The city of Guadalajara is full of history and beauty, peace and tranquillity, and is located just a few kilometres from Madrid. Guadalajara is located in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula. It is a beautiful city that bears the name of its province, which belongs to the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha.
Guadalajara's position on the map favours it due to its proximity to Madrid. At the same time, however, this obscures part of its greatness – or, rather, makes it a hidden destination to discover. This proximity to the Spanish capital also made it witness to great historical events that occurred in Madrid and spread to Guadalajara, intervening in the history of the city.
Proof of this is the great economic wealth that was managed in Guadalajara at the time of the conquest of America. This city became a refuge for some of the Spanish nobility who settled in these lands. The Mendoza family, one of the most influential and powerful at that time, put down roots in Guadalajara and marked the history of the city, influencing its economic growth and leaving behind a beautiful, first-class architectural heritage.
Guadalajara is currently a dynamic and modern city with natural spaces to fully enjoy. It is much more than its historical and beautiful heritage, and also more than the neighbouring city of Madrid.
Top 7 places to visit in Guadalajara
Guadalajara is an unforgettable experience and a city to discover and enjoy.
Palace of the Dukes of Infantado
Without a doubt, the Palace of the Dukes of Infantado is the most important tourist monument in Guadalajara. This impressive mansion, built at the end of the 15th century, is the work of the architect Juan Guas, who perfectly combined the Elizabethan Gothic and Renaissance styles.
The main façade is one of the greatest jewels of civil Gothic art in Spain.
Its most relevant decorative elements are the diamond tips that are present throughout the façade.
The central patio was called the "Court of the Lions." Its name comes from the fact that this animal is found in the decor of the low arches of the patio. The lion represents the main virtues and qualities of this family.
This palace was the official residence of the noble Mendoza family, one of the most powerful and influential in the Spanish empire at the time of the conquest of America. Historical events of great importance took place in this venue, such as the royal wedding of King Philip II and Elisabeth of Valois.
It was also where Mariana de Neoburgo, widow of Charles II, settled in Spain on her return from exile, as well as the scene of Philip V's meeting with Elisabeth Farnese.
By mistake, this palace was bombed during the Spanish Civil War, but it was restored and reformed several times. Currently, the palace is the headquarters of the Provincial Museum of Guadalajara, which is one of the oldest in Spain. In its beautiful garden, the story marathon is held every year.
Pantheon of the Duchess of Sevillano
The Pantheon of the Countess of Vega del Pozo and Duchess of Sevillano is a funerary monument by the artist Ricardo Velázquez Bosco.
This majestic mausoleum was built between 1882 and 1916 at the request of Doña María Diega Desmaissières y Sevillano to honour her relatives buried in this Spanish city.
Its architectural style is eclectic historicist, mixed with Lombard neo-Romanesque and some Mudejar decoration. Its internal decoration is made of Byzantine mosaics.
The architectural complex of this monument consists of a central building, a church and the pantheon. Its most spectacular element is the glazed ceramic dome.
Royal Alcazar of Guadalajara
The Royal Alcazar of Guadalajara is a military building of Muslim origin built in the 9th century. Over time, it was adapted to be one of the residences of the royal family and one of the industrial dependencies of the royal cloth factory.
In the 19th century, the San Carlos and Santa Isabel military barracks, the War Orphans College, and the Military Aerostation Service were established in this area.. During the Spanish Civil War, this structure was bombed, leaving it practically destroyed.
Since 1998, the Royal Alcazar of Guadalajara has been the object of several archaeological excavation campaigns, which confirmed that this enclosure is part of the history of civil architecture of the Middle Ages.
The Main Square of Guadalajara is the most important and busiest square in the city, located in the heart of the historic center.
Its history is very particular, because at first this square was small with an irregular shape, but in 1491, Cardinal Mendoza ordered the demolition of the Hermitage of Saint Dominic to widen this square.
After the remodeling, this square has a larger dimension, it is square in shape and has arcades on its sides.
This beautiful square is surrounded by old buildings such as the City Hall, commercial stores, restaurants, cafes and bars, making this place the most popular meeting place in Guadalajara.
In addition, summer and december events are held in the main square.
La Cotilla Palace
It is a beautiful Renaissance mansion from the 17th century that was built as the residence of the Marquises of Villamejor.
It is a large, two-story building, with a simple exposed brick façade and a balcony. Of this façade, the strong bars that close the windows stand out.
The most attractive space in this palace, without a doubt, is the Chinese room.
A room decorated in an oriental style, being the ideal space for theatrical performances, concerts and entertainment activities of the 19th century nobility.
In addition to this space, the romantic garden at the back of the palace is one of the most beautiful and well-kept gardens in Guadalajara. Currently, this palace houses the municipal school of arts.
Co-Cathedral of St. Mary
The Co-Cathedral of St. Mary, also called the Co-Cathedral of St. Mary of the Major Fountain, or Co-Cathedral of Guadalajara, is one of the two cathedrals of the Diocese of Sigüenza-Guadalajara.
Its construction began in the 14th century, and its most marked architectural style is Mudejar mixed with Renaissance and Baroque.
The interior of this church stands out; it is made up of three naves linked to three porticos.
The bell tower is covered in brick with eight bells from different periods, the oldest being from the 18th century.
This temple is one of the most iconic and important in the city.
