Sierra del Rincón: nature and tradition
Marta Rodrigo H.
Landscape in the Hayedo de Montejo beech forest. Madrid.
Room in the Horcajuelo de la Sierra Ethnographic Museum. Madrid.
Mill in La Hiruela. Madrid.
Would you like to learn more about the customs and traditions of past times? We invite you to discover the towns and villages in the Sierra del Rincón region, declared a Biosphere Reserve, and home to a unique natural environment in the Madrid Region.
Come and visit its five towns and villages with their mediaeval origins, where livestock farming, agriculture, beekeeping –in addition to other long-forgotten trades such as coal porters and blacksmiths– formed the basis of their economy. A journey to the past to discover the keys to its history and traditions. Will you come along with us? Montejo de la Sierra The star attraction of this area is the Hayedo de Montejo, a unique forest formed by ancient beech trees that create a fascinating and beautiful landscape where you'll also find yew, ash and wild cherry trees. It's the only beech forest in the Madrid Region today. Visitor numbers are controlled, and admission is by a free pass that can be obtained via the Internet, by phone, or in person from the Resources Centre, the departure point for a guided visit lasting an hour and a half. We recommend visiting the exhibitions here to learn more about the Sierra del Rincón, and particularly about the ancient trades that used to be the mainstay of this area, such as coal porter, blacksmith, beekeeper, miller or tiler, in addition to a selection of the tools they used. Horcajuelo de la Sierra Ninety kilometres outside Madrid you'll find Horcajuelo de la Sierra with its houses built of dark stone and its typical rural atmosphere. If you want to know more about the way of life in this area, the best idea is to make a combined visit to its ethnological museum and its forge. The museum is an old refurbished dwelling that conserves the traditional rural architecture of the area. It has two floors and an attic, in addition to an annex housing various cultural exhibitions. The ground floor is formed by the courtyard, which contains all the elements used in daily chores: the upper level recreates the actual inhabitants' living quarters, with a kitchen and various rooms decorated with original period furnishings and objects to show their way of life, customs and traditions. On the top floor there is an exhibition of the typical costumes of some of the villages in this mountain area. In the forge you can learn all about the everyday life of the blacksmith and the tools he used –his tongs, welders and hammers– and see the great furnace that has been conserved to the present day. La Hiruela One hundred kilometres from Madrid you'll have the chance to see the genuine essence of rural life in the Sierra del Rincón area. We recommend visiting its ethnological museum, where you'll begin with a tour of the area through old photographs showing the daily lives of the village inhabitants. Then you'll see a range of regional costumes, work tools, everyday objects and the re-creation of various rooms like the bedroom and the kitchen, all furnished with original pieces donated by the locals themselves. Your visit continues towards the flour mill and its recreation area, an excellent place to enjoy a pleasant picnic after your visit. Although the mill machinery has been restored, the original millstones and millwheels have been conserved, and you can see a demonstration of how they work. Near the mill you'll find a traditional apiary, an area enclosed with stones containing more than one hundred beehives made out of hollow oak or cherry logs. This apiary was extremely important because the honey was once –and still is– one of the most important resources in the life of La Hiruela. To round off the tour, we suggest heading to the coal bunker located in the area of the pasture, or taking the Trades for Life route, which visits some of the most interesting ethnographic sites in the area. You can end your stay in the Sierra del Rincón by visiting Prádena del Rincón and its restored church, which contains some attractive Gothic carvings and ancient tombs of monks; Puebla de la Sierra with its slate-based architecture and its wood-burning ovens; and the Valley of Dreams, consisting of a route around a series of outdoor sculptures.
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