Why Arnold Schwarzenegger has just been honored in Madrid and Almería

“I have a lot of prizes, but this is without doubt the most … recent,” actor jokes in Spanish capital

Arnold Schwarzenegger receives his Madrid Destino ambassador medal.
Arnold Schwarzenegger receives his Madrid Destino ambassador medal.Carlos Rosillo

Hollywood star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger found himself showered with honors on a visit to Spain last week.

“I have a lot of medals, trophies and prizes, but this is without doubt the most… recent,” the Terminator star joked on Friday after accepting his medal as the first ambassador for Madrid Destino, the municipal company that promotes the city as a tourist destination.

The former Mr Universe received the award – which City Hall says is given to people and organizations who have shown great commitment to Madrid – in recognition of his organizing the Arnold Classic Europe bodybuilding fair here over the last four years. The event has been running in the United States since 1988 and the Spanish capital hosts its European incarnation. The latest edition, held in the Casa de Campo exhibition venue at the weekend, was aiming to bring together 5,000 athletes and 40,000 bodybuilding fans from 80 countries.

“We chose the city out of my love for Spain and for Madrid,” Schwarzenegger explained. “Other countries wanted to host Arnold Classic: Vienna, London, Paris, Berlin … they fought for it, but we decided the one that ought to have it was Madrid.”

The actor has organized the Arnold Classic Europe bodybuilding fair in Madrid for the last four years

During his speech the 67-year-old recalled the five months he spent shooting Conan the Barbarian in Madrid in 1982: “It was a wonderful time and the film marked a major step in my career.”

The shoot for that movie also took place in Almería province, where on Sunday Schwarzenegger went on to receive the Almería, Tierra de Cine award. The prize is awarded under the banner of the provincial capital’s international short film competition festival, held in December, but local officials were keen to exploit the moment to try to persuade actor and producer Frederick Malmberg to choose Almería as a location for a forthcoming third installment in the Conan saga, The Legend of Conan, which is again due to star Schwarzenegger.

“I think you are very smart,” said the star. “The moment couldn’t be more apt. When I meet the producers and screenwriters in the United States we are going to talk about a lot of things and I am keen to defend Spain and Almería to shoot here.”

There was one further honor for the actor in Andalusia: his own star on Almería’s Paseo de las Estrellas. His signature joined those of actors such as Omar Sharif and Max Von Sydow outside the city’s Cervantes Theater.

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