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Sierra de Guadarrama
The Sierra de Guadarrama is a mountainous alignment belonging to the eastern half of the Central System. It is characterized by the abundance of Scots pine forests, oak forests and holm oaks in its lower part and grasslands and shrubs in its peaks. Mammals like deer coexist in its ecosystem, boars, mountain goats, foxes or hares with water birds and raptors such as eagles or vultures. It is crossed by many mountain passes and railways, which means that it has a notable influx of travelers and that its infrastructures are very focused on tourism and sports. Its proximity to Segovia and Madrid and its peripheral cities means that it has a large number of paths on which to go hiking.. Among its routes stand out:
- Route of the Purgatory Falls
In the central area of the Sierra de Guadarrama, the Lozoya Valley is crowned as one of the best areas for hiking in Madrid. It is an incredible place to discover natural corners and historical places of great beauty, like medieval villas or monasteries. The Purgatory Falls route is not very difficult, and in it, walkers will enjoy an incredible environment distinguished by its waterfalls and waterfalls along 8 km.
- Camino Schmidt
Another place of reference is the Puerto de Navacerrada. From this point, numerous mountain trails start from which you can enjoy the great landscapes of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The trail marked by Eduardo Schmidt almost a hundred years ago was one of the first, and it is an exciting journey through forests, hills and streams, recommended for people used to doing this type of activity. The route stretches to 11,5 km and can be completed in about 4 hours and a half.
- Route of the Pedriza
On the southern slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama, we can find different tourist attractions. One of them is Manzanares el Real, in whose municipal area is La Pedriza, cliffs of unlikely shapes that receive different names according to the drawing that make up their silhouettes: the Devil's Chariot, the little elephant, the Ghosts ... like this until reaching more than 2.000 altitude meters. A route through this area results in an exciting excursion through labyrinths and caves for people with a moderate level, since there is a great ascent and it is not at all well signposted.
- Route of the Laguna Grande de Peñalara
The Peñalara Massif is located on the border between the provinces of Madrid and Segovia. More than 2.400 altitude meters, It is the roof of the Madrid community, and both its peak and its surroundings offer a highly appreciated high mountain landscape with spectacular views. In this sense, one of the best is offered by the Peñalara Glacier Circus, objective of our next route. It passes at the foot of the Hermana Menor and Hermana Mayor peaks and offers a wonderful landscape that follows the course of different streams. Despite being in the high mountains, there is not much unevenness, so you don't have to be an experienced hiker to ride through its 7 km.
- Closed Hole Route
In this natural space there are different areas with a high landscape value. The Closed Hole Route is an itinerary specifically designed to get to know the vegetation. In it, its holm oak and mountain pine forests stand out, that shelter streams and endow old towns with great beauty. The route runs for 16 km in which travelers can see different places in panoramic views as impressive as those of the Lozoya Valley, del Peñalara or Hueco de San Blas. Nevertheless, its unevenness makes this route recommended for experienced hikers.
- Santillana reservoir route
The Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Natural Park contains a large number of wetlands that are well worth visiting. Among all of them stands out the Santillana reservoir, a perfect place for bird watching and for a quiet walk that requires no more than time and enthusiasm that adventurers are willing to offer in their more than 20 km of itinerary, since it does not have any unevenness or difficulty.
- Route of the Chorros del Manzanares
Before we mentioned La Pedriza and its surroundings as one of the best areas to go hiking in Madrid, and the thing is that here there are countless corners in which to get lost really spectacular, in wild nature. On this occasion we want to highlight a path that follows the upper course of the Manzanares River and that draws numerous jumps, waterfalls and pools between the rocks. This route is ascending. Trees such as yew or fern grow on the banks of the river and beautiful natural pools of transparent waters are formed. further, travelers will come across viewpoints that will attract them to contemplate beautiful landscapes.
Sierra Norte de Madrid
The Sierra Norte de Madrid is located at the northern end of the community, and in it a mountain area can be distinguished, which corresponds to most of the region, and one of the countryside in its extreme southeast. Its wooded areas are composed mainly of oak and pine, although the holm oak also develops, the hazelnut, poplar, elm, ash, juniper and broom. In the highest areas, Nevertheless, there is no presence of tree species, and these are replaced by mountain grasslands. The natural landscapes offered by the Sierra Norte de Madrid are an essential image of the community's environment and its routes, indispensable places for all those travelers who love nature.
