Get social in Madrid!

So you have just arrived in Madrid and don´t know anybody…time to get socializing!

Here at Inhispania we organise activities throughout the week with our students, but getting involved in the community is also a great way to not only practice your new Spanish skills, but also to make friends and enjoy your time in a new country. We´ve hunted out some unique ideas from around the city to keep yourself busy outside the classroom…

Intercambios

Spanish language exchange in Madrid.
Madrid Babel´s language exchange at Larios Café (10 minutes’ walk from Inhispania) runs every Wednesday and Sunday from 8pm onwards. Come with the school on every Wednesday to practice your Spanish with people from around the world. Although daunting at first, there are reps to help introduce you, and if you need a bit of Dutch courage, head over to the bar for a sangria and free tapas!

Let´s MeetUp

Best ways to learn Spanish in Madrid.
Stop scrolling through Instagram and put your phone to good use by downloading the free application ´MeetUp´. With hundreds of free group activities and filters to choose the date, area, or interest, this relatively unknown app is a lifesaver. From dance classes to theatre groups, you will never be at a loose end.

Feeling Sporty?

How to be social larning Spanish in Madrid.
Make the most of the weather by hiring a BiciMad bike to ride around El Retiro, found at numerous stations round Madrid. There are often sponsored runs such as El Corro de Mujeres last week. As Madrid will be hosting the Champions League final and the Tennis Madrid Open, there´s no better time to get involved in the sports available.

Volunteer Work

If you´re feeling brave, you could offer services in your native language to be an au-pair for families who want to learn a language. These opportunities can be voluntary or paid, but either way they are fantastic to meet new people. Adverts on the ErasmusMadrid website are two hours a week, so fit perfectly around your lessons.

Hidden Exhibitions

Art exhibitions in Madrid.If you look hard enough, Madrid hosts several free cultural activities, e.g. at Palacio Cibeles, Casa del Libro, Casa Encendida and Fundación Telefónica. From interactive art to specialist talks, there are plenty of opportunities to learn outside the classroom. If you find any news fun activities, let us know so we can spread to word to all our students!

Museo del Prado: 5 must-see works

It´s always difficult to decide which attractions to visit when you´re travelling, especially in a city like Madrid, where there is so much to see. The Prado Museum is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in art, but with a collection of over 7000 paintings, it´s easy to feel overwhelmed. To help you find your way through this awe-inspiring art collection, we´ve prepared a shortlist of the most important pieces to see when you visit.

1.     Velázquez | Las Meninas

Despite years of study, this painting continues to intrigue amateurs and experts alike, who have been unable to determine the meaning of the scene. It is one of Velázquez’s largest works, and features a curious cast of characters including a princess, a nun, a dwarf, and even the artist himself.

2.     El Greco | Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest

This is arguably the best known of all of El Greco´s paintings, and one of the earliest of his works to be painted in Spain. The contrast between black and white draws attention to the nobleman’s delicate hand and fingers, while his dress emphasises his status as a gentleman.

3.     Goya | 3rd May 1808 in Madrid (The Executions)

This painting depicts the execution of working-class Spanish men by French soldiers, following the popular uprising of 2nd May 1808. It combines features of Romanticism and Impressionism, and is recognised as one of the first examples of Contemporary Art, setting a new precedent for war paintings. Picasso actually based his famous work, Guernica, on this piece, proving its enduring relevance to future generations.

4.     Rogier van der Weyden | The Descent from the Cross

Van der Weyden was a Northern Renaissance painter, and one of the most influential northern European artists of his time. He never signed his work, but this painting, which depicts Jesus being taken down from the cross, is the oldest piece which can be attributed to him with some certainty. The painting is renowned for the realism of the characters´ tears – all the more impressive given that it was painted at the beginning of the 15th century.

5.     Hieronymus Bosch | The Garden of Earthly Delights

It´s hard to believe that the weird and wonderful creatures and contraptions depicted in this piece were imagined over 500 years ago; although Bosch never dated his work, scholars have placed the piece between 1490 and 1510. Viewed from left to right, the triptych shows the progression of humanity from its creation to its eventual destruction. The piece has also inspired surrealists such as Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. Hypnotic, perplexing or simply bizarre – you can decide for yourself, but you certainly won´t have seen anything like it before!

