The Ducal Town of Pastrana, capital of the region of La Alcarria, is a well-preserved settlement of historical and artistic importance.
Pastrana’s origins may date back to Roman times, when it was possibly known as Paternina, although it is first documented in manuscripts referring to the Visigothic town of Pastrani, mentioned by King Wamba (672-680) when he was drawing up boundaries for Christian dioceses. However, its widely-known history only begins in the time of Alfonso VIII of Castile, who, in 1174, granted the town of Pastrana to the Order of Calatrava. The town belonged to this military order until 1541, when Charles I reclaimed it and granted it to Ana de la Cerda, widow of Diego de Mendoza, Count of Melito. In 1562, Philip II granted the title of Dukes of Pastrana to Ana de Mendoza, the legendary Princess of Eboli (who spent her final years imprisoned in the Ducal Palace of Pastrana) and her husband Ruy Gómez de Silva, advisor, favourite and personal friend of the king. This explains the origin of the honorific title of ‘Ducal Town’.
The years straddling the Renaissance and the Golden Age were ones of true splendour for Pastrana, thanks to the efforts of its noblemen, the visit by the mystic Teresa of Ávila, who founded convents in Pastrana, and the establishment of silk factories operated by Moors brought in from Andalusia who settled in an area today known as the Albaicín.
Pastrana began to decline from the early years of the 18th century, when the Dukes transferred their residence to Madrid, effectively converting Pastrana into a backwater. It was the Nobel Prize-winning writer Camilo José Cela who initiated a rediscovery in his well-known work Journey to the Alcarria. Today, the name Pastrana is associated with a resurgence of interest in its artistic and cultural past.
Places of interest
Pastrana’s historic quarter, which maintains its medieval layout, contains a large number of buildings of undeniable artistic quality. These include the Ducal Palace, constructed in the mid-16th century with a rectangular floor plan, which has an outstanding Renaissance doorway. The crypt of the Collegiate Parish Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (16th-17th century), adjacent to the original Gothic church of the Knights Templar, contains the remains of the Dukes of Melito and Pastrana. The church also contains the Parish Tapestry Museum, which holds a collection of religious art and the eponymous Flemish tapestries.
The Conceptionist Franciscan convent (16th century, rebuilt in the 17th century in the Baroque style) and the <b>Convent of Carmel (16th century) were founded by St. Teresa of Ávila. The latter houses the curious Museum of Natural History of the Philippines (or Science Museum) and the Teresian Museum (or Carmelite and Religious Art Museum), dedicated to the founding saint and to another great saint and mystic, St. John of the Cross, who visited the town. Other buildings of interest are the College of St. Bonaventure (17th century), with its Baroque facade and patio; the remains of the old castle and walls built by the Knights Templar; the old quarter of the Albaicín, with its unusual layout; and several emblazoned palaces and manor houses from the 16th and 17th centuries.
A good time to visit Pastrana is during festivals, such as the Ducal Festival, held around the feast day of the Virgin of Mount Carmel (16th July) and with a medieval and Renaissance theme. Festivals are also held in honour of St. Sebastian (20th January), Our Lady of the Assumption (15th August), and St. Teresa (15th October).
Plaza de la Hora, s/n
19100 - Pastrana
Tel: +34 949 370 672