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Barajas is amongst the most complicated and biggest airports I have ever seen. I have done connections via Barajas airport in the past and let me recommend you something, plan a 2 hour connection at least!
Some important wiki info to read about Madrid:
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third largest in the European Union after London and Paris. The city spans a total of 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).
The city is located on the Manzanares river in the centre of both the country and the Community of Madrid (which comprises the city of Madrid, its conurbation and extended suburbs and villages); this community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political centre of Spain. The current mayor is Ana Botella from the People's Party (PP).
Madrid urban agglomeration has the 3rd largest GDP in the European Union and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, environment, media, fashion, science, culture, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities.Due to its economic output, high standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the major financial centre of Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula; it hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Spanish companies, such as Telefónica, Iberia or Repsol YPF. Madrid is the most touristic city of Spain, the fourth-most touristic of the continent, and is the 10th most livable city in the world according to Monocle magazine, in its 2010 index. Madrid also ranks among the 12 greenest European cities in 2010. Madrid is currently bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Madrid houses the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), belonging to the United Nations Organization (UN), the SEGIB and the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI). It also hosts major international institutions regulators of Spanish: the Standing Committee of the Association of Spanish Language Academies, headquarters of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), the Cervantes Institute and the Foundation of Urgent Spanish (Fundéu). Madrid organizes fairs as FITUR, ARCO, SIMO TCI  and the Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week.
While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighbourhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the Royal Palace of Madrid; the Teatro Real (Royal theatre) with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro park, founded in 1631; the 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain's historical archives; a large number of National museums, and the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three art museums: Prado Museum, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which completes the shortcomings of the other two museums
I will not forget two things about this hotel. The location which is fantastic mainly because it is within walking distance from mayor art museums and Retiro Park and the second one is because of its breakfast. A King killing breakfast before everyday expedition is exactly the kind fuel you need to kick it like a champion! You can check out the hotel by directly clicking on the street view icon near the Tweet and Facebook buttons.
Early departure from Madrid to visit Toledo. These 88 kilometres will take any tourist around 1 hour and a half. Another remarkable thing is that we did all this route without GPS (I left it at home!) and I don't pretend to be repetitive but highways are excellent, with no tolls and very well signalized.
Having been populated since the Bronze Age, Toledo (Toletum in Latin) grew in importance during Roman times, being a main commercial and administrative centre in the Roman province of Tarraconensis. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Toledo served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, beginning with Liuvigild (Leovigild), and was the capital of Spain until the Moors conquered Iberia in the 8th century.
Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo was the center of numerous insurrections dating from 761 to 857. The Banu Qasi gained nominal control of the city until 920 and in 932 Abd-ar-Rahman III captured the city following an extensive siege. Toledo experienced a period known as La Convivencia, i.e. the co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Under Arab rule, Toledo was called Tulaytulah. After the fall of the Caliphate, Toledo was the capital city of one of the richest Taifas of Al-Andalus. Its population was overwhelmingly Muladi, and, because of its central location in the Iberian Peninsula, Toledo took a central position in the struggles between the Muslim and Christian rulers of northern Spain. The conquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI of Castile marked the first time a major city in Al-Andalus had fallen to Christian forces; it served to sharpen the religious aspect of the Christian reconquest.
On May 25, 1085, Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo and established direct personal control over the Moorish city from which he had been exacting tribute, ending the medieval Taifa's Kingdom of Toledo. This was the first concrete step taken by the combined kingdom of Leon-Castile in the Reconquista by Christian forces. After Castilian conquest, Toledo continued to be a major cultural centre; its Arab libraries were not pillaged, and a tag-team translation centre was established in which books in Arabic would be translated from Arabic or Hebrew to Spanish by Arab and Jewish scholars, and from Spanish to Latin by Castilian scholars, thus letting long-lost knowledge spread through Christian Europe again. For some time during the 16th century, Toledo served as the capital city of Castile, and the city flourished. However, soon enough the Spanish court was moved, first to Valladolid and then to Madrid, thus letting the city's importance dwindle until the late 20th century, when it became the capital of the autonomous community of Castile–La Mancha. Nevertheless, the economic decline of the city helped to preserve its cultural and architectural heritage. Today, because of this rich heritage, Toledo is one of Spain's foremost cities, receiving thousands of visitors yearly. Toledo's Alcázar (Arabicized Latin word for palace-castle) became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.
The old city is located on a mountaintop with a 150 degree view, surrounded on three sides by a bend in the Tagus River, and contains many historical sites, including the Alcázar, the cathedral (the primate church of Spain), and the Zocodover, a central market place.
