Chinchón, Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

If you are planning to visit Madrid, Spain during an upcoming holiday, you should really think about taking some time out of your busy tour schedule to make a stopover in Chinchón.  Situated a mere 45 kilometers from Madrid, Chinchón is a small Spanish town with a rich history, one that features a number of interesting sites and lively attractions to visit.  Below we have provided a brief overview of Chinchón, including a brief synopsis of the town’s history and some information regarding its most important sites.

Chinchón:  Overview

History

From a historical standpoint, the town of Chinchón dates back to the time of the Carpathians, albeit shortly thereafter civilizations such as Rome, Visigoth and Arab also found home there.  The area was under Muslim domain until 1139, but was later conquered by the troops of King Alfonso VII of Castile and became part of the Segovia Council.  In the 1400s, it became known as a Villa by decree of King Henry IV of Castile, demonstrating the town was growing and becoming more prosperous.

Towards the beginning of the 17th century, Chinchón was transformed into one of the greatest cities of its day, as Philip V of Spain was proclaimed king of the Plaza Mayor of the Villa during the War of the Spanish Succession.  In 1845, the Society of Harvesters was founded in the Villa, a group made up of neighbors who harvested grapes and celebrated wine, the region’s most significant product.

Since the 20th century, Chinchón has belonged to the Community of Madrid.  Its historical and cultural richness earned it the declaration of “Historic Artistic Area” in 1974, a distinction recognized under the general direction of Fine Arts.

Chinchón:  Sites and Attractions

The most important location in Chinchón is the Plaza Mayor, a classical medieval plaza from the 15th century located in the center of the town.  Its structural harmony and proportions, characterized by its irregular shape and simple arrangement, make it one of the most beautiful town squares in the world.  All of its elements are organized and hierarchical, with the highest level of the plaza boasting houses with three galleried bases and 234 wooden balconies, called “claros.”  When visiting Chinchón, tourists will find most of the town’s shops and restaurants in the Plaza Mayor, many of them ancient caves that have been transformed into bodegas.  The square is also occasionally used as an improvised theater and a venue in which to stage bullfights.

Another important attraction in Chinchón is the Church of the Ascension, constructed in the 15th century and renowned for its blend of styles ranging from Gothic to Baroque.  Inside the church is another rare treat:  a painting by Spain’s Francisco Goya called the Asunción de la Virgen.

Adjacent to the Plaza Mayor is the town’s famous Clock Tower, which was formerly connected to the ancient Our Lady of Grace Church that was destroyed during the War of Independence.  The tower was restored in 1713, but the church has remained buried.

The Lope de Vega Theatre is another must-see attraction when visiting the town of Chinchón.  The theatre was built back in 1891 in memory of the famous Spanish writer Lope de Vega.  Other highlights of the town include the 7th-century San Antonio Hermitage, the oldest religious structure in town, and the 17th-century Lady of Mercy Hermitage located nearby.  Finally there is the Ethnological Museum, a great place to explore the history of the town.  The museum features a number of ancient tools and instruments that tell the story of Chinchón from the very beginning.