I was having a conversation with a female friend who was born and bred here in Madrid, we were taking about the history of the city, and then she mentioned something very curious. Apparently people from Madrid are known as los gatos, or the cats! I was aware of the nickname ‘Madrileños’, but los gatos, it seemed a bizarre, but interesting analogy. So, being as inquisitive as I am I asked her to explain the origins of both nicknames.
The people of Madrid are known as ‘Los Madrileños’. The reason behind this is ‘Los Madriles’ or many Madrids, used to describe the various barrios in the city; hence the origins of ‘Los Madrileños’ as we know it. Los Madrileños is the masculine form of the word; it would be used to describe the men of Madrid, but also a group of men and women. A group of women from Madrid would be called ‘Las Madrileñas’, the feminine form.
The nickname ‘Los Gatos’ however has two possible origins. One belief sees the nickname as a result of the wars of many centuries ago. It seems probable that the name could date back even as long ago as the Middle Ages. During battles the troops displayed amazing agility whilst scaling the walls of enemies strong holds, hence the name given to them, ‘Los Gatos’.
Another possible explanation for ‘Los Gatos’ originates from the fact that the people of Madrid indulge themselves in the thriving nightlife of the city. It is in a cat’s nature to be out and about on the streets from late at night until early morning; so too is it the nature of ‘Los Madrileños’.
Phew, mystery solved!
Below: Out on the town, Tom the cat all Zoot suited up and ready to party!
Above pic sourced from: http://soundcheck.wnyc.org/2011/aug/18/extremely-stylish-zoot-suit/
Information gathered from, and checked with the websites below. Oh, and not to forget my good friend Laura, who doesn’t mind me using her intel!