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Guadalajara is located 60 km northeast of Madrid and has a population of about 75,000. One can take the Cercanias train from the Atocha Station and arrive in Guadalajara in 55 minutes. Go to the Renfe website and click on the Cercanias button. Then go into the Madrid Cercanias web to find the train schedule to Guadalajara. There is very frequent service to that city from Atocha.
The Moors founded the city in the 8th century and named it Wadi-al-Hajara, meaning Valley of Stones. Alfonso VI conquered the city in 1085 for the Christians. There were constant wars with the Moors until the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, when the Christians definitely won.
In the 14th century, the Mendoza family became very important to the city. Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza became the Great Cardinal of Spain and principal advisor to the Catholic Kings. Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza was the Marques de Santillana and another prominent member of the family. In 1480 they completed the building of the Palacio del Infantado as their main residence. In 1475 the Mendoza family received the title of Duques del Infantado.
In 1808 the city was taken by the French Army and destroyed. In 1840 Gudalajara became the capital of the province of the same name and development was slow. Later during the Civil War, there was more damage to the city. Today the city is growing rapidly as a suburb of Madrid.
1. Palacio del Infantado
This palace of the Mendoza family is the main tourist attraction in Guadalajara because it is considered as the oldest surviving building built in a pure Renaissance style outside Italy. The palace construction started in 1480 and ended at the end of the 15th century, and the architect was Juan Guas. The palace was reformed between 1570 to 1580 to give it the Renaissance elements. In 1936 there was a fire that caused much destruction, but it was reconstructed in the 1970s. The facade has Renaissance windows and little pyramid-like projections on the wall that make it unique among Spanish buildings. The Patio de los Leones (Patio of the Lions) inside has two galleries with arches. On top of the first gallery arches are figures of lions, and on top of the second gallery there are figures of griffins. The fire in 1936 destroyed much of the interior decoration, although some rooms on the ground floor have murals by the Italian artist Romulo Cincinato, done between 1578 and 1580. The Mudejar elements in the palace are the coffered ceilings, tiles and grills. The palace is now used as the provincial museum. In front of the palace, on the side, is a monument to Cardinal Mendoza.
2. Concatedral de Santa Maria de la Fuente
The church was built on the site of the old mosque. The church was built at the end of the 13th century or at the beginning of the 14th century. There are three styles in this church. The Mudejar style is seen with the brick doors, the horseshoe arches, and the tower, made of masonry and brick. The Renaissance style was incorporated at the start of the 16th century and can be seen in the portico with its columns and capitals. The Baroque style can be seen in the vault in the church. The high altar is beautiful. The church has three naves and an alabaster pulpit. The arches inside are half moon, and the cupola of the transept was built in the 17th century. There is a polychromed altarpiece from Fray Francisco Mir from 1624.
3. Church of San Gines
The Church of San Gines was once part of the Convent of Santo Domingo de la Cruz, which no longer exists, and is located in the Plaza de Santo Domingo. The church construction started in 1561, but stopped in 1566, so the building is only half of that planned. The facade is made of stone and has two large buttresses that have a belfry on top of each of these. The central rose window has the coat of arms of the Dominican Order on top of it. There is one nave that has side chapels, that have tomb sculpture. The sculptures of Pedro Hurtado de Mendoza and his wife Juana de Valencia are shown in prayer on each side of the presbytery. They were the founders of the convent. The transept chapels hold the tombs of the Counts of Tendilla, Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza and Elvira de Quiñones, and these date from the 15th century. Close to the church is the monument dedicated to the Count of Romanones that the sculptor Miguel Blay created in 1913.
4. Church of San Nicolas
The Church of San Nicolas is located beside the Plaza del Jardinillo, and was built in 1647. The building has a brick facade and a Baroque stone doorway. There is a vaulted niche above the doorway that holds a statue of Faith presiding over a representation of the Holy Trinity. The main altar is quite impressive. To the right of the entrance is the statue of the recumbent figure of Rodrigo de Campuzano, who was the Knight Commander. This statue dates from the 15th century and is one of the most beautiful sculptures in Spanish churches.
5. Church of Santiago
The Church of Santiago dates from the 14th century. The exterior of the church is unpretentious. The interior has Gothic and Mudejar elements. There are three naves that are separated by stone pilasters, that support the pointed arches of the church. There is a Mudejar ceiling along the central nave. There are two noteworthy side chapels. The Chapel of La Epistola was founded by Diego Garcia de Guadalajara and has a Gothic design. The Chapel of El Evangelio has a Plateresque design and was done by Alonso de Covarrubias at the beginning of the 16th century. It holds the tomb of Juan de Zuñiga, who was a knight of the Order of Santiago.
6. Mausoleum of the Duquesa Sevillano
Maria Diega Desmaissieres was the Duchess of Sevillano and Countess of La Vega del Pozo. She was a very wealthy woman and she had Ricardo Velazquez Bosco design her family mausoleum, next to San Roque Park. The mausoleum is one of the city landmarks and has a glazed ceramic cupola. The building has the shape of a symmetrical Greek cross. The altar has a Calvary scene painted by Alejandro Ferran. The crypt has a ribbed vault and has a sculpture by Angel Garcia Diez that shows the funeral procession of the Duchess.
7. Palace of the Countess of La Vega del Pozo
The Palace of the Countess of La Vega del Pozo is beside the Plaza de Beladiez and is one of the most beautiful buildings in Guadalajara. Next door is the Chapel of San Sebastian, which has a school run by the Marist Brothers. The palace and chapel were built in 1887 by Ricardo Velazquez Bosco for the Countess. The main building has a 16th century Renaissance courtyard.
8. San Roque Park
The San Roque Park is a large park where there is a very long pedestrian pathway that is lined with shade trees and rose bushes. There are many benches where people of the city relax and chat.
9. Good Restaurant Downtown
Restaurante Miguel Angel
Plaza Lopez de Haro, 4.