Guadalajara and its attractions

Guadalajara is a city and municipality in Spain, located in the autonomous community of Castilla–La Mancha. It is the capital of the Province of Guadalajara.

Tourism and main attractions

Military architecture

The oldest remains of the Alcázar Real de Guadalajara date back to the 9th century. Over time, it was used as a military fortress, royal fortress, clothes factory and barracks for the Military Aerostation Service, and was almost completely destroyed in the French war and in the last Spanish civil war. Since 1998 archaeological excavations have been carried out where different elements from all the periods have appeared.

Along with this, there are the remains of the medieval wall that surrounded the entire city, as well as some of its gates and towers that protected it. Most of the wall was demolished during the nineteenth century to give rise to the expansion of the city to the south, next to the Cuenca road, and to open a bypass to the northeast on the Zaragoza road.

The remains of the wall that have survived are scarce, but the Bejanque gate, the Alamín tower next to the Infantas bridge and the Álvar Fáñez tower, have remained. The foundations of the old Alcallería wall have also been found, which surrounded the Cacharrerías neighborhood, one of the oldest areas of the city, on the road to Madrid.

The most recent fortress in the city is the San Francisco fort, built in the 19th century taking advantage of the former San Francisco convent from the 14th century.

Civil architecture

Since the Renaissance, Guadalajara has been a city where noblemen have settled, mainly the Mendoza and Guzmán families, among others. The first was an influential family in the Court of the King of Castile, the second enriched by the conquest of America, and both, and their successive lineages, built several palaces in the city, some more ostentatious and others more modest.

The palace of the Dukes of Infantado stands out above all, a civil work of the European late Gothic and finished in Renaissance style. It was ordered to be built by the Marquis of Santillana in the 15th century under the direction of Juan Guas, and renovated in the 1580s. Inside the palace, the Court of the Lions and the Duke’s rooms stand out, and the gardens next to it.

Another outstanding palace is that of Antonio de Mendoza, built at the beginning of the 16th century with the plans of Lorenzo Vázquez and later expanded by order of Brianda de Mendoza to become a Franciscan convent under the direction of Alonso de Covarrubias.

Original from the 17th century is the Cotilla Palace, although it was renovated in the 19th century by the Marquis of Villamejor, parents of the Count of Romanones. And from the 19th century it is the last great palace of the city, that of the Countess de la Vega del Pozo, designed by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco on a former 16th century convent, characterized by its eclecticism and the yellowish color of its exterior walls.

These palaces are joined by other smaller ones such as the Dávalos Palace, from the 16th century and completely restored at the end of the 20th century to house the headquarters of the public library, or the Palace of the Counts of Coruña, also from the 16th century.

Another great palac of Montesclaros, from the 16th century, which was also the headquarters of the Higher Academy of Army Engineers and which was destroyed by a fire in 1924.

Other historical civil buildings found in Guadalajara are the town hall, built in 1906 in an eclectic style; the Palacio de la Diputación, built in the 19th century as the seat of the provincial government; the provincial prison, or the Hostal del Reloj, an old 17th century mansion, completely rebuilt at the beginning of the 21st century.

Religious architecture

With the ascension of the nobility of Guadalajara in the late Middle Ages, a period of construction of large churches began, mostly financed by them, and often attached to convents. In the 14th century, annexed to the now-defunct Santa Clara convent, the church of Santiago el Mayor was built, which mixes Mudejar and late Gothic styles.

Also Mudejar are the remains of the church of San Gil, from the 12th century, which it was also the seat of the Municipal Council and of which only the apse is still standing.

The cathedral of Santa María stands out above all, built on an old mosque from the end of the 13th century and the 16th century combining three architectural styles: Mudejar, Renaissance and Baroque. Something earlier than all these is the sanctuary of the Virgen de la Antigua, from the 13th century, although much transformed in later centuries.

From the Renaissance of the 16th century and the Baroque of the 17th century, most of the city’s ancient churches are, such as the church of San Ginés (16th century), the church of San Miguel (16th century), of which only the chapel of Luis de Lucena remains, or the church of Los Remedios (16th century), part of a former convent and current lecture hall of the University of Alcalá de Henares.

Also from this period are the convents of San Francisco (14th century), later a fortress and which houses the Mendoza pantheon, made in the image of the pantheon of the Kings of the El Escorial monastery; de la Piedad, formerly the palace by Antonio de Mendoza (16th century); the Carmelitas de Abajo (16th century), and Carmen (17th century).

In the 19th century, the patron María Diega Desmaissières, Countess de la Vega del Pozo and Duchess of Sevillano, built the church on her property south of the city and under the design of Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, her pantheon, of Santa María Micaela and the College of Adorers, in honor of her aunt Micaela Desmaissières.

Museums

The Museum of Guadalajara, also known as the Provincial Museum of Guadalajara, is the oldest provincial museum in Spain, it was founded in 1838. It depends on the Junta de Communities de Castilla-La Mancha and its headquarters are in the Palacio del Infantado.

It includes collections mainly of fine arts, obtained from the confiscations of ecclesial assets of the 19th century, archeology, obtained from archaeological excavations carried out in the province and ethnology that collects objects related to art and popular customs of the province of Guadalajara. It also hosts several temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

The Francisco Sobrino Museum was inaugurated in 2015 in the historic buildings of the Municipal Slaughterhouse. It is dedicated to the figure and work of Francisco Sobrino Ochoa, a sculptor born in the city of Guadalajara.

Guadalajara en la Historia, museum collection of the Guadalajara City Council located in the Eduardo Guitian center. The exhibition shows a journey through the history of the city, from its origins and first location, the transformation into a notorious capital of al-Andalus, the incorporation into the kingdom of Castile, the influence of the Mendoza, the years of splendor linked to the Real Fábrica Paños, the arrival of the Military Engineers and the automobile and aeronautical industry, the disasters of the Civil War.

Best restaurants

There is one Michelin list restaurants in the city:

Biosfera by Aurum, Cuesta San Miguel 5, 35 – 50 EUR • Modern Cuisine

How to get to?

Guadalajara is served by two railway stations:

Guadalajara railway station, located in the city centre and part of the classical railway lines, connecting Chamartín to Portbou/Cerbère.

Guadalajara–Yebes railway station, located 5.6 kilometres  at the South-East of Guadalajara, on the Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line.

From Madrid 55 min (67.6 km) via A-2

Distances to the main cities of Castilla–La Mancha:

From Toledo 1 hr 23 min (131 km) via A-42 and A-2

From Ciudad Real 2 hr 41 min (256 km) via A-4

From Cuenca 1 hr 38 min (135 km) via N-320

From Albacete 2 hr 53 min (290 km) via A-3

Main information

Area: 235 sq. km

GPS coordinates: 40°38′00″N 3°10′00″W

Language: Spanish

Population: 87 484

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1, in summer +2

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