Madrid Royal Palace and Mayor Plaza – 5/12/2018

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

Miriam Beard

Our first full day in Madrid and we set out to explore.  Max, Ava and I wandered around the Plaza Mayor while Andrew found somewhere to repair his watch band.  The plaza is very austere and was completed during 1620 during Felipe III reign.  The plaza has quite a history being the site of burning of heretics, the canonization of saints, executions of criminals, royal marriages and even bullfights. 

As its near Christmas time the plaza has stalls set up selling everything for Christmas from trees, holly, ornaments and nativity scenes.

I think the most interesting building in the Plaza is the gray spired building covered in murals.  Apparently the building is called Casa de la Panaderia, (bakery house) in honor of the bread shop which was once housed there.  The building is now a tourist office.

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We continued down to the Royal Palace to watch the changing of the guard, similar to that held at Buckingham Palace.  The ceremony is only held on the first Wednesday of the month so we were fortunate to be able to see it.  The changing of the guard incorporates about 400 people, many of whom are part of the band.  Also involved in the ceremony are about 100 horses, some looked like Andalusian and others some form of draft horse.  It was a very grand and pompous event.

When the Palace re-opened at 2 pm we went on a guided tour of some of the 2 800 rooms in the Palace.  Having a guide was great and a lot of the hidden details you would never notice, like a table top covered in mosaic pieces so tiny you would never have known it was a mosaic or details about the chandeliers.

The palace was built in the early 18th century by Felipe V.  Apparently Felipe spent some of his childhood at Versailles while visiting his grandfather Louis XIV which inspired his design of the Palace. 

Apart from the entrance and the first couple of rooms, you are not allowed to take photographs, which is a shame because some of the rooms are so remarkably over the top opulent you want to capture them to share with others.  Some of the most spectacular rooms were in King Carlos III’s private apartments with their crystal chandeliers, stucco and painted ceilings, silk wallpaper and tapestries.

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The banquet hall which although the palace’s largest room it was originally three different rooms which have since been remodelled into one.  The table can seat up to 124 people, which takes up the entire room but can be adjusted to a much smaller size.  The current king uses this room when dignitaries visit.

During the tour we visited a room which houses five-stringed by Antonio Stradivari.  In order to keep the quality of these instruments they have to be played every two months and are often performed in concerts held at the palace.  Apparently one of Stradivari’s instruments sold for approximately $12 million dollars.

We did visit the Armería Real (Royal Armory), with historic suits of armor although by this stage everyone was getting tired so we did a cursory look.

On our way back to our apartment we stopped for a Spanish delicacy thick hot chocolate with churros.  I have to say it was very rich and filling I don’t we will be doing it often.

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Royal Palace Tourist Information

Opening Hours:

  • Winter hours: October to March │ 10 am – pm
  • Summer Hours: April to September │ 10 am – 8 pm
  • Closed: January 1st, 6th, May 1st, October 12th until 5 pm, December 24th from 3 pm, 25th, 31st from 3 pm

Price:

  • Adults – €10 │ Children aged 5 – 16 years, Students up to 25 years, people over 65 years – €5 │ Children under 5 years old – free

Duration of Visit:

  • Approximate time for visits without a guide to the halls – 45 minutes, the Royal armoury – 30 minutes

Guide:

  • There are guides at the palace which charge €4 on top of the entrance fee to guide you through the palace and very worth doing.  I think our tour went for about an hour and half.
  • Alternatively you can get a google play guide download for your phone for your visit for $1.90 in 16 different languages.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gvam.palacio

Madrid – 6/12/2018

We had a very early start at about 3 am with lots of loud chatting on the street below, about an hour later there was even more people below and more noise.  By 5 am we gave up trying to sleep and Andrew googled if there was any special events today, turns out it was Spanish Constitution Day.

So what is Spanish Constitution Day?  It is a public holiday held on the 6th December and celebrates the Spanish people’s approval of the constitution in 1978.  After the death of Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco in 1975, a general election took place to convene a parliament whose purpose was to draft and approve the constitution.  The constitution was accepted by the Spanish people in a referendum held on the 6th of December and then proclaimed formally by King Juan Carlos on the 27th of December 1978.  The Constitution set out how the government would be run, its powers and the system that Spain would operate on.

We set off to continue our tour of Madrid beginning at the Basicilica de San Francisco el Grande only to discover it, like many other tourist attractions were closed for the holiday.  We did however get a great view of the Catedral de la Almudena, which we had visited the previous day.

