Manzanares el Real
Manzanares El Real
Manzanares El Real, 50 km from Madrid, is located in the Upper Manzanares River Basin Regional Park and has a great natural and cultural wealth. La Pedriza – granite rocks polished by erosion – lies within this municipal area. Hundreds of animal and plant species are also to be found in Manzanares. In terms of culture, the Mendoza Castle (Castillo de los Mendoza) is a relevant example of what Manzanares El Real holds.
Plaza del Pueblo, 1
28410 Manzanares El Real
Phone: 91 853 00 09
Tourist Information Centre
Calle del Cura s/n. 28410 Manzanares El Real. Phone: 91-8780196 Mobile phone: 639 17 96 02
Manzanares El Real has a prehistoric origin, and the town holds remains of most of the civilisations of the Peninsula. It was founded in the thirteenth century by shepherds of Segovia. Alfonso X called “the Wise” established his base here shortly after and he founded El Real de Manzanares, by annexing neighbouring towns. This was the beginning of an era of maximum splendour for Manzanares. When the towns of El Real began to separate from one another, Manzanares El Real fell into decay. However, over the years the town managed to get back on its feet and turn into what it is today, one of the tourism paradises in the Sierra de Guadarrama.
Walking on the streets of Manzanares el Real is a real adventure. Within walking distance and using some imagination, it is possible to travel back in time to the medieval era of castles, wind back to prehistoric times and then move forward to the Modern Age. Everything in Manzanares has a unique charm and years of tradition made that possible.
Plaza del Pueblo, 1.
The Town Hall of Manzanares El Real is in a three-storey building of modern construction. At the top, it has a long gallery with straight wooden feet, a row of simple wrought-iron balconies, with ringed bars in the style of the twentieth century. Access to the building is through a porch supported by five granite columns.
Its remains lie past the Manzanares River, next to the old cemetery. Only two of its walls are left standing. Their documentary references still exist and date from approximately 1344, when King Alfonso XI gave El Real de Manzanares up to his lover, Leonor de Guzmán. Likewise, it is recorded that it was subsequently inhabited by the Mendoza family, although the old fortress was sentenced to historical oblivion when the works to the New Castle started, in 1475. Architecturally, its floor was square, with three circular towers in the corners and a quatrefoil-shaped keep in the remaining corner. Its circular blocks created a Mudejar style construction made of granite stone and brick kerb.
Nuestra Señora de Peña Sacra Country Chapel
C / Virgin of the Dangers, 25.
Nuestra Señora de Peña Sacra Chapel is located at the foot of La Pedriza, on top of a rock which gives its name, Peña Sacra. The construction is from the 16th century and was built in ashlar masonry. Subsequently, in the 17th century, more rooms were added, using rubble masonry. Different writings link Peña Sacra to the Druid cults and to the presence of Celtic priests who during the first millennium BC celebrated their rites in the woods. But, the cult of the Virgin as such is known since the early 16th century, and the fervour her representation inspired has continued to grow. The Pilgrimage of the Virgen de Peña Sacra continues to present days on the first Sunday of Pentecost. A strange episode in the existence of this particular Virgin is the one that took place in 1769 when, during the celebrations, the candles surrounding the effigy in the church were not being watched, and everything was set on fire, the sacristy being the only thing saved. The effigy of the Virgin also burned. At that time, another new effigy was made, but it also disappeared in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War. In fact, the current effigy is a modern copy of the nineteenth-century one.
Nuestra Señora de las Nieves Church
Cura Street, 1.
According to the existing documentation, Nuestra Señora de las Nieves Church seems to have been founded in the early 14th century, under the protection of the first Marquis de Santillana. Its architectural style is not defined, due to the different modifications it has undergone, to the point of mixing the Romanesque with the Gothic, without forming a unity.
The church has three naves, separated by arches on stone columns. The central nave, in Romanesque style, is headed by a presbytery of pentagonal shape. The tower has three parts, separated from each other by imposts. The sacristy, of later construction, is covered with ribs. Lastly, the porch is from the mid-16th century, and its style is purist Renaissance.
Ethnological and Archaeological Museum
C / Cañada, 26.
It was founded in 1992 and is located in the Culture House. It has two rooms: one of ethnology and another of archaeology. In the first one, the museum exhibits a sample of the local culture – it shows how was divided a house of yesteryear -, plus many objects used in different activities. In the archaeology room, numerous archaeological remains that have been discovered at different sites of the town are displayed.
Its history is uncertain, but according to historical documentation, it dates from the 16th century. Initially, it was built in stone but got destroyed by a flood. Later it was made of wood, and after it got deteriorated, the current bridge was built by using local granite and rough ashlars. The pavement is made of the same material. The bridge has a semi-circular arch, whose sides rest on the banks of the river, on the rock.
