Miraflores de la Sierra
Miraflores de la Sierra
The town of Miraflores de la Sierra is 49 km from Madrid, in a valley enclosed by the two large blocks of the Iberian Central System. Its initial name was Porquerizas. Tradition has it that it was the natural beauty of Miraflores de la Sierra what charmed Queen Elizabeth of Bourbon, who fell in love with the number of flowers of the place and excitedly exclaimed: ¡Mira, flores! (Look, flowers!)
Plaza de España, 1.
28792 Miraflores de la Sierra
Phone: 91 844 30 17 / Fax: 91 844 35 58
Plaza de España, 1.
28792 Miraflores de la Sierra
Phone: 91 844 34 48
Its original name was Porquerizas, and it is not very clear when it started to be called Miraflores de la Sierra. Similar to other places, it was founded thanks to the shepherds from Segovia who repopulated the Guadarrama region after the Reconquest. Until 1523 it was part of El Real de Manzanares that Alfonso X promoted. Afterwards, it was accorded the title of “villa” and became independent. Over the years, its population, comprised mainly of farmers and cattle breeders, has grown. From the end of the 18th century on, when the first hotels were built, the number of temporary residents also increased.
In Miraflores de la Sierra, culture strongly blends with nature. This is easy to notice because of its many fountains, which use water to increase the beauty of the town, or in the hidden corners that its trees and mountains create, places which have become real pilgrimage caves. All of this makes the town attractive. Its beautiful churches and shrines make the town even more delightful.
“The colony” (“La Colonia”.). Hotels and villas for summer holidays
The nucleus of “La Colonia lies along the roads leading to Rascafría and Canencia. Famous “hotels or summer villas” were built around it from the last quarter of the 19th century on. They are summer rest houses built in different styles, properties of the high bourgeoisie of Madrid who sought in Miraflores the “mountain air” that came into vogue at that time because of the hygiene movement and the impulse of “guadarramism”. In Miraflores de la Sierra there are spectacular examples of such authentic mansions.
Located in the Plaza de España, the Town Hall is a building with arcades and eight columns. It is crowned with a narrow tower with a clock.
The chapel of Padre Rivero
The Chapel of Padre Rivero is one of the most emblematic buildings in Miraflores. The effigy of San Blas, one of the patron saints of the town, is preserved inside. On the 3rd of February, the place gains particular relevance, as the pilgrimage in honour of the saint starts here.
Los Borricos Fountain
It is a fountain dated 1800 whose name comes from the use it was given: as a watering hole for the donkeys used in collecting firewood by local mountain-dwellers. Aesthetically, it has a basin with a pipe and is attached to the wall of a farm. It used to provide spring water. Nowadays it has running water.
Del Pino Fountain
This fountain was built in 1791 and carries spring water. In the past, a public washing place was added to it. It was immortalised by Gonzalo Perales, a painter and restorer of Prado, former mayor of Miraflores, owner of one of the few typically Spanish houses left in town. Antonio Merlo, a doctor in Miraflores for many years, said that its waters had certain healing powers.
It is the emblematic fountain of Miraflores de la Sierra and has drawn the attention of painters and photographers. This new fountain, built in 1791, replaced an old one possibly from the 15th century. Rumour has it that in the past, its large side basins served as a drinking fountain for the horses of the stagecoaches. Likewise, it is also said that it served as a public washing place and around the basins had a wall designed to protect the privacy of the girls who washed clothes in them.
Nuestra Señora de Begoña Grotto
Nuestra Señora de Begoña Grotto was founded in 1952 by Julián Reyzábal Delgado, a fervent devotee of Nuestra Señora de Begoña and also of Miraflores de la Sierra. On the 22nd of March 2002, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Grotto, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Madrid, Antonio María Rouco Varela, gave the place the permit to become an oratory for praying and celebrating the Holy Eucharist.
