Organized on a monthly basis by EAE Business School, the cultural visits are highly rated by the School’s students, who state that they have learned details about the city of Madrid, as well as Spanish culture and history at a national level. On this occasion, the visit organized for April took participants around streets as famous as Calle Arenal and Calle Mayor, to show them the district of Madrid de los Austrias.
The group of participants included students from different countries and study programs. Some of the students explained that they had only been living in Madrid for two weeks and it was a great opportunity for them to learn from those with the greatest experience and knowledge of the city. Emma Herrera and Etorne Torres, both students on the Executive MBA, began the program in October, so they already knew the key places covered on the tour. However, at the end of the visit, they rated the experience positively, adding that they want to sign up for more visits to discover more of the city of Madrid.
The visit started at Plaza de Isabel II, which is popularly known as Plaza de Ópera. The site was well-known for its abundance of underground water, which is where the main street that leads on to the square gets its name from, Calle Arenal, in reference to the deep gullies carved out by the flow of the stream.
The next stop on the tour was the area around the Palacio Real, the political and administrative centre of Madrid de los Austrias. Centuries ago, the Real Alcázar served as the official residence of the kings and queens, until it was destroyed in a fire in 1734. In the surrounding area, there is Plaza de Oriente, Plaza de la Armería, the grounds of the Campo del Moro, the Jardines de Sabatini and Calle de Bailén.
Before continuing with the open-air tour, the students also had the opportunity to go in to discover more about the Catedral de la Almudena. Consecrated by Pope John Paul II, the building took over 100 years to build and includes various architectural styles: Neo-Classical, Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque.
With respect to the Virgin of Almudena, the patron saint of the city of Madrid, tradition has it that, before being captured by the Moors, the city’s inhabitants hid the icon in in the walls of the ramparts with two candles alight. The location of the hiding place was passed down from generation to generation until it was recovered after the reconquest in the 11th Century. When it was found, it is said that the icon was intact and the two candles were still alight.
The tour continued along Calle Mayor, one of the most important thoroughfares in Madrid de los Austrias. Although the street was well known by all of the students on the cultural visit, they gained a more in-depth insight into Plaza Mayor, one of the urban planning projects that best characterizes the district of Madrid de los Austrias. Named Plaza del Arrabal, the square is the site of one of the city’s largest markets, as well as the venue for public entertainment events and shows.
Cristopher, a Costa Rican student on the Master in Human Resources Management, highlighted the details that he had discovered on the cultural visit of Madrid de los Austrias. “I have come here to make the most of the experience and these visits help me to get to know more about the culture and history of the country and the city. I have been to Calle Mayor, Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol loads of times, but I had never noticed certain details”.
In his case, Christopher chose to embark on his international experience in Spain because it shared the same mother language as his country. He decided to study at EAE Business School because of the School’s prestigious reputation. “They offered me the opportunity to take this Master, giving me leave from the company that I work for. After the Master, I will go back to my country and my job in Human Resources”, where he is looking forward to applying everything he has learned in his time here.
Etorne also plans to return to her country after completing the Executive MBA. However, she wants to start her own business. Her classmate, Emma Herrera, explained that she intends to look for a job in Spain.