Villages in the Madrid Area, Spain

Category: Madrid

The city of Madrid, Spain has more than its share of interesting sites and attractions to visit, but visitors to this area may also want to check out the various villages and towns located just outside Madrid, including those in the nearby provinces of Castilla la Mancha to the south of the city and Castilla Leon to the north. To help you plan your itinerary, below we have compiled a list of some of the must-see villages in the area, along with a brief description of what each has to offer.

Alcala de Henares

Alcala de Henares is a small village located just 30 kilometers from Spain’s capital city of Madrid and is a World Heritage City as named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1998. In Alcala de Henares you’ll find the University of Alcala, built in the 16th century. The village is also home to the natal house of Spanish author Cervantes, a house that has now been transformed into a museum for guests to peruse; and the San Bernardino convent built in 1618. Just a short hop by car or train, Alcala de Henares is a great way to spend an interesting afternoon as part of a day trip.

Aranjuez

Situated just 50 kilometers from Madrid, Aranjuez is also a World Heritage City (2001), largely due to its unique architectural heritage. This small village is rapidly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations of the region, a village once used as the royal residence of King Philip II, where visitors can still tour this ancient palace. Aranjuez Jardín del Príncipe Kioscos Chinesco. Photo credit Beautiful gardens and stunning natural landscapes abound in Aranjuez, and the Casa del Labrador, designed by the renowned architect Villanueva, provides a great photo opportunity and a close-up look at the Neo-Classic style of architecture.

San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Also roughly 50 kilometers from Madrid is the village of San Loranzo de El Escorial, a beautiful little town in which Philip II decided to build a new Royal residence in 1563. Designed by architect Juan Batista, the palace boasts 16 gardens and a high 92 meter chapel in its center. San Loranzo de El Escorial is also the burial site for many royal members of the past, laid to rest in the all-gold Panteon de los Reyes, or Royal burial place.

Manzanares el Real

Manzanares el Real, a small town of roughly 7,250 inhabitants, is located in the northern region of the Autonomous Community of Madrid. It is situated on the southern slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountain Range, at the foot of La Pedriza, Europe’s largest and most scenic range of granite formations, featuring peaks, streams, rocky cliffs and meadows. The entire town is within the boundaries of Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Regional Park, adjacent to the Embalse de Santillana, or Santillana Reservoir. Because of its northern mountain location and cooler temperatures, Manzanares el Real is a popular leisure destination for both locals and tourists, particularly in the summer, when temperatures in Madrid can regularly soar to 90 degrees F or more. If you plan to visit the town, you will find a number of very interesting and historically significant sites to tour, the most impressive being the Castle of Manzanares. Built in 1475, the Castle of Manzanares is the most well-preserved castle in the Community of Madrid, and a beautiful example of the Gothic and Mudejar styles of architecture.

Naturally, these are but a few of the many places to see when visiting Madrid. These villages and others, as well as the cities of Segovia and Toledo, located 87 km and 85 km from Madrid respectively, offer an amazing glimpse of Spanish history and architecture, some of which dates back over 800 years.