Parque Nacional de la Sierra de Guadarrama

  • Pets allowed
  • Suitable for children
  • Natural heritage

The reference for a new mindset, another way of life.

It is not only an unrivalled natural space, it is a space of culture, of peoples, of life, where nature and mankind have found a way to coexist

On 25 June 2013, the Congress of Deputies passed the Law declaring the Sierra de Guadarrama a National Park, a milestone in the history of interest, care and protection of these 33,960 hectares of natural paradise.

The multiple landscapes of peaks, pastures, rocky outcrops and forests and its diverse fauna and beautiful flora, intellectually inspired Institución Libre de Enseñanza (The Free Institution of Education), from the end of the 19th century, to include closeness and love for nature as one of its essential bastions.

It houses some of the most important monuments of our geography, Velázquez painted in these mountains, the Marquis of Santillana wrote his Serranillas and, from its very beginnings, the Royal Spanish Mountaineering Society Peñalara fought for its protection.

The immensity of nature in just one place

Because its existence is key to our survival and its importance goes beyond ourselves

Part of our National Park was born at least 400 million years ago, although it has been moulded by climate, water and wind into the oasis we know today.

Within its varied lithology, subvolcanic, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks stand out, but depending on the area, one or the other will prevail. In the case of our territory, the star of the rocks of Manzanares El Real is granite, an igneous composition that shows its maximum splendour in the Pedriza formation.

This immense rocky space is characterised by the diverse inflow of water from rivers, streams and natural springs that form, to the rhythm of the Mediterranean climate that governs it, numerous ponds, pools, lagoons, wetlands and waterfalls. Alongside this mountain water, the opening up of plains, valleys and steppes allows vegetation to flourish and expand into riparian woodlands, meadows, aquatic species, lichens, fungi, shrub species, wild fruit species and large forests, all as part of the symbiotic system that has survived for over thousands of years.

Thanks to this privileged environment, as it was bound to be, animal life arose, found its niche, grew and developed in each and every one of the habitats in the area, adapting to what the land offered and giving us the enormous variety of species that we can appreciate and enjoy today. In the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park we can see insects as unique as the plecoptera or a multitude of different species of mantis, reptiles as special as the ocellated lizard, amphibians in the process of recovery such as the racer toad, fish as familiar as the common trout or as vulnerable as the lamprey, birds as magnificent as the black vulture, or mammals that have returned back home such as the otter and our familiar mountain goat.

Just with these small examples we can understand why this place is a Protected Natural Area.

Parque Nacional - acordeón 1

The variety of supplies offered by the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park since the origins of mankind in our area was the essential reason for the proliferation of human settlements from prehistoric times to date.

The use of pastures for sheep, goats and cows, the abundant firewood and exploitation of the pine forests, hunting and cultivation for food, or the possibility of erecting stable constructions thanks to the granite work were its first and main benefits. But as society progressed, so did the way of seeing this natural environment and its benefits.

The first literary reference we have of the Guadarrama Mountain Range can be found it the ‘Estoria Gótica’ (Gothic History) by Jiménez de Rada, which tells us that between the 12th and 13th centuries, it was already worthy of mention under its old name, La Sierra del Dragón (the Sierra of the Dragon). From the 14th century, the literary mentions proliferated with the ‘Libro de la Montería’ (Book of Hunting) by Alfonso XI, and the ‘Libro del Buen Amor’ (The Book of Good Love), by the Arcipreste de Hita. The taste for nature and its beauty grew to be reflected not only in the Serranillas by the Marquis of Santillana in the 15th century, but also by numerous authors such as Jovellanos, Pío Baroja, Giner de los Ríos, Unamuno, Ramón Menéndez-Pidal, Ortega y Gasset, Aleixandre and Camilo José Cela.

Painting could not help but surrender to the scenery offered by our mountain range, and many great painters found inspiration for their landscapes and everyday scenes, such as Velázquez, Houasse, Francisco de Goya, Haes, Fernández de la Oliva, Rico, Beruete and Sorolla, a spirit of admiration and rediscovery that was a prelude to our current need to photograph it.

After so many centuries documenting the Sierra de Guadarrama in one way or another, it was Francisco Giner de los Ríos who, in the 19th century, took up the baton by creating the concept of ‘landscape’ that gives joy to our senses and makes our spirit grow, and transferred our mountain range to the new Institución Libre de Enseñanza as a complementary learning classroom. Of course, the entire Generation of ‘98 was deeply linked to the mountains, not only in their writings and teachings but also as the ones who rediscovered this space in their long and famous excursions.

These teachings and excursions opened the way to a new phase in the history of the Sierra de Guadarrama, where 1913 marked the birth of the Peñalara Association Los doce amigos (The twelve friends), under the presidency of Constancio Bernaldo de Quirós. The Real Sociedad Española de Alpinismo Peñalara (Royal Spanish Mountaineering Society of Peñalara) would thus begin its mountain activities, would take over the fight for its protection and would achieve the status of our mountain range as a Sitio Natural de Interés Nacional (Natural Site of National Interest) in 1930, the precedent to Protected Natural Spaces.

Years have passed since then, but we are still the same people who need to live in and protect our environment which, since 2013, is called the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.

Parque Nacional - acordeón 2

In pictures

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Activities in Manzanares El Real

Treat yourself and give it to your five senses.