San Martin de Valdeiglesias , Madrid, SpainCategory: Madrid
If you are planning an upcoming trip to Madrid, Spain, you should definitely include on your tour schedule some of the smaller towns and villages that surround the city; towns that together with the Spanish capital make up the Autonomous Community of Madrid. One such town, San Martin Valdeiglesias, offers a wealth of interesting sights and attractions, many of which date back to the 13th century or earlier.
San Martin de Valdeiglesias: Overview
San Martin de Valdeiglesias is a town/municipality located in the westernmost portion of the province of Madrid, one that also borders parts of Avila and Toledo. The town is situated very near the municipalities of Cadalso de los Vidrios, Pelayos de la Presa, Villa del Prado, Aldea del Fresno, Navas del Rey and Colmenar del Arroyo, towns that are also part of the Autonomous Community of Madrid. The town is also very near to the Avila villages of El Tiemblo and Pantano de San Juan. San Martin de Valdeiglesias has a population of approximately 8,200 and a total land area of roughly 115 square kilometers
The roots of San Martin de Valdeiglesias can be traced back to the 13th century, when a small village was formed around a chapel dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. It was formed in the interests of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Valdeiglesias, which at that time was spearheading the colonization of the entire Valdeiglesias valley. Of all the villages belonging to the monastery, San Martin de Valdeiglesias was by far the most developed, and in the early 14th century it was awarded the title of “Villa,” a title that came with special immunity and privileges.
Today San Martin de Valdeiglesias belongs to the Community of Madrid, which has been very active in preserving some of the town’s most treasured sites and monuments. Because of these efforts, the town has become a very popular locale for locals and tourists alike, particularly during the summer months when the weather in San Martin Valdeiglesias tends to be much more pleasant than the blazing heat of Madrid.
Sites, Attractions and Celebrations
One of the most popular attractions in San Martin Valdeiglesias is the Castle Coracera. This well-preserved structure was built in the 15th century for the Constable of Castile, Don Alvaro de Luna, who was instrumental in transferring ownership of the town from the monastery of Santa Maria de Valdeiglesias to his lordship. Tours of the castle are now available daily by appointment.
San Martin Valdeiglesias is nicknamed the Valley of Churches, namely for the six hermitages or chapels located throughout the town, each displaying the architectural style of the period in which it was built. They include the hermitages of Our Lady of Health, the Rosary, the Blood, the Holy Christ of the Calvary, the Church of San Martin Obispo and Ecce Homo. All of these are worth visiting, but the latter two, Church of San Martin Obispo and Ecce Homo, are especially interesting for their contrasting styles. The Church of San Martin Obispo, a chapel built in the Renaissance style, was built in the 17th century and designed by Pedro de Tolsa, while the Ermita de Ecce Homo, with its broad arches and cornice decorated with beads, was erected in the mid 15th century.
If you happen to be traveling to San Martin Valdeiglesias during one of their lively festivals you are really in for a treat. On September 7-12, for example, during the celebrations honoring the patron saint of the town, a parade is held in the downtown sector, and people line the streets to enjoy music, authentic Spanish fare and plenty of laughter. Other festivals in town include the annual celebrations honoring St. Martin of Tours, on November 11th, and the Feast of Our Lady Virgin Patron of the New, on September 8th.