Exploring Madrid

Written By:  Tabitha Torres ’25 (Session 2)

Exploration is a subjective and dynamic terminology; it encapsulates a feeling evoked under different conditions and by different experiences for each individual. Within the past week that we arrived in Madrid, every member of our group has explored and sought out experiences and places within the city in their own ways.

El Parque Retiro 

A beautiful park only 0.75 miles from our Hostel Persal, El Parque Retiro is large in scale and scenery. Our first exploration was on  July 2nd when we first arrived jetlagged in Madrid. Since then, I have visited El Parque Retiro to see more. The park seems to be popular for dog owners and avid runners- most people in Madrid do not run on the streets but rather contain their exercise within the park gates. I went for a run in El Parque Retiro, and it was easy to see why; the dense shrubbery provides an enclosure of shade from the hot sun. Additionally, it serves as a private space that feels surprisingly safe. Each time I go, I attempt to explore further within the large area and challenge myself to navigate through the park and back to Hostel Persal.  El Parque Retiro has significance beyond its beautiful scenery; the  space hosts Feria del Libro from May to June, where authors can sell their books. Additionally, the royal families of Spain have a home in the park where they used to spend their summers. 

El Museo del Prado 

El Museo del Prado houses works by Francisco Goya and Pablo Picasso; this museum requires more than one trip to fully appreciate the totality of its content. After taking Professor Amanda Luyster’s Art History Course in Spring 2022, I was extremely excited to be able to see the works of art that I had done research on within her class. Specifically, Francisco Goyas Tres de Mayo 1808, or Third of May. Being able to physically interact with a piece of art is an amazing experience; seeing it in juxtaposition to other works by Goya felt like an exploration. Wandering through the expansive halls of the museum (and sometimes getting lost!) allowed me to step back into the past and the depiction of the history of Spain and Madrid. In this way, exploration goes beyond simply wandering; exploration can happen nonlinearly and through the consumption of knowledge on the history of Madrid. The entirety of our group of 18 people made the trip to the museum; it was a great experience to explore the museum and get to know my classmates as well!

Within a week, it is difficult to truly explore the city of Madrid. However, the utilization and exploration of public spaces, such as parks and museums, serve as a way to efficiently learn and gain exposure to the rich culture and history that exists within this city. In the case of the Prado and Retiro Park, both places serve as a cumulative overlay of the history of the city and how it develops over time. The constantly evolving purposes and content of these spaces build a narrative of Madrid from the ground up; I have really enjoyed utilizing them to broaden my knowledge and exposure to this city!

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