If your type of tourism involves getting to the roots of the place you are visiting and to really feel the true experience of how the people lived centuries ago, you will want to take the 90 minute drive from Madrid to Pedraza. This charming village of 500 people will have you enchanted from the moment you cross through the city gate and start exploring the streets.
It isn’t just the people of Spain who are in love with the village, it won the prestigious European heritage award in the category of respectful rehabilitation.
Walking through the streets you will soon become enchanted with the nooks and crannies, the nobel homes, and the care and pride the villagers have of their heritage.
There is actually only one gate that allows you entrance into and out of the town—and beware—it is a very narrow gate so you will want to pay attention and make sure there is no one coming out as you go in. There is a parking lot just outside the town’s gates, and it is probably the best place to leave your car.
If you go in with your car, make sure you follow the signs as there is a one-way street in and another one out. There is a parking lot at the far end Pedraza, but no other parking. This is a town to be explored by foot.
The History of Pedraza
At first glance you will easily see evidence left from the medieval time period in Spain. The city of course was walled for protection but it had only one city gate which is still the entrance into Pedraza.
The medieval time period was not the only one that left an impression on Pedraza. Long before medieval times there is evidence of numerous other civilizations. The Celtibericas, Romans and Moors all left their mark on the town.
However, the heyday in Pedraza was during the 16th and 17th centuries. More than anything else, it was made wealthy by the famous Merino sheep. The wool was so precious that it could only be afforded by royalty and upper nobility. It was even used as a trade item instead of money. Whoever had flocks of Merino sheep had a prosperous livelihood and plenty of status. The land around Pedraza was well suited to the Merino sheep and helped boost the town prestige.
Spain itself was in its glory years during this time period and made a law that ensured Spain would have a monopoly on this precious wool. This monopoly stayed in effect from the 12th century through to the middle of the 18th century when the king sent a gift of some Merino sheep to his cousin in other royal households throughout Europe. (Sweden, Hungary and Prussia).
Factories near Pedraza made the wool available throughout Europe and brought wealth to the entire region.
The Merino wool was so valued as it is one of the softest most breathable wools available as well as one of the best warmth to weight ratios of any wool.
The appreciation for Merino wools remains today, although the sheep are now found in Australia, New Zealand and other places in Europe more than in Spain. Fashion houses such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior used Merino wool in their lines in the early 20th century insuring that the Merino quality has never gone out of style since.
What to see in Pedraza:
Calle Real—Royal Street
As you walk through Pedraza you will see the evidence of the past glory and wealth. On the main street, la Calle Real, there are a number of houses and palaces that had been owned by nobility—each displaying their crest of arms with pride.
The town square, or plaza mayor, was built without a lot of thought to design. It was added on to over the years but even though it is a bit of a hodgepodge affair, it comes together to make one of the most unique and interesting plaza mayor’s you are likely to come across.
While in the Plaza Mayor take a wander into the City Hall (Ayuntamiento) where they have exhibitions that are constantly being updated and changing. The exhibition is free of charge and often highlight local artists or crafts.
Prison’s don’t often fall under the category of tourist attractions, but this one is calling out to be visited. You can visit the dungeons and torture chambers. Although it all sounds a bit on the morbid side, it is a piece of history from the XIII century that isn’t often accessible.
Weekends and holidays: 11:00a.m.-2:00 p.m, and 4:00p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Closed: January 1, September 9 and December 25
Weekdays tours are available for groups with reservations.
Call for reservations 921 509 960 or 666 796 538
Castle de Ignacio Zuloaga:
The castle was also built in the XIII century, but refurbished in the XVI to its current style. When painter Ignacio Zuloaga bought it in 1926 the interior was in a sad state and in desperate need of repair. Along with other repairs, he did up one of the towers as his studio and proceeded to paint landscapes and village scenes.
After his death his descendants opened up part of the castle for tours, including a museum which highlight not only Zulaga’s work, but other artists as well.
Visiting hours and prices:
Mornings 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Afternoons 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
The first Friday of each month a guided visit includes the painter’s studio as well as the museum.
Reservations are needed for tours: 921 50 98 25
Guided tours of Pedraza:
Pedraza offers a guided walking tour of the town for only 3€. The guide will give you some history, tell you urban legends and give you a deeper insight into the people and events of Pedraza’s long history.
