Police fire on protest in Spain

Tens of thousands have descended on Madrid to protest against bruising austerity measures. (AAP)

Police in Spain have fired rubber bullets on thousands who have marched in Madrid to protest the austerity measures imposed by the government.

Violence flared as tens of thousands descended on Madrid, some having trekked from the furthest corners of Spain, at the end of a month-long "march for dignity" against the dire state of the economy.

What had been a day of largely peaceful demonstration took a violent turn late on Saturday, as dozens of youths smashed the windows of a bank, set bins on fire and threw projectiles at police.

Police responded by firing rubber bullets and charging to disperse the protesters. Seventeen people were arrested and emergency services said 30 police and 41 protesters were wounded.

Earlier in the day, eight columns had converged on the capital - carrying flags from Andalucia in the south, Catalonia in the east, or the Asturias in the northwest - at the culmination of nearly a month of walking for some of the protesters.

"Rise! Rise! We will fight!" chanted one group gathered at Atocha station before heading down the broad avenues of Madrid's city centre.

The "march for dignity" comes after two years of bruising austerity measures, forced on Spain as part of a 40 billion euros ($A61.37 billion) international bailout after a huge housing bubble almost destroyed its banking system.

Austerity has left Spain in a prolonged economic funk, with more than 26 per cent of the population - and half of under-25s - out of work.

Meanwhile, say protesters, the corrupt collusion between officials and bankers that caused the crisis has gone largely unpunished.

Spending cuts of 150 billion euros have done nothing to dent Spain's record levels of unemployment and prolonged recession, and triggered two general strikes in 2012 that brought millions to the streets.

Many are angry at paying the price for what they see as the corrupt collusion of Spanish lawmakers and regional banks that helped trigger the crisis.

Source AAP

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