El Boalo, Cerceda, Mataelpino.
El Boalo, Cerceda, Mataelpino
As its name implies, this municipality is formed by three different villages, which are located in the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park and the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Regional Park. El Boalo-Cerceda-Mataelpino benefits from a valuable natural landscape because of its location in the Sierra de Guadarrama, 52 km from Madrid.
Until about the 19th century, there was no historical record of the three municipalities as one entity. Even so, El Boalo, Cerceda and Mataelpino were founded by shepherds from Segovia who after the Reconquest settled in the region. In the 13th century, they became part of the Real de Manzanares of Alfonso X called “the Wise”. Over the years, the village developed and in terms of ways of life, it went from agriculture and livestock to stonework and later on, to tourism.
The territory of El Boalo-Cerceda-Mataelpino includes in its patrimony numerous and important churches, such as the one that was designated a National Historic Monument: Nuestra Señora de la Blanca in Cerceda.
The municipality displays other treasures in its streets and outside them and is an example of typical mountain architecture: narrow streets, low stone houses, corrals, ovens and orchards with produce for personal consumption. It also has an archaeological site with remains of a Visigothic necropolis.
San Isidro Country Chapel
This peculiar country chapel is located in the area of Las Laderas de El Boalo, in a unique and sought-after environment, surrounded by magnificent scenery with stunning views of the Sierra de Guadarrama. It was built thanks to the generous work of residents during the decades of the 80s and 90s, using granite masonry from the area. It is a proof of the devotion the residents of El Boalo profess to San Isidro as the patron par excellence of the farmers and cattle breeders, a guild to which the vast majority of the residents formerly belonged. On the 15th of May, the traditional pilgrimage in honour of the saint takes place at the foot of Peña Mediodía, next to the recreation area of the same name. It attracts the participation of neighbours and tourists for a day in the countryside full of hospitality and of festive atmosphere.
Santa Águeda Church
San Bartolomé, 10. Mataelpino.
Saint Águeda Church was built after the collapse of the Church of San Andrés. It has a modern construction style, from the second half of the 20th century. The old church of Mataelpino, dating from the 16th century, was in a ruinous state, so it was decided to build a new one. Unfortunately, the construction ran out of funds after cementing it and having little else done. In 1978 the residents of Mataelpino decided to finish building it, bringing funds and workforce. It was estimated that by supplying manpower, 70% of the cost of construction could be saved. After a year of works, the church as it is in its actual state was completed. Typical mountain materials such as stone and wood were used. It houses the effigy of Saint Águeda, in whose honour the day of the Águedas is celebrated.
Santa María la Blanca Church
Santa María la Blanca Church in Cerceda, designated a National Historic Monument, is the only example of stylistic purification in this area that features the 16th-century Castilian religious architecture. Since the times of the Catholic Monarchs, this was called the abulense Gothic style and was part of the last Romanesque style heading to the new Gothic one.
The church is decorated with balls on the cornice and among its unique qualities stand out the harmonic slenderness of the bell tower from where the view of the mountains and the surroundings is wonderful. The church is made of granite masonry, except the sacristy, built with regular ashlars. In the interior, it conserves a Renaissance baptismal font; the main altarpiece, made by flamenco and Spanish artists is very interesting. It is also worth noting the impressive carving of the Christ of Hope. The acoustic of this temple is extraordinary, and throughout the year one can enjoy concerts of the La Coral. It is located in the Plaza del Cristo s / n Cerceda.
San Sebastián Mártir Church
Plaza de San Sebastián. El Boalo.
San Sebastián Mártir Church is from the 17th century. It has a rectangular shape; it was built in masonry, and its corners are reinforced by granite blocks. A bell gable of good ashlar masonry made of two parts was erected opposite the vault. The upper part of the tower has two half-point openings, and on top of them in the centre, there is a third smaller one. This temple has been refurbished on numerous occasions; during a very recent refurbishment, an arcaded gallery protecting the entrance was added. According to the Madrid province artistic inventory, the main chapel was covered by a wooden arch. Its interior is of a single nave and shelters the patron saint of San Sebastian. The church is located in the Plaza de San Sebastián, El Boalo.
Cerro el Rebollar Visigoth Necropolis
Back in 1960, Victorio Rozalen a neighbour of El Boalo and industrialist of the place, together with Felipe Sabaria, a Portuguese discovered an extensive necropolis and several scattered tombs while reforesting with pines a place known as the El Rebollar Hill (Cerro el Rebollar), close to where the Herrero Stream confluences with the Samburiel River. On site there were large slabs that, when raised, brought to light skeletal remains, human skeletons and, in some cases, also clay amphoras and copper coins. Anthropomorphic tombs excavated in the stone have also been found in other places in El Boalo. The discovery of similar tombs in the street of El Vallejuelo and the “Cercas Viejas” meadow is also mentioned.
In the municipalities of the Sierra de Madrid, the cattle crush is a typical structure, a hallmark of the livestock tradition of our villages and a treasure of our ethnographic heritage. At the moment, such structures are in disuse; they have become witnesses of other eras, uses and trades. Not that long ago, the cattle crush was part of our history and our identity. Its origin dates back to the Middle Ages, and some of such places have been used until well into the 20th century. The neighbours used it to hold steady the animals and thus to shoe the horses and give certain treatments to the cattle. You can see such places in El Boalo (Carretera M-617, exit from Boalo towards Mataelpino) and Cerceda (Calle Potro de Herrar, 7).
