El EscorialBeyond the boundaries of Madrid's metropolis are many villages and towns of interest to travelers.
The former royal summer residence of Aranjuez is la unique town aid out in a geometrical plan with Baroque and Rococo palaces, and extensive gardens.
The Puerta de Hierro, a notable example of 18th C. Spanish Court architecture, stands beside N VI, the trunk road which runs NW to La Coruña, at the point where the El Pardo road branches off. It was built, as was the Puente de San Fernando (which still carries some of the traffic for El Pardo), during the reign of Ferdinand VI (1746-59), when the royal hunting reserve of El Pardo was surrounded by a wall 2.50m (8ft) high, 0.8m (2-1/2ft) thick and 10km (6mi) long.The Puerta de Hierro, the entrance gateway to the royal hunting reserve, was the work of two architects, Francisco Nangle and Francisco Moradillo, and the sculptor Olivieri, and, like so many other buildings of this period, was built of granite and white Colmenar limestone. Work started in 1751 but went on until 1753, costing the then considerable sum of 100,000 reals.
Alcala de Henares, Spain
La Zarzuela Palace
The predecessor of the Royal Palace of La Zarzuela was a country house on the estate of that name, between Madrid and El Pardo, which was purchased in 1625 by Don Fernando, brother of Philip IV. On this property, which passed into the hands of the King some years later, Juan Gómez de Mora built a hunting lodge in the Italian style. The house was altered during the reign of Charles IV, but was completely destroyed during the Civil War.The present Palace of La Zarzuela, built in the 1950s and now the residence of the royal family, is a functional modern building which bears only the most distant resemblance to the old Habsburg hunting lodge.
El Escorial, Spain
Hipódromo de la Zarzuela
The Hipódromo de la Zarzuela, Madrid's racecourse, lies northwest of the city, near the wooded country of El Pardo and the Puerta de Hierro. Regular race-meetings and riding tournaments are held here. The Hipódromo is an interesting example of the architecture of the 1930s. The racecourse, which has an area of 111 hectares (275 acres), has been owned since 1941 by the Society for the Promotion of Horse-Breeding.
Air Force Museum
Headquarters of the Airforce and hangers in Cuarto Vientos (aircraft, weapons, uniforms, etc.)The majority of the collection was gathered by General franco and was kept private until shortly after his death. Numerous examples of aircraft have been obtained, most being from post World War II.
Address: Paseo de Extremadura, E-28024 Madrid, Spain
Cuenca Alta del Manzanares
The southern slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama, near Madrid, occupy the upper basin of the Manzanares, a mountain region rising to 2,380m/7,810ft in which pine forests predominate, giving place at higher altitudes to scrub and grass. The forest is the habitat of roe deer and wild pigs.
Fundacion Infante de Orleans
The Fundacion Infante de Orleans was setup in 1990 to honor Don Alfonso Orleans y Borbon, one of the pioneers of military aviation.Numerous aircraft have been obtained and many are in excellent condition. Flights of the planes are regularly conducted on the first Sunday of each month.
Address: Aeropuerto Cuatro Vientos Apdo. 9349, E-28044 Madrid, Spain
Sierra de Guadarrama
El Pardo, Spain
The Palace of El Pardo is the former residence of General Franco. Originally built in the 15th C., the palace was later destroyed and rebuilt. It is now open to the public and features tapestries, frescos and important pieces of art.
La Quinta del Duque de Arco
The neo-classical gardens are laid out on two terraces with pool and fountain in the center, and surrounded by walls with niches for statues and ornamental urns.
Palacio del Pardo
Palacio del Pardo planted fruit trees, specially cherries. There is a drive flanked by parterres with a semi-circular parterre in front of the palace.
Address: Manuel Alonso, E-28048 Madrid, Spain
A nostalgic journey is from Madrid (Puerta de Atocha) to Aranjuez. Between May and October the "Tren de la Fresa", a locomotive from the Madrid railroad museum pulls carriages dating from 1914 three times daily to Aranjuez.
Passengers who have to change at Madrid Airport should bear in mind when making their bookings that it takes around an hour to transfer to another flight.