Bison Abroad | Biking Back in Time

Since my classes don’t actually start until October 3, finding things to do in Europe is pretty easy. Whether you love seeing historic sites or you’re an adventure seeker, Spain has it all. Every city I’ve explored during my extended summer vacation boasts years of history.

JORDYN MESKAN | THE SPECTRUM

As I walked down different streets in Madrid, I couldn’t help but wonder who walked down the exact same streets 500 years ago. While Madrid most definitely satisfied my historical curiosity, it also made me thirst for more adventure.

While I adventured through Madrid for two weeks I had the best tour guides: locals. My awesome host family in Madrid showed me all of the best sights in the city, including local favorites.

When taking in the view of the city from Palacio Real de Madrid, you would expect to see construction and development to meet the needs of Spain’s largest city. Instead, you will see a sea of green. My host family took me on an adventure through that particular sea of green.

Located to the west of the city center, visitors and locals alike can escape the hustle and bustle of the city in Casa de Campo. Casa de Campo is one of Madrid’s many parks, but it’s one-of-a-kind. According to Madrid’s official tourism site, Casa de Campo is over six square miles in area, and it is all right in the city. Due to its size, one of the best ways to experience the park is by mountain biking.

During my time in Madrid, I explored the park by bike three out of the four times I visited the area.

We rode through pine forests, up hills, and listened to the sound of bike tires gripping the earth. Through passing thunderstorms and under rays of sunlight, we biked. It wasn’t just the beauty and peacefulness of my surroundings that made me fall in love with the park — it was the history too.

Biking back in time, Casa de Campo was the royal hunting grounds. Its close proximity to Palacio Real de Madrid was perfect for Spanish Royalty. Fernando VI declared it a Royal Forest under his rule in the 1700s, but Spanish Royalty had used the grounds years prior to the official declaration. Different battles took place at Casa de Campo during the Spanish civil war in the 1930s as well. Eventually the grounds were turned into a park belonging to the people of Madrid, and it has been ever since.

Casa de Campo is a natural playground for Spanish royalty and commoners alike. Whether you bike or hike through Casa de Campo, it’s easy to imagine your way back to the past.

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