Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a cosmopolitan city that combines the most modern infrastructures and its status as an economic, financial, administrative and service centre, with a large cultural and artistic heritage; a legacy of centuries of exciting history.
Strategically located in the geographic centre of the Iberian Peninsula at an altitude of 646 m above sea level, Madrid has one of the most important historic centres of all the great European cities. This heritage merges seamlessly with the city's modern and convenient infrastructures, a wide-ranging offering of services, and all the latest state-of-the-art technologies in audiovisual and communications media. These conditions, together with all the drive of a dynamic and open society –as well as high-spirited and friendly– have made this metropolis one of the great capitals of the Western world.
But if there's one thing that sets Madrid apart, it must be its deep and infectious passion for life that finds its outlet in the friendly and open character of its inhabitants.
Madrid has many artistic attractions, thanks to the different styles that have left their imprint in the city over the centuries.
From the remains of the old Arab wall, to small Gothic churches and early Renaissance works, Madrid boasts a multitude of rich and varied works of art. And although Madrid is home to a truly outstanding architectural heritage, there is no question that its greatest artistic wealth is to be found in its art galleries. Madrid is also the site of a series of palaces and monuments that together comprise one of the most important heritages in Western history. The National Heritage organisation is responsible for safeguarding these national assets subject to the use and service of the Crown, in addition to the administration of the convents and monasteries founded by the monarchs over the centuries. These institutions contain a great wealth of artworks, and for centuries served as a driving force for Spain's culture. Art and culture play a key role in Madrid's cultural life. The capital has over 60 museums which cover every field of human knowledge: Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Reina Sofía National Art Centre.
One of the simplest and most convenient ways to discover the broad range of cultural attractions on offer in the Spanish capital is using the Madrid Card. It includes entrance to emblematic monuments and to more than 40 museums in Madrid and the surrounding area. It also offers the chance to take all the guided visits in the "Discover Madrid" programme offered by the City Tourist Board. It is on sale at tourist offices or online at www.madridcard.com. Also holders of an International Student Identification Card - ISIC card, or a student ID will get significant discounts at the doors of most museums and exhibitions.Travelling around the city, youngsters also have it easy, as there is a monthly public transport pass with a special price for people under 23.
With start dates every Monday and programs ranging from 2 to 52 weeks, you can study whenever suits you best.
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Concerts, exhibitions, ballets, a select theatrical offering, the latest film releases, the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of the best Spanish and international gastronomy, to savour the charms of its bars and taverns... all these are just a few of the leisure options on offer in Madrid. There is also a tempting array of shops and businesses featuring both traditional establishments and leading stores offering top brands and international labels.
In Madrid there are many natural spaces with varied landscapes - from the Sierra de Madrid mountains, which are full of beautiful locations for doing snow and mountain sports, to the Aranjuez plain or the landscape of La Mancha in the area surrounding Alcalá de Henares.
Golf, sailing, windsurfing, horse riding, hot-air balloon trips and hiking are some of the possible activities. The people from Madrid also like to look after their many urban parks and gardens, some of them well-known historically like the Royal Residence of Aranjuez gardens, the Retiro Park in Madrid or the Casa de Campo park. Others were created recently, like the Juan Carlos I Park or the Tierno Galván Park. They can be found in different urban areas and are very beautiful green spaces.
Madrid's lively nightlife is another key attraction of Spain's capital, due to its variety and the exciting atmosphere to be found in its bars, pubs, clubs and flamenco halls. Other daytime entertainment options include traditional outdoor dances, popular festivities and the San Isidro bullfighting festival, regarded as being the most important in the world. Madrid is a city where young people will find leisure and enjoyment, day and night; an agenda full of cultural and leisure attractions all year round, and that includes many activities for young people, such as concerts, cinema, theatre or dancing.