Spotlight on Madrid: Our spiritual roots

To me, Madrid means home. The spiritual roots of Hart Travel Partners trace back to Madrid, where my mother is from, where I still have many friends and family and where I first started to work as a guide almost 30 years ago.

One of the reasons I founded HTP was to provide unique opportunities for educators and students to experience cities such as Madrid that I have known and loved for decades. Beginning this month, we will be highlighting several popular destinations to which HTP operates faculty-led study abroad programs.

For me, there’s no better place to start than Madrid, a city that remains very close to my heart and always has been one of my favorite places in the world.

While Madrid may not instantly gratify with its beauty the same way that Paris or Barcelona might, Spain’s capital city has a special charm and personality that often reveals its beauty over time. You could say that it is an acquired taste, but it certainly does not take too long to acquire that taste.

The heart of the city emanates from the old city center with its stunning Puerta del Soland all the lively streets that lead from it. These bustling streets are full of restaurants, bars and shops. The whole city — in fact all of Spain — seemingly revolves around food and drink. You always will see people eating something. See, it’s simple to get a taste of the city.

When you visit Madrid with Hart Travel Partners, you too will enjoy the local flavors and eat the local fare, including tapas on Cuchilleros Street, cochinillo asado (right), delicious ham in the aptly named Museo del Jamón, or even something from an inexpensive menú del día in one of the hundreds of restaurants in the city. For a farewell dinner, we often take groups to Restaurante Botín, which specializes in delicious lamb pork and other delicacies. Founded in 1725, it also claims to be the oldest restaurant in the world.

Food, too, is just one of the many rewarding academic disciplines offered by the cultural strength of the city. HTP often incorporates an array of academic disciplines into various study abroad programs, such as:

Art — The famed Golden Triangle of Art, comprised of the Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, is a trio of important museums located close together on the Paseo del Prado in the center of the city. Study the likes of Velázquez’s complex Las Meninas, Picasso’s powerful Guernica and works by Cézanne and van Gogh.

History — Madrid and the surrounding area has more than 2,000 years of visible history, from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age to present day. Our local experts bring that history alive whether it’s at the Palacio Real de Madrid or the Parque del Buen Retiro. A little farther out, towns such as Toledo with its Roman bridge, Moorish architecture and gothic cathedral, offer even more history lessons.

Business — As the third-largest city in the European Union, Madrid remains a thriving business hub on the global stage. For business students, we can plan visits to key companies such as Telefónica, one of the largest private telecommunications companies in the world, and Iveco, an industrial vehicle manufacturing company.

Food — Yes, food. Programs can include a typical tapas crawl, allowing students to sample a wide variety of flavors and food. Or for those a little more daring, try your hand at creating a Spanish dish with a cooking lesson.

While incorporating your academic disciplines into a program, we also always add cultural context to the course being taught, providing groups with a real feel for the city. To help facilitate that, our groups always stay at hotels in the city center. In Madrid, that means amazing locales such as Gran ViaPlaza de España and Puerta de Toledo.

Because of its central location, there also are wonderful excursions that can be taken from Madrid, including to Segovia (right), Toledo or El Escorial to name just a few. These very easily can be done on public transportation, helping to keep the costs down for a faculty-led program. Also, Madrid can be incorporated nicely in a longer itinerary around Spain (BarcelonaSevilleGranadaCórdoba) and also the rest of Europe. There are many flights between Madrid and Paris, for example.

Every one of our groups that returns from an HTP program in Madrid raves about the city — its culture, its sights, its academics and, of course, its food. It always warms my heart to share the magic of Madrid with others, and to hear so many great things about my homeland.

I’d love to help you plan your next study abroad program to Madrid. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me anytime to discuss incorporating my beloved Madrid into one of your faculty-led programs.

Buen viaje,

Steve Hart
Hart Travel Partners 


Photo: Royal Palace of Madrid (top): Richard Mortel/Flickr (CC)