The Manzanares River

  • Physical accessibility
  • Pets allowed
  • Suitable for children
  • Natural heritage

Life flows through its waters and history is born on its river banks

It supplied water and electricity, and it also fed us. Home to countless plant and animal species that proliferate in our municipality, it is the most famous river in the Community of Madrid.

At an altitude of 2,063 metres, in the Ventisquero de la Condesa, our beloved Manzanares River is born, giving its name to our village and part of its identity to the of inhabitants of the city of Madrid.

It has been an essential natural element for the history and development of culture in our region and, although it is not a very copious river, it is true that it is fed by several streams from its source, and its entire course is dotted with very varied landscapes that harbour many different species.

The Manzanares River is never the same, in any of its stretches or at any time of the year. In any case, it is always a fragile ecosystem that has suffered a lot and we are now recovering with care and respect.

‘The Manzanares’ of Manzanares El Real

Our most representative water flow in Madrid

As is well known, the Manzanares River has always been one of the favourite summer leisure spots for the people of Madrid. Its overexploitation led to the deterioration of the quality of its water and the disappearance of both plant and animal species along its banks.

But since 2016, when bathing was banned, nature has been able to reclaim its rights and our river is back to what it was, a spectacular orchard where we can enjoy a large number of plant species, typical of Mediterranean siliceous rivers, as well as animals and insects that live off the richness of the environment. Even our beloved otters, lost years ago, have returned to populate the upper course of the Manzanares.

Its course is fed by the waters of the rocky streams, such as the Condesa, Valdemartín and Majadillas, and in the lower areas of our village it is fed by the Mediano and Cortecero streams, which pass through the village. The Manzanares River is also accompanied by the Recuenco Stream and the Samburiel River which, although not feeding into it, flow along together into the Santillana Reservoir and help to fill it.

Cascades, waterfalls, water jets and passes through plains and steppes are some of the landscapes it creates and crosses along its way down to the Manzanares Reservoir, from where it heads to the dam of El Pardo on its way to Madrid.

Río Manzanares acordeón 1

‘Manzanares, Manzanares, river’s apprentice’ said Francisco de Quevedo in his poems because, used to other great rivers of the peninsula, ours was small in its flow.

But, despite not being a large river, it was important enough to give settlement to populations and cultures from prehistoric times, as attested to by the numerous archaeological sites found in its vicinity, up to the present day.

Its original name was ‘Guadarrama de Madrid’ and that is how it was called until the 17th century when, apparently, the Duke changed the name to call it after the main town of his duchy, where the River Manzanares flowed through, and thus differentiating it from the River Guadarrama. It has also been the object of different modification projects to make it navigable, such as the impressive work in the 18th century that aimed to connect its course with that of the Guadarrama and Tagus Rivers to link them with the Guadalquivir River, and thus bringing the Atlantic Ocean to Madrid to make it accessible by boat.

Beyond great feats, the truth is that the Manzanares River has been essential for our municipality: it has moved the wheels of our flour, iron and paper mills, it has irrigated our fields thanks to the Caz de los Linares and the Caz de los Quiñones channels, it has been the washing place for our clothes, from where our grandmothers and mothers collected buttons to sew on shirts and trousers that had lost them, where we fished and where we cooled off in the summer.

Río Manzanares acordeón 2

In pictures

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Activities in Manzanares El Real

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