Sierra Guadarrama, a magical environment full of legends on the outskirts of Madrid


Traditionally, it was forest and mountain environments A kaleidoscope of mysteries and legends. Some of the stories which, despite their fantastical nature – or perhaps because of them – helped answer many of the questions their inhabitants asked themselves, served as lessons for avoiding dangers, helped in acquiring skills and formed a cultural heritage that shaped the local folklore.

Spain has many mountainous enclaves shrouded in legends. from Montserrat to despinapyrusPasses through PyreneesSoriano Mountain of soulsCoruna Mount Pinto Wave Tyndaya Mountain in Fuerteventura. However, there is a saw that, although unnoticed, has a lot to say: Guadarrama.

“The Sierra de Guadarrama is like the sea horizon of Madrid. However, having been so close, I paid little attention to it. Its discovery was a pleasant surprise, and since then, I have decided to analyze it as a whole, something that has not been done,” he explains. Marcus Peralta author In the shadow of the dragon. Published by Balazote Editorial, this article discusses History of Guadarrama from the Lower Archaic Period to the Present. No less than five hundred million years, during which Guadarrama never ceased to amaze those who approached it.

“Wherever you look at it, Guadarrama is a melting pot in every way. Both in a geological sense and in a natural sense—because Practically all the landscapes that can be found on the peninsula are present in it– And, of course, also at the historical level. In fact, I would venture to say that it was not the proximity of the mountains to Madrid, but rather that it was Madrid that ended up becoming the capital because it was close to that axis and that magical place, ”says Polvoranca, who points out how, from the Gothic era Westerners, hermits who sought transcendence approached God in La Cabrera and on the banks of the Albirche River and who, according to the author, did not choose those places simply by chance.

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“At a time when these people had practically the whole land at their disposal, they decided to settle in those particular places, which was not even pleasant, because we must not forget that the mountains are extreme in climate and completely poor as far as agricultural tasks are concerned,” he answered with reason, in many cases, It had something to do with symbolism or magic. The same applies to Philip II And choose this saw for construction El Escorial. Although everything related to magic or alchemy may seem eccentric to us, at that time it was something very present. In addition, we must not forget that those who studied these subjects were some of the most brilliant people of their time and, in fact, many questions of modern science have their origin in chemical investigations, ”explains Polvoranca.

physical vs. spirituality

Although it can be used as a guide for discovering some remote places in the mountains, Polvoranca’s book is a textured approach to that environment in which, for centuries, there have been recurring symbols, such as the dragon. which gives the article a title.

As I was checking out the different places in the mountains, I realized this Dragons appeared everywhere. In addition to the fact that the topography is reminiscent of this mythical animal, in the area there is a large presence of lizards, many cities in the mountains have included them in their shields and they are also present in the last monument built in that environment, the Valley of the Fallen, which also shows the dragon in its carvings or tapestry . The persistence of all these symbols has a meaning that we cannot understand because, at present, we live in the dome of our own materialism. However, it is something that exists, claiming its space and attention,” comments Polvoranca, who emphasizes the idea that “the mind is a modern thing. For most of human history, we’ve been thinking about this sort of thing, and while all this effort to create temples may seem absurd to today’s eyes, it makes sense because Man does not only possess this physical dimension. Even if we overcome it, the symbolic part is also part of our nature.

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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it appeared renewal movementheaded Jenner de los Riosmake students Free education institutionHe, formerly of the student dormitory, took a new interest in Guadarama. Among other activities, excursions and walks were organized and recovered elements of folklore hitherto ignored, perhaps because their proximity to such an important urban center as Madrid meant that they were despised as primitive and backward relics.

“This power play between modernity and tradition was very important in the case of Guadarrama. Until the beginning of the 20th century, when it began to become fashionable among mountaineers and intellectuals who tried to modernize society through education, the mountains served to some extent as a place for the poor. There were still very isolated places whose legends, traditions and ceremonies remained almost unchanged. For example, The Mayans of Manzanares del Real Wave Pilgrimage that is celebrated in Canto Redondowhich is a whole catalog of pagan rituals that show that mountains are much more than a place to go on weekends,” Bolvoranca defends.

Las Mayas de Manzanares el Real is a celebration of spring where lavishly dressed girls or young women preside over the ceremony from an altar built with floral themes. / Community of Madrid

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Anyone who approaches the Sierra de Guadarrama, either in person or through In the shadow of the dragonYou will check out the amazing biological and cultural wealth of the place. Indeed, it is remarkable that those responsible for the autonomous communities of which it is a part have not promoted the enclave as a tourist destination on par with other similar mountain regions, something Marcos Polvoranca does not regret at all.

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“I don’t usually defend the actions of politicians, but in this case I appreciate their work in preserving the mountains and protecting them from tourists. Although this does not prevent huge traffic jams in winter to go up to see the snow, it is also true that projects such as building cable cars to access to Benalara would have been excluded and would have been a disaster.In this sense, getting too close to a big city is always dangerous, and in fact, I think It’s a miracle that there are spaces of nature like this so close to Madrid“.

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