From the 4th century to the 16th century about thirty synods were held at Toledo. The earliest, directed against Priscillian, assembled in 400. At the synod of 589 the Visigothic King Reccared declared his conversion from Arianism; the synod of 633 decreed uniformity of liturgy throughout the Visigothic kingdom and took stringent measures against baptized Jews who had relapsed into their former faith. Other councils forbade circumcision, Jewish rites and observance of the Sabbath and festivals. Throughout the seventh century, Jews were flogged, executed, had their property confiscated, were subjected to ruinous taxes, forbidden to trade and, at times, dragged to the baptismal font. The council of 681 assured to the archbishop of Toledo the primacy of Spain. At Guadamur, very close to Toledo, was dug in 1858 the Treasure of Guarrazar, the best example of Visigothic art in Spain.
As nearly one hundred early canons of Toledo found a place in the Decretum Gratiani, they exerted an important influence on the development of ecclesiastical law. The synod of 1565–1566 concerned itself with the execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent; and the last council held at Toledo, 1582–1583, was guided in detail by Philip II.
Toledo was famed for religious tolerance and had large communities of Muslims and Jews until they were expelled from Spain in 1492 (Jews) and 1502 (Muslims). Today's city contains the religious monuments the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, the Synagogue of El Transito, Mosque of Cristo de la Luz and the church of San Sebastián dating from before the expulsion, still maintained in good condition. Among Ladino-speaking Sephardi Jews, in their various diasporas, the family name Toledano is still prevalent—indicating an ancestry traced back to this city (the name is also attested among non-Jews in various Spanish-speaking countries).
In the 13th century, Toledo was a major cultural center under the guidance of Alfonso X, called "El Sabio" ("the Wise") for his love of learning. The Toledo School of Translators, that had commenced under Archbishop Raymond of Toledo, continued to bring vast stores of knowledge to Europe by rendering great academic and philosophical works in Arabic into Latin. The Palacio de Galiana, built in the Mudéjar style, is one of the monuments that remain from that period.
The Cathedral of Toledo (Catedral de Toledo) was built between 1226–1493 and modeled after the Bourges Cathedral, though it also combines some characteristics of the Mudéjar style. It is remarkable for its incorporation of light and features the Baroque altar called El Transparente, several stories high, with fantastic figures of stucco, paintings, bronze castings, and multiple colors of marble, a masterpiece of medieval mixed media by Narciso Tomé topped by the daily effect for just a few minutes of a shaft of light from which this feature of the cathedral derives its name. Two notable bridges secured access to Toledo across the Tajo, the Alcántara bridge and the later built San Martín bridge.
The Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes is a Franciscan monastery, built 1477-1504, in a remarkable combination of Gothic-Spanish-Flemish style with Mudéjar ornamentation.
Toledo was home to El Greco for the latter part of his life, and is the subject of some of his most famous paintings, including The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, exhibited in the Church of Santo Tomé.
When Philip II moved the royal court from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the old city went into a slow decline from which it never recovered.
Toledo has been a traditional sword-making, steel-working center since about 500 BC, and came to the attention of Rome when used by Hannibal in the Punic Wars. Soon, it became a standard source of weaponry for Roman Legions.
Toledo steel was famed for its very high quality alloy , whereas Damascene steel, a competitor from the Middle Ages on, was famed for a specific metal-working technique
The city of Toledo was declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1940, UNESCO later given the title of World Heritage in 1987. Sights include:
Castillo de San Servando. Medieval castle near the banks of the Tagus river and the Infantry Academy.
The Gothic Cathedral, dating from the thirteenth century. Inside there is the Clear from Narciso Tome, in Baroque.
Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes, in Elizabethan Gothic style (15th century)
The Renaissance Museo-Hospital de Santa Cruz (16th century)
Museo de El Greco. House-museum designed as a recreation of the artist's home, which was lost centuries ago. It houses several important paintings.
Santa María la Blanca, the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing, now owned by the Catholic Church.
Synagogue de el Transito, in the Jewish Quarter. It is home to the Sephardic Museum.
Hospital de Tavera Museum Duque de Lerma. Renaissance style, dates from the sixteenth century. Influenced the layout of El Escorial.
Church of Santiago del Arrabal, in Mudéjar style.
Iglesia de Santo Tome. Mudejar style, the fourteenth century, houses the famous Burial of Count Orgaz, by El Greco.
El Cristo de la Luz, a small mosque-oratory built in 999, later extended with Mudejar apse for conversion into a church.
Galiana Palace (13th century), in Mudejar style.
Tornerías Mosque (11th century).
Alcazar fortress (16th century), located in the highest part of town, overlooking the city. From 2009 it houses the collection of the Army Museum.