Church of St. Genesius
The Catholic Temple of St. Genesius was built in the 17th century. It is located at the southern end of the historic centre of the city, in St. Dominic Square.
The most representative aspect of this religious site is its attractive stone façade, which has a colonial touch, in addition to the two towers (one on each of its sides) and the central rose window that contains a figure of the shield of the order of St. Dominic. The interior of this temple is a sober but pleasant place, full of peace and tranquillity, where canvases, sculptures and beautiful chapels are exhibited.
How to get around Guadalajara
The best way to tour Guadalajara and get to know the city and its tourist attractions is on foot, as the distances are very short. This makes it an accessible and very comfortable option.
Of course, there are other alternatives, such as the urban transport service, the taxi service and bicycles. On this last point, the city promotes the use of this means of transport, as it has more than 15 kilometres of bicycle lanes as well as a bicycle loan service with established rules and regulations.
Guadalajara's regular urban bus service is very efficient and reliable. It is made up of eight regular bus lines: two reinforcement, three night, three low-demand and two for emergencies. To find out how to use the service, contact the company's website. The city also has an intercity bus service that connects Guadalajara with other towns in the province.
The taxi service is very reliable and cheap and offers several stops throughout the city. The service is available 24 hours a day.
When it comes to getting to Guadalajara by road, this city is privileged, as it is a neighbour of the capital of Spain, just 60 kilometres away. That means it is connected to the network of highways and roads that connect to the main Spanish city.
You can also reach it by train. Guadalajara has two stations that connect the city with all of Spain. While this city does not have an airport, just 35 kilometres away is Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas International Airport (Madrid), which connects with the whole world.
Accommodation in Guadalajara
Guadalajara is a small city but is full of many options to stay, depending on the preferences and needs of each traveller.
The first option is to stay in the historic centre, especially if one wants to be in the heart of the city and close to its main tourist attractions. In the historic centre, one will find a wide variety of hotels and tourist apartments of proven quality.
St. Dominic Square is also a central area, but it is a little quieter than the historic centre. Here, you will find a wide variety of restaurants and shops, as well as hotels and tourist apartments.
Another alternative is the Station District, which is close to the train station. This area is one of the most comfortable options if you arrive in Guadalajara by train. Also, this is a very quiet and safe area with several quality hotels.
Finally, the Jewish quarter is an ideal area to enjoy the architecture and medieval atmosphere in Guadalajara. Here, you will find cobbled streets, old squares, stone houses and several charming hotels.
In summary, these are some of the best areas to stay in Guadalajara, depending on your preferences and needs. Remember, it is advisable to book in advance to find the best options and rates.
Gastronomy in Guadalajara
Pickled partridge is a culinary specialty in the kitchens of Guadalajara. To make this dish, the partridge is subjected to four different processes.
The first is to tie it so that it does not lose its shape. Then it is browned in oil and cooked with the juices of vegetables and wine. Finally, it is submerged in a vinegar-based solution. An important part of the preparation of this dish is its flavouring, which must be done with fine herbs such as thyme, bay leaf and parsley.
This dish is usually served with a salad garnish.
Roasted goat meat
Roasted kid is a classic of Spanish gastronomy, very typical of the province of Guadalajara.
The recipe is simple, but its flavour depends on the kid chosen and the oven used. It is preferable to cook the meat over wood.
This dish is accompanied by raw salad and baked potatoes.
“Empedrado” of Hare
Cooked with rice, chickpeas and beans, this dish is loaded with a lot of flavour and spiciness.
Guadalajara grape floury
Guadalajara grape floury are sweet pies made with wheat flour dough enriched with fat and sugar.
As soon as the black grapes appear in September, the dough is prepared. It must be filled with a handful of grapes.
Floury grapes from Guadalajara are an example of popular wisdom and how to create culinary wonders with the products that abound in one's kitchen.
Drunken cake is one of the most typical sweets in Guadalajara.
The secret touch of this sweet is applied at the time of the syrup bath, as the composition of water, liquor and honey is varied and established at the discretion of each pastry chef.
The liquors used for the "drunken" part of the cake are usually sweet white wines, oloroso wines such as Jerez or stronger liquors such as rum, brandy or whiskey.
Festivals in Guadalajara
Guadalajara is known for its festivities, which are full of tradition, culture and joy. Its typical festivals are very colourful and, of course, are events that you cannot miss.
The first party of the year in Guadalajara is Carnival. People in this city dress up and take to the streets to participate in parades and activities. One of the traditions celebrated during Carnival is the "Burial of the Sardine", in which a large sardine is burned in the Main Square.
Holy Week is a very important festivity in Spain and especially in Guadalajara, where it is celebrated with processions and religious acts. The most original aspect of these festivities is the participation of the Brotherhood of the Apostles, which is more than 500 years old. This brotherhood represents Jesus with his 12 apostles. One of the most outstanding processions of the celebration is that of "Christ of Hope", which leaves on Good Friday night.
Another festival that is deeply rooted in Guadalajara is the celebration of St. Isidore. This is one of the most anticipated festivities in the city. During a week in May, bullfights are held in its square. Also, there are cultural and gastronomic activities.
The biggest festival in the city is the one celebrated in honour of the Virgin of the Antigua, patroness saint of Guadalajara, which takes place every September 8. This celebration extends over several consecutive days and its beginning dates back to the Middle Ages.
Every festivity in Guadalajara has its charm and particularity, but they all share the joy and hospitality of its inhabitants.