The Region of Madrid hosts three treasures which have been declared world heritage by the UNESCO thanks to their "cultural or natural significance exceptional for the common heritage of humanity": the Royal site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, University and historic centre of Alcalá de Henares and Aranjuez's Cultural landscape. Escape to these three corners of the community that you cannot miss if you are visiting Madrid.
World Heritage in Madrid: Alcalá de Henares
World Heritage in Madrid: Aranjuez
World Heritage in Madrid: Hayedo de Montejo
World Heritage in Madrid: San Lorenzo de El Escorial
The Region of Madrid offers a tourist product that encompasses these three treasures through a personalized passport. It is a Pocket Guide that offers practical information and how to obtain discounts and promotions.
The monastery and the Royal site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial was declared world heritage by Unesco in 1984. Built by Felipe II's order in recognition of the battle of St Quentin in 1557, it has numerous places of high historical, artistic and cultural value; such as the palatial dependencies of the Asturias and Bourbon, the library and the basilica, in a privileged natural context, the Sierra de Guadarrama (mountain range).
Feel as if you were at Court as you stroll down San Lorenzo's old town, or visit Felipe II's Chair to contemplate the monastery in all its glory.
If you are a lover of nature, the Luis Ceballos Arboretum, environmental education center offers trails and guided itineraries.
And if you want to please your palate, you can taste the traditional mountain cuisine such as roasted meat with Origin Designation Guadarrama, without forgetting the rich offer of international catering and creative cuisine.
More information: www.sanlorenzoturismo.org
Hometown of Cervantes (see his baptismal fountain in the Capilla del Oidor), unique world heritage city of the Madrid Community. It is an ideal place to stroll its streets and squares, visit its museums and monuments.
Eat at any of its exquisite restaurants, have a coffee or a drink in the evening and take some souvenir of their typical sweets, such as their sugared almonds (those from the convent of the Clarisas de San Diego are most famous) or the costrada (meringue cake and cream puff pastry).
You can begin by visiting the Regional archaeological museum or travel to the Roman period, the Hippolytus House or the Complutum ruins.
The Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes (Cervante's house), which recreates the human dimension of this letters genius, and the University of Alcalá are both essential to visit. The university is an authentic engine of a city that today headquarters a multitude of activities of Instituto Cervantes and which generates a young student atmosphere that fills the city at all hours.
Stroll through the streets to the Palacio Arzobispal, the Magistral Cathedral and the monastery of San Bernardo; they will transport you to the time of Cardinal Cisneros, back in the 16th century.
If you find yourself in Alcala, in October, it is your chance to visit the seasonal market, it being the largest in Spain and it is included in the Cervantine week.
For nature lovers, the hills of Alcalá make up a protected area in the left margin of the Henares River.
More information: www.turismoalcala.es
The banks of the Tajo River, were the spring residence for the Bourbons. Their natural environment was declared by UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape of December 14th, 2001. Its palatial gardens offer a large botanical variety.
The Palacio Real (palace), the museum Museo de Falúas Reales, the Casa Del Labrador (house) and the bicentennial Plaza de Toros (bull fighting ring), were all declared artistic historical sets.
Besides the Palacio and its gardens, we can find the natural landscape of the banks of the Tajo and the historic groves and orchards that in another time filled the pantries of the Court. We can taste deliciously cooked products in the local restaurants, one of them with a Michelin star.
In spring and autumn you are welcome to get on the strawberry train (Tren de la Fresa), which departs from the old station of Delicias. It rises in a historical train with wooden wagon and hostesses dressed in period offering typical products.
More information: www.turismoenaranjuez.com
At the foot of the Sierra de Ayllón is the Hayedo de Montejo, an old meadow of beeches, oak trees and Pyrenean oak that as we advanced, the last 7th July was declared by UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's the first natural area in the region that receives this distinction, a well-deserved recognition of the work developed during these years by the Region of Madrid.
The landscape and ecological diversity of this space have been turned into a true 'natural laboratory' capable of anticipating the effects of climate change. It has an exhaustive research program that includes two forest inventories, which were carried out in 1994 and 2005. Through the monitoring of more than 1,400 trees as well as the weather through meteorological stations, it has been possible to know first-hand the evolution of this space in recent years.