Excursions to sites declared as World Heritage
Thanks to the geographical situation of the Community of Madrid, located in the centre of the country, and its network of infrastructures, we can visit a variety of places of great cultural interest and attraction for tourists, and declared as World Heritage Sites, less than two hours away. This means that the excursions which we recommend below are ideal for the weekend, and can even be done in one day.
Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes
This town, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, was constituted as a university city in 1499, the year in which Cardinal Cisneros founded the ‘Complutense’ University. Its main seat is in the Hall of Residence of Saint Ildephonse, a real architectural jewel. However, the old centre of the city is well worth a visit, because it is dotted with interesting architectural works.
How to go to Alcalá de Henares from Madrid:
- By car: on the A-2, and leaving it at exit 23. Approximate journey time: 25 minutes.
- Cercanías (suburban) train and ‘Continental Auto’ bus
Aranjuez, known locally as Real Sitio y Villa, had an important role in the history of Spain
In the middle of a picturesque environment, between the rivers Jarama and Tajo, we find Aranjuez, known locally as Real Sitio y Villa, which had an important role in the history of Spain. This is a city that in times past was prominent because of its court life. A great variety of celebrations and events were held in its Palace. Today it is a place of great attraction for tourists, both for its history and architecture and for its Nature.
How to go to Aranjuez from Madrid:
- By car: on the A-4, and leaving it at exit 37 (47 km). Approximate journey time: 30 minutes.
- Cercanías (suburban) train and ‘Aisa’ bus.
Ávila, a mediaeval city with a very distinct and attractive character
The wall of Ávila, the architectural reference of this city, has been witness to a multitude of warlike conflicts from the Islamic, Jewish and Christian cultures. Saint Teresa de Jesús, who lived in this place, left an unquestionable imprint. The combination of its old buildings with other, more modern ones, gives this mediaeval city a very distinct and attractive character.
How to go to Ávila from Madrid:
- By car: on the A-6 to Villacastín, where we take the N-501 to Ávila (81 Km.). Approximate journey time: 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Cercanías (suburban) train and ‘Larrea’ bus.
Córdoba, to enjoy the Andalusian inheritance
Although, whenever this city is mentioned, the first image that comes to mind is that of its Mosque, a monument that we cannot miss visiting, the truth is that the city contains an excellent architectural collection, which helps us to recall the Middle Ages. The most important historical fact is that this city was the capital of ‘Hispania Ulterior’ under the Roman Empire, as well as being the Caliphate of the Omeyas. To enjoy the Andalusian inheritance, we have to go to the outskirts of the city, to Medina Azhahara, for a very worthwhile visit , both for its historical antecedents and for the Nature surrounding it.
How to get to Córdoba from Madrid:
- By car: on the A-4 (402 km)
- High speed train AVE: journey time: 1 hour 45 minutes.
Cuenca and the lovely natural spot called the Enchanted City
If visitors have enough time, as well as visiting the old centre of this beautiful city, well known for its ‘hanging’ houses, they should not miss visiting the lovely natural spot called the Enchanted City, where the clay-type rocks have been capriciously sculpted by Nature itself. Continuing along the route, one can have a pleasant walk, finding original rocks which resemble real objects or people.
How to go to Cuenca:
- By car: on the A-3 as far as Tarancón, and from there taking the road to Cuenca (167 km). Approximate journey time: 1 hour 45 minutes.
- Train and ‘Auto-res’ buses.
Salamanca, with a Renaissance-style architectural collection
A very attractive city because of its Renaissance-style architectural collection, situated on the banks of the River Tormes. Exploring its streets, nooks and squares is a good way to evoke its history, and a real pleasure for whoever loves art and architecture. Without doubt, the visitor will be delighted by its impressive Plaza Mayor (Main Square), its cathedrals, churches and convents. An emblematic place in Salamanca is the Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells), next to its university, whose students fill with animation the streets of this city, of such wealthy heritage.
How to go to Salamanca from Madrid:
- By car: on the A-6 and N-501 (212 km). Approximate journey time: 2 hours 10 minutes.
- Train and ‘Auto-res’ buses.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial and the Royal Monastery
One of the most visited sites in the Guadarrama Mountains (sierra de Guadarrama) is San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its surrounding area. Not only because of the monastery, an architectural work that is known and studied all over the world, but also because of its settings and its routes that offer enjoyment of Nature to everyone.
How to go to Monasterio de El Escorial from Madrid:
- By car: on the A-6, and after Villalba, continue on the AP-6, then take exit 47 and continue on the M-600; or one can take the A-6 deviation at Las Rozas, and go by the Galapagar road (57 km). Journey time: approximately 45 minutes.
- Tren de Cercanías (suburban train) and ‘Herranz’ buses.
Segovia, a way of steeping oneself in history
Exploring Segovia is a way of steeping oneself in history. Its architecture must not be missed. The impressive Roman aqueduct is the most iconic architectural work of this city, which emerged between the valleys of the Eresma and Clamores rivers. It is also recommended to visit the cathedral, the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), the Casa de los Picos (House of Peaks) and, of course, the Alcázar. If time permits, one should not miss a visit to La Granja de San Ildefonso, where one can enjoy its luxurious palace and spectacular gardens, full of fountains.
How to go to Segovia from Madrid:
- By car: on the A-6, leaving it at exit 60 (87 km). Approximate journey time: 55 minutes.
- By Cercanías (suburban train), AVE (High Speed Train) or ‘Sepulvedana’ buses.
Toledo, a walk through the streets of the old centre
A walk through the streets of the old centre of Toledo is a real pleasure. History, art and culture ooze out from every nook of the streets, squares and buildings where we stop. Its architectural works, among which we find a great variety of churches, mosques, synagogues and palatial mansions, make visitors feel as if they are living in another period. Surrounded by great ramparts, which one normally crosses through the Bisagra Gate, the sober building of El Alcazar stands out, with the gorge left by the River Tajo, crossed by artistic bridges that have been immortalized by numerous pictorial works.
How to go to Toledo from Madrid:
- By car: on the A-42 (71 km). Approximate journey time: 50 minutes.
- AVE high-speed train and ‘Continental Auto’ buses.
- The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and the Prince’s Little House
- The Seat of Philip II and the Abantos Hill
- Excursions to sites declared as World Heritage
- Guide for visiting the characteristic Castle of Manzanares El Real