The autonomous region of Madrid
In the autonomous Spanish region of Madrid, you will, of course, find the capital of the same name, but the region has so much more to offer. Around the capital, you will find beautiful historic cities, unique villages and amazing natural areas, such as the impressive Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range.
The Madrid region is the geographical centre of Spain and is sandwiched between the Castile and León and Castile – La Mancha regions. About 5.5 million people live there, 3 million of them in and around the capital. Madrid has a moderate continental climate with warm springs and summers, long mild autumn periods and not too cold winters. Nevertheless, enough snow falls in the surrounding mountains in winter to make it a popular winter sports area.
The capital of Madrid is located in the centre of the region. The city is open and cosy and loved by tourists. In the centre, you will find the Puerta de Alcalá, the historic gatehouse from which the road to Alcalá de Henares once started. Nowadays the symbol stands for the Madrid that opens itself to the rest of the world. In addition to the gate, the city has several impressive monumental buildings and places, such as the royal palace and the “Plaza Mayor” town square. The so-called “triangle of art” is also famous: a short distance from each other you will find the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Art Center.
The Madrid region has a rich cultural heritage. Three of the historic towns in this region are on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Aranjuez, Alcala de Henares and San Lorenzo del Escorial.
Aranjuez is located south of Madrid, where the Tagus and the Jarama meet. Until 1752 this was the residence of the Spanish kings, and it played an essential role during the Enlightenment. Several buildings and places in Aranjuez are recognized as world heritage sites, including the former residence of the Spanish king, Palacio Real de Aranjuez, the church of San Antonio, also known as “Mariblanca”, and the intact Plaza de Toros, the bullfight arena.
The city of Alcala de Henares to the east of Madrid is worth a visit because of its beautiful historic centre of Roman origin. In San Lorenzo del Escorial you will find the Escorial, an immense complex with a royal palace, abbey and royal mausoleum, built by Fillips II. This, and the valley of the fallen, make San Lorenzo del Escorial popular among tourists. The Valley of the Fallen is a controversial monument to the victims of the Spanish Civil War, then built by forced labourers led by Franco himself.