Village of Pedraza

Village of Pedraza
Pedraza, Spain
Pedraza, Spain When we left the restaurant in Miraflores de la Sierra, I set our GPS for Pedraza. That took us up the mountain via Puerto de Canecia (mountain pass). The summit was at 1,524 meters (5,000 feet). It was cloudy with a little drizzle. On the way down the other side we could see there had been a lot of trees cut down. We assumed it was done primarily for fire control. Then, around one hairpin turn, we encountered a logging truck with a crane/boom, and a large bulldozer. The truck was on one side of the paved road. The other lane was taken up by several felled trees. We sat and waited while a path was cleared for us. To clear our path, the boom picked up several trees and placed them in the truck. The bulldozer pushed several other trees off the side of the road. When they finally waved us through, I had to fold the driver’s side mirror in to make it by the truck. We ultimately made it to Lozoya, a small town, and began our trip over the next mountain range. This was via the Puerto de Navafria. This summit was a little higher at 1,773 meters (5,816 feet). At the summit we crossed from the province of Madrid to the province of Segovia. It was lightly raining. In the forest, on the way down, we kept seeing a sign that said “Zona de Caza Controlado”, which means controlled hunting area. We made it to Pedraza at noon. We parked just outside the city walls and walked in toward the castle. Along the way we stopped at several shops. In one of the shops, la Tienda, we bought a postcard. The store is located at Calle Mayor, 6. The postcard was a drawing depicting one of the main gates into the city, Arco de la Villa de Pedraza. The coat of arms above the arch is dated 1561. At the arch there is only enough width for one vehicle to pass at a time. Just inside the gate are two old wooden doors. They look like they could easily be closed at any time. From our vehicle to the castle, we walked about one kilometer. When we arrived at the castle there was a sign on the door that said the next tour would be at 13:30. It was about 13:00, so we sat near the door and waited. The door was mostly covered in four-inch iron spikes. It looked very formidable. When the door opened we paid a total of 12 Euros to enter. As it ended up, it was mainly a museum for the painter Ignacio Zuloaga. I had not heard of him prior to this. He was born in 1870. Apparently he was very good friends with the French artist, Toulouse-Lautrec in the 1890’s. Beginning in about 1903 he became friends with the sculptor Auguste Rodin. A few years later he exchanged some letters with Pablo Picasso. Our tour guide said some of the arches in the castle are from Roman times. The castle itself dates from the 15th century. The tour went through some of the grounds. It included a trip into the cistern that was originally used for water. Much like the Alcazar in the city of Segovia, the castle was built at the point of a cliff, so three sides are impossible to assault. The only possible entry is the one we used. From the internal courtyard, we climbed the stairs to the upper floor. At that level we were taken into a room with several works of the artist on display. Some of my favorites included:
  • Desnudo del Pequines (Naked Pekinese)
  • Mujer de Alcala Guadaira (Woman of Alcala Guadaira)
  • Retrato de Pepe Albaicin el Torero (Portrait of Pepe Albaicin, Bullfighter)
We went back down to the ground level. We were ushered into another room with several works by the artist. The one that really struck me was:
  • El Palco de las Presidentas (The stage of Presidents)
The tour, while interesting, was not really worth 6 Euros each. When we left the castle we walked a few hundred meters and came across el Corral de Joaquina. While we were walking toward the restaurant we could smell the smoke from its fireplace. Since it was such a cool, gray day, it really smelled good. We went into the dining room and prepared for a good lunch. For the first course Leslie ordered a mixed salad. It was huge! It contained lettuce, tuna, black olives, onions, tomatoes, and hearts of palm. I ordered sopa castellana. It is a hearty soup. The broth is light brown containing bread, lamb fat, diced ham and a boiled egg. For the main course, Leslie and I split a bacalao plate. Bacalao is a firm white fish. A large piece, about two inches thick, was served in the center of the plate. It was surrounded by several mussels and a couple of roasted red peppers. It was all covered in a light red sauce that tasted like it was based on the red peppers. It was incredibly delicious. When we finished lunch we opted for coffee instead of dessert. Our total bill came to 35 Euros. That included a half-bottle of red wine. We were very pleased with our restaurant selection. We walked back to our car and headed toward the A-1 Autopista. As we were driving the heavens opened up. It rained very, very hard. We were lucky this did not happen while we were out walking around. We made it home at about 17:00. For dinner, Leslie made a killer baked chicken. In the cavity, she placed 1/2 of an onion, 1/2 of an orange, and 1/2 of a bunch of garlic. Then she rubbed the chicken with an herb butter. Over that, she covered the chicken with strips of bacon. She placed the other half of the onion and the garlic cut-side down in the baking pan. About every 20 minutes she pulled the chicken out of the oven and basted it in its own juices. After a little more than an hour she took off the bacon and put the chicken back in the oven to allow the skin to get crispy. When the chicken was done, she made gravy with the juices in the baking pan. It was served with mashed potatoes and corn. Wow! It was heavenly!

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