fact, various theories. The most common one claims that it is a reference to a bear that King Alfonso XI hunted in the forests that surrounded Madrid, where bears were quite common at the time.

The symbol initially showed the bear leaning against a tower, which was changed after a territorial conflict emerged between the city council and the clergy. It was decided that the clergy would keep the grasslands and the city council would keep forested areas, which is why a tree was added to Madrid's symbol.

The bear is shown eating the leaves because it was believed at the time that this was a good remedy against the plague.

5. THE BANCO DE ESPAÑA FOUNTAIN

You thought it was just a pretty fountain? You've got it all wrong.

It's not just a fountain. It's a very complex security system that you thought only belonged to James Bond movies. Well, at least according to a variety of different chronicles.

The fountain would be located 35 meters above the Chamber of Gold, and would effectively flood every room of it if the alarm went off in the event of a robbery. You can choose whether you believe it or not, but it's still pretty cool.

6. HOW AN EGYPTIAN TEMPLE GOT LOST IN MADRID

It's just another casual evening chilling at Templo Debod with your friends. The view of the Palacio, a couple of fresh Mahous, the Egyptian thousand year old stone building... Wait, what? How did that get here?

You could find out, but you're too lazy to read and translate the information signs outside the entrance. So here is what they say, so that you just know it once and for all.

The temple was actually built in Egypt during the 2nd century. Everything was going well until someone decided to build a gigantic dam in Aswan in 1954, which caused an equally gigantic flood of the entire Nubia area.

The Egyptian government appealed to UNESCO for help to save and protect the archaeological treasures of the region, and most of the monuments were therefore dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere.

This was the case of the Templo Debod, which was offered to Spain in 1968 as a thank you card for their help in the campaign.

7. YOU'RE NOT DRUNK, THE PUERTA DE ÁLCALA IS INDEED ASYMETRICAL

"La Puerta de Álcala, mírala, mírala" is what you can keep telling yourself, but it's not going to change anything.