- Patones de Arriba Route
As important as its routes is the visit to the town that gives the name. The itinerary is ascending and the highest point is reached when arriving at Cancho de la Cabeza, a wonderful place from where you can see the whole environment, including the Atazar Reservoir. Later, It will only remain to descend following the Arroyo de Patones, back to town. It is a circular route of little more than 10 km.
- Route through the Canyons of the Lozoya River and Villar Reservoir
The Sierra Norte de Madrid has many places of great attraction that are worth exploring in peace. One of the most beautiful places is the surroundings of the Lozoya river, an incredible area where it is possible to do numerous activities and enjoy its spectacular landscapes of steep rocks. This itinerary departs from the town of Manjirón, borders the Lozoya River Canyon and takes us to the reservoir of the Villar Reservoir.
Sierra de Gredos
The Sierra de Gredos belongs to the Central System of the Iberian Peninsula and runs through the provinces of Salamanca, Cáceres, Ávila, Madrid and Toledo. In it we observe a plant variety closely related to altitude: encina, Brown, aliso, poplar, pino… found in high areas meadows and thickets of broom. Among its fauna are mammals such as the mountain goat, the roe deer or the wolf and birds like the partridge, the eagle or the vulture.
- Route of the Peña de Cenicientos
Nestled at the eastern end of the Tiétar Valley, with spectacular views of the Sierra de Gredos, Cenicientos is a municipality that will surprise you. You can visit places as curious as the Written Stone, a natural granite monolith, with roman inscriptions, or a Visigoth necropolis. The recommended route is wide and well signposted, It starts from the southern slope of the municipality, climb and cross a forest of chestnut and pine trees until you reach the top of the rock, from where you can see the mountains in all its splendor.
- Picadas Reservoir Route
One of the quintessential recreational areas in the south of Madrid is the San Juan reservoir. This is mainly because it has an excellent beach, one of the few indoor with a blue flag and in which it is allowed to carry out various water activities. The environment of this swamp is ideal for hiking and then taking a refreshing dip. You can start from the ruins of the Monastery of Pelayos, skirt the course of the Alberche river and end at the Picadas Reservoir.
Southeast Regional Park
The Regional Park around the axes of the lower courses of the Manzanares and Jarama rivers, colloquially called Parque Regional del Sureste, It is a protected area of 31 552 hectares located along the lower-middle course of the Jarama and Manzanares rivers, in the southeast of the Community of Madrid. It is a regional park that extends from north to south along the Jarama, where the riparian plains and some hills predominate, but the natural wealth of this space resides in the fertile cereal plains, the cuttings and gypsum cliffs of the hills, the groves and riverbanks and in the many wetlands and lagoons.
- Route of the Laguna del Campillo
The Lower Jarama River Basin contains numerous points of interest, perfect corners for hiking with the family. This place is ideal to go with children, since they will be able to learn a lot about the fauna, especially raptors and ducks. A circular walk through the lagoon is perfect to spend a weekend morning in which travelers will be amazed by the riverside forests, described by information panels.
Route through towns in the north of Madrid
- Manzanares el Real
Located at the foot of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, this municipality offers impressive views and landscapes for tourists. Its most representative symbol is the Castillo de los Mendoza, a fortification from the 15th century that represents one of the best examples of Castilian military construction, and one of the best known and best preserved medieval fortresses in Spain.
A 100 km from Madrid, Rascafría has one of the most beautiful environments in the area. It is a good option for rural tourism since it is a quiet and small town that can be easily explored. The Monastery of Santa María del Paular stands out from this site, perfectly integrated into the surrounding nature, the Plaza de los Trastamara, City Hall, the Plaza de la Villa and the Parish of San Andrés Apóstol.
- Buitrago del Lozoya
In the heart of the Lozoya Valley and in the middle of the Sierra de Guadarrama, Buitrago del Lozoya is one of the best preserved medieval jewels in the Community of Madrid. It has a spectacular walled area of Arab origin that surrounds the historic center. Its tourist attractions are the Castle, the Church of Santa María del Castillo and the Clock Tower.
Route through towns in the south of Madrid
Chinchón is one of the most charming towns in the area, and is less than a kilometer from the capital. Its Plaza Mayor is considered one of the most beautiful, and it is the protagonist of multiple shows such as the medieval market or the famous bullfights. Other points of interest are the Lope de Vega Theater and the Augustinian monastery..
- New Baztán
This villa was founded in the 18th century. The beauty of its monumental complex has earned it the titles of Historic Artistic Monument and Asset of Cultural Interest. The Goyeneche palace-church is characterized by its harmony, simplicity and austerity. A walk through its streets will take visitors to places of great beauty.