Top and bottom left: Catedral de la Almudena; Bottom right: Basicilica de San Francisco el Grande

We continued walking back to the San Miguel Market, which we had visited briefly the day before and where the kids enjoyed strawberries and cream and Andrew some white anchovies.

After leaving the market we headed down to see the fountains, by now the crowds had grown considerably and was somewhat reminiscent of Oxford Street at Christmas time, something Max and Ava have never experienced.  In fact many streets were blocked off and there was a few small protest groups amongst the crowds.  We did pass one of the many sweet stores selling marzipan and saw this amazing building in the window.

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The first fountain was the Neptune Fountain which was commissioned by  King Charles III, in an effort to modernise the city and was constructed between 1780 and 1784.  Surrounding the fountain are many beautiful buildings many of which are now hotels.  Because of Constitution Day events there was a heavy police presence and you couldn’t get very close to the fountain.

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We wandered through the park, where the trees still have their autumn leaves and we are in winter now to reach the Cibeles Fountain.  The fountain is a symbolic monument of Spain and is named after Cybele, a Phyrgian goddess, who I’m guessing is represented as the female in the chariot.

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Cibeles Fountain with Linares Palace in the background

The Cibeles Fountain was constructed in 1782 and is surrounded by four beautiful buildings, the Buena vista Palace (the Army Headquarters), Linares Palace (the Casa de América cultural institution,), Palacio de Comunicaciones (which is now Madrid City Hall and can be seen in the photo below) and the Bank of Spain.

Bank of Spain and Palacio de Comunicaciones that surround the Cibeles Fountain.

I have to say the crowds did not thin and by evening it was packed and we were quite happy to retreat to our apartment after a late paella lunch.

Cuenca and Ciudad Encantada – 8/12/2018

We had an early morning start at 8 am as it was a 2 1/2 hour drive and I must admit we were a little worried that it was going to be a repeat of yesterday, as once again there was heavy fog.  Luckily as we got closer to Cuenca the fog lifted. 

Cuenca (pronounced Quenca) is a magical sight, standing dramatically above the Rio Huecar gorge with its famous “hanging houses” clinging to steep, rocky slopes. There is free parking once you drive through the city near the ruins of the Castillo, which coincidentally also offers fantastic views over the city and bridge from a nearby outlook. 

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Its an easy down hill walk through the city gates, with amazing views over the gorge to reach the town centre.

Cuenca is a medieval town first settled by the Moors because of its defensive position and remains a beautiful, medieval fortified city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is easy to spend a couple of hours wandering its cobblestone lanes, town square, cathedral and brightly coloured mansions.  There are many quiet corners and picturesque alleyways waiting to be explored and of course fantastic views along the way.

From the town centre we wandered back uphill a small way to reach the ‘hanging houses’.  The hanging houses or Casas Colgadas are a set of three buildings that were constructed in the 15th century on top of a wall of natural stone, in order to maximise the living space in Cuenca during the middle ages.  The balconies of the houses are made  of wood and stone and protrude over the gorge. Today one of the houses is a Museum of Spanish Art and is open to the public, where you can get a glimpse of the interior of one of these homes and the view over the gorge.  Entrance is € 3.

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We continued on to the San Pablo Bridge, a beam bridge made of iron and wood and constructed in 1902.  The 60 metre long bridge links the city of Cuenca and the Convent of San Pablo, now called the Parador Cuenca (a hotel).  The San Pablo Bridge replaced the original bridge that was made of stone, between 1533 and 1589, that collapsed after a heavy snowstorm.  The bridge offers one of the best views of the hanging houses.

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San Pablo Bridge

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City of Cuenca and the Parador Cuenca (Convent of San Pablo)

After lunch we drove about 1/2 an hour to reach Ciudad Encantada (Enchanted City) which is located in a canyon within the Serrania de Cuenca National Reserve.  The Enchanted City is a series of unusual rock formation that were formed over the centuries by ice, wind and water.  

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After entering the park you are given a map which directs you through the most famous of the rock formations which have been named after humans, objects and animals.  Some are much more recognizable than others.  The walking route takes about an hour and half to complete the 3 kilometers and is not particularly strenuous.  How many of the rock formations can you recognize?

The rock formations here are the face, the seal and two bears.

By favourite rock formation was the convent, not because it looked like one, but because of the way the light was hitting the rock.

