Madridejos, Toledo, SpainCategory: Toledo
Do you plan to visit the city of Toledo, Spain on an upcoming family vacation or romantic getaway? If you do, you should really consider taking one or more day trips to some of the towns and villages that surround the historic city, including the beautiful town of Madridejos. To help you become more familiar with this historic and very scenic town, below we have provided a brief overview, including some information regarding its history, location and some of the main sights you will surely want to visit while you’re there.
Madridejos is a municipality located in the province of Toledo and a member city of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, of which Toledo is the capital. Compared to some of the other towns that surround Toledo, Madridejos is fairly large, with a total area of 162 square miles (262 square kilometers) and a population, as of 2011, of just over 11,300 permanent inhabitants.
Madridejos is located in the main road that crosses the Andalusian plains of La Mancha in the center of the Castile-La Mancha community. Due to its location, the town makes for a great day trip for those staying in either Toledo or Madrid. From Toledo, for instance, the total distance is just 43 miles (70k) by way of the Highway of the Vineyard, and from Madrid, the drive is a mere 72 miles (117k) via the South Freeway.
Like most of Central Spain, Madridejos has a continental climate, characterized by cool winters and very warm, even hot summers, with high temperatures reaching their peak in the latter half of July and August. January is the coldest month of the year, while April tends to bring the wettest weather as compared to the other months.
History of Madridejos
The origins of Madridejos go back to at least Roman times, perhaps even earlier. Many remains from the Roman period have been found in the city, including pottery, mills, wheat manuals and shafts of columns. In the Gothic era, the city was characterized by simple buildings and dwellings, scattered around the Vega and the Prado, lands that belonged to Count Juilan, the governor of Ceuta.
In the Middle Ages, following the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, the region now known as Madridejos was a Muslim village, one that was destroyed and rebuilt several times, according to historians. The population at this time was devoted mainly to agriculture, especially in the river valley.
In 1097, following the conquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile, the Infante Don Sancho, son of Alfonso VI, came to Madridejos for a meeting of some type, and because of the hospitality he received during his visit, he decided to donate a great sum of money to the town’s Church of Santa Maria, which used the money to build a grand bell made of silver, under the patronage of San Juan Nepomuceno. Sadly, like many important items from the region, the bell was destroyed in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War.
In the 1950s, the town of Madridejos began a period of economic growth. This growth led to the paving of streets, the installation of fonts, new sewer systems, and city lighting. During the Franco era, however, the population decreased because of the prolonged economic crisis, and people fled to the larger cities throughout Spain to find work. After Franco was deposed, in the new democratic period, the population of the city rebounded once again, leading to the building of new schools and major improvements in public administration.
Main Sights and Palaces of Interest
Windmill (Uncle Genara)
Madridejos features a number of interesting sights and attractions to visit, beginning with the Windmill. Unlike the nearby city of Consuegra, which features over a dozen restored and fully-functional windmills from the city’s past, Madridejos has but one that is fully operational. It is known familiarly to locals as “Uncle Genara,” and is one of the oldest existing windmills in the La Mancha community. It is owned by a doctor in town, Jose-Luis Garcia, who like most windmill owners inherited it after it was passed down for many generations from father to son.
Church of the Divine Savior
Built in 1531, the Church of the Divine Savior was begun by the Parish of El Salvador. The church was designed mostly by the famous Spanish architect Alonso de Covarrubias, although it has since underwent many reconstructions and posterior restorations. Visitors to the Church of the Divine Savior will marvel at its decadent Gothic and Renaissance style. The structure is 53 meters in length and 22 meters in width, and divided into three naves, supported by eight giant granite pillars with Ionic capitals. Its lone tower, with bands of granite covered with a capital of slate, was recently restored in 1997.
Convent of Santa Clara
Built in brick masonry and cement, in the form of a Latin cross, the Convent of Santa Clara was founded on November 15, 1656 by Captain Don Francisco Diaz Gallego and Maria Asuncion Vazquez de Neyra, whose remains are now buried in the convent under the high altar, and whose shields hang proudly above the door. During the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s, the convent played host to over 400 evacuees until it was all but destroyed near the end of the war. It was rebuilt shortly thereafter, and restored again many years later, when, in 1984, the Catholic Cardinal Gonzalez, seeing the neglect and disrepair of the historic structure, authorized a complete remodel. Construction on the Convent of Santa Clara concluded in 1993 under the direction of architect Don Francisco Coello.
Other noteworthy sights you will want to visit while touring the city of Madridejos include the Prado Christ Chapel, a church built in the very interesting churrigueresco style; and the Church and Convent of San Francisco, founded at the expense of the local neighborhood in the year 1612 and designed and built brilliantly by the architects Dona Maria Gallego Cervantes and Don Juan de Mayorga. Both the church and the convent were completed in 1619.