San Blas Wayside Cross
San Blas Country Chapel was the most recent of the four chapels that existed in the lands of the Council. Nowadays, all of them are gone, and only the memory of them and their names are left: San Sebastián and Santo Tomé, both already mentioned in the 15th century, Nuestra Señora de la Paz, created in the 16th century and the well-known San Blas Chapel. The San Blas Wayside Cross stands today where it used to be the country chapel and was designed by Gonzalo Perales while he was town mayor. Located at the junction of the Manzanares and Paular roads, in the same area as the Boyal Grassland, its construction can be dated around the first quarter of the 17th century.
Miraflores de la Sierra Church is located in the old town, facing east. The first church had was built between 1419 and 1481. Thanks to the apse with the buttresses that contain the walls and the round tower, it can be imagined that the exterior aspect of that church was that of a castle or fortress. The main entrance was a Gothic cover that is not preserved.
Inside the church, there is a beautiful baptismal font from the year 1492. The tower, square, belongs to the first building built during the 15th century and is the only element that remains of it. Over the centuries, it underwent numerous reforms until it became what it is now: a succession of added elements such as the tower, the presbytery and cruise ship, three naves, two porches facing north and south, respectively, and a series of terraced chapels on both sides of the aisles.
The King’s Stop (La Parada del Rey)
The King’s Stop is linked to a beautiful legend that is believed to be Isabel de Borbón, wife of Felipe IV, who when he marched to the Paular Monastery on the royal road of the Morcuera, stopped to rest on a plateau on top de la Raya, at the foot of the Najarra, and contemplated Porquerizas. Shortly after, the queen noticed some flowers, and with the joy of her youth (Isabel was 24 years old and had run several times the state business in the absence of her husband Felipe IV), she exclaimed LOOK, FLOWERS! (!MIRA, FLORES!) Some of the people who accompanied her, perhaps her mistress of the robes, the Duchess of Gandia or Count Benavente, suggested that those words she had just uttered could be the new name of that picturesque place that so ugly name it had been using. Pleased with the idea, the queen commanded that from that moment on the town she was contemplating was to be called Miraflores de la Sierra.
The place of this stop is an extensive esplanade that crosses the royal road, with thick vegetation, abundant sources of cold and crystalline water; it is a very pleasant place to rest before embarking on the hard stage of crossing the pass.
Festivals and traditions
The inhabitants of Miraflores de la Sierra have managed to preserve many of the traditions that their ancestors already celebrated. Religious festivities are the most important, although there is also room for others such as the Carnival and La Rosca.
- La Rosca Festival: The first festival of the year is the San Blas Festival, which takes place on the 3rd of February. The previous afternoon, when the Candelaria festival is celebrated, the school children ran after the doughnut. The custom was to buy some doughnuts among all and race; the winner of the race became the owner of the precious sweet, which eventually they all shared. In the past, the Town Councils ordered three beautiful doughnuts with butter, anise seeds and candies. In the afternoon the town met with the local authorities and three races were held: the first for the married people, the second for the singles and the third for the kids, granting a doughnut to each of the champions of these groups. Nowadays, this festival still takes place, and although it is mostly a children’s competition, the whole town participates. The Town Council gives a doughnut to anyone who asks for one, and the winners of the contest continue to have the privilege of enjoying their great doughnut. That afternoon you can hear the noise children and young men make by shaking the cowbells tied behind their backs. It is how they advertise the San Blas Festival.
- San Blas Festival: The festival begins on the 2nd of February, when the dog catchers get back to town from the mountains, formerly from the Pico de la Pala, making a big fuss with their cowbells. According to the tradition, during the French occupation, the Napoleonic troops ransacked the properties of the people of Miraflores, and the locals decided to recover them. Armed with cowbells, at night, they imitated the stampede of a herd of cows making the French troops that were stationed in the town to run away and thus recovered their belongings.
