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Castles of the Madrid Region

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  • Buitrago del Lozoya Castle © Comunidad de Madrid

    Buitrago del Lozoya Castle © Comunidad de Madrid

  • La Coracera Castle, San Martín de Valdeiglesias © Turespaña

    La Coracera Castle, San Martín de Valdeiglesias © Turespaña

  • Manzanares el Real Castle © Turespaña

    Manzanares el Real Castle © Turespaña


Round the land of conquests

Al-Tagr al-Awsat, la central border established by the Moors to defend their lands from the advance of the Christians towards Toledo, occupied mostly the current Madrid Region. Those fortifications and watchtowers that guarded the passes in the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains, the valleys and the river basins, ended up being taken over by the Crown of Castile. Later on, noblemen and soldiers turned them into palaces for the Christian repopulation.

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We recommend saving a weekend for this route. The first day we'll visit the castle in the northern part of the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains and the east of the Madrid Region.

We leave the capital and head north on the M-607 motorway (40 kilometres) to join the M-609 and go along the edge of the Santillana reservoir to our first destination: Manzanares el Real and its New or Mendoza Castle, built after 1475 on a Mudejar shrine. Weekend visits at this castle include entertaining dramatised visits.

It is the best preserved palace-fortress on the route, and one of the most beautiful in Spain. It has a double walled site and four round towers on the corners, and the Gothic gallery in the porticoed courtyard stands out. It houses a museum of Spanish castles and a collection of tapestries. Two walls of the Old Castle are preserved in the village. It was built in the same period by the Mendoza family.

We'll get to our next destination on the M-608, joining up with the A-1. About 50 kilometres north, the singular walled site of Buitrago de Lozoya, the best preserved in the Madrid Region, will be awaiting us. Built on the Lozoya River meander, its original layout, from the Moorish period, was constantly changed after the conquest of Alfonso VI in the 11th century. The influence of Al-Andalus can be seen in the Gothic-Mudejar castle in the town (14th-15th centuries). Some of its inhabitants were the poet Íñigo López de Mendoza and the dethroned queen Juana la Beltraneja.

On our way back to Madrid on the A-1 motorway, we'll turn east at junction 21 and drive for 40 kilometres on the M-50, M-45 and A-2 motorways. We take junction 38 on the A-2 onto the M-226 road up to the village of Santorcaz, in the heart of the Alcarria region. We'll find the Torremocha Castle, with an oval floor plan, inside a walled site with seven defensive towers. Its walls used to serve as a prison for people such as Cardinal Cisneros and the mysterious Princess of Eboli.

The second day of our route will take us to the municipalities west and south of Madrid. Leave the capital on the M-40 motorway until junction 36, then take the M-511 and M-501 roads to San Martín de Valdeiglesias. We'll visit the town of Castillo de la Coralera, built by the Luna family. Isabella the Catholic lived there during her proclamation as Queen of Castile.

Then we'll return on the M-501 for 20 kilometres and take the M-510, M-507 and M-404 roads (30 kilometres) to Batres. On entering we find the Historic-Artistic Site of the House-fort of Batres. The castle, with a Plateresque central courtyard, belonged to the poet Garcilaso de la Vega.

We'll return on the M-404 towards the A-5 motorway and we'll take the M-413 for 20 kilometres and we'll get to Arroyomolinos and its stately tower , right in the town centre. Then we'll go to Villaviciosa de Odón, situated 15 kilometres away. Its castle was destroyed in the Comunero uprising in 1520 and rebuilt as a residential palace. It houses the Historic Archive of the Air Force.

The latest stop on the route is in Villanueva de la Cañada, to which we'll get on the M-501 and M-600 roads. Here we'll find the Moorish origin Aulencia Castle. It is situated on the top of a hill and from there we'll enjoy a panoramic view of the Guadarrama River.


What to see on the route

Other routes of interest

What to do

Cycle touring

Cycle touring

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