Collado Mediano is 47 km from Madrid, and it provides direct access to the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. Because of its location, it has a great variety of flora and fauna, standing out its meadows, the Cerro del Castillo and the small springs that irrigate several wetlands.
Two versions are explaining the origin of Collado Mediano: Romanized settlements or settlements of shepherds from Segovia. Whatever its origin, what is known is that in 1268 the population began to be part of the Real de Manzanares of Alfonso X called “the Wise”. Collado Mediano would belong to it until 1630 when it was accorded the title of “Villa”. Over the years, Collado Mediano has been transformed and has gone evolved from being a small agricultural land, inhabited by dozens of people, to a large town, visited and supported by the thousands of tourists who arrive every year.
If what you like is the sumptuousness and tradition of religious monuments, Collado Mediano is the place for you. The whole of its old cemetery and the town parish are two valid examples of the traces time left in Collado Mediano, which, like its monuments, has been built stone by stone. But that is not all, as the villa also reflects modernity in its walls.
The country chapel and the old cemetery
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The old cemetery was opened during the War of Independence. The first people to be buried here were French soldiers who perished in the battle. It has a square shape and is surrounded by a masonry wall made of granite of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The access is through a door with a pointed arch supported by circular columns crowned by capitals representing human figures. The chapel of the old cemetery dates from the late twelfth century, and it was the main chapel of an old church whose materials were used to build, in 1782, the San Ildefonso Parish Church. Aesthetically, it belongs to the late Romanesque style. It is formed by a simple rectangular nave, covered by a vault of rough ashlar. The vault is held by a single-pointed central arch, supported on two small cylindrical columns, decorated with one small capital.
San Ildefonso Parish
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It was built in 1782 with the debris of the old church and of the San Juan Chapel. Inside the main altar is one of the most valuable pieces of the temple: an altarpiece of the late seventeenth century from the Convent of Mercedarias, in Madrid. The church, restored in 1942, is one of the most beautiful in the Sierra de Guadarrama area.
The Roman site “El Beneficio.”
The existence of a Roman inn, established around the second century AD in Collado Mediano is documented. From the 3rd until the 4th century, it was destroyed or remodelled, reaching its maximum splendour in the latter century. The inn was a place for travellers to rest after descending from the Sierra de Guadarrama or just before their ascent to the lands of the North Plateau. The inn was abandoned around the fifth century, after the barbarian invasion and the destabilisation of the Roman Empire.
La Mansio has one main building of a quadrangular shape, consisting of two wings separated by an open patio, and two upper floors. In the north wing were the main rooms, and in the south wing the thermal complex and the kitchen. The thermal baths were the most important part of the building, where the travellers cleaned themselves before arriving at their destinies.
The Posada Romana Visitor Interpretive Centre was created to compliment and educate people about the archaeological heritage of Collado Mediano by explaining it. As the excavation of the first documented “mansio” (inn) and the layout of the Roman road connection finished, the Visitor Interpretive Centre has aimed to publicise the heritage and also raise awareness of the importance of its conservation.
The entry is free and guided visits are available, but they must be booked in advance by phoning 91 859 81 05.
The tower, located in the Cerro de Cabeza Mediana, at 1,331 meters high, also known as Cerro del Telégrafo, was built in 1830 when the telegraph network of Madrid was installed in the Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia) and Aranjuez palaces. It was part of a system of message transmission by optical telegraph, which was formed by a series of towers separated from each other by 2.5 leagues (5.58 km).
The signals varied according to the position of a moving part in relation to another, fixed one, which was observed by the operator of the next tower and reproduced in the same way. The message was deciphered at its destination using established codes. In each tower, there were from two to three tower men; some were permanently on-call duty and lived in very precarious conditions. The telegraph tower was part of the Madrid-Valladolid-Burgos line and must have operated from 1840 until 1852 when the electric telegraph started to operate and day and night transmission was made possible.
Celebrations and traditions
Honey fritters, pastries and doughnuts, all of it watered with litres of sangria. This is how the residents of Collado Mediano welcome each year and thus celebrate their patron saints, San Ildefonso and Nuestra Señora de la Paz, with festivities to show off. Although the tradition is the main focus of the festival of Collado Mediano, music and dance are also important.
- The Festival of San Ildefonso and of Nuestra Señora de la Paz, patrons of Collado Mediano takes place on the 23rd and the 24th of January. On the 23rd of January, San Ildefonso is commemorated. The day begins with a mass, followed by a procession. The procession tours part of the town and arrives at the Town Hall Square (Plaza del Ayuntamiento) where honey fritters, pastries and doughnuts watered with sangria are tasted while listening to dulzainas and a small drum. The neighbours and visitors of this town of the Sierra de Guadarrama dance the famous “Rondón. One day later, on the 24th of January, it is the turn of the patron saint Nuestra Señora de la Paz. On this day, a mass and a procession are organized in her honour. Afterwards, the parish priest offers at the porch of the church a tasting of the typical honey fritters, pastries and doughnuts watered with sangria. The festival last four days, each dedicated to a community, boys, girls, married people and children. During these days there is dancing in the evening and at night, until dawn.
- The May Cross Festival: This festival takes place on the 3rd of May and is a great gathering of neighbours and foreigners during which potatoes with meat are tasted in a unique setting, on the Roblelpoyo prairie. The cross is carried all the way up to the prairie and people eat, dance and sing around it.
- Virgen de la Paloma Festival: On the 15th of August, the neighbours dress up as “chulapos” and “chulapas” for the popular dance that takes place in the Town Hall Square (Plaza del Ayuntamiento). It is a party for adults and children, neighbours and tourists of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
- Festival of the Most Holy Christ of Charity: The festival takes place at the end of August and begins with the proclamation of the queen and her bridesmaids in the municipal park. During this six-day festival many activities for children, youth and adults, neighbours and visitors of the Sierra de Guadarrama take place: bullfights, cycling races, football tournaments, “chito” championships, clay pigeon shooting, card game championships, dancing, fireworks and a wide range of cultural, religious and festive activities. The festival ends in the Town Hall Square (Plaza del Ayuntamiento) with a great dinner of the Brotherhood of the Partners of the Fetsival in which a traditional stew of bull meat is served, followed by dancing.
Sometimes mountains have strange shapes which are adored by humans. This is the case with the Cobañera rock in Collado Mediano. The town has remarkable geology as well as diverse flora and fauna. Despite having been affected by urban and demographic growth, nature continues to give to Collado Mediano an important treasure: its landscape and environmental wealth, in the heart of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
La Cobañera Viewpoint
La Cobañera is a natural rock monument at the foot of the Sierra del Castillo of Collado Mediano. One of the hills of this area, the one known as La Cobañera, gives the town a great feature because of the natural monument nestled in it. The relevance of La Cobañera is such that it is represented on the shield of Collado Mediano.
In this enclave, which is accessed through a path that starts in the vicinity of the water tank, there is an excellent viewpoint from where to see the valley at your feet, including Mount Abantos and Mount Redondo. The viewpoint, by itself, is an interesting set of rocks with diverse shapes.
The Telegraph Hill
The Telegraph Hill (Cerro del Telégrafo), also known as Cabeza Mediana, located east of the municipality of Collado Mediano, has on top a telegraph tower built in 1830, from where magnificent views of the Sierra de Guadarrama can be admired.