With its bright blue skies, mild climate, endless days of sunshine, and the exuberant lifestyle of the locals, Madrid never sleeps. The Spanish capital is unquestionably one of the liveliest cities in the world, and what’s more, it forms part of a dynamic region brimming with culture, art and natural beauty. Small towns and villages nestled amongst valleys and mountains are interspersed with prominent financial and business hubs. All of this makes up the Region of Madrid. Geographically situated in the centre of the country, and with great transport links, you can get pretty much anywhere in Spain or Portugal within a few hours. It’s also well connected to Europe and the rest of the world, especially America, by air.
Madrid has been recognised as an important centre of culture throughout history. Great artists from all walks of life have made it their home. Major cultural centres, in both the city and many of its surrounding areas, today house works of art from across the ages. Illustrious figures such as Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Quevedo, Ortega y Gasset, Marañón and Chueca were born in Madrid. These days, the city is home to big names in sport, science, gastronomy, fashion and culture. Madrid is a region open to all those who wish to explore it. It’s a place that brings together a multitude of cultural, culinary, business, leisure and entertainment possibilities, with some of the best and most diverse tourist attractions in the world.
The Region of Madrid provides visitors with great historical and artistic treasures, a reflection of both its illustrious past and its modern vitality. In addition to the historical and artistic wealth of the capital, you’ll find heaps of cultural and natural attractions a short distance from the centre of the city.
Four places recognized by UNESCO
You’ll find three cities close to the capital whose historical and artistic heritage has been included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Alcalá de Henares, San Lorenzo de El Escorial and Aranjuez are all united under the World Heritage in Madrid brand. Hayedo de Montejo has also recently been declared a UNESCO
World Heritage Site of outstanding natural beauty.
With its bright blue skies, mild climate, endless days of sunshine, and the exuberant lifestyle of the locals, Madrid never sleeps. The Spanish capital is unquestionably one of the liveliest cities in the world, and what’s more, it forms part of a dynamic region brimming with culture, art and natural beauty.
Carabaña is a small municipality in the Community of Madrid. It is located 50 km from Madrid on the banks of the Tajuña River. Carabaña was on the Roman road that ran from Mérida to Tarragona, and was also a Visgothic settlement. With more than 2000 years of history, Carabaña is one of the oldest towns in Madrid community
Located at a latitude that doesn’t normally provide favourable conditions for a beech forest, this shady and lush area is one of Madrid’s most spectacular forests. In the Biosphere Reserve of Sierra del Rincón in the town on Montejo de la Sierra, in the north of the Region of Madrid on the banks of the Jarama river, lies one of the southernmost beech forests in Europe. Its 250 hectares are dominated by beech trees but you’ll also find
oak, elm and holly trees. Declared a World Heritage site of outstanding natural beauty in 2017, it has enjoyed protection for more than 40 years. The number of visitors is limited to preserve the forest. In order to make a visit, passes must be requested by phone or via the Internet well in advance. Small numbers are also available on the day. During these free, guided tours, it’s possible to discover century-old beech, with other points of interest in the local surroundings. Although it is worth visiting at any time of year, it is in autumn when the trees are full of colours, boasting ochre, orange, red and gold tones, and making it even more attractive and magical.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial, also known as El Escorial de Arriba is a town and municipality in the Community of Madrid, Spain, located to the northwest of the region in the southeastern side of the Sierra de Guadarrama, at the foot of Mount Abantos and Las Machotas
Traditional, international, avant-garde, fusion, haute cuisine, Michelin stars… there’s food for all tastes and budgets in the region of Madrid. The region is especially representative of the gastronomic boom that Spain has experienced, with Michelin-starred restaurants, old establishments and classic bars coming together to put quality, tradition and innovation on the table.
Shopping in Madrid. Madrid is considered a top shopping destination thanks to its wide range of shopping venues, according to specialist reports that evaluate shops, prices and the ease of making purchases, together with the hotels on offer as well as transportation and cultural attractions.
Only a step away from the big city, Madrid’s countryside offers peaceful places with good food and an intimate connection to nature… It’s a secret side of Madrid, ready to be discovered. Delving into Madrid’s small towns, you’ll come across a range of unique destinations recognised for their valuable cultural heritage.
Not only have they managed to preserve their rural authenticity, but they also have sufficient tourism infrastructure to guarantee quality and visitor satisfaction. Madrid wouldn’t be Madrid without the Guadarrama mountain range (Sierra de Guadarrama) and its rivers: the Lozoya, Manzanares, Henares, Jarama and Tajuña mark the contrast between valleys and peaks. The regional landscape has everything, from high mountain ranges to plains, from snow-covered firs on lofty summits to the oak trees in Alcarria. It’s all here, waiting for you to explore it.
