Buitrago del Lozoya, Spain – May 20, 2012
Today, Uncle Wayne, Aunt Ann, Leslie, and I visited the small town of Buitrago del Lozoya. It is a town we usually drive past as we go north on the A-1 to other Spanish cities and towns. What a beautiful little town! We parked beside the main square, Plaza Picasso.
Our first stop, of course, was for coffee and a restroom. At random, we entered the Mesón Serrano. It is directly across the street from Plaza Picasso on Calle Real. We each had a coffee served in a glass, not a mug. That is relatively common in Spain. The interior was rustic. The bar was a thick, highly polished, single piece of wood. The bar and the paneling reminded me of knotty pine, but I think it was a different type of wood. Above the bar were several hand-hammered bas relief panels. They looked like they were brass. The theme on all the boards was bullfighting.
One man sat at the bar, drinking a beer. That is not that unusual in Spain; although, it was a bit early for me.
The Meson Serrano bar and restaurant.
When we left the Mesón Serrano, we stopped and looked at a map of the town. The Rio Lozoya surrounds the village on three sides. The northern point of the town nestles securely inside a massive wall. The Moors constructed the wall in the 11th Century.
We walked toward the church tower we could see from Calle Mayor. As we neared it, we could see we need to walk down a small street to our right. However, because of a curve, it appeared the road was a dead end. In the far corner of the street was a tiny hotel and restaurant. As we continued along, we saw the street made a sharp left turn. When we rounded that corner, we saw an archway that allowed passage through the wall. There, the road veered sharply right and emptied onto a small plaza in front of a beautiful stone church. On one of the walls of the plaza, we saw a sign commemorating the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Marques de Santillana, 1398 – 1998. He was a famous poet and politician in the area.
The church, Sanat Maria del Castillo, turned out to be quaint, yet one of the most beautiful we have seen. Some portions of the church date to 1321. The coffered Mudejar ceiling is by far the most prominent and impressive feature of the worship space.
Beside the plaza outside the church is a set of stairs that lead to the top of the wall. At that point, the wall rose to a height of nearly 50 feet (15 meters). Aunt Ann and I walked up the stairs to get a photograph of the church. The gate allowing access to the very top of the wall was not open. Therefore, we stopped at the top landing and made our photographs. Storks nesting on the bell tower completed the scene. It is not unusual to see storks nesting on the high points of the old churches in Spain.
The church of Santa Maria del Castillo.
From the church plaza (Plaza de Caidos – Plaza of the Fallen) we made our way to the east side of town. At the wall on that side, we came across the ruin of the Mendoza Fortress. The fortress dates from sometime between the 14th and 15th centuries. Upon entering, one sees the floor is sand and circular. It is open to the sky. There are some stone bleachers on all sides. It almost seemed to be a small bullfighting arena; however, it does not appear to be in use.
Near the fortress is an opening in the wall onto what looks like an overlook and pedestrian walkway. The walkway ended up being a street, much to our surprise. From the overlook, there were some charming views of the Rio Lozoya.
We went back through the wall and continued our trek to the north end of the town. At the north end of the village, the wall was only about 10 or 12 feet (3 to 3.6 meters) high. There was another set of stairs. This time we all walked to the top of the wall as there was no gate at these stairs.
Also, at the north end of the town, there is a playground/garden area. There were several types of flowers, many of which seemed to be wild. One of the more unique features was a children’s maze, formed with live cedar trees. The trees were about five feet (1.5 meters) tall. Planted very close together, they created the passageways. I have never seen anything like that at any other playground.
We began our walk back toward the central part of the town, stopping at a small plaza to sit and rest. On one side, I spotted a ferreteria (hardware store). It was open. I knew Uncle Wayne wanted to see a hardware store, so we went inside. It was amazing just how much stuff the owner packed into that small store. I estimate the store was about 20 feet (six meters) square. The store also boasted a second floor. The name of the store is Angel San Juan.
By this time, most of the stores in town were open. We found one small store that sold refrigerator magnets. We bought a magnet for Leslie’s collection.
That store brought us full circle, back to the Plaza Picasso. It has that name because of the museum in the lower level of the municipal building, Museo Picasso Eugenio Arias Collection. Born in Buitrago del Lozoya in 1909, Arias ultimately became a barber. Arias decided to leave Spain and settle in Vallauris in the south of France. That was after the Spanish Civil War. Coincidentally, Picasso lived there at the same time. Arias became Picasso’s barber. Picasso liked him, so he gave him many things he drew, painted, or made. Those items are on display in the museum.
The display of the two Picasso posters.
As I have written previously, since coming to Spain, I am now a big fan of Picasso. I have become much fonder of him than I was before because I have personally seen many of his works and observed the evolution of his style.
Earlier in the morning, on our drive to the town, we drove through a lot of rain. I worried that we would have a soggy, miserable trip. When we arrived at Buitrago del Lozoya it was not raining, just cloudy. After being in the town for a while, it became very windy, so it was cold. By the time we were ready to depart, it had become partly sunny.
This town is well worth the stop.