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To feel like a beautiful maiden leaning out of a watchtower, a knight in shining armor defending a tower or a prisoner fleeing a fortress on horseback, you don't have to be immersed in reading a medieval novel. The best option is to travel the Routes of the Castles of our region.

The Community of Madrid designed them a long time ago, but it is now when it invites us to follow them in a different way. In addition to a map, locals and tourists will have illustrations of Madrid's six main fortresses, which will be unveiled on the regional government's social media accounts starting next week.

The drawings have been designed by Polinho Trapalleiro, an illustrator and architect from Ourense, who stands out for his great ability to interpret the essence of places on paper.

The castles that star in the illustrations are that of the Coracera, located in San Martín de Valdeiglesias; Gonzalo Chacón, erected in Arroyomolinos; that of the Zapata, of Alameda de Osuna; the Encomiendas Santiaguistas, located in Villarejo de Salvanés, that of the Mendoza, in Buitrago del Lozoya, and the one that the Duke of the Infantado ordered to be built in Manzanares el Real.

Although six have been illustrated, in total, the Routes of the Castles of the Community of Madrid include 20 fortresses, which were built during three stages: the Andalusian era, which covers the eighth and eleventh centuries; the Castilian repopulation, from the XII to the XIV, and the so-called stately, which begins in the fifteenth century and ends in the sixteenth.

The travel proposal through these fortifications totals 468 kilometers and consists of two routes. One runs through the east of the Community and the other the west. These itineraries are, as indicated by the Community of Madrid, "the perfect plan to know the historical and cultural heritage of the region, as well as the beauty of its natural environment".

Through the eastern route, you will discover the Medinas and Almudainas Andalusians erected between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, and the stately castles, which raised the Encomienda Mayor de Castilla in charge of the Order of Santiago. An event that occurred during the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, a period in which the territory was reconquered from the Muslims.

By car, it is estimated that this journey can be completed in three days, investing eight hours in each. They include the walled enclosure and the Castle of the Mendoza of Buitrago del Lozoya, the wall of Talamanca de Jarama and the remains of that of Torrelaguna, the Castle of the Alameda, and the antiquarium and the walls of Alcalá de Henares and Santorcaz. Also, the castles of Torremocha, of the Order of Santiago de Villarejo de Salvanés, of Fuentidueña de Tajo and that of the Counts of Chinchón.

With regard to the western route, during its journey of 251 km., one of the watchtowers that were part of the Umayyad defensive system of the Middle March, to control the northern border, is visited. In addition, the stately fortress of Don Álvaro de Luna, the castles of the Mendoza, in Manzanares El Real, and several towers of the XV are included in the itinerary. These places were used as prisons for nobles, such as the Duchess of Pastrana and Antonio Pérez del Hierro.

A vestige of military architecture

The Castillo de los Zapata is located in Alameda de Osuna and is one of the few vestiges of fifteenth-century military architecture still standing. It was built as a stately castle between the medieval villages of Alameda and Barajas. After being inhabited by Juan Zapata, it was transformed into a Renaissance palace that served as a summer villa for the Madrid aristocracy. During the Civil War, it was used as a fort on the Republican side.

Zapata Castle, in Alameda de Osuna.POLINHO TRAPALLEIRO

New opening of the Castillo de los Mendoza

After being closed for restoration works, the Castillo de los Mendoza de Buitrago de Lozoya reopens its doors to visitors. This place, erected in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and Mudejar style, was fortified by seven towers. It was the residence of the Marquis of Santillana and his family, and hosted on numerous occasions the monarchs John II and Philip III. Also, Queen Juana of Portugal and her daughter, Juana la Beltraneja.

The treasure of the Order of Santiago

One of the most spectacular sunsets that can be seen in the Community of Madrid is the one that is contemplated from the Castle of the Order of Santiago. At the end of the thirteenth century, its first enclosure was built and, later, the fortress, the palace, the moat and the keep. At present, only the latter and the foundations recovered in archaeological excavations remain standing.

The fortress of Gonzalo Chacón

This monument, of Mudejar Gothic style, is part of the Network of Visitable Sites of the Community of Madrid. It began to be built in the second half of the fifteenth century by order of Juan de Oviedo, but the work did not end until the arrival of Don Gonzalo Chacón, Lord of Casarrubios and major butler of Queen Isabella the Catholic. Its purpose was to defend the Lordship of Arroyo de los Molinos. The fortress was composed of a central keep and was surrounded by an antewall and a moat. Inside, there was a parade ground and a barbican with defensive towers at the four corners. In the seventeenth century, the wall of the fortress was dismantled and the moat was filled, but the tower remained standing and was used as a prison, dungeon, shop, barn and tavern.

Castle of Gonzalo Chacón, Arroyomolinos.POLINHO TRAPALLEIRO

The refuge of Don Álvaro de Luna

After being named Constable of Castile, Don Álvaro de Luna bought the monks of the monastery of Santa María la Real, and for 30,000 maravedíes, the town and lordship of San Martín de Valdeiglesias There, he ordered the construction, in 1434, of the Castle of the Coracera, which was the temporary residence of Queen Isabella the Catholic, after being proclaimed heiress of Castile in the Jura de Guisando. After the execution of Don Álvaro de Luna, this place became the property of Gonzalo Chacón and, later, of the ducal house of the Infantado. In the nineteenth century, the owner was the Baron of Sacro Lirio, who undertook reforms and integrated some ornamental elements. Many of them came from the Palace of Villena, located in Cadalso de los Vidrios and also owned by Don Álvaro de Luna.

The best preserved in the Community of Madrid

The Castle of Manzanares de El Real is considered the most beautiful example of Spanish military architecture of the fifteenth century, in addition, it is the best preserved in the Community of Madrid. Construction began in 1475 and represents two eras; the medieval chivalry, for its defensive elements, and the humanist Renaissance, having large halls, decorated facades and viewpoints, more typical of a palace. It has four towers and a Gothic gallery on the first floor, which is considered the most beautiful in Spain. Other of its most outstanding artistic values are the plant, the windows on semicircular arches, the ornaments of the Elizabethan style towers and the inscriptions in low relief of the loopholes with the holy sepulchre of Jerusalem. This castle belongs to the Duke of Infantado, who has ceded it to the Community of Madrid for its management.

Castle of Manzanares El Real.POLINHO TRAPALLEIRO

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