Traditional architecture, like other folk expressions, is an element that forms part of the identity of the people, of what they have been and what they are. Therefore, El Boalo, Cerceda and Mataelpino are examples of the typical mountain architecture: narrow streets, low stone houses, farm, ovens and orchards for the use of the locals.
Adapted to the needs of rural society, scant of comforts and sober of customs, for centuries the traditional rural dwelling responded with simple and ingenious solutions to what the people who lived in it required. The houses are sober, with a rough appearance, but exceptionally well adapted to the climate and employing materials nature placed at the peoples´ fingertips.
We can find houses of one or two floors; in many cases, in the houses with two floors the lower one was for the cattle, and so the heat from the animals could be used for a greater “comfort” of the people who lived on the second floor. It must not be forgotten that this mountain range has a harsh climate, especially in winter so this extra heat was essential, along with the wood obtained from pollarding different species or from maintaining meadow forests and plantations.
Festivals and traditions
Each of the three villages has its own festival which the three of them celebrate together. Traditional festivals, such as those organised in the summer and dedicated to the patron saints and pagan festivals liven the village up through dances, tastings and typical folklore.
- San Sebastián “La luminaria” Festival: The Festival of San Sebastián, patron saint of El Boalo, is celebrated from 16th to 20th of January. It is the most solemn and deeply rooted festivity in the village. Its observance, on the 20th of January, possibly comes from celebrating the end of the traditional slaughtering of pigs, which local people still carried out annually. It is this regained traditional festivity which allows people to participate in preparing different products from the pork. In addition to the morning procession, a bonfire or Luminaria is lit at night time, and all those who attend are served milk chocolate spiked with anise and the typical greaves cakes to help fight the harshness of the night.
Santa Águeda Festival: On the 5th of February Saint Águeda is celebrated in Mataelpino. Better known as the Day of the Águedas, the Águedas are the protagonists of the festivity along with the patron saint. The women of the town and the nearby towns meet to eat together and play the role of matriarchs. It a wonderful occasion to strengthen bonds between families and between towns. The day begins with the assignment of the Staff of Command, followed by the mass and the procession. Afterwards, one can enjoy the dances, brass bands, the traditional tapas contest where “La Cresta de Oro” is disputed, and drinking hot chocolate with cakes.
- Cruz de Mayo Festival. It takes place in the town of Cerceda on the 3rd of May. During the day, a pilgrimage to the village pasture takes place. The residents and visitors of the Sierra de Guadarrama can also enjoy the brass band that enlivens the village streets.
San Isidro Pilgrimage: On the 15th of May, the pilgrimage to the El Boalo Country Chapel takes place. The chapel, dedicated to San Isidro Labrador, patron of the farmers, is located on the slope of the Sierra de los Porrones and from it one can see the La Maliciosa Mountain. The procession goes from El Boalo Church to the chapel; afterwards, a traditional mass takes place. Local people and those who visit the village can enjoy a rural outing in the recreation area.
El Boalo Summer Festival: At the beginning of July, in El Boalo the Summer Festival takes place. Bullfights, bull runs on the streets of the town as well as night dances and children’s activities for neighbours and visitors of the Sierra de Guadarrama are organised. Do not miss the popular Brotherhood Dinner.
Mataelpino summer festival – San Bartolomé: On the 24th of August San Bartolomé is celebrated, and a mass, a religious procession in honour of the saint, as well as a pilgrimage to the park, take place. Apart from the religious activities, one will find a brass band that enlivens the streets of Mataelpino, bullfights, dances and activities for children. It is worth mentioning the BOLOENCIERRO, a unique and exclusive experience of Mataelpino. It is a race open to all audiences. In the adult race a large ball made of expansive foam, of about 150 kilos and 3 meters in diameter chases the runners along a route and all the way to the town square. In the children’s’ race, the ball is lighter, but the race is equally exciting. This race is getting to be known around the globe, and each year, more people participate. We encourage you to visit us during the San Bartolomé Festival, the week of the 24th of August, and enjoy with us our unique runs.
Summer festival in Cerceda: Cerceda Summer Festival begins on the last Thursday of August and for three days bullfights, bull runs on the streets of the village, as well as night dances and activities for the youth can be enjoyed.
Christ of Hope Festival: On the 14th of September Cerceda states its devotion to the Christ of Hope. In an atmosphere of respect, a procession honouring him is organised. Various leisure activities take up the whole day, and the traditional “rabbit dinner” ends it.
The unique features of the Sierra de Guadarrama are the presence of livestock, meadows and water. The views from here of the granite cliffs of La Pedriza, Cuerda Larga, Sierra de los Porrones and La Maliciosa are wonderful. Walking along the different routes available and reaching overlooks such as the Ponzonill is an excellent way to enjoy the natural wealth of this municipality. This viewpoint is at 1,175 m altitude and is the endpoint of the route that practically traverses the entire Mataelpino territory.
The outlook of La Ponzoñilla offers an extraordinary panoramic view of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. It is a small meadow sheltered by rockroses and junipers that challenge the steep terrain and turn it into a place of silence and enjoyment of nature in its purest state.
Geology lovers can visit the Calera Cave, in Cerceda. The cave is located east of Cerceda, in an area with glandular gneisses on both sides of the sedimentary zone that frames the Samburiel stream in the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. The cave formed in an enclave of sand, marl and limestone (Cretaceous), south of the Samburiel stream.
San Isidro Recreation Area
Place of El Boalo slopes
It is located on the slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama, next to the San Isidro Labrador Country Chapel. There are granite tables and benches in this recreation area, and from it, one can enjoy nature´s greatness. There is also an information board indicating the main peaks and places of interest of the Sierra de Madrid.