5. Manzanares River’s Story: A Self-Guided Audio Tour in Madrid
Winding through the southern part of the city like a green ribbon, Manzanares Rio Park is one of the newest public spaces in the capital, but also where the ancient history of Madrid begins. It’s a side of the city that few visitors get to see, as I discovered when I first moved here and started researching Manzanares River’s history. On this walking tour, I’ll share my findings including tales of meat markets, woolly mammoths and washerwomen!
If you’d like to escape for a while from the hustle and bustle of Madrid’s city centre, this is the tour for you!
Starting next to the Antiguo Depósito de Agua (water tower), you’ll stroll through Matadero Madrid, an old slaughterhouse and market now converted into a cultural centre. From there, you’ll promenade along the river and through Madrid Rio Park to Toledo Bridge. While you walk, I’ll share the area’s 300,000-year-long history. I’ll show you the city’s lesser-known sites including the Obelisco de la Castellana (Castellana Obelisk or Obelisk of the Arganzuela as it's also known) and the Arganzuela Footbridge.
On this tour, you can look forward to hearing about:
• The prehistoric wildlife that roamed the riverbanks
• How Madrid’s first settlers used the fertile river to survive
• King Felipe II’s plans to link up Madrid to the Atlantic Ocean by building a 20-kilometre-long canal
• Obelisco de la Castellana, a monument for a deposed Queen that’s moved multiple times
• The statues of San Isidro (Madrid’s patron saint who performed over 400 miracles) and his wife, Santa Maria
• How the riverbank turned from an unloved eyesore to a green space teeming with wildlife
If you’re new to the city, a seasoned explorer, or a local looking to explore a part of Madrid you might not have seen before, this tour is for you. This hour-long walk will introduce you to the river’s fascinating links to the history of Spain’s capital.