Patones de Arriba—a village oozing in charm
This village always comes with descriptions like quaint, rustic, pretty and charming. It is all those things and more. It is wrapped up in a rich history and fascinating legends. Only 45 minutes north of Madrid, this is a must-see village.
Every hidden corner, narrow street and rock has a story to tell. The streets and homes are all made of the local flat slate rock. Many of the houses are covered in ivy or plants that are covered in blooms in the spring and turn bright oranges and reds in the fall.
The history of Patones de Arriba
This town is now based completely on tourism. But it wasn’t always.
For centuries this was a small agricultural-based village tucked in the foothills of the Sierra of Guadarrama mountain range.
If you like to visit archaeological ruins, you will be enthralled with the area around Patones. Even before the Romans settled here, people had been living in the caves throughout the hills surrounding the current town. The caves continued to be used by shepherds and farmers well into the 3rd century B.C. One of the most famous caves has nine kilometres of galleries, three floors and numerous artifacts of archaeological interest.
Later the Romans had a large settlement, but it isn’t known what they called their city. It was well organized into streets and city blocks, they had a water system and public buildings.
After the Romans left there didn’t seem to be much interest in the area until the 16th century of our era when pastors of the hamlet Patones (from the surname of the Patones family) started establishing a town.
The town is named after its founders, the Patones brothers. Wanting prestige, they formed their own village to gain some local importance. By all accounts, it worked for them as their name got used and they were able to wield influence. The first records of the town are mentioned around 1527.
Patones de Arriba was noteworthy by the fact that it came to be called the “Kingdom of Patones” and even had its own king. King Charles III chose an elderly pastor who already was acting as judge and mayor of the town. His power was absolute and controlled all aspects of village life, including giving permission to couples who wanted to get married.
Legend has it that Patones was actually missed by Napoleon's armies as they swept through Spain on their way to Madrid. The legend states that as Patones was so hidden Napoleon and his troops didn’t even notice that they were passing by a village. Some documents dispute this claim, but Patones was unaffected by France’s invasion and it does make for a wonderful story so most people stick to it.
It is hard not to get swept away by the legends and charming character of this village.
Now Patones is a tourist place that has only restaurants, craft gift shops and small hotels. All the residence have moved down to the plains in Patones de Abjo (lower Patones) as life is a little easier there and has a lot more amenities than Upper Patones.
What to do in Patones
For being just a tiny village, Patones has a lot going on.
The Patones tourist office offers numerous guided visits throughout Patones. These guided tours are very reasonable—only 2€ or 3 € per person— and will give you a wealth of information about the town, its history and environment.
Geological museum: Patones offers a wide geodiversity. The museum offers outdoor geological walks to help you understand how the landscape around Patones was formed.
An archaeological tour: Tells the history of Patones and its inhabitants from cavemen, Indians and Romans up until it was abandoned.
From the architecture to the table: This tour shares how the town once lived and guides you through spots such as the pig corrals, the laundry area, where (and how) the clothes were dyed, and onto the bread ovens. This tour helps you understand why Patones was named a town of cultural interest.
Themed tours: Once a month Patones offers additional tours from the tourist office. Check with the tourist office to see what is available while you are in the area.
These tours take place on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. (some can be arranged on other days if you have a group)
Get in touch with the tourist office in advance to confirm the tour:
Tips when visiting Patones:
If you go on a weekend, arrive early (before 11:00 a.m.) as there is very limited parking at the entrance of Patones and no parking within the town's limits.
The streets are steep. Even if you are only planning on going to one of the amazing restaurants wear practical shoes as heals will result in a sprained ankle.
Make reservations at one of the restaurants if you are planning on staying for lunch or dinner. Patones is a popular spot for Madrileños to go, so the restaurants are packed on weekends and holidays.
Take the time to explore this little town to the full. You will enjoy every moment.
Where to eat in Patones
After wandering the streets of Patones and perhaps even taking some of the nearby trails for a little hike, you will have an appetite—not to worry, Patones is not only famous for being an enduring town, it also has a reputation for its gastronomic fare.