Top 5: Frederic

Inhispania intern: Frederic

1. Malasaña

Neighborhood Malasaña

El ambiente “hip” y alternativo, las tiendas de segunda mano y el arte urbano me recuerdan a unos barrios de mi ciudad de origen, Berlín. Te recomiendo que dejes tu móvil en la mochila y te pierdas en las calles pequeñas de este bonito barrio.

The “hip” and alternative atmosphere, second hand stores and a lot of street art all over the place remind me of some of the districts of my home town Berlin. I recommend that you leave your phone in your pocket and get lost in the small streets of this beautiful neighborhood.

Das “hippe” und alternative Ambiente, die Second-Hand-Läden und Street Art an jeder Ecke erinnern mich an einige Viertel meiner Heimatstadt Berlin. Ich empfehle, das Smartphone in der Tasche zu lassen und sich in den engen Gassen dieses schönen Viertels einfach treiben zu lassen.

2. Cercedilla

Cercedilla

Una gran ventaja de ser estudiante de menos de 26 años en Madrid es que puedes disfrutar del maravilloso “Abono Joven 30 días” con el que puedes viajar a todas partes no solo en Madrid sino también en toda la Comunidad Autónoma. Una hora y media al norte de la ciudad se ubica el pueblo de Cercedilla dónde puedes caminar por las montañas y disfrutar del silencio de la naturaleza. Perfecto para huir del calor y del estrés de la capital española.

One of the great advantages of being a student under 26 in Madrid is that you can benefit from the amazing 30-day youth ticket. It allows you not only to travel as much as you want all around the city but also in the entire region of Madrid. One hour and a half north of the city is the village of Cercedilla from where you can do hiking in the mountains and enjoy the silence of nature. A perfect escape from the heat and stress of the Spanish capital.

Einer der grossen Vorteile, in Madrid Student unter 26 zu sein, ist, dass man die Vorteile des 30-Tage-Tickets für junge Leute ausnutzen kann. Dieses erlaubt es einem nämlich nicht nur, so viel wie man möchte in der Stadt herumzufahren, sondern in der gesamten Madrider Region zu reisen. Eineinhalb Stunden nördlich der Stadt befindet sich das Dorf Cercedilla, von wo aus man in den Bergen wandern und die Stille der Natur geniessen kann. Perfekt, um der Hitze und dem Stress der spanischen Hauptstadt zu entfliehen.

3. Retiro

Retiro Park

Este parque era el lugar ideal para disfrutar de mi descanso entre les cursos de español por la mañana y el trabajo en la recepción por las tardes. Aunque teníamos también 38 grados a la sombra, durante una ola de calor que duró unos días, en general, era perfecto para practicar un hábito español al cual me gustó acostumbrarme: la siesta.

This park was the perfect place to relax between my Spanish classes in the morning and work at the reception in the afternoon. During a heat wave, 38 degrees in the shade did not offer more convenience than other spots, but most of the time, Retiro was perfect to celebrate a Spanish habit that I enjoyed getting used to: the Siesta.

In diesem Park habe ich die eine oder andere Pause zwischen meinen Spanischkursen am Morgen und der Arbeit an der Rezeption am Nachmittag verbracht. Während einer mehrtägigen Hitzewelle konnte Retiro bei 38 Grad im Schatten nicht wirklich Abhilfe schaffen. Die meiste Zeit über war der Park aber perfekt, um einer spanischen Gewohnheit nachzugehen, an die ich mich gerne gewöhnte: die Siesta.

4. Estación de Atocha

Atocha Station

¿Te preguntas por qué he elegido una estación de tren en mi top 5? Pues, porque España tiene una red ferroviaria fenomenal que conecta Madrid con muchas otras ciudades interesantes. En dos horas y media, el tren de alta velocidad (AVE) te lleva a Sevilla, por ejemplo. Si tienes tiempo y quieres ahorrar dinero, compartir coche puede ser una alternativa – y una clase de conversación en español adicional.

You are wondering why I chose a train station for the top 5? Well, because Spain has an amazing rail network that connects Madrid with a lot of other interesting cities. In two hours, the fast train AVE brings you to Sevilla, for example. If you have more time and want to save money, a ride share might be an alternative for you – and an additional Spanish conversation class.

Du fragst du, warum ich einen Bahnhof in meine Top 5 genommen habe? Spanien hat ein exzellentes Zugnetz, das Madrid mit einer Vielzahl an anderen spannenden Städten verbindet. In zweieinhalb Stunden bringt einen der Schnellzug AVE beispielsweise nach Sevilla. Wenn du mehr Zeit mitbringst und Geld sparen möchtest, ist eine Mitfahrgelegenheit sicherlich eine gute Alternative – und kann eine gute Spanischlektion werden.

