Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sunday stroll: Madrid Rio

London's got the Thames, Paris has the Seine: Madrid's got... the Manzanares. Now the Spanish capital's river is nothing on the other two, it has to be said. It doesn't divide the city in the same way; people don't align themselves with one side or the other. And to be honest, it isn't particularly impressive, as rivers go. But since the landscaping of Madrid Rio in the late 2000s, the Manzanares has finally become a key spot on the city's map.

View of the Cathedral from Madrid Rio
The city's newest park spans 10km of riverbank, with landscaped areas on both sides of the Manzanares. Running from Casa de Campo in the north down to the Parque Tierno Galván in the south, Madrid Rio passes incorporates paths for walkers and cyclists, pádel and tennis courts, children's playgrounds, cafés, a skate park, formal landscaped gardens and more. In summer, Madrid Rio also features the city's 'beach': a collection of deck chairs arranged around a shallow pool, plus plenty of grassy spots for sunbathing. If you'd rather join the sporty types, you can hire a bike or rollerblades, you can do so from riverside shop Ecomoving Sports at Avenida del Manzanares 2. They also have tandems and family bikes.

The wildest creature you're likely to encounter at Madrid Rio


A stroll or cycle along the river affords views of some of the city's key sights, including the Royal Palace and the Cathedral. It also takes in a number of impressive bridges both old and new, including the elegant Puente de Toledo, originally completed in 1660 and added to in the eighteenth century. Football fans might be interested to note that the pathway swings by the Vicente Calderón, Atlético de Madrid's stadium. Easily accessible from the southern end is the Matadero, a contemporary cultural centre that started life as an abattoir and cattle market in the early twentieth century. Fear not, there's no trace of its slaughterhouse days now: the complex is surprisingly elegant given its former purpose. With a café and free exhibitions, it's a great place to start or end your riverside walk and another example of successful regeneration in Madrid.

Madrid Rio scrubs up well

Madrid Rio is easily accessed from a number of metro stations, including Príncipe Pío, Puerta del Angel, Marqués de Vadillo and Legazpi. When it comes to choosing your Sunday stroll, Madrid Rio may not have the formal charm of the Retiro, but it has ample space and a variety of activities to keep everyone entertained. And no, none of them involve balloon modelling or adults dressed up as Mickey Mouse.

The most Modern of Madrid Rio's bridges


 A downloadable leaflet with full information on Madrid Rio, its sights and facilities is available here. You can find out more about where to hire bikes near Madrid Rio here.
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