Located some 58 kms NE of the centre of Madrid, Cercedilla is a mountain village in the Sierra de Guadarama (Guadarama mountain range) where vistors can truly appreciate Roman history.
Instead of just being another one of those places offering "Roman ruins to stare at" and the accompanying tourist shop Cercedillas ruins you can walk on. Appropriately so considering that the "ruins" are actually a Roman road, bridges and natural water sources that are exactly the same today as they were over 2000 years ago.
The Romans are famed for building straight roads but the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarama obviously defeated them as the famous "Calzada Romana" (simply Roman road) leading out of the village has more twists and turns than the famous novel; Don Quixote!
For anyone who wishes to take a leisurly 2 and half hour stroll over stones laid 2000 years ago through the protected flora and fauna of the national park then this is living history at its finest.
For the less physically minded the village itself offers plenty of home cooking, refreshments and attractions of a traditional Spanish mountain village for those who don't want to venture too far.
The Roman road of Cercedilla was built to cross the impressive mountains of Guadarama and so connect the important Roaman cities of Segovia and Titulcia (close to modern day Madrid) and indeed the rest of the network of Roman roads in Spain. The nearby Puerta de Navacerrada came much later and nowadays the A6 motorway with its tunnels maintains the connection.
Throughout the year the road was an important route for commerce with fish and wool being bought from the North whilst wine and cloth went in the other direction. It also provided farmers with a means to move their livestock from one side of the mountain range to the other once the cold of winter meant that pastures on the Northern side were not suitable for grazing. This movement of livestock is known as "Transhumance" and "La Transhumancia" is still celebrated in Madrid each year.
More on La Transhumancia
The "Calzada Romana" also provided a defensive function and protected the lands east of the mountains from threats from the North. In the event of an attack or raiding party apprioaching from modern day Castilla y Leon defensive forces could be positioned quickly along the mountain range due to the roads presence.
In the middle ages the importance of the road increased greatly as it connected Spains two most important (ergo wealthy) provinces of "Las dos Castillas" (the two Castles) Castilla La Mancha and Castilla y Leon. Nowadays the road is protected from vehicles by a series of barriers and from development by its location in a Spanish national park.
How to visit Cercedilla:
From the A6 Motorway (in either direction) take the exit signposted Villalba (km 39) which is the M-601 and follow this to the toan of Navacerrada. From here Cercedilla is signposted along the M-614. From either the center of Madrid or Segovia journey time is approx 50 minutes.
The scenic alternative: Instead of going via the Motorway one can leave Segovia heading towards San Ildefonso on the CL 601, pass over the top of the mountains at "Puerta de Navacerrada" and then descend into Navacerrada and from there Cercedilla is signposted. San Ildefonso is worth a stop in its own right to see the gardens of the Royal Palace (free to enter the gardens).
If departing from the North of Madrid then the M-607 (dual carriageway / motorway) will take you direct to Navacerrada from which the village is signposted. This route is a good one on weekends when traffic on the A6 can be heavy around lunchtime 1200-1500.
The number 684 leaves from Madrids Moncloa bus station and interchange (handily located near the center of the city) and takes approximately 75 minutes to complete the trip. Cost is eminently reasonable though at just €3,70 each way. Weekdays there are a minimum of two hourly services (on the hour and half past) whilst on weekends just one (40 minutes past the hour). All days see the 1st service depart from Madrid at 0640 and the last return service at 2220.
Although a mountain village Cercedilla train station is connected to Madrids Cercanias network by the line 8B and a return trip can be made from downtown Madrid for just €8,10. Numerous trains run daily, approx every 60 minutes and exact times can be found at Renfe
Plaza Mayor, 1
Tel.: 91 852 37 04
Fax: 91 852 37 04
- Cercedilla train station - One of the oldest train stations in the Community of Madrid and dating back to 1900
- Plaza Mayor and sidestreets - A close study of the buildings will reveal numerous bullet holes from the Civil war when the town formed part of the frontline. The trenchlines outside the town can still be made out by the trained eye.
- Aventura Amazonia - A kids outdoor nature theme and activity center. More at Madrid adventure
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