Many rivers run through well know cities: the Hudson in New York, the Thames in London, the Seine in Paris, the Mississippi in New Orleans, the Spree in Berlin or the Danube through Vienna and Budapest. Madrid’s Manzanares isn’t as well known and probably most tourists didn’t even saw it during their visit to the city, since it doesn’t run through the city but encircles it.
Madrid’s Old Town lies in a hill, where the Moors built a castle and a citadel in the 9th century. The idea was to have a better view of the surroundings in case any enemies attacked. On the bottom of the hill lies the Manzanares, which was not only used as a provider of fresh drinking water but also as means of defense. As the city grew the river ended up serving as a dividing line between the old center and new neighborhoods to the southwest.
In 2011 a huge river walk park was opened on both sides of the Manzanares: Madrid Río. The park has a 6 Km. promenade, 30Km. of cycling lanes, football, basketball and tennis courts and areas for open-air concerts. In the future a small beach will be built.
The park has changed the way the city sees the river. One can see beautiful views of the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral from the promenade and in the afternoons its full of people jogging, bike riding, walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers or roller-skating. There are small cafés and bars where one can have a drink while enjoying the sunset. It’s definitely a different side of the city from the one up in the hill.
The Plan Foodies Walks offers tours that include a stroll through Madrid Río. Just send us an e-mail and we’ll send you all the details.