Day Trip

Day Trip

Rascafría, Spain – September 10, 2011

Leslie, Tyler, and I drove north out of Pozuelo, up and over the Sierras, to the small town of Rascafría.  The drive of about 78 kilometers (48 miles) only took us about one hour and fifteen minutes.  The route is beautiful.  We all thought the scenery looked a lot like Colorado.  At the top of the mountain pass, Puerto de la Morcuera, we stopped to take in the view.  There was a nicely done sign, welcoming travelers to Rascafría, the Valley of El Paular.  The sign touts nature, traditions, crafts, and gastronomy while encouraging people to see, to enjoy, and to breathe.

Rascafría is a quaint little town nestled in the valley.  On the way down to the valley, there was a nice overlook.  The overlook offered a beautiful view of the village of the Monasterio de el Paular.

Looking across the valley from the top of the mountain pass, Puerto de la Morcuera.
The sign for the summit, 1,796 meters (5,892 feet).
The small town of Rascafría in the valley.

Arriving in the town of Rascafría, I located a place to park, and we began our walk. One of the first things we saw was the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle, built between the 15th and 16th centuries. It was a beautiful church, but we did not go inside. That was because our main focus was finding coffee and a little something to eat. We finally found a suitable cafe at which we enjoyed coffee and churros.

Awake and refueled, we continued our walk through Rascafría. We stopped in several stores to do some shopping and, of course, to get our refrigerator magnet. For some reason, I like a 1980 or 1981 Citroën 2CV we saw in Plaza de España.

The Church of St. Andrew the aposle.

The main entry to the Church of Saint Andrew.
Rascafría city hall.
Women talking in Plaza de la Villa.
Plaza de España.
An older Citroën at Plaza de España.
Another angle on the Citroën.
A water fountain at Plaza de la Villa.
The skinny house at 33 Calle de los Reyes.

When we finished walking and shopping, we drove south about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) to the Monasterio de El Paular. We stopped there for a tour.

Beginning on August 29, 1390, King Juan I ordered the construction of the monastery to begin. Some 620-years later, we decided to take a tour of the monastery. The first portion of the tour was viewing 56 paintings by Vicente Carducho, done between 1626 and 1632. The paintings are enormous, approximately 10 square meters (107 square feet) each. The paintings illustrate the life of St. Bruno of Cologne, the founder of the Carthusian order. Of course, I could not take photographs…

After viewing the paintings, we joined a tour of the monastery led by one of the monks. It was quite spectacular. It always amazes me how people can construct such marvels with such rudimentary tools and technology. At the end of our tour, we bought some honey bottled by the monks…and a magnet!

The metal sign at the monastery. 

A partial view of the monastery.
A covered walkway exiting into a courtyard.
A side chapel dedicated to Jesus.
Detail of the altar.
A side chapel dedicated to Mary.
The ornamentation under the cupola of the church.
Detail of the area.
The view toward the cupola.
Very intricate stonework.
In the dining hall of the monastery.
Detail of the art above the door to the church.
People exiting from the church.

After our tour, we strolled around the grounds for a while.  That is when we found a small chapel containing an ornate sculpture of a black Madonna and Child.  I could not locate any information on the artwork, so I cannot share anything further here.

Some of the walls of the monastery.
A panoramic view of the church.
An entry to the courtyard
The Black Madonna and Child in another small chapel.
The courtyard at the monastery.

Lastly, we drove toward Segovia.  We stopped at the Parque Natural de Penalara.  We parked the car and had a picnic lunch under a pine tree while overlooking the mountain peaks.  It was beautiful.

The beautiful view at the Parque Natural de Peñalara Senderismo (Natural Park of Peñalara).
Detail of a pine tree.
Detail of a pine tree II.
A meadow in the park.
A mountain across the valley.

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