Manzanares el Real, Spain – January 4, 2012
We got back in the car at Valle de las Caidos and set the GPS for Manzanares el Real. I had read about that town in my Spain guidebook. What a quaint little village. I would recommend a visit to anyone!
It only took about 30 or 35 minutes to drive to the town. We arrived at about 12:50, lunchtime! At random, we chose the restaurant La Charca Verde. That translates as the Green Pond. According to the napkins at each place setting, the Carrero family has been operating the restaurant since 1972. Leslie and Hillary ordered Manitas de Corderito Lechal en la Salsa Famosa de la Charca Verde (small lamb chops in Charca Verde’s famous sauce). Tyler and I ordered Pollo de Corral en la Salsa Famosa de la Charca Verde (chicken from the pen in Charca Verde’s famous sauce). For dessert, Leslie had Tiramisu, Tyler and Hillary had ice cream. I had fresh fruit which ended up being a large slice of pineapple. We all shared a bottle of vino tinto during the meal, and we all had coffee with our dessert. Our total for lunch came to 109€ (US$133). It may have been a little pricey, but the food and the ambiance were worth every centimo! The owner of the restaurant is Pedro Carrero Alvarez. I told him that lunch was the best meal we have had since we have been in Spain. He said that touched his heart!
After lunch, we walked around town a little bit. We made it into a gift store just minutes before they were to close for lunch. Leslie was able to find a magnet for her collection. Tyler was able to find a key chain for his collection.
We walked toward the castle after we left the gift store. When we arrived, we discovered the castle had closed for lunch and would not re-open until 15:00, another 45 minutes from the time we arrived at the castle. To kill time, Tyler and I walked back to our car and drove it around to the parking lot in front of the castle entrance. Then we all walked onto the castle grounds, sat on benches, and admired the views while we waited for the ticket window to open.
The ticket window opened right at 15:00. The tickets cost 3€ per adult and 1.50€ (US$3.66 and $1.83) per student. We all thought this was one of the best castles we have seen in Spain. The bonus is it is only about 45 minutes from our house.
Completed in 1475 and built initially by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, the second Count of Real de Manzanares, Marquis of Santillana and first Duke of lnfantado. Wow, what a title! The designer, Juan Guas, was the architect to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
The main entry to the Castillo de Manzanares el Real.
The first room one encounters is the entrance hall. Prominently displayed are five tapestries dating from the 17th century. I also found the fragment of a 15th-century coat of arms fascinating, mainly because of the depiction of the sun.
The Santillana Room is the first of the two reception rooms. It is in this room where one finds a reproduction of the 1455 painting of the Marquis of Santillana originally painted by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. At the far end of the room is the 17th-century painting entitled Our Lady of Atocha Procession. There is a window in this room that offers the first view of the ruins of the chapel that was within the castle. On the other end of the room, up a few steps, is the Ladies’ Dais room. That room has a mullion window that looks out over the Santillana Reservoir. The window is from the 15th century and is quite striking.
After walking through all the rooms of the castle, we walked up to the upper walkway, known as a crenelated wall walkway. The views from up there were gorgeous. I am sure the azure blue sky helped.
Of the many small towns we have visited in Spain, this one is a MUST see!