In the historic town of Pastrana, located in the province of Guadalajara, a fascinating story spanning centuries of history unfolds. From its beginnings to the present, Pastrana has been a witness to events and prominent figures who have made their mark on the future of the region.
Pastrana's history goes back to ancient times, with indications of human settlements dating back to the Bronze Age. However, it was during Roman times when the place began to acquire greater relevance. At that time, Pastrana was known as "Roman Pastrana" and was an important strategic enclave on the road linking Mérida and Zaragoza.
Over the centuries, Pastrana witnessed various dominations and changes of power. During the Visigothic period, the town experienced a stage of relative stability and growth. However, with the arrival of the Arabs in the eighth century, the region found itself plunged into a period of Muslim domination that lasted for several centuries.
Not until the Reconquista did Pastrana began to recover its autonomy. In the 11th century, King Alfonso VI of Castile conquered the area and integrated it into the Christian kingdom.
From then on, Pastrana experienced a renaissance and became an important religious and cultural centre.
One of the most significant episodes in the history of Pastrana occurred during the 16th century, when the princess of Éboli, Ana de Mendoza de la Cerda, decided to settle in the town. The princess was an influential figure in the Spanish court. During her stay in Pastrana, she promoted the construction of the Ducal Palace, a majestic Renaissance building that is now one of the main tourist attractions in the town.
In the following centuries, Pastrana continued its evolution, going through moments of splendour and decadence. However, its rich historical and cultural heritage remained intact over the years, and the town became a reference for those interested in discovering the history and tradition of the region.
Today, Pastrana retains its historical charm and has become a popular tourist destination for those looking to immerse themselves in its fascinating past. Its cobbled streets, old churches and majestic palaces are silent witnesses to a history full of memorable episodes and illustrious characters. Pastrana evokes the splendour of bygone times and captivates those who venture to discover it.
Top 5 places to visit in Pastrana
Following are five places that are mandatory stops during a visit to Pastrana:
Collegiate Church of the Assumption
This imposing church was built in the 13th century, although it was completely renovated in the 16th and 17th centuries.
This is one of the main attractions of Pastrana. With beautiful architecture, the church houses a museum that stands out for the most important collection of Flemish Gothic tapestries in the world from the late 15th century.
Visitors can explore the rich history of this chuch through its artwork and architectural features. We cannot miss the organ, built by Domingo de Mendoza in 1704.
Built in the 16th century by order of the princess of Éboli, this Renaissance palace is an architectural jewel that deserves to be visited.
Its spacious patios, elegant halls and lush gardens transport visitors to a bygone splendour.
The palace also houses the Parochial Museum, where valuable works of art and historical objects are exhibited. In addition, the Doge's Palace has beautiful gardens and terraces, offering a haven of peace and beauty.
The gardens are carefully designed, with flower beds, fountains and rest areas that invite one to walk and enjoy the tranquillity of the surroundings. Added to that, it is the scene of many celebrations and festivities in the town.
Located in the heart of Pastrana, this historic square is a lively and picturesque place. Surrounded by old noble houses, it is a meeting point for locals and visitors.
The square is enveloped by old noble houses, whose stone facades and ornate balconies testify to the wealth and splendour that Pastrana experienced in the past.
These beautiful buildings, some of them centuries old, give the square a nostalgic atmosphere full of history.
Here, one can enjoy the traditional atmosphere of the town, have a coffee on one of the terraces or simply enjoy the beauty of the historical surroundings.
Located on the outskirts of the town, this former convent and hostel for Carmelite nuns is another notable place to visit.
Built in the 16th century, it was founded by Saint Teresa of Ávila, which makes Pastrana part of the pilgrimage route “Las Huellas de Santa Teresa”.
The convent was occupied by the order of the Discalced Carmelites until 1836, when the so-called demortization of Mendizábal took place.
Fountain of the Four Pipes
In medieval times this fountain was located in what was the center of the town, where the Council was located. In those days, the square where the fountain was located was known as the Plaza de Arriba or the Plaza del Mercado
It is an ancient fountain, dating from 1588, and has an octagonal pylon, with a pillar and capital.
Four aligned masks emerge from the cup from where the four pipes are born, which represent the four stages of man.
Gastronomy in Pastrana
Pastrana's gastronomy is a delight for lovers of good food. The town offers a varied selection of traditional dishes that reflect the culinary richness of the region.
One of Pastrana's most emblematic dishes is roast lamb, a delicacy prepared with dedication and care. The lamb, coming from local herds, is slowly cooked in the oven with aromatic herbs and spices, which give it a unique and juicy flavour. This dish is served with roast potatoes and is a true delight for the palate.
Another local specialty is garlic soup, made with bread, garlic, olive oil, paprika and meat broth. It is a comforting dish, ideal for cold days, and is usually served with a poached egg.
As for sausages, in Pastrana, high-quality products are made. “Lomo embuchado”, “chorizo” and black pudding are some examples of local sausages that stand out for their intense flavour and artisan preparation.
Of course, one cannot talk about the gastronomy of Pastrana without mentioning traditional sweets. “Mostillo” is one of the most famous – a dessert made from grape must, cornmeal and sugar. One can also find delicious fritters, “pestiños” and “rosquillas”, which are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.
In addition to these traditional dishes, Pastrana has restaurants and taverns where one can enjoy a wide variety of regional dishes, such as game stews, migas, river trout and artisan cheeses.
Gastronomy in Pastrana is an authentic and satisfying culinary experience. Each dish reflects the tradition and love for good food of this charming town, inviting visitors to delight in flavours that will linger in one’s memory.
Festivals in Pastrana
Various festivities are celebrated in Pastrana throughout the year, reflecting the rich tradition and devotion of its inhabitants. These festivities are moments of joy, colour and religious fervour, in which the community gathers to honour their patron saints and share special moments.
One of the most important festivities in Pastrana is Holy Week. During this religious celebration, solemn processions are held in which religious images are carried on a litter through the streets of the town. The residents actively participate in the processions, accompanying the images and devoutly living this period of reflection and recollection.
Pastrana also has popular and traditional celebrations. One of them is the festival that is celebrated in honour of the Virgin of the Assumption in mid-August. During this festivity, bullfights and other activities related to bullfighting are organized, such as the popular running of the bulls. Bullfighting fans can enjoy exciting shows and experience the passion and tradition of this event.
Likewise, Christmas is celebrated in a special way in Pastrana. During the holidays, the town is decked out with lights and decorations, and events such as concerts, live nativity scenes and traditional markets are organized.
Hour Square becomes the centre of the celebrations, as residents gather there to sing Christmas carols and enjoy the magic of the season. These festivities in Pastrana are moments of union, tradition and religion that allow residents and visitors to immerse themselves in the rich culture of the town and enjoy the hospitality and joy of its people.