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Surrounding the rock formations is a range of vegetation including oaks, juniper, box trees and bramble.  Ava spotted this interesting cobweb in one of the trees.

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Tourist Information:

Ciudad Encantada (Enchanted City)

Opening Hours:

  • 25th March – 22nd June: 10 am – 8 pm │ 23rd June – 2nd September: 10 am – 9 pm │ 3rd September – 16th September: 10 am – 8.30 pm │ 17th September – 30th September: 10 am – 8 pm │ 1st October – 27th October: 10 am – 7.30 pm (I have emailed about winter opening times)

Price:

  • Adults – €5 │ Over 65, children aged 8 – 12 years – €4

http://www.ciudadencantada.es/en/home65055753724275

Segovia – 10/12/2018

Today we did the hour long drive to Segovia, it was one of the places I had been really looking forward to seeing and it did not disappoint.  Segovia, like a lot of European cities, has limited parking, resulting in a bit of an uphill hike to reach the alcazaba.  But has you walk through one of the ancient gates and get your first glimpse, you realise it was worth it. 

The Alcazaba of Segovia is set on the side of a rocky crag with steep drop offs on two of its sides, which aided in it being an impenetrable fortress.  It’s turreted towers which were made of slate, resemble those on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland.

This is the first fortress I have seen with the elaborate patterns on the external walls, which seem to be influenced by the Moorish in-habitation of Spain.  Also interesting are the lumps of black slag that are embedded in most of the walls of the Alcazaba, according to our audio guide it was a decorative feature which originated from Segovia.

The fortress dates back to the 12th century, when it served as the royal residence of King Alfonso VIII.  It was later enhanced by his successors, John II and Henry IV, during the 13th century.  The Alcazaba was also the place for historical events like the wedding of Philip II and Anne of Austria in the Alcazaba’s Chapel and a fire in 1862 which destroyed many rooms which were later restored.  One of my favourite rooms with not only an elaborate coffered ceiling but a frieze of gold plated statues of 52 Kings and Queens of Asturias, Leon and Castilla starting with Don Pelayo and ending with Joanna the Mad.  Below each of the statues is a brief biography of them. 

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Other notable rooms in the Alcazaba include the royal chamber, the chapel where Phillip II and Anne wed, the throne room and another favourite of mine the Hall of the Galley with a large mural depicting the coronation of Isabella of Castile.  The end of the tour takes you into the weoponry room a must see for all those want to be knights.

As well as the interior there are courtyards both internal complete with statues and external, where you can see the turrets close up.

At the entrance and exit of the Alcazaba is a fabulous view of the town and Segovia Cathedral.  From the exit it is an easy walk along some of the city walls with their crenellations and views looking back over the Alcazaba.  There is also an option to climb the stairs near San Andre Gate where you can walk along some of the higher walls with views over the cathedral and jewish quarter of the city.

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Another major attraction in Segovia is the rather ornate cathedral.  We did not visit the interior but the exterior was pretty impressive.

To get a really good view of the castle we stopped at the Mirador de la Pradera de San Marcos.

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Tourist Information:

Sergovia Alcazaba

Price:

  • Full Entry – Palace Rooms, Artillery Museum, Torre de Juan II (views over Sergovia) – €8
  • Palace and Artillery Museum – €5.50 │ Children aged 5 – 16, over 65: €3.50
  • Tower of Juan II – €2.50
  • Audio guide – €3

Opening Hours:

  • Summer time: April to October │ 10 am – 8 pm
  • Winter time: November to March │ 10 am to 6 pm
  • Closed 24th December (from 2.30 pm), 25th December, 31st Deceber (starting at 2.30 pm), 1st January, 5th January (starting at 2.30 pm, 6th January

Contact Information:

Cathedral Segovia

Price:

  • Adults – €3 │ Under 10 – free │ Seniors over 65, large families, groups 20+ (I think it includes students under 25): €2.50

Opening Hours:

  • November to March │ 9.30 am – 18.30 pm (6.30 pm)
  • April to October │ 9 am – 7.30 pm

Contact Information:

http://catedralsegovia.es/en/horarios-y-tarifas

San Andres Gate Walls

There are some walls you can walk around for free but if you wish to venture on the walls above the San Andres Gate you need to visit the tourist office for the code to the gate.  See the information below for more details:

Opening Hours:

  • The tourist point at San Andres Gate is open from 11 am – 3 pm

Price:

  • Monday – Friday – Free
  • Saturday and Sunday: €1
  • To hire an audio guide is €5 per person per day

Contact Information:

  • 2 – 3 Plaza del Socorro, Segovia

Salamanca – 11/12/2018

Today we drove out to the university town of Salamanca in the north-western part of Spain.  I expected a small town like Cambridge, but it is actually quite a sprawling town.

