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Why the locals are called "gato"?

inventor del segway

If you are in Madrid, and you listen people talking about gatos (cats), do not believe that they are referring to the domestic animal. They are surely talking about the locals themselves.

When you do a touristic tour you are not always explained about the curiosities of the place. But in Segway Trip we believe that you should know this story.


We have to go back in time nothing more and nothing less than almost ten centuries. Exactly up to year 1085. And take a look at a soldier of Alfonso VI troops. He climbed the city walls of Mayrit (current Madrid) like a silent little cat. At the top of the wall he changed the Muslim flying flag by a Christian one.

This feat raised the morale of the Christian troops who wanted to conquer the city (and expected huddled around), so they could achieve easily their goal.

The most striking thing is that he managed to climb the wall helped only by a dagger firmly fixed to the wall. This helped him to climb up easily. Below his companions only saw a shadow moving among darkness and thought that this soldier was climbing the wall with the skill of a cat: quiet and precise.

This young climber began to be called “gato” and also his family. Over the years, this nickname was reserved for the most illustrious families in the city. Today it is a friendly way to call anyone born in Madrid.


¿Por qué a los madrileños les llaman "gato"?

This street (also called Gato Alley) is one of the most famous places of Madrid because of the importance it had in the Spanish literature. Its name comes from the poet Alvarez Gato (descendant of the brave soldier we mentioned before).

But what really made this street famous were two mirrors that were located in one of the shops. One was concave and the other was convex, and therefore deformed the person looking at them. And this is exactly where the novelist Ramón del Valle-Inclán thought his famous “esperpentos” (one of the jewels of Spanish literature). (Esperpento: literary genre created by Ramon del Valle-Inclan in which he systematically distorts reality, highlighting its grotesque and absurd features).

Whether the origin of part of the Spanish literature or a physical characteristic compliment, calling someone “gato” in Madrid, is something we like and we are proud of. And it also means that you know some of our most plebeian history.

Now that you already know a small part of the most intimate Madrid, we hope that you come to visit the city with us. Enjoying the complicity that you now have with Madrid people. And so when we say that we´ll guide you in a Madrid Segway Tour in a stealthily way as a cat, you´ll probably know what we mean.

If you want to know more stories related to Madrid and enjoy a fun segway tour, you just have to call us. Our phone number is +34 910 023 001. You can tell us what part of the town you would like visit, riding a segway, or choose from our many Madrid leisure activities on our website. Enjoy!