Find out about Madrid mains tourist destinations like El Escorial, Aranjuez and Alcalá de Henares and enjoy Madrid region during your stay learning spanish
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is the most important tourist destination in the country. Each year Madrid receives millions of visitors, both foreigners and Spaniards alike. They come to experience the life of a city that never sleeps and to discover its museums, palaces, gardens, nightclubs, theaters and much more.
However, Madrid offers much more than this. The capital city is located in one of the most beautiful regions of the Iberian Peninsula, near the Guadarrama Mountains and surrounded by forests. In addition to these beautiful natural surroundings, there are also other cities and villages of exceptional splendor in the area around Madrid.
46 km (28.5 miles) from the capital city in the Guadarrama Mountains is the municipality of El Escorial. Here, the Monastery of San Lorenzo de Escorial was ordered to be built in the 16th century by King Philip II, where he spent the last years of his life. More than just a monastery, San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a complex that occupies an area of over 33,327 m² (358,728 ft²) along the northern side of Mount Abantos and consists of a palace, a basilica and a monastery.
The palace was the residence of the Spanish Royal Family and consists of rooms decorated modestly by order of the King. The King's bedroom features a window which opens to the interior of the church so that the monarch could follow the Mass from his bed when he was unable to attend because he suffered from the medical condition gout.
Located within the basilica is a crypt where all the kings of Spain since the Emperor Charles I are buried with the exception of: Philip V, Fernando VI, Amadeo I de Saboya and José I Bonaparte.
Nowadays the monastery is home to the Agustinos monks.
Aranjuez is a town located in the southern part of the Community of Madrid. It is famous for its gardens and also because one of the Royal Palaces is located there. The town was given the title of a “Royal Site” by King Philip II in 1560.
It is a place of unique exquisiteness where you can enjoy all its monuments and gardens on foot. Aranjuez inspired the grand composer Joaquín Rodrigo to compose El Concierto de Aranjuez.
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez has a similar architectural style as El Escorial, both having been ordered by King Philip II to be designed by the same architects: Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera.
Alcalá de Henares is a municipality situated to the east of the Community of Madrid and home to one of the most famous universities in the world, the University of Alcalá. It has a population of around 200,000 habitants and is only 31 km (19 miles) from Madrid.
Alcalá's first occupants date back to the Paleolithic Age but the town did not become important until the 15th century, when the university was founded in 1499 by Cardinal Cisneros, who had been given a papal bull (special permission) from Pope Alexander VI. However, the University's roots go back to the 13th century with the General Studies program in Spain (The General Study program was a type of license used to grant a population the privilege of offering university courses outside of the university entity).
The Univeristy of Alcalá quickly began to compete with the University of Salamanca and boasted famous students such as Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, San Juan de la Cruz, San Ignacio de Loyola and Juan de Valdés, among others. Alcalá de Henares is also the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote de la Mancha, a universally recognized masterpiece of literature.
The historical center of Alcalá was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998 and is one of the cities in the Community of Madrid with the most tourism.