5. BiciMad

BiciMad

Una de las actividades más divertidas que recomiendo a todos para explorar Madrid: las bicicletas eléctricas de la ciudad. Son bastante baratas y mucho mejor que las bicicletas públicas de otras ciudades. Tienen tres velocidades y encima de esto, el motor eléctrico tiene tres niveles que facilitan mucho el pedaleo (especialmente subiendo cuestas). ¡Cuidado porque van bastante rápido!

One of the most fun activities that I highly recommend to everyone who wants to explore Madrid: the electric bikes of the city. They are quite cheap and much better than public bikes of most other cities. They have three gears as well as an electric engine with three speed levels that considerably facilitate biking (particularly uphill). But watch out, it goes quite fast!

Eine meiner Lieblingsaktivitäten, die ich wärmstens empfehle, um Madrid zu erkunden: die Elektro-Räder der Stadt. Die sind nicht nur recht günstig, sondern auch viel besser als die öffentlichen Räder der meisten anderen Städte. Die Räder haben drei Gänge und dazu einen elektrischen Motor mit drei Geschwindigkeitsstufen, die das Fahren deutlich einfacher machen (vor allem bei Anstiegen). Aber pass auf, die BiciMads gehen ganz schön ab!

Semana Santa in Madrid

If you are in Madrid for Semana Santa, you could not be visiting at a better time. Semana Santa is a week that attracts people from all over the world to take part in the Easter celebrations. Whether you are religious or not, this is a spectacular week. Try going to one of the concerts held in churches around the city or simply join the crowds to watch the processions go by. The week is sure to be great fun with an amazing atmosphere. Don´t forget that seeing the processions is just as important as trying some of the local delicacies that are traditionally eaten at this time of year!

Processions

The week leading up to Easter (from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) is full of street processions and sacred music in Madrid. Religious icons are taken from different churches and paraded around the city. Those who bear the heavy weight of the statues on their shoulders take enormous pride in doing so – it is a great honour to be a part of the processions. The most famous procession is the Christ of Medina  (Cristo de Medinaceli) on Good Friday (19th April) that starts at Jesús de Medinaceli Church and passes through the main streets of Madrid.

Other famous processions throughout the week include the Yeomen of the Guard (Alabarderos), the procession of silence and Jesus of Nazaret (Jesús Nazareno ´el pobre´).  Be sure to look up which processions you would like to see throughout the week so that you don´t miss any.

There will also be concerts playing sacred music, held in churches like Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, the Pontifical Basilica of San Miguel and the Parish Church of Santa Cruz.

On Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurrección, 21th April), you can go to Plaza Mayor and see the famous Tamborrada – a show with hundreds of tambourines and drums. Well worth going to see!

You´ll also be pleased to know that on Easter Sunday in Spain too, chocolate eggs (huevos de chocolate) are commonly given to friends and family as a way of wishing them a happy Easter!

Gastronomy

One of the best ways to really embrace a new culture is to try the traditional food. What better way to learn more about the culture of Madrid than to try the local delicacies that are eaten at Easter.  Some of the most famous and delicious foods include:

  • Torrija (bread soaked in milk with cinnamon which is fried and sprinkled with sugar – very similar to ´French Toast´. It can even be soaked in wine!)

  • Soldaditos de Pavía – crispy fried cod
  • Flores de Semana Santa – sweet treat fried in the shape of a flower
  • Potaje de garbanzos a la madrileña – chickpea stew with potatoes, cod, spinach and hard-boiled eggs

The time and effort that that is put into the religious celebrations throughout this special week is astonishing – there really is an incredible display of colour, food, decorations, lights, costumes and religious icons. Semana Santa in Madrid is a must! You will not be disappointed.

Top 5 in Madrid: Sam

¡Hola! My name is Sam and in August 2018 I moved from The Netherlands to Madrid to complete my internship at Inhispania. The past 5 months I lived in and discovered this beautiful city. From museums to palaces and from parks to stadiums, Madrid offers it all. To be honest a top 5 is actually not enough for me to describe this beautiful city but below you will find my personal top 5 things to visit during your stay in Madrid!

#5 Palacio Real


If you are interested in palaces, you should definitely visit the Royal Palace of Madrid. This Royal Palace has 135,000 square meters of floor space and contains 3,418 rooms.

