Madrid's original murallas
or arab city walls can still be seen in the Parque del Emir Mohamed I, next to Cuesta de la Vega (see location on our tourist map
just behind the Cathedral. Access is free.
Dating from the 9th century, these elaborate fortifications were built to protect the Moorish settlement of Magerit or Mayrit that moved to the left bank of the Manzanares River. They stand today as reminders of the first city limits.
They originally surrounded an area of around 4 hectares, around a small castle or fort located where today's Royal Palace stands. Other palaces and castles were also built over the following centuries, until the present-day's marvellous Eastern Palace or Palacio del Oriente as the Royal Palace is known.
Other parts of the wall also date from post-Moorish times, added in the 12th and 13th centuries by the Christian settlers. The ruins of one of the corner towers, the Torre de Narigues, can also be seen at Calle Mayor number 83.
History buffs will want to visit these ancient ruins, declared a National Monument in 1954. That title prevented any further deterioration caused by construction in the surrounding area.
The greater part of the ruins are located within the park of Emir Mohamed I, now used as a romantic backdrop to several concerts and other cultural events during the summer months.
This is an excellent area for a relaxing stroll, the Campo del Moro or "Moor's Field", Jardines de las Vistillas and the Parque de Atenas providing welcome green areas to escape from the concrete. During summer months, the Jardines de las Vistillas play host to open air terrace cafés popular with young and trendy crowds.
Plaza de Oriente square is a short walk from here.