Pedraza Tourist Office
I have no doubt that whatever you decide to do in Pedraza you will be captivated by its charm and want to stay longer. Pedraza will raise the bar so high, that other towns you visit after here will be a let down, so it might be best to leave it to the end of your trip in Spain.
Where to stay in Pedraza:
Hotels and Hostels:
Hospedería de Santo Domingo
Matadero, 3 - 40172 Pedraza
Tel. 921 509 971 - 921 508 686
This recently restored nobel house has all the rustic elements of its 3 centuries of existence, but with the comforts of today.
Hotel de la Villa***
Calzada, 5 - 40172 Pedraza
Tel. 921 508 651-2
Hostería del Arco**
Cordovilla, 1 - 40172 Pedraza
Tel. 921 508 647
La Posada de Don Mariano**
Mayor, 14 - 40172 Pedraza
Tel. 921 509 886
(you rent the entire house, not just a room)
Umbría, 1 - 40173 LaVelilla
Tel. 921 508 678 - 630 775 614
This charming village house has the capacity for 4 people.
Las Casitas de La Velilla -
Casa Retama - Casa Lavanda
Real, 22 - 40173 LaVelilla
Tel. 674 423 682 - 921 497 012
2 rural houses together. Perfect to rent if you are going with friends. You can rent the cottages together or separately. Each sleeps 4.
Real, 8 - 40172 Pedraza
Tel. 921 509 838 - 687 714 347
This comfortable house is equipped to sleep 7 people.
Carretera de Pedraza, 22 Rades de Abajo.
This charming home is within the village walls, sleeps 8 people and has a lovely garden setting for the guests to enjoy.
Hogar del Fresno:
Calle Egido, Pedraza
Tel. 91 970 97 07
Calle del monte, 4
Tel. 91 970 97 07
This house full of charm and built in the traditional nobel style known to the area of Pedraza sleeps no less than 17 people. Perfect for a group of friends or families..
T Velilla de Pedraza
Real, 2 - 40173 LaVelilla
Tel. 921 508 659
3 Individual fully-equipped apartments. Each sleeps 2.
Apartament T El Arroyal
Ctra. Pedraza-Arcones, 8
40172 Rades de Abajo
Tel. 619 444 472 - 619 089 443
Apartament T Juani
Del Monte, 5 - 40172 Pedraza
Tel. 921 509 955 - 666 796 538
A quiet clean apartment that is within the village walls and a stone’s throw from the Plaza Mayor. With 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms it is ideal for a family.
El Mirador de la Hontanilla
Hontanilla, 2 - 40172 Pedraza
Tel. 680 956 841
Apartament T Casa Zamarriego
Del Monte, 4 - 40172 Pedraza
Tel. 628 693 311 - 657 843 979
Calle del Monte, 1 Pedraza
Tel. 91 790 79 07
2 apartments which each sleep 5 guests each are done up with a modern touch inside a historic setting.
Where to Eat in Pedraza:
Pedraza has always fed travellers well. Traditionally a pot of warm stew on the fire was waiting or a roast lamb on the spit. These dishes still make up much of the cuisine, but new flavours of been added as well to lure palates from hearty to gourmet.
El Bodegón de Manrique
Tel. 921 509 810
El Corral de Joaquina
Íscar, 3 -
Tel. 921 509 818
Hotel de la Villa
Calzada, 5 -Tel. 921 508 651
El Jardín de Pedraza
Calzada, 6 -Tel. 921 509 862
La Posada de Don Mariano
Mayor, 14 -Tel. 921 509 886
Plaza del Ganado, 1
Tel. 921 509 981
El Rincón de Reberte
Real, 5 -Tel. 921 508 705
Rte. El Soportal
Plaza Mayor, 2 -Tel. 921 509 826
El Yantar de Pedraza
Plaza Mayor, 1 -Tel. 921 509 842
Pedraza by candle light
As if Pedraza weren’t special enough already, the town puts on a candle lit festival in July. Every 1st and 2nd Saturday in July the entire town is bathed in candle light at night. Throughout the streets the windows of the local homes, restaurants, hotels and businesses are decorated with 100’s of candles. Electricity is shut off and people stroll through the streets listening to the sound of music wafting from an orchestra playing in the main square. As you might imagine this is a popular event and the town has to control the number of people who are allowed in. There is a limit of 5000 people. The tickets are free, but you must get them in advance from the city hall. Another option for tickets is through the local hotels—if you stay the night of the festival the tickets are included in the price of the night.