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Madrid is a village, a city, a capital, and an icon all at the same time. In a place with 350 days of sunshine a year, The Retiro Park, The Prado Museum, the history, the culture and some of the best food in the world, the opportunities for boarding students to explore the city, the region, and their own passions are limitless.

The Global College is located near Calle de Serrano, a main thoroughfare through the city. The street is famous for its glitzy stores, cafés, Christmas decorations outside El Corte Ingles department store, museums (the National Archaeological Museum and the National Library of Spain are there) as well as the northern end of the Retiro Park. Our central space means boarders are able to quickly get across the city to the Old Town, the Bernabéu Stadium to see a Real Madrid match, the train station for an excursion, the IE tower for an event, or the Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas airport (only 20 minutes away).

Nighttime view of illuminated skyscrapers against a dark blue sky with scattered clouds.

Madrid is a safe, green city that boasts a massive metro and bus network that reliably transports 2 million people a day. In between metro and bus stops you’ll see parks, avenues, and green spaces that bring life and energy to the city. The crown jewel, of course, is the Retiro Park. At 5.5 square kilometres, Retiro Park is nearly double the size of New York’s Central Park and boasts free galleries, a boating lake, sports facilities, running tracks and more, all within the new World Heritage zone.

Boarding students will get the chance to explore beyond the boundaries of the city, too. Close to us are the historic cities of Ávila, Segovia, Aranjuez, Alcalá de Henares, Chinchón and more. There are ample opportunities to hike, ski, or walk the medieval walls of historic castle towns. Stepping out of Madrid is also a chance to engage with locals, practice the language, and experience the real food culture of Spain.

Boarding in Madrid provides a massive chance to engage with Spanish language and with culture; the music scene is starting to come back to life, while flamenco, theatre, and opera are popular pastimes too. Madrid is a city of contrasts: easy to get around with a few words of Spanish, the locals will also reward those who make the effort. It is a golden opportunity for those who want to embed themselves in the Spanish language and learn it like a local. But there’s plenty of English spoken to, and the locals might well be keen to practice with you.

Museums and galleries are a big draw for tourists in Madrid as well as for locals. It’s impossible to truly see most galleries in a single visit, thus the opportunity to grow with the collection over two years by revisiting the Prado Museum, Reina Sofia, or the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum allows students to truly appreciate the artistic legacy they are blessed within the city. Many galleries are also on rotation and will deliver a consistent programme of new shows over the course of the years.

Panoramic view of a cityscape with modern skyscrapers and traditional buildings against a backdrop of mountains and clouds.

In addition, Madrid is a tech hub for Europe; a number of companies have relocated here and there is a massive start-up culture (helped by IE University and its approach to entrepreneurialism). For students, there is the chance to connect with businesses through The Global College to gain real-world experience in a company and learn from those who are doing it now. An added bonus for students boarding here is that to facilitate all this new business, the broadband speed is the best in Europe.

Food is a way of life, and here in Madrid there are supermarkets from across the world to cater for every taste. There is also a wealth of food culture for boarding students to experience in and around the city at places like the Mercado San Antón. Spain has one of the highest standards of living across Europe, and stores will stock and sell locally grown produce from the region rather than fly tomatoes halfway around the world.

The wealth we have to offer young people from a city centre campus doesn’t stop there. With universities on our doorstep, national research and cultural institutions a walk away, and every kind of sporting diversion available, boarding students at The Global College are afforded a cosmopolitan setting for their pre-university education with all the benefits of a rural setting. You can be jogging through the Retiro Park in the morning, sitting in the National Council for Scientific Research in the afternoon, and watching an opera in the evening.

Not only does Madrid offer a wealth of experiences, the rest of the country is also packed with amazing history, gastronomy, geography, and culture. As one of the countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites, there is always something new to explore. Air and rail travel make it easy to reach every corner of the country, including the islands. In addition, Madrid’s central Barajas airport connects Spain with countries all over the continent and the world. From Paris to Prague, Rome to Reykjavik, Madrid’s location makes it a fantastic base for discovering Europe.

For any students thinking of boarding overseas, we would always recommend they research their new school thoroughly to ensure that its location, the airport, the facilities, and the opportunities are within easy reach. As one of the most liveable cities in the world, Madrid and our central campus comes at the top of those lists.

Barry Cooper

Barry Cooper

Principal of The Global College