Spain, a country situated along the Iberian peninsula, South Western Europe shelters 48 UNESCO world heritage sites, beaches, vibrant cities and of course saporous, gastronomic pleasures which carves an everlasting experience for the first time traveler. Well, if you start your journey from Madrid, there are some interesting places you can cover in a day trip. You may avail road or railway, depending on your convenience, covering some exciting places of historic importance. If you are interested in the medieval history of Europe, Spain will never fail to enchant you.
|El Escorial Monastery and Palace|
1. El Escorial monastery and Palace: A picturesque monastery situated at the slopes of Sierra de Guardarrama.
Distance from Madrid: 50 Kilometers
Accessible by: Taxi, roadway, train
Easiest and cheapest way to travel: Bus takes 1hour 30 minutes, (11-18) dollars
While you are in Madrid, make a plan to visit the El Escorial monastery and palace, an idyllic retreat situated at the slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The palace nestled in the little town of San Lorenzo Del Escorial, is a UNESCO rated property. Built in the 16th century by King Philip II, the palace was dedicated to Saint Lawrence after the Spanish troop won in the battle of Saint Quentin.
The El Escorial is more of a fortress rather than a monastery. Coveted for the architectural style, the classic Spanish baroque trend, the complex has 15 courtyard, 2,000 windows, 1,000 doors, 88 fountains and 1600 paintings. It’s a pleasure watching the picture gallery where masterpieces by great artists exists. You may hire a guide to narrate the historical details and importance of the place. You may easily combine the tour with sightseeing of Madrid. Search for best guided tours with great seasonal offers.
|The spectacular view of the medieval city of Toledo|
2. Toledo: A medieval city dates back to the 15th century.
Distance from Madrid to Toledo: 68 Kilometers
Accessible by: Bus, Taxi, Train
Easiest and cheapest way to travel: Train, takes 30 minutes ride, abundantly available throughout the day, costs 13 euros
The presence of Toledo dates back to the 15th century. The very first scene I glanced just after embarking from the tourist coach was that which was painted by El Greco, the Spanish renaissance artist. The hilltop city with the Alcazar standing tall today, is no way different from the one which the great artists drew centuries back. Overwhelmed by the glance, I photographed and also took selfies of the historic landmark. Toledo, which is rated as the UNESCO heritage site, has been an amalgamation of the Islamic, Jewish and Christian culture. Our guide took us through the synagogues, narrow dwindling streets, cobblestone pathways, mosques and all those stories how one existing power was overruled by another. History seemed to come alive, and we could hallucinate some past characters.
You may take a walking tour to see the church of Saint Tome, Synoagogue of Saint Maria La Blanca, and the monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes. Avoid the hottest months of the year, say July to August, when Spain becomes nearly a frying pan.
|Avila, the magnificent walled city|
3. Avila: The magnificent walled medieval city known for Spanish Catholicism.
Distance between Avila and Madrid: 88 Kilometers.
Accessible by: Bus, Taxi, Train
Easiest and cheapest way to travel: Bus from Madrid, takes 1 hour 14 minutes, costs 10 euros.
Avila, a Spanish city dates back to the 16th century, located in the autonomous community of Castile and Leon, will definitely woe you with the cultural influence from Christians, Jews, and Islam rule. The medieval wall, which is 2.5 km in length, is punctuated by 88 turrets and 9 gates. The main attraction is the walls there, the fortified town. You may take a walk around the walls.
You may take a walk around the old town, you will feel the medieval ages in the air. Visit the churches and cathedrals to feel the religious air around. Visit the basilica of saint Vincent, church and convent of saint Teresa, and the cathedral. Visit the Cuatro postes viewpoint, which is a 10-15 minute walk and then take photographs. Visit Avila in September, during the medieval festival where you can meet a monk, a king or a knight walking down the streets.
|Aqueduct , Segovia attract millions of travelers|
4. Segovia: Segovia, another medieval city of Spain, shelters the cathedral and Aqueduct built in the 50 AD.
Distance between Segovia and Madrid: 69 Kilometres
Accessible by: Train, bus, taxi, share taxi.
Easiest and cheapest way to travel: Share taxi, that takes 1 hour 34 minutes, costs (4- 6) dollars.
Segovia is a city that retains the medieval spirit of Madrid. The monuments got UNESCO rating in 1985. Aqueduct is one of the most spectacular legacies of Spain. Made up of 166 arches and spread up to 17 kilometres in length, transports water from La Acebeda to the Alcazar, which defies the law of gravity in its working pattern. Legend says that, the structure Aquaduct is the result of love between a lady and a devil , who promised delivering water in exchange of her soul.
