At the foot of the Sierra de Guadarrama, on the shore of the Santillana reservoir and surrounded by the Regional Park of the Upper Basin of the Manzanares River (part of the Biosphere Reserve), lies Manzanares el Real, a lovely Spanish municipality in the province and Community de Madrid, located less than 60 kilometers from the capital on the Camino de Santiago de Madrid.
Undoubtedly, the main historical attraction of Manzanares el Real is, Mendoza’s Castle, an important example of Castilian military architecture of the 15th century and one of the last in Spain. It was initially erected as a fortress, but was eventually converted into the residential palace of the Mendoza, one of the families with more lineage in Castile since the Middle Ages.
His works began in 1475 (!) And all the medieval fortresses in Spain is one of the best known and one of the best preserved.
From the Castle there are beautiful views of the town and the Santillana Reservoir.
A little further on from the town is La Pedriza, an interesting and different landscape made of rocks model by the erosion of water and wind for centuries that is part of the Guadarrama National Park.
There are many hiking trails of different difficulty, and each one is seasoned with legends and abstract forms to spot on the rocks. We spend a lot of time looking for the ‘skull’. Couldn’t find it, but instead we saw (or imagined) a mermaid. Can you see it?
After the mermaid we continued our road to the ‘Refugio Giner de los Ríos‘ a small cabin at 1220 mts where you can rest and have a nice warm meal or a quick snack enjoying the view.
One of the things I enjoy, besides being able to breathe pure air and the long-lasting satisfaction that comes from being surrounded by nature, is to spot goats on top of the rocks at impossible heights. There are many goats in the park!
A quick visit to Manzanares El Real followed by a long hike in La Pedriza is a super recommended getaway very close to Madrid to enjoy a bit of everything: a beautiful town, some History, spectacular views, pure air and very pleasant trails in the mountains.
If you are driving:
- From the AP-6 motorway (Autovía del noroeste Madrid-La Coruña) take the service lane, at the 36 exit (Collado Villalba) to Moralzarzal and afterwards to Manzanares el Real. At the “mountaineer” roundabout, change direction to La Pedriza.
- From the M-607 motorway (Madrid-Colmenar Viejo-Navacerrada), take the M-609 road to Soto del Real-Miraflores and then the M-608 road reaching Manzanares el Real, pass the “mountaineer” roundabout, and take the detour to La Pedriza.
If you’re coming using public transportation:
- Bus 724 from Madrid to Manzanares el Real, leaving from the Plaza de Castilla Station. Either from the stop at the Plaza de la Iglesia (village center) or from the “mountaineer” roundabout stop, there is a 15 minutes’ walk to La Pedriza entrance.
- Bus 720 from Colmenar Viejo- Collado Villalba, with the same stops as the previous one.