“Madrid is a city filled with life!” exclaims Madrilenian Javier Muro, recent graduate of the University of Turku.

The capital of Spain is also a city filled with options. “If you like the arts, you should go to the El Prado and Reina Sofía museums, it’s worth visiting both of them even if you don’t understand much about paintings,” says Muro. The cultural visit may continue with a stop by Almudena Cathedral, the most important religious and stunning building in Madrid. In front of the cathedral, you will find the Royal Palace built in 1764, former residence of the Spanish royal family, another must see of the culture and history of the city.

HELD every year on the last week of June, Helsinki Pride is the biggest GLBT event staged in Finland.

Once again offering a variety of parties, meetings and discussions, the core of the festival agenda is the free expression of one’s sexuality and gender, along with the promotion of rainbow subcultures. Things culminate on Sunday 29 June with the Pride Parade that makes its way through the city centre.

The number of foreign language speakers in Finland has now surpassed Swedish speakers.

THE number of foreign language speakers in Finland has exceeded that of Swedish speakers for the first time, reports Helsingin Sanomat. According to Statistics Finland there are 293,536 foreign language speakers living here. In comparison, there are 290,764 Swedish speakers currently in Finland.

It is soon time for another Siivouspäivä (Cleaning Day), with Helsinki transformed into one big flea market.

The event is a celebration of urban culture as well as an opportunity for citizens to sell their unwanted items on streets, parks, and other public spaces without any rental fee. It is a unique day when Helsinki does not require permit for selling something in public areas, as long as the selling location has been registered on the Siivouspäivä website.

STATISTiCS released earlier this year revealed that 9,292 applicants were granted citizenship by the Finnish Immigration Service last year. Of these, 8,500 obtained citizenship by application and 792 by declaration.

The number of applicants was up by 10 per cent on the previous year, with 83 per cent of all decisions made being positive. Russians represented the largest group bestowed with citizenship in 2013, followed by Somalis, Iraqis and Afghans.

James O’Sullivan