Buitrago del Lozoya, Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

Buitrago del Lozoya is a small municipality and a member-town of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, with a total land area of approximately 10 square miles or 27 square kilometers.  It is located to the north of the Spanish Capital in the East Valley of Lozoya, situated at the foot of the Sierra Guadarrama Mountain Range.  It has an elevation of approximately 3,200 feet (975 meters) above sea level, and, except for the south, it is surrounded on all sides by the Lozoya River, the town’s namesake. Of course, this location, with a natural moat defense on three sides, was very beneficial as a protection measure during past wars and conflicts.  Buitrago del Lozoya belongs to the comarca of Sierra Norte and has a permanent population of roughly 2,100 inhabitants.

Buitrago del Lozoya is one of the only completely walled towns still existing in the Madrid region, a feature that was a very popular means of defense and protection in Spanish towns and cities during the Middle Ages.  The wall was believed to have been built in the 11th century by the Moors and was later restored in the 15th century.

One of the most popular sites in the ancient town of Buitrago del Lozoya is the Castle of the same name.  Castle Buitrago del Lozoya was built in the 15th century along the Lozoya River, and its Arabic influence is reflected by the Gothic-Mudejar style in which it was built.  Today the Castle is partially in ruins, although it is still used for special events, including holiday parades and bullfights.  Like the wall that surrounds the city, the castle was declared a national monument in 1931 and is protected as a National Historic, Cultural and Artistic Property. The Castle is owned by the Community of Madrid and tourists who wish to visit the interior of the structure can do so by appointment.

Another popular attraction of Buitrago de Lozoya is the Casa de Bosque, or “Forest House.”  This Renaissance mansion was built in the early 17th century, and like the Castle of Buitrago del Lozoya, it too is partially in ruins.  According to historians, the concept and layout of the Forest House is very similar to the Palladian villas built in the 16th century in the Italian region of Veneto.  Like those, the Forest House was built inside a large roundabout, covered by a dome.  Today, this circular roundabout is one of the best-preserved parts of the mansion, as it was built strongly using a combination of stone and bricks.

Other interesting sites to see in Buitrago del Lozoya include the Bridge Arrabal and Museo de Picasso (Picasso Museum).  Better known as the Old Bridge, Bridge Arrabal was built on the Lozoya River and connects the city walls with the old suburb of Andarrio.  The bridge has deteriorated some over the years, however, parts of it, including the central span and semicircular arches, have been perfectly preserved.

Last but certainly not least, the Picasso Museum of Buitrago del Lozoya features a number of the famous artist’s works, many of them donated by the former hairdresser and close friend to Picasso, Eugenio Arias Herranz—a native son of the town of Buitrago del Lozoya.  The museum, which opened on March 5th of 1985, features a collection of over 60 works, including ceramics, engravings, sketches and pyrography.  Many different themes are represented by these stunning pieces of art, the most prevalent of which is bullfighting, a sport in which Picasso demonstrated a great love and interest.