Our first stop, after a quick snack was the cathedrals.  It is actually composed of two cathedrals, aptly named the new cathedral (Catedral Nueva) and the old cathedral. 

The new cathedral’s construction began in the 16th century but was not completed until the 18th century which is why it culminates in a range of architecture from Gothic, Plateresque and Baroque.  One of the cathedral’s most notable features is its 110 metre high tower, topped with a beautiful dome.

The new cathedral houses an exhibition of contemporary religious artwork featuring Jesus’s life.

The two cathedrals are linked and you move seamlessly into the old cathedral. The old cathedral was constructed in Romanesque style between 1100 and 1200 AD.  Probably the most notable feature of the church is the rerdos with 53 scenes illustrating the life of Jesus.  But what I like best was the small painting above the rerdos of Jesus’s judgement where below him there are a group of people dressed in white that are going to heaven and then another naked group of people walking into a serpent’s mouth entering hell.

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Leaving the cathedral you enter the area of the Salamander University, which was Spain’s first university.  The university was built in 1218 and modeled after the university in Bologna in Italy. During the middle ages the university was one of Europe’s most important learning centers. The university continued to grow between the 15th to 18th centuries with additional buildings added.  Salamander, like Oxford and Cambridge is a university town and attracts not only Spanish students but also a lot of foreign ones. 

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Walking through the old part of the city which is dominated by university buildings we passed the 17th century Baroque church, the Clerecia.  Originally the Clerecia was both a church and a Jesuit ecclesiastic college, today it is the headquarters of Salamanca Pontificia University.

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On our way to the market we did a detour to Casa de las Conchas or the House of Shells.  The Renaissance palace was built in the 15th century for Talavera Maldonado, who was a knight of the Order of Santiago.  The palace’s most notable feature is the 300 carved scallop shells that decorate its facade.  Today the mansion now houses the Salamanca Public Library.  Max and I revisited the palace later as it was the only place we could find that had a bathroom.  The palace’s courtyard is also quite impressive with its arches and decorative frieze.

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We had a wander around the market, expecting that it might sell tapas or have some food stalls, but it didn’t.  So lunch was from one of the many shops selling iberico ham.  Max and Ava sampled some Hornazo pie which is pie with layers of pork loin and chorizo, while Andrew and I had iberico baguettes.

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We ended our tour of Salamanca by taking a walk down to the Roman Bridge for its wonderful views over both the old and new cathedrals.  

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The bridge spans the River Tomes and is believed to have been constructed during the 1st century AD under the Roman Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus.  The bridge is 176 metres in length and is made up of 26 arches, it is a pedestrian only bridge.

Returning to the car park we passed the impressive Convento de San Esteban.  We did not go inside, Ava had definitely seen enough C’s (churches) as she calls it, but it had a very elaborate facade with Plateresque decorations.

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Tourist Information

The Cathedrals 

Opening Hours: 

  • Summer: April to September │ Daily: 10 am – 8 pm
  • Winter: October to March │ Daily: 10 am – 6 pm
  • 24th and 31st December: 10 am to 2 pm
  • 1st January, 25th December: closed

Price: (includes the entrance for both the new and old cathedrals that are linked together and an audio guide)

  • Adults: €5 │ Groups 20+ people, pensioners, students and unemployed: € 4 │ Children from 7 – 16 years: € 3 │ Unemployed: €1.50 (audio guide included)

House of Shells

Opening Hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 9 am to 9 pm │ Saturday: 9 am to 2 pm/ 5 pm to 8 pm │ Sunday and Bank holidays: 10 am to 2 pm/ 5 pm to 8 pm

Price

  • Free entrance (its a public library so any one can enter and it has bathrooms)

La Grandja Palace and Segovia Aqueduct – 12/12/2018

Our plan to visit Coca Castle and then La Grandja Palace had to be re-arranged after we set out and discovered the fog was too thick to see the castle, so we continued onto the palace. 

La Grandja Palace is located about 11 km from Segovia, (where we had visited a couple of days ago) in a small town called San Ildefonso, which is nestled in the Sierra de Guadarrama. It was Philip V who chose San Ildefonso as the site for the palace and modeled it on Louis XIV’s Versailles.  The palace was built between 1721 and 1739.

