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Torrelaguna. Buitrago. Rascafría

We now go to the vicinity of the Jarama River, on A-I, going through the villages on the outskirts of Madrid, such as Alcobendas or San Sebastián de los Reyes. Getting off of the national highway in Fuente del Fresno, we turn off to the right, onto M-100 and immediately to the left onto M-111. We make a brief stop in Fuente del Saz with a XIII century church monument in which a painting by Francisco Rizzi is displayed. Leaving Talamanca behind, we go to Torrelaguna where we can find a very important group of monuments. Patones de Arriba, a village between ghostly and picturesque, close to Torrelaguna, is isolated from the world and from civilisation, which makes it a quaint place for a brief visit. Continuing on M-131, we get into rough terrain that takes us to El Berrueco, where we leave the regional highway, going into the Northern Mountains with its typical mountain villages like Cervera, Robledillo, Berzosa, Serrada and Paredes de Buitrago. Then, through Prádena del Rincón and Montejo de la Sierra, once past Horcajuelo, a very typical village, we get into a series of local highways, full of attractive scenery and characteristic views, to come to the capital of the Northern Mountains, Buitrago de Lozoya. Arab walls facing the river, a deep ravine, the dismantled towers of a castle in the background, and receiving us a beautiful doublearched gateway. Once there, the church of Santa María del Castillo, built between the end of the XV century and the beginning of the XVI century, is a must to be seen.

Not far away is Rascafría. It is one of the important villages in the valley, its church having been restored and its plaza dominated by an enormous tree.

The most interesting aspect of Rascafría, however, is its neighbour, the Paular Monastery, founded in the XIV century. Several different architectural styles, from Gothic and Mudejar to baroque can be detected in the monastery as well as in the church. From Rascafría we return to Madrid on N-I. We leave on A-4 going toward the Cerro de los Angeles, the geometric centre of Spain. Pinto has an interesting old district out of which the Santo Domingo de Silos church rises, with a plateresque altarpiece and pulpit. Following our itinerary, we come to Valdemoro, where we should visit the Iglesia de la Asunción, from the XVII century, the Convent of the Clarisas and the Hermitage of the Cristo de la Salud, from the XVIII century.

Taking M-404, we soon come to Ciempozuelos where the church of Santa María Magdalena stands in the plaza. It is from the XVII century and is built from white rock coming from Colmenar de Oreja. Going toward Aranjuez, we go past Titulcia where the mysterious Moon Cave is found. We change to M-320 and pass by Villaconejos with its melon patches, coming to the Royal Site of Aranjuez next to the fertile plains of the Tagus. Toward the end of the Middle Ages, Aranjuez was chosen as the Royal Site. The monuments most appreciated there are the Royal Palace, built of brick and white rock, the Casa del Labrador, a small, neo-classic palace whose decoration is a mixture of rococo, imperial and Pompey styles.

The gardens are French style, full of avenues, flower gardens, sculptures, fountains and rare species of trees brought in by the express desire of Carlos IV. Besides its monumental beauty, Aranjuez possesses many other treasures. All of Aranjuez, its streets, its plazas and its gardens, leave you with a feeling of serenity after having contemplated its marvellous remaining bits of the past. We continue the itinerary taking the exit to Torregón de Velasco, a village that has a beautiful plaza. Then we come to Torregón de la Calzada, Casarrubuelos, Cubas de la Sagra and Batres, where we can admire the ruins of its medieval castle and walls. Leaving Griñón, we take local highway M-405 to go to Leganés, passing through Humanes and Fuenlabrada. There you must see the parish church San Salvador, which has three altarpieces from Churriguera.

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