Close your eyes for a moment and picture a walled medieval village, with no modern buildings, completely unaffected by the passing of time. Now open and rejoice in the fact that a place like this still exists in the province of Segovia, Spain. Think Game of Thrones but much, MUCH better. Why? Because it’s real. This is not a Hollywood set that’ll be torn down in a month’s time. This village has remained unbelievably well-preserved for more than 700 years. Unlike a movie set, it isn’t going away any time soon.
This beautiful village has less than 500 inhabitants who help run the local hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and galleries. There’s only a handful of these establishments, which isn’t surprising considering it only takes you about 20 minutes to walk around the entire village. Life is simple and quiet in Pedraza which is how the locals like it. Don’t get me wrong, they welcome visitors and are very proud to show off their history.
Pedraza was declared a national Historical Heritage site in 1951 and it’s easy to see why. The entire village is surrounded by a wall with one crumbling door which lets visitors in and out. Just imagine, more than two cars trying to get in and out at the same time can cause a terrible traffic jam! But I’d choose rush hour in Pedraza over Los Angeles any day.
Spend time in the Main Plaza or, Plaza Mayor, and be sure to visit one of the bars. I think there are only two in total but they are very unique and keep the old Spanish tradition of serving a free tapa, or small plate of food, when you order a drink. If your Spanish is good enough, don’t be shy about conversing with the locals. If you’re lucky, one particular bar owner will share with you her fascinating family history. She’ll be happy to explain how her bar has been in her family for five generations, and that she was born just upstairs. You’ll quickly realize that every building in Pedraza has a story. Above the door of many homes there are still Coats of Arms, some dating back to the 16th century.
From Thursday through Sunday, Pedraza Castle is open to visitors. This fortress dates back to the 13th century and was heavily transformed in the 15h century. Today it belongs to the Zuloaga Family where Spanish painter Ignacio Zuloaga displays his art work in one of the castle’s rooms. Be sure to climb the castle and walk around the wall for beautiful views of the village and the surrounding province of Segovia.
Another medieval attraction, and the only other one in Pedraza, would be a prison right at the entrance to the village. It’s mostly open on the weekends and only costs a few euros to enter. It’s small, dark, terrifying and utterly fascinating. You’ll leave feeling extremely thankful you weren’t a criminal back in medieval times.
On the first and second Saturday in July, the lights of the village are switched off and candles are replaced inside each house. The locals also decorate their patios and windows in an effort to light the entire village with candlelight. The Night of the Candles would be an ideal time to visit, and it’s certainly the only time of the year you’ll see more than a few tourists in Pedraza at one given time!
There are a few tour companies who will take you from Madrid by bus to visit Segovia and Pedraza in a day. That’s probably the easiest way to get there. However, I’d highly recommend visiting on your own. It might be a small village but a visit to Pedraza shouldn’t be rushed. A Spanish company called Linecar offers a bus from Madrid to Pedraza, but it only runs on certain days of the week. I’d suggest contacting Madrid or Segovia’s tourism boards to help organize your transportation since Linecar’s website might be difficult to navigate if you don’t speak Spanish. Or if you’re renting a car, it’s only a 90 minute drive from Madrid!
Pedraza is certainly a hidden gem, but I can assure you, it’s worth all of the effort once you’re there.
Is Pedraza on your travel list?