Most major cities in the world were built on bodies of water or on navigable rivers. Madrid, however, has nothing more than the puny, little Manzanares River. In the 1970s, the M-30, the city's inner ring highway, was constructed along and even over the river. In 2008 an ambitious project was begun to tunnel the M-30 underground, and to turn the banks of the Manzanares into a vital part of Madrid's urban landscape. A new park stretches for over six miles along the river, with gardens, fountains, restaurants, foot-bridges, playgrounds and sports facilities. Even on a weekday, I found the park to be busy with walkers, joggers, bicyclists and skaters.
I walked perhaps about one half of the park, starting at the historic Segovia Bridge. Segovia Bridge was Madrid's oldest bridge. It was built in the 1500s, and was the main route out of the city. It was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, but a new bridge was built in its place. The new bridge is wider, but otherwise follows the same design as the original.
Madrid's Cathedral stands on the cliffs above the river. At the far left you can see a portion of the Royal Palace.
I continued south along the river-walk. Thousands of pine trees have been planted throughout the park. Foot-bridges connect the two banks.
Along the river stands the stadium of Madrid's other soccer team, "Club Atlético".
I arrived at Madrid's other historic bridge, Toledo Bridge. It was built in the 1600s. Such nice vistas of the bridge were impossible prior to the construction of the park.
I had planned to turn back at this point, but a very modern foot-bridge a bit further down the river beckoned me on.
There is much more to the river park. The next time I visit Madrid, I will have to see the rest of it.
Strolling along the Manzanares River is not as romantic as walking along the banks of the Seine in Paris, and I would not put this park at the top of the list of attractions for a first-time visitor to Madrid. However, the Madrid Río Project is definitely a wonderful asset to the city!
I'm sure that I will return!