In Spanish, to express to the / in the + masculine singular noun (a + el), you use the contraction al.
The same happens with the preposition de + el (from the / of the) which becomes del.
Look at these examples:
Los estudiantes dan los deberes al profesor.The students give their homework to the teacher.
Nosotros vamos siempre al mismo restaurante.We always go to the same restaurant.
Voy a comprar al mercado.I'm going shopping in the market.
Granada es una ciudad del sur de España.Granada is a city in the south of Spain. (Lit: from/of the south)
El Gobierno aumentará el presupuesto del Ministerio de Cultura.The Government will increase the budget of the Ministry of Culture.
Ellos vienen del cine.They've come from the cinema.
Note that in the example about the city of Granada we are using "del" because we mean "Granada is a city of the south of Spain", (that "belongs" to the south of Spain) but this wouldn't be correct in English.
You never use these contractions when the article el is part of a proper noun (place, work of art, book, etc.)
El avión despegó del aeropuerto de El Salvador.The plane took off from El Salvador airport.
La noticia aparece en la portada de El Tiempo de Bogotá.The news is on the cover of El Tiempo de Bogotá.
Los turistas fueron a El Escorial.The tourists went to El Escorial.
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