Chinchón

  • Chinchón
    2-chinchon_plaza_mayor.jpg

Located about 45km from Madrid, on the Tajo-Jarama river basin, Chinchón is a traditional village surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. It has an iconic square, a host of venues to taste top-notch Castilian dishes and a calendar packed with events.

Chinchón is, first and foremost, a square. An old square with a long history, flanked by arcades, staggered roof lines and 234 green wood balconies that seem to mark the line from which all the other constructions in town sprawl. Dating back to the Middle Ages, Chinchón’s Plaza Mayor is not only a fine example of Castile’s popular architecture; it’s the nerve centre of the village. Throughout the years, it’s hosted royal announcements and celebrations, mock spear combats, bullfights, livestock fairs, morality plays, public executions, even film shootings (Cantinflas, Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles and John Wayne were here). Lined with restaurants and bars with outdoor tables, it’s the perfect place for an appetiser or a meal in town. The star dishes are suckling pig, lamb or kid baked in wood-fired oven, but also chorizo and other pork products, roasted peppers, garlic and other typical Castilian soups, migas, Lent stew, Madrid-style stew and meals with sheep cheese.

Carnival and Medieval Market

In February, the square is home to Carnival celebrations and a huge Medieval Market featuring jousts, parades, shows and an arts and crafts market. Evoking the Catholic Monarchs’ visit to Chinchón, it’s the perfect setting to try traditional cuisine. In August, the month of the local festival, the square turns into a bullring and there are bullfights, shows, parties, running of bulls, sporting competitions and religious events.

Gastronomy is a major component of Chinchón’s identity. Traditional cakes with funny names – ‘novice tits’ or ‘friar’s balls’ –, made with the recipes of the Poor Clare Sisters, flavoursome garlic, local wines and, of course, anisette are a must. There’s a Wine and Anisette Festival in late March or early April every year. In October, it’s time for the Bullfighting Charity Festival, followed by the Garlic Festival. In Easter, more than 240 residents take part in the re-enactment of the Passion. As a prelude to the bullfighting season, the first running of the bulls of the year takes place on 25 July, followed by a novillada (a fight with steers).

The Clock Tower

‘Chinchón has a tower without a church and a church without a tower,’ the popular saying goes. The Clock Tower is the only remnant of the old church. The new church, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, on the other hand, has no tower. The church houses a painting by Goya, Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The parish church today is the Chapel of El Rosario, whose side chapels doubled as prison cells during the Spanish Civil War.

Next to the Clock Tower stands the Lope de Vega Theatre, whose curtain is a large canvas by Luis Muriel showing village scenes. The Parador de Chinchón is housed in the ancient monastery of the Augustinians, while the Castle of the Counts of Chinchón, which has been rebuilt several times, is closed to visitors.

How to get there:

By car: 45-50min drive along A-3 highway and M-311 road.

By bus: 45min ride from Conde de Casal (bus line 337).

Useful links:

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