The Residencia de Estudiantes was founded in Madrid in 1910 by the Junta para Ampliación de Estudios. It became the first cultural center of Spain and until 1936 the Residencia remained a vibrant, fruitful hub for scientific and artistic work and exchange in Europe.
In 1915, it was moved to its permanent site, the Hill of Poplars. Its director, Alberto Jiménez Fraud, ran the Residencia as a meeting place open to creativity, intellectual and interdisciplinary dialogue. The Residencia and the Junta para Ampliación de Estudios were the product of the innovative ideas generated by the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, founded by Francisco Giner de los Ríos in 1876.
The mission of the Residencia was to complement university education by fostering an exciting intellectual and living environment for its students. It strongly encouraged the constant dialogue between Science and the Arts, welcome the avant-garde ideas from abroad, and became the focal point for spreading modernity in Spain.
Some of its residents were among the leading figures of Spanish culture in the twentieth century, such as the poet Federico García Lorca, the painter Salvador Dalí, the film maker Luis Buñuel, and the Nobel Prize winner, scientist Severo Ochoa.
Writers and artists such as Miguel de Unamuno, Alfonso Reyes, Manuel de Falla, Juan Ramón Jiménez, José Ortega y Gasset, Pedro Salinas, Blas Cabrera, Eugenio d´Ors and Rafael Alberti were frequent visitors and lodged at the Residencia during their stay in Madrid.
The Residencia was also a forum for discussion and dissemination of intellectual ideas in Europe. Many prominent figures came to the Residencia for that purpose, people such as Albert Einstein, Paul Valéry, Marie Curie, Igor Stravinsky, John M. Keynes, Alexander Calder, Walter Gropius, Henri Bergson and Le Corbusier. These personalities were often invited by two private associations, the Sociedad de Cursos y Conferencias and the Comité Hispano-inglés, which worked closely with the Residencia and served as link to a broader sector of society.