Another worthwhile excursion from Madrid rewards the visitor with an imposing Gothic castle/fortress - and if you brave the narrow steps to the top, spectacular views.

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Manzanares El Real Castle

A charming town with an impressive 15th-century castle.

To the north-east of the Community of Madrid, 50 kilometres (31 miles) outside the capital is the town of Manzanares El Real. Its main claim to fame is the 15th-century castle-fortress once belonging to the Mendoza family and declared a Historic Artistic Monument in 1931. The building, in Isabelline Gothic style, has six floors as well as a basement and patio with huge windows between semicircular arches. It's like travelling back to the Middle Ages as you visit the Santillana Hall, the vestibule, the bedchamber, the oratory, and a very pretty gallery. From the upper floors you can enjoy some stupendous views out over the Santillana Reservoir (if you make it up the narrow stairways). The castle has been restored on various occasions, most recently in 2005, which has allowed it to host a number of events such as concerts, expositions, and conventions.

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