As it was winter and mid week, there was plenty of parking very close to the palace.  Walking into the grounds, the first thing you notice is the huge, old trees, which according to signs they range in age from over 100 years to 144 years old.  Behind the trees is the chapel and entrance to the palace.  We opted for an audio guide to tell us the history of the place.

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The palace is beautiful with its painted stucco ceilings, exquisite furnishings, superb French, Flemish and Spanish tapestries and of course gorgeous chandeliers.  What I found interesting though was that Philip V suffered bouts of depression and was actually quite reliant on his second wife from Italy, Isabella, to guide his decisions.  The fact that Philip and Isabella didn’t follow royal protocol of having separate bedrooms, but instead had a shared room and paintings which depict Philip looking at Isabella, seems to show a genuine love between the two. 

 

Surrounding the palace are beautiful French style formal gardens.  Unfortunately due to it being winter, the fountains were not running and the statues were covered throughout the gardens, but regardless the gardens are impressive and I can only imagine how spectacular they must be in spring and summer, when they are in full bloom.

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I personally think the palace was wonderful and well worth a visit.  Surrounding the palace is a cute little town, we stopped at the La Chocolateria for a hot chocolate, before having a brief wander through the market which was open while we visited and ending at Dumbo’s pizza restaurant for a late lunch.

Our return trip took us through Segovia and so we decided to make a stop to see the aqueduct, which we had missed on our previous trip.  The Roman aqueduct is believed to have been built during Flavio’s reign, around 50 AD.  The aqueduct stretches 14 kilometers to channel water from the Frio River in the Sierra de Fuenfria Mountains to Segovia.  There is approximately 20 400 granite blocks used in the construction, with little or no mortar used to create the 167 arches that vary in height and adapt to the contours of the land.  We stopped briefly on route into Segovia and then again in the Plaza del Azoguejo for photos.

 

Unfortunately our plan to visit Coca Castle on our way home, was once again thwarted with the return of the fog.  Oh well, maybe another day.

Information on the places we visited:

Palacio Real la Grandja

Price:

  • Adult – €9 │ children: 5- 16 years, Adults 65+, students under 25: €4 │ Children under 5: free │ Wednesdays/Thursdays (October to March: 3 pm – 6 pm)/(April to September: 5 pm – 8 pm): free

Opening Hours:

  • Winter │ October to March │ Tuesday to Sunday │ 10 am – 6 pm
  • Summer │April to September │ Tuesday to Sunday │ 10 am – 8 pm
  • Closed on Mondays
  • Closed 1st, 6th and 23rd of January, 1st May, 24th, 25th and 31st of December

Contact:

Dumbo’s Pizza Restaurant

The friendly restaurant owner has an extensive menu of pizzas, burgers, salads and pasta dishes.  The food was delicious and well priced. 

http://www.pizzadumbo.com/

La Chocolateria

We had delicious hot chocolate and cheesecake and friendly staff.  They don’t seem to have a website but I’ve included the address below:

Plaza de Espana 940100 La Granja de San Ildefonso, Spain

 

 

El Escorial and Avila – 14/12/2018

El Escorial or as its officially known, Monasterio y Sitio de El Escorial en Madrid, is a royal city.  The Royal City is composed of a monastery, an official royal residence and a basilica. 

One of the most impressive rooms in El Escorial is most definitely the library.  The room’s vaulted ceiling is adorned with beautifully painted frescoes and is filled with thousands of rare and old books and globes.  What Andrew found interesting was that instead of storing the books with their spine facing outward, they were in fact stored with the pages facing out.  This has led me to find out why books were stored that way.  It turns out it allows the pages to breathe better and as the gold leaf on the page edges repels bugs, it therefore preserves the books better.

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We visited the basilica and although it had painted ceilings it seemed somewhat plain in comparison to others we have seen in Spain.  From the Basilica we wandered through the monastery before seeing the chambers where the kings, emperors and their families have been buried from the last 500 years.  The kings and their wives had a special chamber, reached by descending a long staircase and appeared to made of dark marble .  The Kings were entombed on one side and the wives on another.

Entrance to Basilica and Monastery

Inside the Monastery 

Burial chamber of minor royals on left and entrance to the kings and Queens Burial Chamber

Max and I wandered through the Royal Palace of the Bourbons, which is richly decorated in tapestries, apparently to help insulate the rooms in the winter time.  What we found really interesting was the shallow metal bowl shaped dishes in most of the rooms.  Max guessed they were for fires and after asking one of the security people, she told us that he was right.  We did see one fireplace but I think that was it.  I wonder if that was the cause of one of the fires they had there.

