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The town of Manzanares el Real, 30 miles north of Madrid, is most famous for its castle that is an imposing example of the military architecture of the 15th century in Spain. The construction of the castle began in the year 1475, at a time when Madrid was just a little town. The castle has a quadrangular plant with four towers on the corners. Three cylindrical towers and a larger one known as Torre del Homenaje (Homage Tower) with a squared layout. Each of the three cylindrical towers is crowned with smaller towers, and the "Homage Tower" is finished off with another smaller octagonal tower. The body of the castle has sides of 30 meters and the cylindrical towers have a diameter of 6.5 meters at the base. The central courtyard (called Patio de Armas) is surrounded by corridors with arcades as an example of the late Gothic style with Mudejar influence. Finally, the castle is surrounded by a barbican wall with a single entrance through a beautiful gate facing the west side and flanked by two solid towers. All the walls of the barbican have arrow loops in the shape of the cross of Jesusalem.

The castle of Manzanares appears in the movie "El Cid" (1961) featuring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren.

The Manzanares River passes through the town of Manzanares el Real where it is dammed to form the Santillana reservoir, one of Madrid's most important water supplies.