Although I haven’t eaten in all the Restaurants in Patones, I have scoped most of them out. They are all top notch and get excellent reviews from any comments that are left. Most of the restaurants incorporate the charming, quaint and rustic atmosphere of the town into their restaurants and serve quality food, often locally sourced—always using the local theme of ingredients and dishes. Many have lovely flower-filled patios that overlook the town. The prices reflect the quality, but leaves you feeling well satisfied with both the quality of food and atmosphere.
El Rincon de Patones:
On the corner across from the tourist office as you enter Patones, El Rincon is a quite, quaint restaurant that is full of atmosphere. You can choose to eat in the cozy indoor space, or outside in the open patio. The serve traditional food for the area—roasted goat, beef tenderloin, roasted duck and of course pork. They do offer some fish on the menu, but like most interior mountainous areas in Spain they specialize in meat dishes.
Like all restaurants in Patones, it is best to make reservations.
Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor: (save 30% if you book online through Trip Advisor)
Telephone: (34) 91 843 20 42 or (34) 609 12 62 61
Open from Wednesday - Sundays from 1 p.m. -5 p.m.
The Rincon offers valet parking which you will discover is important in Patones as parking is a large problem.
El Rey de Patones
El Rey de Patones restaurant comes with rave reviews. Here is a comment from one guest:
Very much worth the drive from Madrid. Location is superb in a tiny hamlet with all buildings made from rocks and once you go into the restaurant a wonderful surprise. Quaint, very clean, well decorated, excellent and friendly service and GREAT food!!! Try The Carrillada de Cerdo and the Pechuga de Pintada - you will not be disappointed!!!
Telephone: (34) 91 843 20 37
Or (34) 696 936 492
Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor
El Lavadero de Patones:
El Lavadero de Patones, named after the famous public laundry fountain (not talking about a coin laundry here, rather a traditional outdoor stone laundry built over the fountain), takes in the essence of Patones. La Lavadero serves traditional meals with traditional methods—such as goat and steak roasted over the coals of holm oak trees from the nearby forest. The smells of meat roasting over the holm oak coals will entice you long before you see the restaurant itself.
Choose between the cozy indoor atmosphere with the fireplace in the hearth or the cheerful outdoor patio for the long summer evenings.
Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor:
Telephone: 91 843 2947 or 655 02 36 99
The 1st restaurant you come to as you enter the town is El Chiscon. This is a small, cozy place with a traditional menú.
El Chiscon doesn’t have a web site, but you can make a reservation either by trip advisor or by phone. Trip Advisor
Telephone: 91 843 21 66 or 655 69 11 81
El Poleo Restaurant
The cozy and romantic setting at El Poleo is an attractive option for dining.
In the summer —and the rest of the year weather permitting— El Poleo opens the patio to produce an enchanting setting with candles, piano music that match the town’s atmosphere perfectly. If the weather isn’t ready to cooperate, the option is available to enjoy the same setting but in a glassed-in porch.
Their signature dishes are lamb, beef sirloin and cod.
Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor
Telephone: 91 843 21 01
El Bodegon de Patones
The principal of El Bogedon is to offer the best fresh food, most of it grown locally, to give clients the authentic taste of the area.
They also offer dishes that change according to the season to offer you the advantage of eating fresh products from their own gardens.
Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor
Telephone: 620 257 271 or 299 840 476
Where to stay in Patones
Hotel El Tiempo Perdido
The name pretty much says it all, El Tiempo Perdido (lost in time).
The concept of this hotel is to lose yourself in the moment, in the serenity, peace and romantic setting of the hotel and the surrounding area.
Trip Advisor: El Tiempo Perdido
Web: El Tiempo Perdido
Telephone: 676 100 230 or 91 843 21 52
La Leyenda de Patones
La Leyenda de Patones is actually a number of small apartments complete with a kitchen, living room and bedroom (in some cases 2 bedrooms). They are cozily and decorated with local charm. This is an excellent option if you don’t want to eat every meal in a restaurant.
Web: La Leyenda de Patones
Telephone: 910 61 62 70
Los Melones is actually in the lower Patones town which is about a 5-7 minute drive to the upper Patones. It is an ecological rural Bed and Breakfast but with a bit of a twist—they offer numerous workshops that you are welcome to incorporate as part of your experience. They have a pottery workshop, a cooking workshop for children and other workshops that are seasonal (canning, collecting olives or harvesting in the garden).
Web: Los Melones
Telephone: 659 54 50 84
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