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Madrid, Spain

The Tower of the Bones

Part of the medieval watchtower is displayed in an otherwise ordinary parking garage. 

A chunk of one of the oldest towers in Madrid is nestled among the cars in a nondescript underground parking garage. Stumbling upon it is a treat for those looking for a place to park before heading to the Royal Palace.

The Tower of the Bones (la Torre de los Huesos) was built in the 11th century by the area’s Muslim inhabitants. It received its name because it was near Huesa del Raf, the ancient Islamic cemetery. The tower was built two centuries after the 9th-century construction of the walls of Mayrit, the medieval Muslim city that predates the Spanish one.

The looming structure was situated outside the citadel, where it functioned as a surveillance post over the old Arenal stream. When King Alfonso VI of Castile conquered Madrid in the early 11th century, the watchtower was incorporated into the Christian wall.

The Royal Palace now occupies the space the tower was built to guard. Bits of its base were discovered in 1996 during renovation work on the Plaza de Oriente by workers constructing an underground parking lot. The partially preserved remains are on display where they were found.

Know Before You Go

Parking is situated in front of the Royal Palace in the heart of Madrid. The nearest tube station is "Opera."