Pedraza de la Sierra is a village where it feels as though time has stopped. It is a small town you can visit in half a day, but don’t forget to see its principle attraction: one of the best medieval jails in Spain. Some thirty kilometres near the Pedraza, there are numerous attractions to visit during your stay in this area. To the north, you will find the important medieval village of Sepúlveda, highlighted by the spectacular natural park with vultures of the Hoces del río Duratón. To the south, nature lovers can ascend to the port of Navafría to journey through the Parque del Guadarrama.
We recommend starting your journey on the outskirts of the city and walking in on foot. You can park your car in the parking lot across from the front of the Ermita de la Virgen del Carrascal or “of San Miguel”, which has been reconverted into the Centro Temático del Águila Imperial, located very close to the medieval aqueduct that brings water from the Caño spring next to the road. Many visitors and town residents come here to get fresh water.
Climbing up the slope to the left, you can see the enormous old watchtower, Pozo de las Hontanillas. Next, see the Puerta de la Villa, where the celebrated fight took place between Iñigo Fernández de Velasco and Count Benavente. The door is open at the bottom, leading to the medieval prison, which is one of the best conserved jails in Spain. This prison is a must see in Pedraza, where you can take a tour through its dungeons and learn more about the medieval prison system.
There are three streets that will take you to the town center, the middle of which is Calle Real which leads directly to the plaza. To the right is the street Calle de la Calzada which follows the route of the wall and leads to the Santa María Church. To the left, Calle de las Cuestas will take you to the “Gurugú” ravine and the Pozo de las Hontanillas well. Walking up Calle Real will give your a wonderful tour of the beautiful houses along this street. Walk to the left to come upon Casa Pilatos, which has a beautiful balcony from the 16th century, owned by the famous Ladrón de Guevara family. The Tourism Office is located on the right, distinguished by its sgraffito decoration. The entire block to the left is taken up by the impressive Casa de los Becerril, which overlooks Plaza Mayor.
Pedraza’s Plaza Mayor has columns extracted from the castle ruins in the 19th century. You can also enjoy the impressive balcony and stone gargoyles of the Caserón de los Miranda, built in 1673 and is used today as a tavern. Nearby you’ll find La Farmacia, a famous pharmacy from the 16th century. In front is the City Hall, in the old Palace of the Marqueses de Lozoya. Below the city hall there is a passage that leads directly to La Casona, which belonged to the famous decorator Paco Muñoz and is the resting place of the celebrated chef Samantha Vallejo-Nájera (Master Chef program). Returning to the plaza, between the Casa de la Comunidad de Villa and the church is the “green balcony”, a medieval privilege where Antonio Pérez de la Torre and Zúñiga could view the bullfights.
Medieval prison in Pedraza
The Church of San Juan conserves Roman elements. In the 20th century, the gateway before the main door was walled and overlaid with the facade of the ruined church of Santo Domingo. In the interior, you’ll find a Baroque altarpiece, an excellent organ from 1847 (a work by José Otorel), and an 18th century baptism cell. Its back door leads to the Plaza de la Olma, named for its strong elm that disappeared in the 80s but now holds a market every Tuesday. From the Plaza de la Olma to Calle Mayor, you’ll find the rest of the Palacio del Conde de Pineda and an alley that leads to El Correl de la Joaquina, a restaurant that Don Nicolás, the last village potter, worked in until the 50s. Following Calle Mayor will bring you to the Santa María de Mediavilla temple, containing Romanesque apses, Moorish windows in the tower, brick arches, and Romanesque and Baroque elements.
The Castillo de Pedraza was burned in 1813 by the French garrison, causing Pedraza to lose all documentation. It could have been a Roman fort, but the oldest parts are identified as foundations and walls from the 18th century. Throughout the years, it was passed between many powerful families like the Herreras and the Velascos. At the end of the 15th century, Iñigo Fernández de Valasco and his son Pedro build most of what you see today: the double enclosure, square towers, and an artificial moat built into the rock. In 1925, painter Ignacio Zuloaga purchased the ruins, rebuilding the tower as a homage. At the end of the 20th century, his successors built a wing in the second tower where there are currently a dozen of works by the painter and is now rented out for weddings.
Returning to the town on the left, you’ll see the ruins of the Santa María church and the Muebles Artesanos (furniture shop) from the Christopher dynasty. In front of this is the artisan workshop and stores of Estaños de Pedraza, where craft lovers of all kinds can find all sorts of crafts and handiwork. In front is the Casona del Marqués de Pineda, transformed by decorator Paco Muñoz in the famous De Natura shop, which currently hosts banquets of the television chef Samantha Vellejo-Nájero. Advancing to the door of the Villa, you’ll find the ruins of Santo Domingo to the right, a Baroque church dismantled in the 19th century. In front -in the Jewish quarter- is the what was the House of the Inquisition, which is today the Hostería Zuloaga.