The palace is owned by the Spanish State and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. Nowadays the palace is only used for ceremonies. It is nicely centrally located, in the western part of downtown Madrid.

The Palace, in the current state, is only 250 years old and it was built by order of King Felipe V. He gave the order to build the palace from limestone and granite because this ensured that the building was fireproof. Another interesting fact is that the design of the Royal Palace is based on the Palace of Versailles, where King Felipe spent most of his childhood.

Information about the Royal Palace of Madrid:
– Address: Calle Bailén, 28071 Madrid
– Opening hours: April to September from 10:00 – 20:00 and from October to March from 10:00 – 18:00.
– €10 entrance fee (discount for groups and students) and free entrance for people from EU-countries (18:00 – 20:00 from April to September) and (16:00 – 18:00 from October to March).

#4 Paseo del Prado


If you love art you should definitely visit the famous Museo del Prado. This museum, located next to the famous Retiro Park, houses works of art from the 14th to the 19th century. An absolute must go for every museum lover!

The designer of the building of the famous museum is architect Juan de Villanueva, he designed the building in 1785 in order of King Carlos III. From 1819 the museum is accessible to visitors.

The museum has recently been renovated and offers 22.000m2 extra space for new art collections. Originally the Museo del Prado was built to show the world how beautiful and important the Spanish art is. Nowadays the Museo del Prado houses around 1300 works of art and the types of art are baroque classicism, emotionalism and Pietism.

Information about Museo del Prado.
– Address: Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23, 28014 Madrid
– Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays from 10:00 – 20:00 and on Sundays from 10:00 – 19:00.
– Entrance fee: €10 (normal ticket), €23 (ticket + official guide) and €7 (ticket with discount).

#3 Plaza Mayor


Are you looking for a beautiful square then I would advice you to visit Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is located in the heart of Madrid and it is worth a visit!

The name of this famous plaza has changed over the years. Originally it was called Plaza del Arrabal. In the middle of Plaza Mayor there is a huge statue of King Philips III, constructed in 1616.

In the past years the Plaza Mayor has been the scene of multitudinous events: Christmas markets, bull fights, soccer games and public executions. The Plaza Mayor is also a very touristic attraction, visited by thousands of people every year.

Tip: Try the Calamari sandwich; it is a culinary specialty in Madrid. This peculiar sandwich is composed of a bread bun opened up from one side, packed with calamari that are battered in flour and egg and then fried. The best Calamari sandwich is at Plaza Mayor.

#2 Retiro


Are you tired after a long day of strolling through the city? Or do you just need some relaxation during your stay in Madrid? Visit the Retiro Park! With over 15.000 trees and 125 hectares, the Retiro Park is a real oasis of green in the heart of Madrid. Inside the park you will find all kinds of monuments and gardens like: Jardín de Vivaces, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez, Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios and the Parterre Francés, which holds a 400 year old conifer which is believed to be the oldest tree in Madrid.

You will also find a large artificial lake where you can enjoy the view and rent a rowing boat for the ultimate experience. On the east side you will find a big monument of King Alfonso XII and this part of the park is perfect to enjoy the sun.

Information about Retiro Park:
– Plaza de la Independencia, 7
– Opening hours: 06:00 – 00:00 (spring and summer) and 06:00 – 22:00 (autumn and winter)
– Prices for renting a rowing boat: 45 minutes = €5,80 (Mondays to Fridays) and €7,50 (Saturdays and Sundays)

#1 Estadio Santiago Bernabéu


My number 1 on the list is definitely the famous Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the stadium of the best club in the world, Real Madrid. The experience is absolutely overwhelming. Whether you visit a live game or just go for a stadium tour, the atmosphere will be amazing.

The stadium has over 80,000 seats and was built between 1944 and 1947 and opened its door on December 14th and it received 5 stars from the UEFA (European Football Association). The first match was between Real Madrid and the Portuguese club Belenenses.

If you want to visit this beautiful football temple you pay €25 for a stadium tour and this is more than worth it. A stadium tour includes: panoramic view over the stadium, see all the trophies Real Madrid won in the ‘Trophy Room’, see the changing rooms and go through the player’s tunnel and benches.

Information about the stadium
– Opening hours: 10:00 – 19:00 (Mondays to Saturdays), 10:30 – 18:30 (Sundays and public holidays).
– Stadium tour takes 1,5 to 2 hours
– Ticket price €25,80