Manzanares el Real, a 45 minutes drive away from Madrid, is famed for being the gateway into La Pedriza and for its perfectly-preserved medieval castle. We recommend the plan that we followed this weekend – it consists of walking around La Pedriza before visiting the Castle of Manzanares el Real.
Morning: La Pedriza and the Manzanares river
La Pedriza es un precioso entorno que pertenece al Parque Nacional de la Sierra de Guadarrama, por lo que os pedimos que lo conservéis, ¡no dejéis basura!
La Pedriza, part of the Sierra de Guadarrama national park, is a gorgeous place, and in order to keep is this way, please don’t drop litter!
Enter from the car park on calle del Tranco (see map below). From there, follow the route marked PR (with white and yellow lines) and the one marked GR (red and white lines). Basically, go parallel to the river, so you can’t get lost and it’s very widely used – but you can get a map from the tourist office if you want. Although we didn’t do this because of the lack of time, from there you can continue walking to Charca Verde (the Green Pool). The whole walk is lovely, full of little pools and waterfalls. The charming features have been sculpted by the flow of the river over the granite, a hard and impermeable rock.
It’s common to go the Charca Verde in summer for a swim, but my personal preferred bathing spot is futher along at las Presillas. It’s better controlled, with amenities and people who take care of cleaning it (and less dirty people who sully it, by the way)
The rest of the year it’s a perfect spot to go with children or the less adventurous types, because there’s barely any physically difficulty involved. As well as that, it’s a wonderful spot for photographers.
After the short walk (one hour round trip) we went back to the town, had a bite to eat in the main square and made our way to the castle.
Afternoon: Castle of los Mendoza
Building of this castle was started in 1475, at the end of the Middle Ages, by the First Duke of the Infantado and was completed during the Renaissance period. One of the architects was Juan Gas, who also made the Palace of the Infantado in Guadalajara and did work on the cathedrals in Ávila and Segovia as well as the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo, which would later be the mausoleum of the Catholic Monarchs.
It’s hard to believe that this castle has been so well preserved – this is due to a couple of restoration projects in the twentieth century.
Today, it remains the property of the Duke of the Infantado, but is looked after by the Community of Madrid. These days, some of the exhibition rooms can be visited, there’s a recreation of a medieval castle, a display of 17th century Flemish tapestries. Other rooms are used for conferences, courses, meetings, a library etc. Oh, and you can go on a theatrical tour too.
Map and useful information for visiting Manzanares el Real
- Car parks: In Manzanares el Real, the easiest way is just to park in the public (and free) car park on Avenida de Madrid. It’s basically just a field, but there’s plenty of space and it’s just in front of the castle. If you want to go for a walk in La Pedriza, try parking in “El Tranco” or “Canto Cochino”, but beware that these places can fill up quite quickly.
- Below there’s a map with the car parks and a rough itinerary. We recommend getting a better map from the tourist office.
- Website of the Castillo de los Mendoza: opening times, prices and theatrical tours
- Website of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park