Puerta de Bisagra Nueva. The main entrance and face of Toledo.
Puerta de Bisagra The main entrance to the city in Andalusian times.
Puerta del Sol. Mudejar style and built by the Knights Hospitallers in the fourteenth century.
Puerta Bab al-Mardum. The oldest city gate of Toledo.
New Gate of Hinge, by Alonso de Covarrubias (16th century, based on Arabic structures).
Old door hinge or Puerta de Alfonso VI.
Cambrón gate, of Muslim-16th century origin.
San Román (Museum of the Councils and Visigoth culture).
Ermita del Cristo de la Vega, in Mudéjar style (11th century).
Alcántara bridge, Roman bridge across the Tagus
Puente de San Martin, medieval bridge across the Tagus.
To mark the fourth centenary of the publication of the first part of Don Quixote, the Council of Communities of Castile–La Mancha designed a series of routes through the region crossing the various points cited in the novel. Known as the Route of Don Quixote, two of the pathways designated, sections 1 and 8, are based in Toledo; those linking the city with La Mancha Castile and Montes de Toledo exploit the natural route which passes through the Cigarrales and heads to Cobisa, Nambroca Burguillos of Toledo, where it takes the Camino Real from Sevilla to suddenly turn towards Mascaraque Almonacid de Toledo, deep into their surroundings, near Mora, in La Mancha.
This stretch, Mascaraque-Toledo, of the Route of Don Quixote has recently been included in an official way on the Camino de Santiago in Levantine branch with origins in Cartagena, Alicante and Valencia, as both routes are declared a European Cultural Route on this stretch.
"At this point they caught sight of thirty or forty windmills which were standing on the plain..." Thus begins chapter VIII of Don Quixote. In Cervantes' time windmills were quite common. This view is undoubtedly the characteristic landscape of Campo de Criptana, presenting its silhouette from the Sierra de los Molinos and the Cerro de la Paz. A 19th century land registry drawn up at the behest of the Marqués de la Ensenada shows 34 windmills in existence at that time, each clearly marked with the name of the mill and that of its owner. Through archaeological remnants, we know that they had once been far more numerous.
Today, ten windmills can be seen from afar, with their original structure and machinery preserved. Visitors can tour the inside of the mills and listen to a presentation about their function. Other mills have been converted into museums: the Inca Garcilaso is a museum celebrating the working of the land, the Pilón is a museum of wine, the Quimera is dedicated to Vicente Huidobro, the Culebro to the actress Sara Montiel, and the Lagarto to poetry. The Poyatos windmill houses the Office of Tourism. Every Saturday one of the restored mills is put into operation.
In 1978, the entire group of windmills was declared a Monument of Historical-Artistic Interest, which today is referred to as a Cultural Heritage Site.
Baeza is a town of approximately 16,200 inhabitants in Andalusia, Spain, in the province of Jaén, perched on a cliff in the Loma de Baeza, a mountain range between the river Guadalquivir on the south and its tributary the Guadalimar on the north. It is chiefly known today as having many of the best-preserved examples of Italian Renaissance architecture in Spain. UNESCO added Baeza and Úbeda to the World Heritage Sites list in 2003.
Town Hall (Ajuntamiento), a Plateresque building formed by two separate structures united by an arch.
the university, established in 1538, which is now a summer school for the University of Granada
Cathedral of Santa María, built above a former Moorish mosque. It was converted to the Christian rite by King Alfonso VII of Castile in 1147. After another period as a mosque, it was restored to Christianity in 1227 by Ferdinand III of Castile. The most ancient part of the edifice are the lower part of the bell tower, of cubic shape, and three islamic arches, now hidden. The current edifice was built from 1529, in Gothic style, including a nave and two aisles, pilasters and crossed vaults. The tower was remade in 1549 and the Chapel of St. Michal was added in 1560. The whole construction was completed by Andrés de Vandelvira, who added Renaissance elements.
Arco de Villalar, erected to celebrate battle of Villalar in 1521
Romanesque church of Santa Cruz. It has a nave and two aisles, with a semicircular apse; one of the side walls include a Visigothic arch.
Palacio de Jabalquinto. The entrance gate is sided by two cylindrical pilasters with Plateresque capitals with mocárabes, and between them are decorations in the same style. In the interior are a Renaissance courtyard and a Baroque staircase.
squares of Plaza de España and the Paseo de la Constitucíon
Chapel of St. Francis, founded in 1538. It is an unfinished Renaissance building.
Gothic church of St. Paul, with a Renaissance portal. It has a nave and two aisles with Gothic-style chapels. Pablo de Olavide is buried here.
