Now, I'm not one to tell you how to spend your free time, but you might just be swayed after you hear about our destination of the month, because for May we're going to Madrid ¡Olé!
What can I tell you about this city that you don't already know? Well we are lucky enough to have the inside scoop about this city as we have two Madrileños working with us in the office, and not only that but a lucky few of us were invited to our colleague's wedding there just two weeks ago!
A Brief History
Perhaps the best known event in Spanish history is the 'Reconquista' which saw Christians taking claim of the country from the African Muslims. This ended in 1482 under the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella. Madrid was integrated into the Kingdom of Castille in 1085. It was not until 1561 that Madrid became the political centre and capital of the country when Philip II moved his court from Toledo to Madrid. Although Madrid has not necessarily had a peaceful history with many revolutions and invasions, the city was finally explicitly made capital in the Spanish constitution of 1931 (the was again reconfirmed in the 1978 constitution).
Throughout all of these events, Madrid has never ceased to progress culturally and artistically. Charles III's time as king is arguably the most notable period of Madrid's cultural development. Charles ordered the construction of street lighting, sewers, monuments (Puerta de Alcalá, Cibeles fountain) and many cultural institutions (El museo del Prado, Royal Botanic Gardens, Royal Observatory etc). Other notable periods were during the reign of Philip III and Philip IV of Spain during which time Cervantes, Velázquez, Quevedo and Lope de Vega produced their most important works.
- Atocha: It contains several of the main cultural institutions, including the Reina Sofía museum and one of the two main train stations.
- Gran Vía: While this is first and foremost a shopping street, there is also plenty of nightlife and many theatres. It also links to many of the other districts, making it one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the city.
- La Latina: Here you will find the origins of Madrid. There are quite a few nightlife spots, but it is best known for having one of the highest concentrations of Tapas bars. It boarders with Plaza Mayor and Los Austrias (where you will find the Royal Palace).
- Retiro: A classic neighbourhood surrounding the famous Retiro Park. The north part is very lively with lots of bars and restaurants and then to the west of the park you will find the Prado museum and many 18th & 19th century buildings.
What is there to see?
In short, Madrid has much to offer. Whether you plan to take one of our courses or would prefer to discover the city on your own, it is certain that the capital of Spain will not disappoint!