Residencia de Estudiantes

For the final four nights of this unusual but lucky quick trip to Spain, I stayed in the Residencia de Estudiantes, an institution which I knew nothing about before this week.

Though founded in 1910, the current campus, part of CSIC, was opened in 1915 and, it seems, amplified in the early 1930s. The Residencias were opened by the Junta para amplicifacion de Estudiantes, in order to provide a hub for intellectual life in Madrid, and accommodations for visiting academics, artists, writers, etc.

The glory days were the 1920s and 1930s. Guest from that era include some obvious Spanish luminaries like Miguel de Unamuno, José Ortega y Gasset, and Gabriel García Lorca, but also some notable extranjeros like Albert Einstein and Marie Curie.

The Residencia rooms are spartan but comfortable enough. The building is old but renovated. The restaurant was pleasant (especially the breakfast), and the bar a nice touch.

On the other hand, there was some super bourgeois event for Hyundai, celebrating the introduction of 4WD compacts to the Spanish market, because everyone needs an off-road Hyundai. Apparently important people attended, judging by the photographers and ambiance of the whole thing. It likely brings in the money for CSIC, but strikes me as not in the spirit of the place.

Anyway, this was a very interesting part of the trip. When I first heard that the Residencia Estudiantes was to be our accommodation, I was expecting a dorm. It is not perhaps much more than a dorm, but it is certainly filled with interesting history.

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