All young children love castles. Dani certainly does. So, this weekend we took a relatively short trip to one of the best in Spain.
Manzanares El Real
Manzanares El Real is a small town in the foothills of Sierra de Guadarrama, about 40km from Madrid Like all small towns in the mountains it has its own charm. But what sets this place apart is the best-preserved castle in the region and surely one of the best in Spain.
The Castle of Manzanares El Real is a real gem. From the outside it looks every bit the classic 15th century castle. Inside you can walk through the well-preserved function rooms where 17th and 18th century artwork adorn the walls.
First built in 1475 by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza in Elizabethan Gothic style the castle was initially a military fortress. But within a few years the Mendoza family made it their home. Diego’s eldest son Iñigo finished the build. However, in less than a century, following Iñigo’s death, the castle was empty.
The castle is bounded on one side by the Santillana reservoir with the panoramic views of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain ridge to the other. The reservoir was constructed in 1906 with a second higher dam built in 1969. It is an important source of Madrid’s water supply. Incidentally, when you look out across the reservoir you can just make out a much more modern kind of castle. Built to keep people in, rather than keep them out. The Soto de Real prison, built in 1995.
The renovation and restoration work began in 1914 and it is clear that the improvements have been both extensive and effective. The work continues. Funded by the Community of Madrid.
Now there’s a Coincidence!
As luck would have it there was a craft beer festival in the village square the very same day. Dani’s second beer festival – if anyone is counting. Not that he samples any of the produce of course.
It was not a huge event – only 8 beer makers’ stalls – but something different. I had only ever heard of one of the brewers so definitely worthwhile. Naturally a few beers were tasted. It would have been rude not to. Then, after a short walk it was back to Madrid and an early night. Because tomorrow is the annual road race in aid of the Hospital de Niño Jesus, children’s hospital located opposite the Retiro park near the centre of the city. Dani’s second time but my first…