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San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Cercedilla. Valdemorillo

This is one of the most interesting tourist routes in this Community. As you leave Madrid on A-6 and come to Las Rozas, you take the old highway of Castile M-505, the first exit there is for San Lorenzo de El Escorial. We are heading toward the central zone of the mountains of Madrid, coming immediately to Galapagar, an important summer and weekend spot for many residents of the Capital. San Lorenzo de El Escorial is one of the points of major tourism influx for the Community of Madrid due to its richness in monuments as well as its tradition as a summer place. The Monastery of El Escorial is world-renowned.

It was built during the reign of Felipe II, to commemorate the victory over the French in the battle of San Quentin. It took twenty-one years to build. Juan Bautista de Toledo started it but Juan de Herrera crowned it, who for many is the only one who truly marked the style that characterises the Monastery, creating a school. The Pantheon of the Kings brings together the sepulchres of all the Spanish monarchs from Carlos I to Alfonso XIII.

The Library of Felipe II with its admirably vaulted ceiling painted by Tibaldi, the Architecture Halls, the Portraits Hall and the Painting and Sculptures Hall are also outstanding features. Many tourists, once they have discovered this corner of history, continue on to the Valley of the Fallen. You take M-600 and the corresponding exit. It is a funeral monument built at the end of the Spanish civil war. It took almost twenty years to build. We continue along Highway M-600 to visit Guadarrama and Los Molinos, two pretty summer villages, before going to Cercedilla, a village where we can see Roman ruins and the Nature Park of Las Barcas.

Taking the scenic highways again, we are taken through some of the mountain villages, such as Santa María de la Alameda and El Pimpollar. Finally, we come to Robledo de Chavela, a summer centre that not too many years ago was absolutely transformed and modernised in order to offer all sorts of comforts to the summer visitor.

The only trace left from the past is a XV century church with a magnificent altarpiece. We cross Navagalamelia, a quiet and reminiscent village, and come to Valdemorillo, which many years ago was the place where the plaza was converted into an arena with wagons and sand for the celebration of amateur bullfights. Now it boasts of the privilege of opening up the Spanish bullfighting season with a fair organised every year at the beginning of February. They say that the church of Valdemorillo is the work of Juan de Herrera. In order to finish the route to Madrid, we will take M-509, returning through Villanueva del Pardillo and El Plantío.

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