It was a spectacular day trip from Madrid, when we visited Aranjuez and Chinchón. It’s easy get to know both in just one day. And I loved combining the two, as they are completely opposite in style!
For starters, I have to say I simply love Madrid! Its red brick Castile architecture with peaking towers. Its grand avenues and the priceless treasures it holds in its grand museums (and of course its a-free-tapa-per-drink policy). What’s not to love!
But the truth (and it may come as a surprise to foreign visitors) is that there are more interesting things to see within an hour’s drive from Madrid than in the city itself. So join me on this virtual day trip!
Jose and I chose the little town of Ocaña as the place of staying for the night, as we were attending a friend’s birthday party in Madrid that day.
For a tiny and unremarkable town it has quite an impressive Plaza Mayor!
After a filling egg and bacon breakfast, we set off for Aranjuez.
Aranjuez Royal Palace and GardensOne of the landmarks in this palatial town are the Royal Gardens. They are perched up on a little island and dotted with a plethora of ornate fountains. But what it’s more famous for is for being one of the Estates of the Spanish royalty (since the 16th century).
Visit the Palace and some of its chambers – most of them decorated in baroque style.
If you love architecture and history, you will enjoy the stroll around this beautiful compact town. Its population is about 55,000 people.
After two hours of walking around Aranjuez and its lush gardens, we were getting hungry. So we hopped into the car, and after a short drive to Chinchón we were stunned by its fortress next to the public parking space.
The funny sounding name “Chinchón” comes from the Spanish word “cincho” that means an iron ring that used to hold a wooden barrel together.
The town had a circular shape in the past (the shape can still be appreciated), so I guess it was called the most common round shaped thing.
The iconic round Plaza Mayor – the town’s main square, also serves as a bull ring during the local festivities. It is a picture perfect sight of Chinchon. The traditional green balconies against the medieval houses standing tight to each other in a circle and numerous terraces make it a charming place.
In Chinchon, like in most inland locations in Spain, you should not settle for an average piece of grilled meat.
At first, we were going to have lunch at one of the many restaurants overlooking the round plaza. But decided to opt for a wine-cellar-turned-restaurant “Cuevas del Murcielago” (“Bat Caves”) instead. I guess a cool wine cellar had a special allure to us in the June heat. And we did not regret our choice.
This establishment was founded as a wine cellar in 1708 – and restaurant space was added just a few decades ago. The cool thing is that you can do a wine tasting in the cellar.
After a delicious lunch of leg of lamb with potatos, a bottle of local wine and a home made limoncello with lots of cardamom, we went downstairs. It was shockingly freezing in the cave, though it was 35 degrees C outside!
Aranjuez is located within 51 km/ 31.7 miles from Madrid (50 minute drive).
Chinchon is located within 29 km/ 18 miles from Aranjuez (33 minute drive).
Do you know of any other special places in Chinchon? I would love to know about them!