Although not an officially delimited neighbourhood, the area known as Madrid de los Austrias contains some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks, including the Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor and the Palacio Real. EAE Business School students had the chance to gain a closer insight into these sights in a guided tour organized by the School.
On this occasion, our guide Susana told the participants tales, such as the legend of the origin of the Madrid and the time of the Moors. The Emir Muhammad I ordered a fort be built on the banks of the River Manzanares in a place known as Mayrit (transcribed in Spanish as Magerit). After the arrival of the Romans, this small town went on to become the seat of the Court in the 16th Century (under Felipe II), triggering the large-scale urban expansion of the city.
EAE students visited the Puerta del Sol, where they gained an insight into famous landmarks such as Kilometre Zero milestone marker and the Regional Council of the Community of Madrid, the former Post Office, where the bells ring out to mark New Year for Madrileños or Gatos, as Madrid’s inhabitant are known, historically belonging to the Castilian kingdom. At the centre of Puerta del Sol, we can see the statue of Carlos III on horseback. Having previously ruled Naples, he was the first monarch to live at the Palacio Real (Royal Palace, with 2,800 rooms). As an Enlightened Absolutist king, he undertook significant urban developments in the city related to cleaning and water drainage.
Tatiana, a Peruvian student who arrived in Spain for the first time just a week ago, expressed her pleasant surprise at the welcome received at EAE. Two other recent arrivals from Peru, taking the Master in HR added that they have been learning non-stop since they arrived in Madrid.
Walking to Plaza Mayor, the group stopped off at the famous Posada del Peine, one of the oldest inns in Spain (1610). An exemplary demonstration of Madrid’s urban tilework, the building is on Calle de Postas and known for the combs hung on the walls in the bedrooms. Susana explained aspects such as the conservation of the tile plaques with the street names and the symbolism that we can still see today in places such as the Calle de la Sal (salt) and how it led to the word ‘salary’ as a synonym for transaction.
Along the sides of Plaza Mayor, there are traditional shops selling espadrilles or centuries-old crafts such as leatherwork and typical costumes. This magnificent gated structure set on a hill is an acclaimed architectural achievement. It has long been a meeting point, as it continues to be to this day. In the past, it was used for bull fights and, during the Spanish Inquisition, nobles were executed here. Nowadays, people come here for the stamp and coin market on Sunday mornings, as well as for other cultural events and Christmas markets. This central location is watched over by the statue of the king of the Habsburg dynasty Felipe III on horseback.
Guillermo Jiménez, a student on the Master in Supply Management, also took part in the tour of Madrid de los Austrias. “These initiatives are fantastic, even for people like me from Madrid, because you meet people from different Master programs and learn a lot at a cultural level”.
Heading along Calle Toledo, the EAE students saw the Iglesia de San Isidro and looked around the streets of the neighbourhood of La Latina, such as Cava Baja, Cava Alta and San Miguel, where they discovered the peculiar layout of the streets and some of its iconic bars for tasting some tapas and sampling the city’s typical culinary delights. They continued along Calle La Pasa and on to Plaza del Conde de Barajas, where artists and painters exhibit their wares at the weekend. The tour then stopped off at the Botín restaurant, famous for holding the Guinness world record for continuously operating since 1725.
For Telesforo Pérez, a student from Albacete on the Master in Project Management, this is the first time he has taken part in one of EAE’s cultural visits. He is passionate about history and so was very keen to participate in this initiative. Telesforo really values the cultural diversity of EAE students and rates the organizational and coordination aspects of his program very highly.
Over the course of the guided tour, the EAE students discovered some of the city’s remodelled landmarks, such as the San Miguel market, and ancient sites such as the Iglesia de Carboneras convent where nuns still live in cloister, making and selling their home-made sweet pastries.
The tour continued along Calle Mayor and stopped at some of its iconic landmarks, such as the Palacio del Marqués de Cañete (now the Sefarad-Israel Centre), the Horno la Santiaguesa patisserie and famous building at number 88, site of the attack at the wedding of Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia of Battenberg. Continuing along Calle Factor, the students enjoyed the spectacular view of the Almudena Cathedral and the eastern façade from the Palacio Real, the king’s official residence, where state receptions are still held. The guide recommended that the new arrivals in the city made sure not to miss the changing of the guard at the gates of the Palacio Real on the first Wednesday of every month.
To finish of the guided tour, the participants shared their experiences and expectations in a networking session at the iconic café in Santa Eulalia, located to Madrid’s city walls.