February 26, 2013

Pastrana: History and relax

Fancy a weekend full of history, relax and really good food? Thanks to a gift we had, I was lucky to enjoy two unforgettable days.

Pastrana is a privileged enclave belonging to the province of Guadalajara and is located within the region of "The Alcarria". It has been declared as Historic-Artistic since 1.966, and Camilo Jose Cela described it as a "pictureof of the past" in his novel Journey to the Alcarria.

Places to visit

Walking through the village, you can discover its best kept secrets:

Calle Mayor is the principal street in Pastrana, full of restaurants and bars on both sides and where there are the two sweetest places in the village: Pastry Eboli, where we bought the typical cakes and delicious chocolate butterfly cookies, and Chocolates Eboli, where you could stay for hours looking at the window!

At the end of Main Street, you have the The Hours Square, from where you can see a magnificent view across Pastrana and where the Ducal Palace is situated. In this palace, the famous Princess of Eboli was imprisoned until her death. The story of this woman, Ana Mendoza de la Cerda, is full of legends and suffering. She got married very young, at the age of 12, with the secretary of King Philip The Second, Ruy Gomez de Silva, and had 10 children.

Named first Dukes of Pastrana, they lived many years in Madrid. As her husband was Prince of Eboli, a town of Naples, formerly Spanish, she acquired the famous title of Princess of Eboli.

What catches the attention of this historical figure, plus her life, is her image, as the princess wore an eye patch. There are many legends about the reasons that she got it, since she was injured while doing swordplay, until she had bad vision in one eye. The thing is, the pictures with her portrait are all over Pastrana.

When her husband died, she had years of suffering and gossip started, saying that she was courting Phillip The Second and other members of the court. She wanted to be a nun, but Santa Teresa de Jesus saw her didn't so, after several fights between the two, she was alone in his palace in Madrid.

After many intrigues and stories, Philip The Second locked until her death in 1.592, after 10 years without being able to leave the tower of the Ducal Palace of Pastrana. 

Returning to the Main Street, Caños Square, known for its fountain, you reach the Collegiate Church, right next to the Town Hall. Something that seems obvious, but I did not know, is that places that have cathedral, is because there is a bishop present, although in Pastrana there is no Cathedral but Collegiate because it was governed by 48 canons or college of priests. Currently, there is only one priest in Pastrana and we were so lucky that he was our guide. Not only told us stories about people in Pastrana and their history but, in addition, as he was a music teacher, he played the organ for us! I've never been to a wind organ concert before. It was amazing!

Baroque organ from 1.704
Two curiosities of this Collegiate: in it, is buried the Princess of Eboli, with her husband and one of her sons, in the Pantheon, located in the basement of the building. Furthermore, in the altar there is the altarpiece and in its center there is a painting in agate from a famous  French artist Jacques Stella. Pastrana's priest told us that a few months ago, a French manager of an exhibition of the painter in the Louvre Museum in Paris, had appeared in the Collegiate to take pictures of this work of art, and they were going to expose it in Lyon, and described it as the first painting of Stella.

A great walk through the history of Pastrana, who left us a good impression.

Where to eat

There are several restaurants in the village serving traditional Castilian food, so we were not quite sure which one to choose. Finally we decided Moratín restaurant, and we were so right. Located near to the historic building of the Guardia Civil, the restaurant is renovated inside, made of wood and very nice. We took the weekend menu for 17 euros and ate really good! 
What we had clear was that this weekend we would test all the typical dishes of the area, so we chose to eat black sausage, Pastrana crumbs and roast lamb. Everything tasted great, and ws accompanied with house wine. The dessert was the best: Grandma's pie. Do you remember the typical pies our grandmothers and our mothers made when we were little with cookies and chocolate? Such a delight!

Relax moments

One of the highlights of the weekend was the Rural SPA, a small spa with a wealth of detail that spoiled us for two hours in the best way you can imagine. It is 10 minutes walk from downtown. We follow the directions wrong and we got lost, but quickly phoned the spa and told us how to get there. As we were a little late, we were in a hurry, but the girls in the center treated us so well that we quickly forgot.

The tour we did was the following: jacuzzi to begin the relax, exfoliation with natural local products (grapes, figs, pomegranates, almonds, honey... how good it smelled!) Turkish bath with a humidity of 95% to open pores and penetrate the above ingredients.

Then we went to the "cold zone", with hammocks, candles and little light where we had a silk protein mask. At this point, I almost fell asleep, I was totally relaxed... But that was not all, we expected the "rest area" with beds, aromatherapy and cold stone setting. I totally fell asleep, it was like being on a cloud... Finally, a few pieces of pineapple and apple tea to raise our pressure. What else could we ask for?

Where to eat dinner

At night, we had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner-tasting of the most famous dishes of the Cenador de las Monjas. Former Closure Convent, now is attended by a charming couple. We felt like home. The room where we ate had high ceilings and a fireplace which made the place more welcoming if possible. The walls were full of pictures of the famous Princess of Eboli.

From black sausages, through Iberian secret until porridge, all cooked to perfection. Again, what a gorgeous dessert! Mango sorbet, orange with black chocolate and the famous Pastrana cake.

Where to sleep

We stayed in a small, charming and family hotel in the center of Pastrana. I really recommend it, it is called Palaterna Hotel and is located in the Caños Square, one of the most famous in Pastrana and beside the main street.

Before leaving this charming village, do not forget to visit the Convent of San Francisco. It has the most amazing views around Pastrana. It's worth it.

If you feel like spending a weekend with history, rural and relax in the most charming Pastrana, do not miss it. I really recommend it! Such a wonderful place!

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