Ubeda Gate, of which only one of the three original arcades has remained.
Fountain of St. Mary (1564)
Fountain of the Lions, coming from the Iberian-Roman city of Cástulo. It has been suggested that it could represent Himilce, wife of the Carthaginian general Hannibal.
Seminary of St. Philip Neri (1660)
Córdoba is a city in Andalusia, southern Spain, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. An Iberian and Roman city in ancient times, in the Middle Ages it became the capital of an Islamic caliphate. The old town contains numerous architectural reminders of when Corduba was the capital of Hispania Ulterior during the Roman Republic and capital of Hispania Baetica during the Roman Empire; and when Qurṭuba (قرطبة) was the capital of the Islamic Caliphate of Córdoba, including most of the Iberian Peninsula.
It has been estimated that in the 10th century and beginning of the 11th century, Córdoba was the most populous city in the world, and during these centuries became the intellectual center of Europe. Today it is a moderately-sized modern city; its population in 2011 was 330,033.
The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy. The first historical mention of a settlement dates, however, to the Carthaginian expansion across the Guadalquivir, when the general Hamilcar Barca renamed it Kartuba, from Kart-Juba, meaning "the City of Juba", the latter being a Numidian commander who had died in a battle nearby. Córdoba was conquered by the Romans in 206 BC. In 169 the Roman consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus founded a Latin colony alongside the pre-existing Iberian settlement. Between 143 and 141 BC the town was besieged by Viriatus. A Roman Forum is known to have existed in the city in 113 BC.
At the time of Julius Caesar, Córdoba was the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Ulterior Baetica. Great Roman philosophers such as Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger, orators such as Seneca the Elder and poets such as Lucan came from Roman Cordoba. Later, it occupied an important place in the Provincia Hispaniae of the Byzantine Empire (552–572) and under the Visigoths, who conquered it in the late 6th century.
Córdoba was captured in 711 by an Arab/Berber Muslim army. In 716 it became a provincial capital, subordinate to the Caliphate of Damascus; in Arabic it was known as قرطبة (Qurṭubah). In May 766, it was chosen as the capital of the independent Arab Muslim emirate of al-Andalus, later a Caliphate itself. During the caliphate apogee (1000 AD), Córdoba had a population of roughly 500,000 inhabitants, though estimates range between 350,000 and 1,000,000. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Córdoba was one of the most advanced cities in the world as well as a great cultural, political, financial and economic centre. The Great Mosque of Córdoba dates back to this time; under caliph Al-Hakam II Córdoba had 3,000 mosques, splendid palaces and 300 public baths, and received what was then the largest library in the world, housing from 400,000 to 1,000,000 volumes.
Reinhardt Dozy wrote:,
"The fame of Córdoba penetrated even distant Germany: the Saxon nun Hroswitha, famous in the last half of the 10th century for its Latin poems and dramas, called it the Jewel of the World."
After the fall of the caliphate (1031), Córdoba became the capital of a Republican independent taifa. This short-lived state was conquered by Al-Mu'tamid ibn Abbad, lord of Seville, in 1070. In turn, the latter was overthrown by the Almoravids, who were later replaced by the Almohads.
During the latter's domination the city declined, the role of the capital of Muslim al-Andalus having been given to Seville. On 29 June 1236, after a siege of several months, it was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile, during the Spanish Reconquista. The city was divided into 14 colaciones, and numerous new church buildings were added.
The city declined especially after Renaissance times. In the 18th century it was reduced to just 20,000 inhabitants. The population and economy started to increase only in the early 20th century.
With the most extensive historical heritages in the world declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO (on 17 December 1984), the city also features a number of modern areas, including the districts of Zoco and the railway station district.
The regional government (the Junta de Andalucía) has for some time been studying the creation of a Córdoba Metropolitan Area that would comprise, in addition to the capital itself, the towns of Villafranca de Córdoba, Obejo, La Carlota, Villaharta, Villaviciosa, Almodóvar del Río and Guadalcázar. The combined population of such an area would be around 351,000.
Like an oasis. This is a must visit place not only from the historical point of view but because of the gardens. If you feel like I highly recommend theinexpensive treat of watching the fountains and gardens come alive during the night.
Good hotel, nice breakfast, far from downtown. Wi-fi not working and rooms are a little bit out of shape. As you can see on street view there is a stadium just across the street. Not sure if it is operational though. The hotel has swimming pool on the roof top, ideal place to spent the siesta time.
This town is part of a route called White towns or Pueblos blancos it served as a good stop to drink and recharge batteries on our way to Ronda. I suggest to stop by if you are near by only. Route is extremely tricky!