Great city trip Madrid: the region of Madrid, situated in the middle of the Peninsula, is also its economic, financial and service centre. This is the region where the capital of the country is located: a cosmopolitan and modern city with a rich historical legacy and a social dynamism that lends a particular appeal to its cultural, touristic and leisure opportunities.
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Unforgettable places with unique appeal can be found in Madrid, such as the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, considered one of the eight wonders of the world; the Aranjuez Royal Residence, inspiration for the famous concert of the same name and which was declared a World Heritage Cultural Landscape by UNESCO, and Alcalá de Henares, a renaissance town declared a World Heritage Site.
In addition, the excellent location of the capital makes it possible to visit universally renowned cities such as Ávila, Segovia, and Toledo, all less than one hour away. In addition to these tourist attractions, Madrid is equipped with quite a modern infrastructure for transport, communications, accommodation and services, which has turned the city into an important international business and conference centre.
- Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial The huge granite rectangular edifice, topped with four spiral towers, is a forbidding sight in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial about 30 miles (50km) northwest of Madrid. The monastery/church/palace complex was built by Philip II as a memorial to his father, Charles V, and contains some of El Greco’s and Hieronymus Bosch’s artworks. A vaulted library contains a priceless collection of more than 60,000 ancient books. The monastery itself houses a wealth of paintings and tapestries, and the mausoleum beneath the church’s altar serves as a burial place for Spanish kings.
- Aranjuez Royal Residence
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez, located on the side of the Tajo River, was built in 1561 by King Philip II as a royal summer residence. The palace was rebuilt by the Bourbon King Fernando VI in the 18th century after it was destroyed by fire. To the east lies the Parterre Garden, and to the north the Island Garden (located on an island). Further to the east lies the late 18th century Prince Garden with the smaller palace of Casa del Labrador. The town of Aranjuez, next to the palace, has several historical monuments as well.
- Alcalá de Henares
The city of Alcalá de Henares, where Miguel de Cervantes was born (1547) and lived for many years, was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in December 1998, because it was the first university city in the world, planned to be a university city. It was founded by Cardinal Cisneros en 1499.
Alcalá de Henares is situated about 30 km from Madrid.