Study Spanish in Madrid, Spain
Madrid, the capital of the country and the neuralgic center of Spanish-speaking language, is conveniently located in the center of the Iberian peninsula. This city is a wonderful place to learn spanish, and for the younger students there are even summer camps offering a world-class teaching environment in an exciting location. A relatively new urban settlement, Madrid has been chiseled through the past four centuries to become the ultimate metropolis, with wide, spacious roads, monumental and symbolic structures, copious open or green areas of relaxation for the local population and ample space for an ultra modern financial district.
Therefore, practically no argument could be made against the capital of the kingdom sitting in Madrid, other than, perhaps, the fact that historically there have been several others. Which is not to say that there is no history in Madrid: certainly, the city might not have the millenary roots boasted by, for instance, Cádiz, or the Roman heritage of Zaragoza, but ever since the begriming of the XVII century, this previously unimportant town has been at the center of the political and economic life of the country.
An outstanding jump-off point for traveling, you might not actually want to leave the city at all once you start flavoring the different tastes of its hectic cultural agenda, which ranges from the most enthralling football games, to concerts of both classical and popular music, independent, historical and mainstream theater productions, bullfights and, of course, the city's trademark: a relentless nightlife that goes from drinking on terraces to partying 'til the sun comes all the way back up.
From Philip III to Charles III
The emergence of Madrid as the administrative center of the kingdom would come towards the middle of the XVI century, following the abdication of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, whose vast fiefdom would be split between his brother, Ferdinand, who would become the Austrian Emperor, and his son, Philip, who would become King Philip II of Spain. It was precisely the latter who would move the court from its traditional location in the millenary city of Toledo, to the more temperate, and less imposing, Madrid.
Prudent and pious, Philip ordered the construction of the Monastery of El Escorial even before moving the court to Madrid, and, despite the fact that it never became the official site of the royal court, once the main structure, with the monastery, the palace and the basilica, was completed, towards 1586, the king spent the great majority of his time there. Hence, it was not until the arrival of his son, Philip III, that Madrid would be fitfully developed as the capital of the largest Empire in the world at the time.
Reputedly a weak and relatively disinterested ruler, Philip III was an enthusiast of the theater, a supporter of visual arts and a true lover of hunting. It was Philip III who ordered the construction of the city's main square, Plaza Mayor, even though wild fires would cause its aspect to change repeatedly in years to come. But, with the Royal Palace in place since the days of Charles V, and now an appropriate area where to lodge and cater for a proper court, Madrid was beginning to gain its final shape. Another crucial contribution from Philip III's reign was the development of the Palace of El Buen Retiro, just outside the walls of the city, with a lush green area that these days is comprised in the large park that bears the same name.
It is often said, however, that the greatest benefactor to the city, and the only monarch to have truly loved Madrid, was Charles III. The third of the Bourbon kings, Charles imported trends and fashions from Italy and, as any self-respecting French head of state, carried out important plans of beautification of the city. To him are due some of the most emblematic sights in Madrid, from the Puerta de Alcalá to the fountains of Cibeles and Neptune, to the unmistakable building of the Museo de El Prado, one of the most outstanding galleries in the world.
Spanish Is Not Just a Language
Come and learn Spanish in Madrid; you will soon understand that the language entails a lot more than the words that come out of your mouth. From history to art, going through flamenco, literature and the sheer experience of joining in the fun of one of the most hectic cities in the world, this is a perfectly unique place to spend some time improving your communicative skills. So make haste, and feel like a proper "madrileño" in no time!
Want more information about Madrid? Check out our handy Madrid travel guide to discover all that the city has to offer: what to do, things to see, when to go, interesting little facts and tid-bits and much more!