Have a look at the Cathedral, which the construction began in 1925, marking the boundary between the Plaza Mayor and Old Jewish quarter. Visit the Alcazar, in order to see the Pinarillo, church of Vera Cruz, and other attraction of the Royal palace that became prominent in the 13th century. Observe the old synagogue, Segovia city walls and of course a walking tour of the old Jewish quarter. Feel as if you are waking that medieval era feeling the mighty spirit inside those walls.
|University of Salamanca|
|Casa de La Conchas or the Shell House|
5. Salamanca: Salamanca, situated in the north western region of Spain, is a part of the Castile and Leon region, dates back to the Celtic era.
Distance between Madrid and Salamanca is 176 Kilometers.
Accessible by: Bus, train, taxi, share taxi.
Easiest and cheapest way to travel: Share taxi, takes 2 hour 44 minutes, costs 13 euros
Salamanca, the olden medieval city known for the presence of University of Salamanca. Enjoy the Escuela Mayores courtyard and the beautiful sky of Salamanca painting. Visit the Plaza Mayor, one of the many reasons why tourists visit Salamanca. While the professional guide takes you through the city of Salamanca, get immersed in the story of the historic walls, the education hub where the walls still reverberate the classes of professors like Francisco de Vitoria, Miguel de Unamuno, and Fray Luis de Leon. Get the thrills of standing at one of the oldest education hubs of the world. Visit the Casa De La Conchas or the shell house. If you visit the patios, you will understand why there’s so many shells. You might observe the front of the Clerica church and Pontifical University of Salamanca. Continue with the tour of Plaza Anaya, the traditional building of the University campus, dating back to the 17th century. Make sure, you tour the inside and outsides of the cathedrals also.
6. Cuenca: The city is situated at the mountain of East central Spain, which retains the historic walls founded by the Moors.
Distance from Madrid to Cuenca: 139 kilometers
Accessible by: Bus, train, taxi, share taxi
Easiest and cheapest way to travel: train, takes 55 minutes, costs 16 to 55 euros.
Visit the city of Cuenca, that is built on the rocks between the rivers Jucar and Huecar. You would be captivated at the engineering skills of those houses built, the cathedrals and all on the side of the cliffs. The first gothic façade of Spain’s Cathedral, was rebuilt after it crumbled down in 1902. You might explore the astounding complex of the Hanging houses (Casas Colgadas) which was built on the edge of the gorge in the 15th century. You will be amazed to see the 16th century bride of St. Paul, which was designed connecting the old town with the convent of St. Paul.
You will be astounded to see the karst landscape, formed millions of years ago, and of course the underwater scenary that hides the Sea of Thetis. You will have a significant stroll posing beside the stone shaped animals, and also different landscapes quite contrary to what you see in Madrid.
7. Chinchon: Chinchon , situated in the southeast of Madrid, known for its hilltop houses and medieval Plaza Mayor, is circled by buildings and wooden balconies.
Distance between Chinchon and Madrid is 57 kilometers
Accessible by: Bus, taxi, share taxi
Cheapest and easiest way to travel: Share taxi, that takes 1 hour and costs 3 euros.
Visit Chinchon, an old town located at the Tagus -Jarama river basin, 45 kilometres from Madrid, surrounded by picturesque vineyards and olive groves. You will love the host of venues that will serve you Castilian dishes for a calendar year. The Plaza Mayor situated in Chinchon is a fine example of Castile’s architectural excellence and also being the nerve of the village. Try the star dishes like lamb, suckling pig, chorizo, all roasted in wood fire. Visit the medieval market and the time during the carnival. During the local fiestas, in August, the Bullring turns to be a bullfight arena.
Visit the Clock Tower, which is the only remnant of the old church. Next to the clock tower, stands the Lope De Vega theatre, whose curtain is a large canvas and represents village scenes.
8. Alcala de Henres: City in central Spain, Northeast of Madrid, known for the University of Alcala.
Distance of Alcala de Henres from Madrid: 30 Kilometers
Accessible by: bus, taxi, share taxi
Cheapest and easiest way to travel: Share taxi, takes 44 minutes and costs 4 euros.
It’s one of the most important cities of Spain, situated 30 kms from Madrid. The Complutense University, founded in 1499, declared Spanish to be the cultural language. In 1998 , the city was declared to be UNESCO world heritage site. Visit the Colegio Mayor San Ildefonso, the construction which was finished in 1953, and boasts of the elegant plateresque façade and the elegant grills.
9. Medieval fortress of Manzanares el real:
Distance between Manzanares el real and Madrid: 58 kilometers
Accessible by: bus, taxi, share taxi
Cheapest and easiest way to travel: Share taxi, takes 1 hour 20 minutes, costs 4 dollars.
Drop in to Manzanares el Real and other interesting sites where you can pay a visit and feel the essence of movies like ‘El Cid’ and ‘ Alexander the great’. You will enjoy the dramatic visit to the castle where characters like Don Lopez de Mendoza and his daughter Brianda will be enacted. You will see an exotic garden, Jardin de los sentidos, having medicinal and other plants that will recreate the feel of the monks garden. The labyrinth or the arena will remind you of the games and tournaments that would be held.