Cities around Madrid
Segovia is a city that is located in the southern part of the autonomous community of Castilla y León, capital of the province of the same name. In 1985, the old city of Segovia and its aqueduct were declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
- Inside the old city environment, that is to say, the old town, There are a variety of historical buildings, both civil and religious, that recall the passage of different cultures through the city. One of the best examples of this cultural diversity is represented by the old synagogue and the Jewish cemetery..
- The aqueduct of Segovia, located in the emblematic Plaza del Azoguejo, is the distinctive symbol of the city. Its construction could be carried out at the end of the 1st century or the beginning of the 2nd century, and it is the most important Roman civil engineering work in Spain. It has a length of 818 meters in its most visible part, although we must not forget that its total route is about 15 km. It consists of more than 170 arches and its highest part measures 29 meters.
- The Alcazar of Segovia, royal palace located on top of a rock between the Eresma and Clamores rivers, appears documented for the first time in 1122, although it is possible that it existed in earlier times. It was one of the favorite residences of the kings of Castile, built in the transition from Romanesque to Gothic, and in which the Mudejar decoration of its spacious rooms stands out. The building is articulated through two courtyards and has two towers, that of the Tribute and that of Juan II.
- The monastery of San Antonio el Real was the former hunting lodge of Enrique IV and later became a convent. Its Mudejar style coffered ceilings are unique, all dating from 1455, all period. The church and the cloister present examples of Mudejar ceilings.
- The Cathedral of Santa María is the last Gothic cathedral to be built in Spain. It is considered the masterpiece of the Basque-Castilian Gothic and is known as "The Lady of the Cathedrals". It is the third cathedral in the city, and preserves the cloister of the second, located in front of the fortress and destroyed during the War of the Communities in 1520. It was enshrined in 1768 and has dimensions of 105 meters long, 50 wide and 33 high in the central nave; consists of 18 chapels and has three access doors.
- The walls of Segovia already existed when the city was taken from the Arabs, moment when it was expanded, reaching a perimeter of 3 kilometres, eighty towers, five doors and several shutters. Its construction was carried out mainly with granite ashlars, although tombstones from the Roman necropolis were also reused. The wall runs through the old town, and currently retains three doors: San Cebrián, of great austerity; Santiago, Mudejar in appearance; and San Andrés, access door to the Jewish quarter.
Ávila is the capital of the homonymous province located in Castilla y León. It is the highest provincial capital in Spain, which causes that in its urban area snowfalls are relatively frequent during winter. Its monuments include several buildings of a religious and civil nature.
- Cathedral of the Savior of Avila. Its construction is between the 12th and 15th centuries. It enjoyed a military and defensive function thanks to its fortified head, whose cimorro is mounted on the very wall of the city. It was initially built in the Romanesque style. At the beginning of the 13th century a Gothic style was adopted in the works. It is one of the buildings that began the penetration of French Gothic in the peninsula and is considered the first Gothic cathedral in Spain.
- The Wall of Ávila is the main monument of the city and its hallmark. It was built between the 11th and 14th centuries. It is the best preserved intact wall in Spain. The fenced space is 31 hectares, has an approximate perimeter of 2516 m, 88 semicircular cubes or towers, 2500 almenas, canvases of 3 m thick, an average height of 12 m and nine doors. It is the largest fully illuminated monument in the world.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a municipality located in the northwest of the Community of Madrid. The town has an important historical-artistic heritage, urban and cultural, fruit of its connection with the Spanish Crown. Part of its monumental complex is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. further, its term has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.
- El Escorial Monastery is one of the main Renaissance monuments in Spain. It was erected in the last third of the 16th century on the slope of Mount Abantos. It occupies an area of more than 33.000 m2 and has 16 courtyards, 9 towers and more than four thousand rooms. Its main facade has a length of 207 meters. Among its most outstanding parts are the Pantheon of the Kings, the Royal Basilica and the Royal Library.
- The Valley of the Fallen is a funerary monument built in the 20th century on the initiative of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. It consists of a cross of 150 meters that presides over a monumental complex consisting of a basilica excavated in the stone, an abbey and an inn.
Capital of the homonymous province located in Castilla La Mancha, Toledo is known as the city of the three cultures for having been populated for centuries by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The historic center of Toledo is surrounded by a wall with several monumental gates, a tower and two bridges that cross the waters of the Tagus River. further, It has several Catholic churches, among which the Gothic cathedral of Santa María stands out; with properties associated with other creeds, like synagogues; with civil architecture like palaces, mansions, plazas, museums, hospitals or theaters; or with military buildings, like castles and fortresses.