On the 3rd of February, around 09:00 h everyone gathers; the dog catchers wear a typical costume – a white top hat, pants and shirt, all adorned with coloured ribbons and bows and with scarves – and have cowbells placed on their backs and shoulder a shotgun. They begin the pilgrimage to the San Blas shrine where all the neighbours taste the traditional potatoes with cod offered by the town council. In ancient times the pilgrimage was from the town, but today many go by car to the countryside. Still, many others take a pleasant walk, thus maintaining the custom of yesteryear to go on foot. Once on the San Blas esplanade, sports competitions, such as races, and games for the youngest are held. At 13:00 h a mass is celebrated at the San Blas shrine, where the effigy of the saint is held; afterwards, everyone enjoys the tasty and traditional potatoes with cod that the Town Council offers to neighbours and visitors. After the meal, on the way back to town, while the music of drums and dulzainas is played, the death of the heifer is staged, and the lemonade offered to the neighbours represents its blood. The afternoon ends drinking chocolate and eating churros (small deep-fried batter sticks).
- San Isidro Festival: Celebrated on the 15th of May, San Isidro is the quintessential patron of the peasants, he is the saint to whom many ask for rain. Traditions place his baptism in the San Andrés Church, in Madrid capital city.
The beginning of this festival, in Miraflores de la Sierra, took place during the 17th century, when the cult of this saint expanded through the rural communities, coinciding with his canonisation. It took place until the Civil War, after which the enthusiasm for this festival faded away.
At the end of the 60s, the president of the agrarian chamber gave a boost to the festival. The chamber covered all the festival expenses, but also kept the fruits of the auctions, and part of the allocations of the town farmers and cattle breeders. Nowadays, the procession is still held; wheat is thrown in the streets, and the farmers bring the tractors, from where they observe and participate in the march. Several people and children dress up as mountain-dweller and ride tractors. Typical products donated by the Miraflores de la Sierra neighbours are traded in auctions held outside the church. The bouquet of apples that hangs from the saint, from his arms and plinth is the last thing auctioned. Lemonade and cookies from the local agrarian chamber follow, and the festival ends with a dance in Plaza de España.
- Virgen de la Asunción Festival: The patron saint’s day celebrations in honour of Virgen de la Asunción take place during the week of August 15th. The festival begins with the proclamation officiated by the mayor and the town councillor in charge of celebrations. Afterwards, the local preacher highlights the virtues and defects he has noticed throughout the year in the management of the Municipal Corporation. Following the proclamation, the young people together with the mayor or town councillor go to the New Fountain (La Fuente Nueva). In one of the big basins of the fountain, a vat of wine is placed. When the mayor or councillor get inside this basin, the most playful part of the festival begins.
The continental climate of Miraflores de la Sierra means that its flora is formed by evergreen, small and leathery trees that endure the droughts in the summer well. The holm and the kermes oak, the pine as well as an endless number of aromatic plants are examples of such flora. Riverside forests, willows, black poplars and ash trees are also present. As for its fauna, animals of varied species coexist in Miraflores: birds such as the Eurasian jay, the crow and the Iberian magpie, and mammals such as the squirrel and the wild boar.
Fuente del Cura Recreation Area
This recreation area has drinking water facilities and is surrounded by oak trees and by the presence of animal species, especially birds. Important places such as La Morcuera and the Hueco de San Blas are not far from the area. In this recreation area, one can practice outdoor activities and be in contact with nature.
The Poplar (El Álamo)
Vicente Aleixandre arrived in our town in 1910, but he did not make it his home until 1925. His life in Miraflores was almost a total retreat. But he never stopped loving Miraflores. In 1977 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Town Council named the street where he lived after him. In 1984, the primary school is named after him. His poems have endured next to the poplar, and his image and love have also remained in the memory of all the inhabitants of Miraflores.
The La Dehesilla estate is classified as Natural Park (Monte Preservado) and covers 39 hectares, 24 of which are on the right of the station road and 15 on the left. Holm oaks forest it.