The origins of the Villa of
Manzanares El Real

Past, present and future and how it all began

Nature protected and catered for its residents, our ancestors bequeathed a unique and exciting heritage to us. Now, we continue the history of Manzanares El Real.

Our origin dates back to prehistoric times, with settlements of peoples who took advantage of its wealth and resources

At the foot of one of the most important natural formations in the world, Manzanares El Real was born, where La Pedriza rises up and supplies raw materials, where its cliffs and valleys protect the inhabitants of Manzanares (manzanariegos).

In the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, where North and South meet in the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares, prehistoric populations, the Roman Empire, the Visigoths people and the Christian repopulation from Segovia gave us our beauty and identity.

We were the head of the County of the Real de Manzanares, governed by the Mendoza family, the cradle of the autonomy of the Community of Madrid, and we were, and still are, a film set.

Manzanares El Real

A walk through its history

Our origin dates back to prehistoric times, with settlements of peoples who took advantage of its wealth and resources (game, pastures, forests, mineral and rocky resources). Different archaeological discoveries in our area, such as the cave paintings in the Abrigo de Los Aljibes, dated from the Bronze Era, more than 3,000 years old, bear witness to this.

During the Roman Empire, the nearby mountain passes favoured the creation of paths and tracks between the two plateaus and the occupation of the territory, although it was not until Late Antiquity (6th-8th centuries) that a large settlement appeared in Cancho del Confesionario, a control settlement connected to the nearby villages of Navalvillar and Navalahija (Colmenar Viejo), where the iron from several magnetite mines was exploited.

Los origenes de la Villa acordeon 1

From the taking of Toledo in 1085, the Comunidad de Villa y Tierra de Segovia started to repopulate the southern side of the Guadarrama Mountain Range using the ‘quiñones’ system, founding several villages. This led to conflicts with the Villa of Madrid which also used this space for pasture and timber, and eventually destroyed the Segovian villages that had been built. The different kings calmed these protests, supporting one and all until Alfonso X El Sabio put a definitive end to the conflict, took hold of the territory for the Crown in 1268 and created the Real de Manzanares. Both he and his successors would use the Real to pay for services rendered to the crown, ceding its use to families and people close to them.

Los origenes de la Villa acordeon 2

It was at the end of the 14th century, when the link between the Mendoza family and the Real de Manzanares was established, that King Juan I gave half of the territory to Don Pedro González de Mendoza for saving his life during the Aljubarrota Battle, by giving him his horse. His son, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, received the title of Lord of the Real de Manzanares, and lived in the Old Castle, although we do not know whether he was the one who ordered its construction or if, in accordance with recent evidence, it was the King Alfonso XI.

Los origenes de la Villa acordeon 3

The next generation main protagonist was Don Íñigo López de Mendoza, a renowned politician and military man of his time, who received the titles of Count of the Real de Manzanares and Marquis of Santillana. He is well known for writing the ‘Serranillas’, poems dedicated to the mountain girls (serranas) he encountered in his travels and hunting parties. During the time of his first-born son, Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza y Figueroa, the First Duke of the Infantado, the Real de Manzanares experienced a period of great splendour, between the 15th and 16th centuries, and the town was enlarged with the construction of the New Castle, the Church of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, the Town Hall Houses, the Fountain of the Hermitages next to the Cañada Real Segoviana (Segovian Royal Glen), the Old Bridge over the Manzanares River and the Hermitage of Peña Sacra.

Los origenes de la Villa acordeon 4

Despite the importance of the place, the Third Duque of the Infantado moved the family court to Guadalajara, and Manzanares El Real was replaced by Colmenar Viejo as the government centre for the territory. The New Castle and the Villa then went through a period of decline that lasted centuries. It was not until the 19th century that the installation of several factories, the Batán del Hospicio de Madrid and the Continuous Paper Mill, allowed the recovery of the village, which was later affected by the construction of the Santillana Reservoir.

After recovering its strength again, Manzanares El Real became the cradle of Madrid’s autonomy, when in 1982 the act of constitution of the Assembly of Parliamentarians of Madrid was held in the New Castle and the appointment of the drafting committee of the Statute of Autonomy was granted.

Los origenes de la Villa acordeon 5

Manzanares El Real

The villa in pictures

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Activities in Manzanares El Real

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