Soto del Real
Soto del Real
Soto del Real is 42 km from Madrid, and its municipal area covers 42.17 km2 on the slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama. Part of its surface lies within the Upper Manzanares River Basin Regional Park and the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. The location of Soto del Real is ideal for enjoying nature (numerous species) and for practising outdoor activities such as hiking.
In its early days, Soto del Real was called Chozas de la Sierra, and that name indicated what precisely the place was, some huts that shepherds from Segovia built in a place in the Sierra de Guadarrama, where they remained. Chozas was part of the El Real de Manzanares promoted by Alfonso X called “the Wise” until 1578, when it was accorded the title of “Villazgo”. It the 19th century it went through the confiscation process but in the 20th recovered from it and began its rise until becoming a tourist town. Chozas also had its name changed to Soto del Real in open elections.
A centennial church and a new country chapel; a bridge with arches that increase the beauty of the scenery; a bridge that reflects the passing of the years and civilisations… This is the culture of Soto del Real, a mixture of modernity and antiquity in an unforgettable place. Outside of its boundaries, but very close by car, a centenary castle.
Soto del Real Town Hall is located in the Plaza de la Villa in a modern building. The Church and the Romanesque bridge are in its vicinity.
Nuestra Señora del Rosario Country Chapel
It was built in 1954 on a farmland called Peña Mingazo. Virgen del Rosario, the patron of Soto municipality, is worshipped inside this chapel.
Inmaculada Concepción Church
The parish of Soto del Real is dedicated to Inmaculada Concepción. It was built in the second half of the 16th century, on top of a primitive church whose tower is the only part left. Its construction had different stages, and therefore, its elements are from different centuries. Thus, the chancel, the upper part of the temple and the transept are from the 16th century, while the central nave, of lower height, is of the 18th century. The tower is separated from the body of the church, although it is currently joined by the Parish House.
Inside the church, there are several Baroque style altarpieces, from the 18th century. Another important element is its altar table, made of limestone, which has a frontal decorated with plateresque motifs from the first third of the 16th century.
It is a granite parallelepiped dated between the first and second century. It is one of the first written samples of the history of Soto del Real. In the parallelepiped, there are Latin inscriptions of names of former Soto residents.
Soto del Real has two bridges that worth admiring: Los Once Ojos bridge and the Romanesque bridge. Los Once Ojos bridge is already part of the natural landscape of Soto del Real since it is located in a wide area and can be seen from numerous angles. It is one of the great viaducts that, together with the one that crosses over the Lozoya and Bustarviejo Rivers, were built to make easier the crossing of the Sierra de Guadarrama pass. It has eleven semi-circular arches made of concrete vaults. It is a beautiful engineering construction, remarkable both for its magnitude and simplicity. The Romanesque bridge is of medieval times and crosses the Chozas stream giving access to the church. It is a masonry and granite stone bridge.
Festivals and traditions
Soto del Real enjoys deep-rooted festivals and traditional celebrations. The town authorities and the neighbours put a lot of effort into organising them and making them unforgettable both to the residents and to the thousands of visitors. Some of the most outstanding examples of the Soto festivities are La Maya, the patron saint’s day celebrations and the commemoration of Nuestra Señora del Rosario.
- La Maya Festival: This festival that is deeply ingrained in the population of Soto del Real takes place on the 3rd of May. With the arrival of good weather, the residents and visitors go to the countryside to have a snack; they bring along tortilla, rice pudding and peach in syrup, among others things and enjoy the music of the dulzaina and other traditional instruments. Moreover, in recent years, the typical regional costumes are being rediscovered, and La Maya or the Queen of the Spring is chosen among all the female attendees.
- Patron saint’s day celebrations: Soto del Real enjoys its patron saint’s day celebrations on the first Sunday of August, but the celebrations continue the previous and subsequent days. Thousands of visitors join the residents of Soto and enjoy the numerous activities that are organised for everyone: musical performances, religious services, rides, fireworks, sports competitions, bullfighting and cultural events.
- Pilgrimage to the country chapel: On the 15th of August, anyone interested can attend the pilgrimage to the country chapel in honour of the Virgin. A food village party with potatoes-based dishes and musical performances also take place.
- Nuestra Señora del Rosario Festival: On 7th of the October, Soto del Real celebrates the festival of the patron saint of Soto, Nuestra Señora del Rosario. It is a full day that begins with a mass, a procession and an auction of the butler of the Brotherhood position. Activities for children and food street party with potatoes-based dishes and lemonade are also organised. At the end of the day, people are invited to taste chocolate with “churros” (small deep-fried batter sticks).
Because of its location, Soto del Real enjoys a rich natural environment. Its flora, fauna and water resources, especially the Manzanares River and the four streams, stand out. There are plenty of pastures and tree specimens in the municipal area, some of them to be found only in Soto (for example the wild jasmine, the black hawthorn and some orchid varieties). The vegetation of Soto changes as the altitude increases. Thus, at 900 meters there are meadows and pastures; from 1,100 meters on there are plenty of Pyrenean oaks, junipers, hawthorns, pines, maples of Montpellier and blackthorns; and at a higher altitude, with harsh weather conditions, it is possible to find the Pyrenean broom. The vegetation of Soto del Real is also a habitat for many animal species. Apart from the cattle that graze in the meadows, there are birds (for example, larks, kites, kestrels, blacksmiths, cuckoo, owls and raptors), mammals (for example, wild boars and foxes), reptiles and insects. The municipality has rural lodgings for tourists and a wide range of hiking trails.
The Arroyo Mediano Recreation Area located in the municipal area of Soto del Real (M-608 and M-862 Road) has a barbecue area, litter bins, benches and tables. The area is surrounded by specimens of pine and other species of plants and animals. Among the latter, reptiles, birds and amphibians stand out. All this makes it an ideal place to enjoy the nature of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
The Los Remedios Recreation Area (M-625 Road) is a place where you can enjoy nature surrounded by pine trees of the Pinus Pinea species, while the numerous birds that live in the area swirl around. The recreation area has a playground, benches, tables, litter bins and BBQ area so a pleasant family picnic can be enjoyed amid Sierra de Guadarrama.
Virgen del Rosario Country Chapel Viewpoint
There is a magnificent panorama of some of the most representative elements of the Sierra de Guadarrama from this viewpoint: the Hoyo de Manzanares mountain range, Cabeza Illescas, La Pedriza, Hueco de San Blas and Cuerda Larga. To fully enjoy the views, bring binoculars and a map of the area. It is easy to get to the Viewpoint of Virgen del Rosario Country Chapel. The way begins in the Vista Real residential area, where you follow a dirt path that connects with the Cañada Real Segoviana. From this point, you continue towards the chapel, which is visible by being at a height.