- Manzanares el Real
- Buitrago del Lozoya
- Nuevo Baztán
- Villarejo de Salvanés
- Colmenar de Oreja
- San Martín de Valdeiglesias
Mountains, faith and art
Rascafría is nestled in the beautiful Lozoya Valley at the foot of the Guadarrama Mountains. Together with the peaks and lakes of
Peñalara, it led Henry II to found the monastery of Santa María del Paular here in the 14th century. It’s a jewel of monastic art, with a rich collection of paintings by Vicente Carducho. Visitors can admire 52 of the 56 original paintings, provided by the Prado Museum in Madrid. In autumn, game and mushrooms play a starring role on restaurant menus in this mountain village. Here you can walk and ski through the snow-capped peaks in addition to enjoying the fresh
water of the Lozoya River.
A romantic getaway
Patones de Arriba is a secluded village that invites you to enjoy its scenery and unusual slate architecture. Its streets are essentially an open-air museum, complemented by unique cuisine in rural, intimate and romantic restaurants. Its hotels have helped shape the style known as rural chic, and a walk along the natural ravine path (El Barranco) which separates the two Patones, Abajo (lower) and Arriba (upper), is the perfect addition to an unforgettable experience.
An enlightened corner of Madrid
At the dawn of the 18th century, Juan de Goyeneche y Gastón, a politician from the Navarre region of Spain who was based in Madrid, decided to set up an area that would accommodate different factories and workshops while also housing their workers. Thus the Nuevo Baztán was born, a unique example of a town from the Enlightenment and an impressive architectural complex designed by Churriguera. Its information centre lets visitors discover the inception and development of this project, conceived by an ambitious man who dreamed of changing Spain.
Cinema, monks and knights
The impressive, towering keep gives you an idea of the scale and grandeur that the castle of Villarejo de Salvanés must have had in its heyday, when it was the capital of the Encomienda Mayor de Castilla. Perhaps built on the foundation of a former Muslim watchtower, it was the key to controlling access to the southern plain through the Military Order of Santiago. Visitors can find out more about its history and importance by visiting the Casa de la Tercia and the information centre located inside the castle’s keep. From the top level, it offers spectacular views over Madrid’s Alcarria, with a landscape of olive and holm oak trees nourished by the Tajo and Tajuña rivers.
Wine and art
The Ulpiano Checa museum in Colmenar de Oreja displays paintings that inspired the setting of films such as Ben-Hur and Quo Vadis. A great excuse to visit this little village is the fact that it’s home to several architectural wonders, like its Plaza Mayor (main square). There, you can try patatas chulas (fried potatoes, a local specialty), washed down with one of the very best Protected Designation of Origin wines of Madrid, which can also be enjoyed by visiting any of the centuries-old wineries in town. Biking between Chinchón and Colmenar de Oreja and touring the fields and vineyards of the countryside is another worthwhile way to spend your time.
A scene straight from the movies
Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, John Wayne and Cantinflas all discovered Chinchón’s attractions firsthand while shooting films in this town. Its main square is without a doubt one of the most famous in Spain, a perfect example of popular Spanish architecture that makes it seem as if time has stopped. Here there are some of the best hotels and culinary offerings in the Region of Madrid, inviting you to lose yourself in the historic streets as you wind your way along them. The best panoramic views of the town can be enjoyed from its castle. On Holy Saturday at dusk, Chinchón becomes Jerusalem; more than 200 locals take part in the recreation of the Passion, a spectacle of light and sound that’s been declared a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest.
Wine and relaxation
In the wine-growing heart of Madrid, surrounded by mountains, hills, vineyards and the flowing Guadarrama and Alberche rivers, lies Navalcarnero. Its Plaza de Segovia is an unexpected delight, antiquated and peaceful, and is the ideal place to enjoy a glass of Protected Designation of Origin wine from Madrid. The wine in
Navalcarnero is such a hit that it even has its own museum, Jazz festival and wine tasting route. For the cherry on top, accompany this elixir with a meal of olla del segador (a regional specialty) in one of the town’s caves. Visits to its medieval lanes, squares, natural surroundings and buildings with trompe-l’œil styling are also
essential. The whole place is an ode to rest and relaxation.
Wine, history and the sea
San Martín de Valdeiglesias is a true enological hub located in the Sierra Oeste de Madrid. Its wines have their own sub-designation within the Protected Designation of Origin of Madrid, thanks to their great quality grapes such as Grenache (red) and Albillo Real (white). Any wine enthusiast will have the time of their life here, while also enjoying the town’s scenery and heritage—of which the Coracera castle is a perfect example. From its keep, you can see the peaks of the Gredos mountains and the forests that blanket the western mountains of Madrid. But wait, there’s more: the San Juan and Picadas reservoirs serve as private seas and beaches for Madrid’s locals. Their waters can be enjoyed on hot summer days, or at any time of year for water sports and outdoor activities.
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