Chinchon, Madrid, Spain
Chinchon is located in central Spain, 50km southeast of Madrid. It was offered as a gift from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel to the Marques of Moya for all his support. Because many of the Counts of Chinchon liked to surround themselves with artists and intellectuals, this helped the town’s political and cultural influence to grow. As a consequence important buildings such as convents and churches were built, all within close proximity of the castle.
Chinchon was renowned for its extraordinary hospitality and one of its greatest admirers was the famous painter Goya who used to come regularly to visit his brother, the town priest. So taken by its charm, he immortalized his impressions in some of his paintings, and if you visit the Church of the Assumption you will have an opportunity to see one of this great artist’s works.
The unique Plaza Mayor is quite distinctive with its painted balconies. Originally it was the location for many cattle fairs and by the 16th century it also became the site of the town’s first bullfight. Today each Saturday during the summer the Plaza is closed off for such events. In 1863 the famous Matador Frascuela was seriously gored during one of these fights. To show his gratitude to Chinchon for its concern, he sponsored a charity bullfight that became an annual tradition. The event is held every September with fireworks and an evening procession, and all the money raised goes to the senior citizens of the San Jose Home.
The Plaza has quite a cosy and peaceful atmosphere during the winter months. However, it is equally charming and picturesque during the summer, when it becomes a hive of activity. There are several restaurants, taverns, and stores within the square, and visitors are always charmed by the warm welcome they receive. Because of its irregular shape it creates an amphitheatre effect, and consequently it is also a very popular location for theatrical productions and concerts.
The 17th Augustinian Convent, St. Mary of Paradise, has been used for many things since the dissolution of all the monasteries. But most recently it was converted into the Parador Chinchon, a luxury four-star hotel which forms part of the Plaza Mayor. Its elegant interior is a wonderful reminder of the gracious living monasteries enjoyed in those days. A sharp contrast to the poverty and abstinence that monastic life is associated with today.
One of the most historically important buildings in Chinchon is the castle on the outskirts. It was the town’s greatest defence from Arab attack as they tried to advance from Toledo. Another prominent site to visit is the Casa de la Cadena that was home to King Philip V during the War of Succession, and not far from the Church of the Assumption is the Lope de Vega Theatre where many important plays and comedies were performed.
There are many cultural events held throughout the year, one being the Passion of the Christ with plays performed in historical costume. During July is the Feast of St James when young bulls race through the streets, to be used later in the bullring that afternoon. Two particularly popular celebrations that always attracts many tourists, is Our Lady of Grace and the San Roque Festival in August, which carries on for a full week.
There are many charming handicraft shops in town as well, and if you enjoy watching artists at work you must be sure to visit the Artisanry where you will see traditional methods being used to shape both metals and clay. As Chinchon is less than an hour away from Madrid, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy all that Spain’s capital has to offer.
About the Author: This article was written by Susan Bartle who is a seasoned traveller and freelance travel writer.
Originally from Canada she currently resides in the UK and recent research has resulted in expert knowledge of the Pousadas and Paradores. Click here to read about other destinations where these luxury hotels can be found.
Or visit her travel website covering countries in Europe and all around the globe.