Rascafría, Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

Visiting Madrid, the capital and largest city in Spain, is an experience like none other, one that, by day, offers a countless number of historical sites and attractions to visit, and, by night, a world-class party atmosphere that is simply unrivaled by any other city in the world.  In addition to the many things to do and see within the city limits, there are also several smaller towns and villages that surround the Spanish capital, which together comprise the Autonomous Community of Madrid.  One of these small municipalities is Rascafría, a town with origins dating back to the 15th century or earlier, and one that offers scores of must-see sites and structures that reflect the art and architecture of Spain so popular in earlier eras. To help you become more familiar with the small treasure that is Rascafría, below we have provided a brief overview of the town and some pertinent information on some of its more popular sites and attractions.

Rascafría:  Overview

Rascafría is a breathtaking and exceedingly peaceful town located in the northwestern area of the Madrid region, nestled among the quiet and historically rich surroundings of the Lozoya valley.  The town can easily be reached from Madrid, via car or train, offering locals and tourists alike the opportunity to escape the noise and fast pace of the city in favor of a much more peaceful environment.

Although driving through the municipality of Rascafría takes but a few minutes or so at normal speeds, there are plenty of interesting sites and attractions packed into this tiny town—a town of 2,000 people occupying a land area of roughly 58 square miles or 13 square kilometers.  Some of the more popular sites of the town include:

·     San Andrés Apóstol.  San Andrés Apóstol, or Saint Andrew the Apostle, is the parish church for the town of Rascafría, a catholic parish that dates backs from the 15th century and restored on several different occasions during the 20th century.  In its central nave, the church has been well-preserved and features some beautiful Gothic vaults and coffered ceilings.

·     Monaster io de Santa Maria de El Paular. By far the most well-known and impressive of all the attractions in Rascafría is the Monasterio de Santa Maria de El Paular, or Santa Maria de El Paular Monastery.  The monastery features one-of-a-kind late-Baroque architecture and decorations, with polychromatic marbles, solomonic columns and gilded leaf work, contrasting with the rocky serene austerity of its cloisters.  Construction of this former Carthusian monastery commenced in 1390 by order of Henry II of Castile, and continued for 50 years under his son, John I of Castile.  In 1403, a small adjacent palace was built under the direction of Rodrigo Alfonso.  Many architects contributed to the project, including Juan Gras, Rodrigo Gil de Hontanon, Francisco Hurtado and Vicente Acero.

·     La Casona.  Built near the time of the monastery’s construction, La Casona was the first Lazaretto or “old hospital” in the region.  It features a beautiful set of two-story buildings as well as lush gardens and orchards.

·     Peñalara National Park.  The mountain locale known as Peñalara National Park is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse flora and fauna in all of Spain and the highest peak in the Madrid region.

As you can see, Rascafría offers a number of sites and attractions for those looking to escape the crowds of downtown Madrid.  If you can find the time in your busy tour schedule, it is well worth the short drive or train ride you’ll need to take to get there, especially in the summer months, when temperatures can run 20 degrees cooler or more than Madrid.