Miraflores de la Sierra, Madrid, SpainCategory: Madrid
Are you traveling to the Madrid area of Spain in the near future and need some ideas regarding some of the sites to visit during your stay? The city of Madrid is loaded with interesting sites and enjoyable attractions, but there is also plenty to do and see in some of the small villages and towns that surround this bustling world capital. One of these towns is Miraflores de la Sierra, one of the most picturesque regions in all of Spain.
Miraflores de la Sierra is a small town and municipality in the northern area of the autonomous Community of Madrid, in central Spain. The town has roughly 6,000 permanent residents and is located just 49 kilometers from Madrid proper.
Miraflores de la Sierra, which was formerly known as Porquerzas, was established in the 13th century by Segovian farmers. One of the most interesting historical facts about the town is how it ultimately came to be known as Miraflores de la Sierra. According to local legend, the town was renamed in 1627 by Elisabeth of Bourbon, wife of Philip IV of Spain. While walking to the monastery of Santa Maria de El Paular, she saw the village of Porquerzas surrounded by a bounty of beautiful blooming flowers. At this point the Queen exclaimed, “Mira, flores,” which translates in English to “look, flowers.”
Miraflores de la Sierra offers a wealth of interesting sites to visit, including the Hermitage of Saint Blas. This historical chapel dates back to 1626 and is a beautiful example of early 17th century architecture. According to legend, the chapel marks the site of a village that disappeared the day its inhabitants died due to an onslaught of poison salamanders.
The church in Miraflores de la Sierra is another interesting attraction. It was built in the years between 1419 and 1481, and although nothing but the apse remains today, it appears the church was built in the same style of the castles and fortresses erected during this period. The main entrance to the church is a Gothic doorway, and the exterior columns are arranged in symmetrical arches. The nave, with a chapel on each side, is arranged in the same way. The highlight of the church is the baptismal fountain, made of limestone and adorned with flowers that frame the fountain’s Gothic tracings. It was carved in 1492 by the artist Juan de Cas.
If you happen to be in Miraflores de la Sierra in early February, specifically on February 3, you are definitely in for a treat. This is the date on which this beautiful mountain town celebrates the annual festival of Saint Blas, its patron saint. During the festival, the entire village heads out to a local hillside, where a shrine to Saint Blas stands proudly for all to see. All the townspeople are equipped with chairs, tables, food and wine, and huge pots are put on open fires where “bacalao con patatas,” or cod with potatoes are prepared for the whole town. The party atmosphere continues into the late afternoon, at which time the majority of villagers return to the bars, which remain crowded and lively throughout the night. At the conclusion of the Carnival celebrations, the villagers bury a sardine in a nearby field known as El Entierro de la Sardina. This ritual is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity to the town until the next celebration begins a year later.
If you plan to stay at a hotel in Madrid during your visit, Miraflores de la Sierra is just a short hop away by car. However, if you prefer a more relaxed mode of travel you can take the Cercanias, a commuter railway that connects Madrid to the various towns and villages that surround it.