Madrid

The capital of Spain, located in the heart of the Península Ibérica, has a population of over three million. A modern, cosmopolitan city, Madrid is home to the Spanish Parliament and the Spanish Royal Family. The city is famous for its intense culturaly activity and lively nightlife.

History

Madrid can trace its origins back to the times of Arab Emir Mohamed I (852-886), who ordered the construction of a fortress on the left bank of the Manzanares river. Later, it became the subject of a dispute between the Christians and Arabs until it was conquered by Alonso VI, in the 11th century. During the 18th century, under the reign of Carlos III, the great arteries of the city were designed, such as the Paseo del Prado. Today, the legacy of the distant past can mainly be seen in the Baroque and neoclassical structures of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) and the Palacio Real (Royal Palace).

Entertainment & Culture

There is plenty to do in Madrid to suit all tastes, whether you prefer culture, arts, music, sports or just a lazy day, wandering through the city and soaking up the atmosphere! Here are a few highlights, but the list is by no means exhaustive.

El Parque del Buen Retiro

A 350 acre park in Madrid's city center, opened to the public in 1868.
Some of the park's main attractions are the Estanque del Retiro (Retiro Lake), with its monument to King Alfonso XII and the Palacio de Cristal, a glass pavilion, inspired by The Crystal Palace in London.

Plaza de Cibeles

The 18th century fountain of Cibeles sits in the center of the homonymous square and depicts the goddess, Cibeles, sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions. The square is embracee by the Palacio de Comunicaciones<\em>, hosting part of the city hall, the headquaters of the National Bank of Spain and, opposite it, the Ministry of the Spanish Armed Forces.

El Palacio Real

The site of the palace dates back to the 10th century fortress constructed as an outpost by Mohammed I, Emir of Cordoba.
It was burned down in the 1734, when King Philip V ordered a new palace to be built on the same location. Construction spanned the years 1738 to 1755 and followed a Berniniesque design.
The vast palace is richly decorated by artists, such as, Velazquez, Tiepolo, Mengs, Gasparini, Juan de Flandes, Caravaggio, and Goya. Several royal collections of great historical importance are kept at the palace, including the Royal Armoury and weapons dating back to the 13th century, and the world's only complete Stradivarius string quintet.

Bernabeu Stadium

The Santiago Bernabeu Football Stadium is home to the Real Madrid team and it is one of the world's most famous football venues. Its location, in the heart of Madrid's business district, is quite unusual for a football stadium. Visitors to the stadium can take a tour including the playfield, players' changing rooms, the press release rooms and learn about its history.

Museums

Madrid host three world-class museums located in the Golden Triangle of Art. The Museo Nacional del Prado was built in 1785 and features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia was built in 1952 to host contemporary Spanish art in an international collection. The Thyssen-Bornemisza comes from the private collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family and today it includes more than 1000 pieces from the Gothic period to the 20th century.

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Entertainment & Culture

Madrid is one of the world's liveliest cities. It is not unusual to see more people out and about at 5 and 6 in the morning in Madrid than you would see in many other European cities during the day! Madrid's social scene has something for everybody. It caters for all tastes, ages and cultures. It also has the particular advantage of being a very child-friendly city, and there is no problem taking children to all types of bars, cafeterias and restaurants. Calle Huertas and the Plaza Santa Ana, both in the city centre, are some of the most popular areas for bar-hopping. The glitziest discos can be found in the triangle between Sol, Callao and Gran Via. The neighborhood of Lavapies tends to attract a very bohemian crowd. Chueca is the centre of Madrid's gay scene, but is also gaining a reputation as one of the most fashionable areas to see and be seen.

Excursions

  • Segovia, with its old city and aqueduct were declared World Heritage by UNESCO it's located at 90km north-west of Madrid.
  • Toledo, 70km south of Madrid is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire
  • El Escorial. UNESCO's World Heritage Site at 45 km north-west of Madrid, it is an historical residence of the king of Spain and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school.
  • Alcala de Henares is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites and one of the first bishoprics to be founded in Spain. It is located 35 km north-east of the city of Madrid

Social Events

Two main social events will be held during the symposium. On Wednesday we will have a reception in the restaruant overlooking the garden of Atocha train station. The building dates back to 1892 and features a stunning 4,000 square meters covered tropical garden. On Thursday we will have a typical Spanish dinner followed by a Flamenco show at one of the most famous Flamenco reasturant in Madrid.

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