Madrid, as the capital of Spain, has hosted the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit from Wednesday until Thursday, and it must be said that it has been quite successful after the first day of the Atlantic Alliance meeting.
On the political level, important issues have been detailed, such as the new definition of NATO's Strategic Concept for the coming years, which includes Russia as the great external threat following the invasion of Ukraine, and China as a threat that will also be practically systemic over time.
Madrid and, by extension, Spain have shown their attractiveness and their great capacity to organise large-scale events. The promotion of Spain has been very noteworthy thanks to all the scenarios that the Spanish state has provided for the various events related to the NATO summit. Also noteworthy is the impressive security arrangements that have Madrid under armour during the two days of the NATO summit, with a deployment of 10,000 members of the National Police and Guardia Civil, as well as agents from the Madrid Municipal Police, the CNI intelligence service and security personnel from La Moncloa and the Royal Court.
First of all, to highlight, one can start with the main venue for the political meetings itself, the IFEMA congress fairgrounds, a facility located in the capital of Madrid. Every year, this infrastructure hosts half of the international fairs held on Spanish territory. The great organisation that has been demonstrated so far in this facility is becoming evident, with great reference above all to the security that is being provided, taking into account the presence of the heads of state and government of the 30 member states of the Atlantic Alliance, including the President of the United States, Joe Biden.
In addition to the work and diplomatic meetings of top leaders and press conferences at IFEMA, where 2,000 journalists from all over the world have been accommodated to cover the event in a space of 14,000 square metres, parallel activities have been taking place in an incomparable setting that has served to showcase Spain's national jewels and to promote the image of Spain.
One of these incomparable settings has been the Royal Palace in Madrid, where King Felipe VI received Joe Biden on Tuesday and where a dinner was held on Wednesday for the heads of government attending the NATO summit. The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest in Western Europe and one of the largest in the world, with an extension of more than 135,000 square metres and 3,418 rooms. A building that forms part of Spain's National Heritage and has witnessed centuries of Spanish history. It is one of the few official residences of heads of state that is open to the public for popular visits. Almost 2 million visitors enter several of its rooms every year to discover its nooks and crannies, its works of art and its unique treasures.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia received around 50 guests at the Royal Palace and hosted a 15-course dinner served by chef Paco Roncero. 14 presidents, 21 prime ministers, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and 18 guests were able to enjoy the setting of the Royal Palace and breathe in all the history that this incomparable building holds.
Another of the treasures on display at the Atlantic Alliance meeting was the Prado Museum. The Madrid art gallery dressed up for a very special dinner on Wednesday. With great pictorial works in the background, the attendees were able to enjoy a dinner served by the famous chef José Andrés, who has a great career and fame also in the United States as one of the most important chefs in the world. In fact, he could be seen having a very friendly conversation with US President Biden himself. It can be said that the Prado Museum served as an authentic luxury restaurant, few people will be able to say that they have dined in the facilities of the Prado Museum among such representative works as "Las Meninas" by Velázquez.
The Kiev Symphony Orchestra put the icing on the cake of this special dinner with a performance that enlivened the stay of the guests at such an important event, among whom were leaders of the stature of Joe Biden himself, Emmanuel Macron, President of France, Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, and Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor.
The Prado Museum was closed on 28 and 29 June for security reasons and preparations for this diplomatic agape. This event and the dinner at the Royal Palace also served to promote Spanish gastronomy, one of the most important in the world, represented by great chefs such as José Andrés himself.
Other activities took place outside the official agenda of the NATO summit, such as some in which Queen Letizia acted as hostess for the companions of the heads of government participating in the official meetings of the Atlantic Alliance. This is the case of the visit to La Granja de San Ildefonso.
Queen Letizia and some of the consorts of the leaders invited to the NATO summit visited the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso on Wednesday. The entourage was made up of 14 companions of foreign leaders, plus the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. The group, also accompanied by the wife of the President of the Government, Begoña Gómez, travelled by AVE high-speed train from Madrid to Segovia and arrived by bus at the town of La Granja, where the Royal Palace is located, another example of the great cultural and architectural offerings that Spain has to offer.
The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso is also part of Spain's National Heritage. The Royal Site of La Granja de San Ildefonso, declared a Historic Monumental Site, is one of the best examples of 18th-century monarchic splendour. Philip V, the first Bourbon to reign in Spain, fell in love with this beautiful place in 1717. Such was his "crush" that he decided to build a palace and gardens there, adorned with sculptures and fountains to remind him of his childhood at the French court of his grandfather Louis XIV. The creation of this Royal Site was his great personal work, an ideal place for the rest of Spanish kings and for entertaining renowned guests, as was the case on this occasion of the Atlantic Alliance summit.
The Real Fábrica de Cristales y Vidrios de la Granja de San Ildefonso was another of the displays that served to demonstrate Spain's excellence in this case. It is an enormous rectangle that houses a group of buildings totalling around 25,000 square metres of constructed surface area. The factory was built according to the plans of the Royal Site's quantity surveyor, Joseph Díaz, alias Gamones, between 1770 and 1784.
The Royal Glass Factory of La Granja is a singular and unique space, where you can carry out multiple activities related to the world of glass. From visiting the Technological Museum with its magnificent collections of glass pieces, through the real demonstration of the work in the furnaces, to receiving training in techniques applicable to glass. This building is a reference point in Spain for the artisan glass sector.
The alternative programme to the NATO summit itself also took place at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. The delegation that was at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso returned from Segovia to Madrid to enjoy a visit and lunch at the Reina Sofía Museum, with Queen Letizia also in the lead.
Queen Letizia and the first ladies and gentlemen consorts posed in front of Pablo Picasso's painting "El Guernica", one of his masterpieces that depicts the horror of the war and the bombings that the Basque town suffered on 26 April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The large mural has become a universal symbol of the atrocities of war, something that has been brought into sharp relief by the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.