Must visit: The medieval village in Spain that can only be accessed through a small wooden door

IT could be said that the tiny town of Pedraza, located about 1.5 hours north of Madrid by car, is a relic from the distant past. 

In an aesthetic sense, little has changed about the walled city for centuries, making it a treasured day trip for Spanish travellers and foreigners alike. 

The town’s history dates back to the Middle Ages, when King Henry II of Castile placed it under the lordship of military commander Don Fernando Gomez de Albornoz in 1369.  

As was customary for small mediaeval towns in Spain, a fortified wall was constructed around the perimeter to defend the village against attackers and thieves. 

A poplar-wood door, which remains in its original form and is known as Puerta de la Villa, serves as the town’s only entrance and exit. 

READ MORE: Must visit: This white-washed town in Andalucia has one of the best preserved medieval castles in Spain – and was even featured in Game of Thrones

Pedraza entrance (Credit: Los Pueblos Mas Bonitos)
The entrance to the walled city of Pedraza. Credit: Wikimedia

In mediaeval times the door remained closed at night and open during the day, and provided an opportunity to collect taxes from visiting merchants. 

Pedraza grew through the 16th and 17th centuries as a consequence of its productive sheep flock roaming outside the city walls, which provided abundant, high-quality wool for the townspeople to export. 

In 2014, Pedraza was added to the Association of the Most Beautiful Towns in Spain (La Asociación Los Pueblos Más Bonitos de España), which includes on its list towns marked for preservation due to their unique histories, heritage, or cultural and natural beauty. 

Nowadays, the walled city’s 125 or so permanent residents live almost exclusively off tourism, meaning that, while Pedraza’s modern streets maintain their historic layout and charm, they now offer additional tourist comforts for visitors, including numerous restaurants, shops, and places to buy chocolates, soaps, and other artisanal specialties. 

Pedraza (credit: Los Pueblos Mas Bonitos)

Other charms include Pedraza’s castle, which, despite a rather dark history, is now a popular tourist destination, with guided tours offered Fridays for 15 euros, and 7 euro admission every day for a self-guided visit. 

During the Italian Wars of the 16th century, two of King Francis I of France’s young children were imprisoned in the castle, including the future King Henry II. 

In the early 20th century, Basque painter Ignacio Zuloaga acquired the castle, which was passed to his family, who currently reside there. 

Visitors can now view the realist painter’s works in the castle, a portion of which has been converted to a museum. 

Pedraza also hosts a small summer music festival during the first two weekends of July, organised by the Fundacion Villa de Pedraza.

Called the Concierto de las Velas (Candle Concert), this year’s festival will take place on the nights of Saturday, July 6th and July 13th, and will feature a handful of renowned classical music soloists, including Berlin violinist Laurentius Dinca, who once played with the Berlin Philharmonic.

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