Carrying on from El Escorial, we headed through the mountains to a wonderful viewpoint of El Escorial and its town.

We continued on through the mountains and windswept plains to reach the medieval walled city of Avila.  Although a modern town obscures part of the walls of the old town, there are still plenty that remain as they did in the middle ages.

After the Christians conquered the Moors and retook Avila, the son in law of Alfonso VI, Raimundo de Borgona had rectangular shaped walls constructed around the circumference of the city, for defensive reasons to prevent Avila being retaken. Construction of the 2 557 meters of stone walls with crenelated towers and round turrets every 20 meters to observe invaders, as well as 9 entrance gates, began in 1090 and took 9 years to complete. The short construction time was largely due to the 1900 men employed to build it.  The average height of the walls is around 12 meters and it is quite a site to behold such a large structure, it certainly looks impregnable. 

It was a high of 7 degrees and despite Max only wearing a long sleeved shirt (we were only out of the car for 5 minutes) it was freezing so we opted not to do the self-guided walking tour of the wall, but I’m sure it would be amazing  when the weather was a little warmer.

Tourist Information of El Escorial

I have to say in comparison to the other palaces we have visited, this one is not particularly well sign posted and I think we actually missed sections of it. I think it would be worth getting an audio guide for this site or a tour guide.

I’m not sure if we have just seen too many palaces and castles over the last 10 days, but this was probably the least favourite of what we have seen.

Opening Hours:

  • Royal Monastery and Palace/ Casa del Principe Don Carlos / Casa del Infante Don Gabriel/ Park of the Casa del Principle Don Carlos: October to March (winter opening): Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm │ April to September (Summer opening): Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 8 pm
  • Garden of the Friars/ Gardens of the Casita del Principe/Gardens of the Casa del Infante Don Gabriel: October to March (winter opening): Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm │ April to September (Summer opening): Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 7 pm

Prices:

  • Basic entry: € 10 │ Children aged 5 to 16 years, people over 65, students up to 25 years: │ Children under 5 years , teachers, people with disabilities, unemployed – free
  • 18th May, 12th October – Free
  • Wednesdays and Thursdays │ October to March: 3 pm – 6 pm │ April to September: 5 pm – 8 pm │ FREE for EU citizens, residents and Latin American citizens.
  • Casita del Principe: € 5
  • Casita del Infante: € 5
  • Guide/Audio Guide: € 4

Castillo de Coca (Coca Castle) – 15/12/2018

We have gotten to the stage of ABC, (Another Bloody Castle) so just Andrew and I went out this afternoon to look at Coca Castle. The castle was actually really good.  Unlike other castles which are built of stone, this one is built of bricks and there are definitely a few cracks appearing within the walls.

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Coca Castle is located fairly close to Olmedo, where we have been staying for the past week or between Avila and Valladolid.  The turreted castle was constructed by Archbishop Alonso de Fonseca I, in the 15th century and is made of plaster and red brick and surrounded by a deep moat.  The castle is quite a unique hybrid design, that it incorporates both Moorish Muslim design and Gothic architecture.

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Although the castle looks like an impregnable fortress, it was actually intended to be a place for the notoriously pleasure-loving archbishop to hold riotous parties. Today the castle keep is occupied by the forestry school.

It is actually free to walk around the castle walls and there is a small charge if you want to explore the castle keep.  The castle was extraordinary in that the moat consisted of high, brick walls that surrounded the entire castle.  Another interesting feature was the arrow slit holes, unlike English castles which tend to be just straight slits, the ones at Coca Castle consisted of a cross and ball shape.

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Entrance to the castle keep is through a large wooden door and then through the last line of defense, the portcullis, a latticed metal grille, which would have been lowered by either chains or ropes to keep invaders out. We chose not to visit the castle keep today.

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We ended our trip of Coca Castle by wandering the external walls and admiring the castle and moat.

Tourist Information for Coca Castle

Opening Hours:

  • 30 am – 1 pm/4..30 pm – 6 pm
  • Closed 1st Tuesday of each month │January, 25th December

Price:

  • Adults: €2.70 │ Children 7 to 14 years: €2 │ Children under 7: free │ Retired people/pensioners: €2

http://www.castillodecoca.com/