The town of Buitrago del Lozoya
Old town of the town of Buitrago del Lozoya
Old town of the town of Buitrago del Lozoya
The town of Buitrago del Lozoya

The old quarter of the town of Buitrago del Lozoya

Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest on March 11, 1993

Buitrago del Lozoya is the best example of a castle and medieval fortified town in the Community of Madrid. Its walled enclosure presents enormous interest and great constructive and stratigraphic complexity.

old town of the town of Buitrago del Lozoya

The low walkway is the canvas and round walk of the wall that runs parallel to the Lozoya River and is located on the north, east and west sides of the fortress. Being protected by the river, it is not high, about 4 meters, its width is about 2 meters and it does not need additional defenses such as attached towers.

Attached to this eastern section of the wall, and in front of the castle, was the Hospital de San Salvador, founded in 1455 by the first Marquis of Santillana. Its construction ended in 1500 with his grandson Diego López de Mendoza. It was destroyed during the Civil War, its ruins being demolished in 1948, moving the Mudejar coffered ceiling of its main chapel to the presbytery of the church of Santa María, while its Gothic façade is preserved in the current residence for the elderly.

We know what its appearance and plant were like from the documents, photographs taken between the second half of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, and the remains of its foundations documented in Calle del Hospitalillo. Its building consisted of a church, a cloister, a kitchen, two infirmaries, several lodging rooms, an orchard and a cemetery.

Excerpt from the didactic guide Medieval archaeological route of Sieteiglesias and Buitrago del Lozoya

At first, the Castilian monarchy established control of the conquered territory through castles and fortifications. From the fourteenth century, many walled towns saw a new fortification added to one of the corners of their enclosures, the stately castles. This phenomenon is produced by the transfer to the nobility, by the Crown, of legal rights (administration of justice) and economic (income on land and production) in municipal territories. Little by little the system of manorial power is imposing itself on the power of the town councils.

Since the thirteenth century there have been no new conquests in the Andalusian territory, so there are no new manors that can be distributed. The territories conquered in the XNUMXth century are already repopulated and are very profitable. At the same time, the struggles for the succession in the Castilian Crown make the suitors seek support among the nobles in exchange for granting them rights.

This phenomenon also occurs in Buitrago, which ceases to be a royal territory to become a feudal lordship. At the end of the XNUMXth century, Juan II granted the heirs of Pedro González de Mendoza the lordship of Buitrago, in addition to the territory of the Real de Manzanares.

Between the end of the XNUMXth century and the XNUMXth century, the Mendoza castle-palace was built, a square-plan fortification that is attached to the southeast corner of the fortified enclosure, controlling the bridge and the passage through the cattle route, and equally defending itself from dangers exteriors and possible revolts of the new vassals.

Until then the pressure exerted by the royal administration had been distant and undemanding. On the other hand, that exercised by the feudal lords is much more direct and persistent. These gentlemen obtained income from all the economic activities that were carried out in their manors: circulation of people and goods, sale of merchandise, exploitation of the land and forests, use of mills and industry.

For its defense, the castle had six rectangular towers, a pentagonal tower in its northwestern corner and a moat ante-wall discovered in recent years. Its main access was through an elbow door, housed in the tower located at its northern end.

During the XNUMXth century, reforms were carried out to transform this fortress into a castle-palace, occupying the large parade ground. The first Marquis of Santillana, Íñigo López de Mendoza, had to build the first palatial bays, since it is known that he welcomed Juana la Beltraneja there. Later, the third Marquis and second Duke of the Infantado would build the definitive Renaissance palace inside, of which some shafts and capitals of the columns are preserved. It is possible that in those final years of the XNUMXth century the royal architect Juan Guas intervened in the construction, who drew up the Infantado Palace in Guadalajara and the nearby castle-palace of Manzanares el Real for the same man.

The decline of the enclosure began in 1536 with a fire that affected the castle and continued throughout the seventeenth century with the looting of materials. The War of Independence and the Civil War wreaked havoc on him. The French used the castle as a barracks and hospital. And after the Civil War the palace was dismantled to build in the space of the old parade ground the bleachers of a bullring.

Excerpt from the didactic guide Medieval archaeological route of Sieteiglesias and Buitrago del Lozoya

In the eastern sector of the fortified enclosure, the wall extends to the riverbed, by means of a shell topped by a tower that defended the access to the town through a bridge. Since 1939, this bridge has remained submerged by the construction of the Puentes Viejas reservoir, and its cutwaters and abutments are only visible in years of drought. This shell is one of the most important and best preserved elements of the wall.

On the other side of the river, the Mendoza family owned a large farm where they built a hunting lodge or hunting lodge called the Casa del Bosque in the 1514th century. Currently, it is in a dilapidated state. The building was originally built by the IV Duke of Infantado, between 1520 and 1596. This building was later renovated by the V Duke between 1601 and 1808. Shortly after the work was finished, Felipe III visited the Casa del Bosque for several days to hunt on the farm. In the XNUMXth century, the farm was only used for shearing and washing wool for the flocks of the Casa del Infantado. In XNUMX the building was occupied and looted by Napoleonic troops. During the Civil War it was used as kitchens and bombed.

The House of the Forest is modeled after the Italian Mannerist villas. It has the shape of a square tower crowned by a dome, of which only its start remains. It had a front garden delimited by a wall with two small towers at the corners, forming a terrace or viewpoint on the slope that descends towards the Lozoya River and that from the outside gave it the appearance of a fortress.

Excerpt from the didactic guide Medieval archaeological route of Sieteiglesias and Buitrago del Lozoya

Inside the castle, in its southeast corner, next to the shell and one of the portholes, the latest archaeological excavations have brought to light a snow pit opened in the mid-XNUMXth century, when the castle-palace began to cease to exist. used as a residence and its rooms and dependencies began to be used for agricultural and storage uses. The snow that came down from the snowfields of the nearby mountains was deposited in this well to store it and then sell it. From the preserved documents we know that the Catalan merchant Pablo Xarquies had a monopoly and was in charge of the exploitation of this snow pit. Over time, the well was gradually clogged until at the end of the XNUMXth or early XNUMXth century it was abandoned.

Excerpt from the didactic guide Medieval archaeological route of Sieteiglesias and Buitrago del Lozoya

For more information visit the Buitrago del Lozoya tourism website