An excursion is organized after the congress, in Saturday September 21th, to visit Manzanares El Real Castle and La Pedriza park, and having lunch in a typical restaurant in the village. Participants interested in the excursion should book it following the instructions of the Registration Form (best rates before Early Bird deadline, April 19th).

The village of Manzanares El Real is located in the High Basin of Manzanares Regional Park, at 50 km NO from Madrid, which combines a unique ecosystem with La Pedriza, a protected park listed in the Worldwide Biosphere Reserves park and one of the most stunning landscapes in the Region of Madrid, and an incredible historical culture represented by the Mendoza’s Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Spain. More information in http://www.manzanareselreal.org/turismo/

Castillo 1

The Mendoza’s Castle in Manzanares El Real

The Mendoza’s Castle, in Manzanares El Real, is an important example of the Castilian military architecture of the 15th century and is one of the last ones existing in Spain. In fact, its initial vocation as a fortress turned into a residential palace of one of the noblest families in Castilla from the middle age: the Mendoza family.

In 1931 it was designated a Historic/Artistic Monument and it was selected as the location for the appointment of the Statute of Autonomy of the Community of Madrid in 1983. The Castle is still a property of the Duke of Infantado and it has been leased to the Community of Madrid which is responsible for its administration.

It was built on a Romanesque-Mudejar chapel in honor of Santa María de la Nava, from the 13th century. The Mendoza Castle is the best conserved in the whole Community of Madrid. Its construction commenced in 1475.

The Castle has a square base with cylindrical towers on the corners, except on the southeast angle, where the Torre del Homenaje (keep) is placed. On its eastern side, there is a secondary attached body with a rectangular base which includes the apse of the old church. The Castle with its beautiful half-pointed arched windows consists of an inner court and two galleries on octagonal columns. The building has four towers decorated with “isabelino”-style balls in the higher parts. The first floor´s Gothic Gallery is considered the most beautiful in Spain. There is an interesting collection of flamboyant tapestries from the 17th century, made on Rubens´ sketches, some suits of armor and pieces of furniture from the same period.

La Pedriza 2

La Pedriza Park

The Sierra de Guadarrama is a mountain range forming the main eastern section of the Sistema Central (system of mountain ranges at the centre of the Iberian Peninsula). It is located between the Sierra de Gredos (Ávila province), and Sierra de Ayllón (Guadalajara and Segovia provinces). The range runs southwest – northeast, extending into the province of Madrid to the south, and towards the provinces of Ávila and Segovia to the north. The chain as a whole measures approximately 80 km in length, with its highest peak, Peñalara, reaching 2,428 m above sea level.

“La Pedriza” is located on the southern slopes of the Guadarrama (north of Madrid). It occupies 32 square kilometres within the Regional Park of the High River basin of Manzanares (UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), the largest park of the Community of Madrid. The geomorphology of “La Pedriza” is unique in the Community of Madrid. It is one of the largest granitic ranges of Europe and holds numerous peaks, rocky cliffs, streams and meadows. Geological forces have created a remarkable boulder field of strangely eroded granitic outcrops.

“La Pedriza” it is divided into three distinct massifs: Arcornocal de la Pedriza, Pedriza Anterior and Pedriza Posterior. There are several pools and three glacial cirques (Laguna Grande, Pepe Hernando, and Regajo de la Pedriza y del Brezal), as well as several moraines. The vegetation of the Regional Park of the High River basin of Manzanares is a combination of Mediterranean forest with holly oak on the lowest levels and the specific one for high mountain vegetation with scots pines and alpine juniper on the highest level. In “La Pedriza” area, vegetation is sparse, characterized by Mediterranean shrubs like the rockrose, juniper and Spanish Broom shrubs, and alpine varieties like fabaceaes (legumes) and grasses. In wet autumns make a large variety of mushrooms grow.

The fauna is rich in birds of prey; with a breeding colony of over 100 pairs of griffon vultures and peregrine falcons, and Spanish Imperial Eagle (endemic of Spain). Also wildlife such as Spanish ibex, roe deer, fallow deer, wild boar, badger, various types of weasel, European wild cat, fox and hare. The village of Manzanares el Real and the nature park of “La Pedriza” enjoy their own microclimate because of the combination of sun, granite and the water from the reservoir. “La Pedriza” is an area of great environmental importance and steeped in legend – it was a favoured haunt of bandits in the second half of the 19th century.