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Monastery of El Paular and Rascafría

This is going to be the first of a group of location articles that I'm going to do, like one on the ‘Sierra de Guadarrama’ (Guadarrama mountain range) and north-east zone of the community of Madrid. It's been almost six years since I came from Barcelona to Madrid and leaving the sea behind was a hard step to me.

When I first arrived in Madrid I absolutely didn’t know anything nor about the capital, nor about the outskirts, and after a long walk downtown visiting the most “castizo” of the city (this adjective refers to something purely Castilian, something typical from Madrid) I was brought to Guadarrama. I just fell in love! And I liked the mountains too!

All my life I’ve lived in Catalonia, in Pineda de Mar to be exact. I love the sea, the beach, and our little precious mountains full of pines, oaks and poplars. When I was still considering moving to Madrid, I visited it one weekend to get to know the city better because I never had the opportunity of walking on its streets before. So, taking advantage of my birthday weekend, I came to know Km. 0 (the point where all Spanish roads begins). I loved the most “castizo” Madrid, the Austrias Madrid, even neighborhoods such as Moratalaz. But I don’t get along with big cities, and after a whole day walking through the town taking photos with my ActionSampler I was taken to Guadarrama, and from there straight to ‘La Jarosa’ reservoir where you can see the cross from the ‘Valle de los Caídos’. From this point there was no turning back.

This introduction is just an excuse to introduce myself and declare my motivation that now lies in describing what I see in where live. The village of Guadarrama is just the beginning, the whole region deserves to be shown off and make known to the world and that’s what I’m about to do right now. To start off my latest discovery (I just write them little by little unfortunately): ‘Santa María del Paular’ monastery and Rascafría Village.

Located in the north of Madrid, in the shire of ‘Valle Alto del Lozoya’, Rascafría is a mountain village with the typical configuration and architecture of the zone. Big stone houses with slate roofing, rambling streets with spider web shapes that depart from the village principal square presided by the town hall. Rascafría is a lovely town split by the beautiful river Lozoya, which in these winter days is full of cold water from the mountain snow. A very good place to find steakhouses where we can enjoy a tasty meal of veal from the ‘Sierra de Guadarrama’, designation of origin of Community of Madrid. The Church of ‘San Andrés Apostol’, the town hall, the old houses like ’Antigua Casa de Postas’ or ‘La Casona’, are also can’t-miss places in this town.

‘Santa María del Paular’ monastery was founded on 1350 and was built as the first charter house of the Castilla’s kingdom, mostly in gothic and baroque styles. This masterpiece of medieval architecture can be visited, but sometimes remains closed so I recommend to ask for opening times and dates before going. Close to the monastery, we can find two places we just can’t miss. The first one is ‘Arboreto Giner de los Ríos’, a beautiful botanical garden full of trees from the whole world (two hundred species can be found) that could make for a perfect Lomographic walk. The other one is ‘el Puente del Perdón’ (the bridge of forgiveness), a s.XVIII gorgeous stone bridge over Lozoya River that links the monastery with Los Batanes, a country state.

These, and many other things, like the different paper mills, the ‘Serrerías Belgas’ (Belgian sawmills), ‘La Casa de Madera’, ‘El Puente de la Reina’ (the queen’s bridge) or the Purgatory Falls, is what we can find in Rascafría. There are still many things that I failed to mention but I’ll save that for another day, like many other marvels you must know on ‘Sierra de Guadarrama’.

See you on my next “lomolocalization”!

written by polinices and translated by polinices

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The original version of this article is written in: Spanish. It is also available in: Italiano.