Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Artistic Madrid

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Artistic Madrid

Article excerpt

Like many college students I wanted to visit Europe - but I never did. Finally, when I was an academic dean at Inter American University in Puerto Rico, I undertook that dreamed of trip.

First, I made an obligatory trip to visit my father's relatives in his native Sweden. Then I hopped over to La Madre Patria to explore my grandmother's Seville. The trip was capped off with a few days stay in Madrid; I was very impressed.

In 2005, I returned to spend a whole week in Madrid. I wrote about my adventures at El Prado for The Arts issue of Hispanic Outlook in August of that year. Pleased with my trip, I longed to return to majestic Madrid for more than a week. Finally a few months ago, I returned to explore Artistic Madrid for a full 30 days.

Barajas Airport

One is immediately impressed with Madrid's commitment to the arts as one walks through its airport: Barajas. It is the nation's busiest airport servicing millions every year. Artistically the airport is a beautifully designed modern building. Inside it is creatively enhanced with winged curved wooden ceilings which capture the glory and metaphors of flight.

Impressive Architecture

After a 20- minute ride into town one is struck by the beauty of Madrid's streets and its boulevards. They are clean and invariably tree-lined with convenient benches throughout. Restaurants place flowerpots on their sidewalks, which adds a festive aura to the city's ambience. A cold beer or a glass of wine, numerous varied Tapas and exquisite dining are readily available throughout Madrid.

Although Madrid has many modern buildings, most ugly ones - none more so than the United States Embassy - Madrid also has an unending wealth of historic beautiful stately buildings. Many were at one time private residences but are now public buildings such as museums and government offices. They are very tastefully preserved, well-scrubbed and they glisten in the sunlight.

The wide variety of Madrid's impressive architecture has led to the city being dubbed "the city of a thousand faces." In the early 18th century the French Bourbon architecture was popular as exemplified in La Puerta de Alcalá. Massive and sculptured in granite it was the gateway into the city. It is a favorite sight for Madrileños at night when it is bathed by flood lights. A prominent office building, the Banco de España, the nation's central reserve bank, is housed in a gigantic building with three façades. Of note as well is the richly ornate Art Nouveau as preserved in the Sociedad General de Autores de España buüding

La Gran Via boulevard offers a row of ornate and beautiful buildings all elegantly preserved. Further on, richly carved facades and at times ostentatious buildings surround Old Madrid's Plaza Major. Nearby one can also visit the royal palace. All of these and many other architectural treasures are easily accessible by the city's excellent bus service and roving taxis. And of course compressed Madrid lends itself to walking tours. In short, Madrid is beautiful and convenient to explore.

Paseo del Arte

Many palatial buildings with their unique beautiful facades have spectacular interiors as well and most are open to the public. The Ayuntamiento of Madrid is a perfect example. Its marble columns, ornate carvings and ceilings that never seem to end are breath-taking. The Ayuntamiento also hosts a five star restaurant with a balcony facing a large circular fountain, Fuente de Ciebeles. Massive avenues shoot out as busy spokes from the fountain. One of them is the Paseo del Arte.

That fabled Avenue of Art envelops a wide, tree-lined boulevard park where Madrileños have strolled for hundreds of years. It is just a few blocks long and leads directly to the world famous Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.

Along the way one encounters another large fountain, the Fuente de Neptuno. Just a block off the Paseo del Prado one can visit two of Madrid's most architecturally impressive hotels: the Ritz Madrid and the Westin Palace. …

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