The Courtyard of the Lions in the Palace of El Infantado, Castilla la Mancha, Guadalajara, Spain.

© Alvaro German Vilela/Shutterstock

Palacio de los Duques del Infantado

Castilla-La Mancha

The only reason to visit businesslike Guadalajara, aside from changing buses, is a pretty good one: the former palace of the illustrious Mendoza clan is unique in Spain, as its ornate facade punctuated by spiky diamond-shaped stones amply testifies. Creep inside the courtyard – the hallowed Patio de los Leones – and your pulse will quicken further on seeing a surfeit of elaborately carved lion and griffin motifs lining the columns.

The palace hosts the city museum (worth a look for its Talavera ceramics, Hebrew stucco and paintings by Cano and Ribera) as well as Las Salas del Duque, where magnificent 16th-century ceiling frescos by Italian artist Romulo Cincinato survived a 1936 fire-bombing during the Civil War. The palace has since been beautifully restored.

AVE trains connect Guadalajara to Madrid's Atocha station (€17.50, 25 minutes, hourly) or you can use the slower commuter train on the cercanías line C2. The Palacio is a brisk 15-minute walk from the station.

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