Festivals and traditions
Summertime is when you can mostly enjoy the festivals of Manzanares el Real. Patron saint’s day celebrations and magical nights are the focus of these months. However, during the rest of the year, some festivals can be enjoyed.
• Nuestra Señora Virgen de Peña Sacra Festival: These are the patron saint’s day celebrations of the town. At the end of the afternoon of the first Saturday Pentecost, the Virgin is carried away from her shrine. The town gathers around a granite stone called “the stone”, close to the Old Castle. To welcome the Virgin, Hail Mary is sung, and the procession proceeds to the church, the Brotherhood banner and a music band leading it. Upon arrival, a flower offering is made, the Holy Mass is celebrated, and at the end, the Virgin’s hymn is sung. Afterwards, dances take place in the square until early in the morning. On Sunday Pentecost, a mass takes place and a procession tours the main streets of the village. In the afternoon, there are dances in the square.
• Virgen de las Nieves Festival: On the 5th of August, is celebrated the day of the Virgen de las Nieves. Among other events, a mass in her honour takes place. In the days before and after there are also celebrations and events such as the election of the queen and ladies of the village, running of the bulls in the morning and bullfights in the afternoon, sports competitions, exhibitions. The last day of the commemoration of the Virgin de las Las Nieves, the town prepares bull meat with potatoes for dinner, a dish which later is handed out in the town square.
• Cristo de la Nave Festival: These are the patron saint’s day celebrations of Manzanares El Real and take place in mid-September. They are celebrated with sports activities, concerts and dances. On the 14th of September a High Mass and a flower offering followed by a procession touring the main streets of the town take place. Lemonade is offered afterwards in the town square. In the afternoon, dances lasting until the wee hours of the morning take place.
River, mountain, valley … of all this can be enjoyed in Manzanares. The town is located within the Upper Manzanares River Basin Regional Park. La Pedriza forms most of its border and is crossed by the Manzanares River.
Canto Cochino Recreation Area
M-608 Road. La Pedriza.
In the zone known as La Pedriza is located this recreation area that has parking space, benches and tables and litter bins. In the area, it is possible to be in contact with nature, enjoy being outdoors and see a great variety of flora and fauna.
La Pedriza Visitor Centre (Sierra de Guadarrama National Park)
Camino de La Pedriza s / n.
The Centre has two buildings, located about one hundred and fifty meters away from one other.
The main building, headquarters of the environmental education area of the National Park, holds a permanent exhibition titled “Journey to the Sierra de Guadarrama”, which take the visitor on an imaginary journey from the high peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama to its valleys.
In the outdoor complex, nine thematic areas show different aspects of Sierra de Guadarrama´s nature, the highlight being the itinerary adapted for visually impaired persons. Both the Centre and its facilities are accessible to persons with reduced mobility. The Centre has implemented ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and EMAS.
The Information Point is located just past the barrier that leads to La Pedriza. It offers brochures, maps of the area, recommendations for the visit etc. It also has a room where different temporary exhibitions rotate. This room is accessible for visitors with mobility impairments.
Manzanares El Real Reservoir
Manzanares El Real Reservoir – also known as De Santillana – is one of the main water supply sources of the Madrid region. It was built in 1908, but in 1971 gained a considerable storage capacity with the construction of a new dam of 40 m height. The original one got practically submerged, and only the upper part of the neo-Gothic tower and some of the dyke remain afloat. The reservoir covers an area of 1,044 hectares and can collect up to 91.2 cubic hectometres of water. The existence of the reservoir has created an ecosystem, especially for fish such as pike and carp, and for aquatic plants and birds.
This viewpoint is located in La Pedriza, Manzanares El Real, and offers excellent views. The impressive granite formations of La Pedriza, la Cuerda Larga, a pine forest and the headwaters of the Manzanares River stand out. To access the viewpoint, follow the M-608 road and at kilometre 25.7 take the detour to Canto Cochino. It is highly recommended to bring binoculars to see the surroundings in detail.
Monte de El Chaparral Viewpoint
This viewpoint is located in the municipality of Manzanares El Real. To get to it, follow the M-608 road and take the turnoff towards the Manzanares El Real Reservoir. Once the reservoir passed, follow the path that ascends towards the El Chaparral Mountain. From the viewpoint you can see ten important landmarks of the Sierra: the Hollow of San Blas; the pastures of Manzanares, Cerceda and Soto; the hills of Navacerrada and Collado Mediano; The Malicious, the Long Rope, the Sierra de los Porrones, La Pedriza .In order not to miss any detail of these magnificent sights, it is best to bring binoculars and a location map.
The waters of the river are clean and fast-flowing in Manzanares el Real, ideal for visitors to enjoy. Its flow travels 87 km, from the Ventisquero de la Condesa, in La Pedriza, to the mouth of the Jarama River.