Spanish version

Ateneo de Madrid

From the Plaza de Canovas del Castillo, where the Neptune Fountain is, Ateneogoing up to the Galleryleft we pass the Palace Hotel. Before reaching the Parliament, we turn to the left up the calle del Prado. This is a narrow street with a few antique dealers, some very nice hotels and interesting bars.

On the right is the Ateneo de Madrid.

The Ateneo is a private society.

After Fernando VII returned to Spain and all political and social improvements were abolished, a group of people thought that it was necessary to establish a liberal movement in Spain.Gallery

They felt that this should be done through open discussions and debates. Therefore the Ateneo had to defend freedom of thought and expression.
When the Absolute Monarchy was reestablished, these liberals went to London and founded a Spanish Ateneo there.
When they came back, they continued with their work in a new Ateneo. The Ateneo resembles in a way the typical English clubs, although in this case it has always been a place of liberty of speech based on democratic principles.

AuditoriumFirst the Ateneo was located in the Palacio de Abrantes, Ateneo - interiorthe Plaza del Angel, etc. until it came to  calle del Prado 21.
The current building was designed by architects Fort and Landecho. It is of modernist style and has a magnificent auditorium.

When you enter it you can see a gallery of paintings of its members, among them some of the most famous Spanish authors or polititians. We also find some mason symbols. In the building are several secret doors, hidden as part of the wall decoration.

Since Antonio Canovas del Castillo inaugurated it in 1884, many important people have been Presidents of the Ateneo, including Unamuno or Manuel Azaña.
Nowadays the Ateneo celebrates many public ceremonies like conferences, book presentations, concerts, etc. It is always open for conversations and debates.
There are four conference hall with room for 40 to 300 people.
In calle de Santa Catalina 10 is the Exhibition Hall. It has belonged to the Ateneo since 1920 and is dedicated to art exhibitions.
The Ateneo´s biggest treasure is its library. It has, above all, works from the XIX century and the first part of the XX century about all kinds of topics and in various languages. To enter it is necessary to be member of the Ateneo. In some special cases you can obtain a pass for one or three days.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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