Prádena, located in the foothills of Somosierra, is the southernmost town of the Community of Villa and Tierra de Sepúlveda.
Its term has been populated since thousands of years ago, as attested by the Neolithic remains found in what is known as the Enebralejos cave, a cavity discovered incidentally in 1932 and that was used as a necropolis about four thousand years ago. Ceramics for domestic and ritual use, flint and copper objects and an interesting set of rock art have been found there. Also interesting are the remains found in the cave of Las Grajas or Carrascal. But in the municipality of Prádena also have been found deposits of the Roman period (in which this town was Pratum: remains of the cobblestone path of the calzadilla and some coins and pieces of pottery) and the Visigothic era.
The name of the population is a derivative of the Latin word prader (meadow), and would allude to the abundance of pastures in its environment. Already in the year 1247 was known by the name of "Pradana", but it was not until the s. XVI when he received the name with which we now know him. After its repopulation, in the s. XIV, Prádena appears as the head of Ochavo. It had the neighborhoods -now depopulated- of Matandrino, Peña Corva, Pradenilla and El Villar. Also in the s. XIV (concretely in the year 1338) the king of Castile Fernando IV grants to Prádena the property of lands in the mountain range and a real privilege that prohibited to graze in them to any foreign cattle.
During the s. XV, Prádena was famous throughout Spain for the wool production of its sheep and for its looms and fulling mills. As a livestock town that has been, its inhabitants, many of them pastoralists dedicated to transhumance, used the Cañada Real Segovia-Soria, which passes through its municipal area, in addition to other roads that lead to the lands of Extremadura and what is today the province of Córdoba.
In fact, the cattle tradition has been preserved in the festivities of Prádena (Ntra. Sra. Del Rosario and the Fair), which coincided with the march and the return of the young men who marched to the transhumance.
Because of its privileged location and the beauty of its surroundings, Prádena was the first place chosen by King Felipe V to build what would later be the Palace and Gardens of La Granja. It is also known that with the wood of the Prádena acebeda, the first windows of the Royal Palace of Madrid were made. Its period of greatest splendor was lived by Prádena in the s. XVIII, thanks in large part to the livestock activity. Just at that time is when the parish church of San Martín was built, a monumental neoclassical building that was built thanks to the donations of the rich cattle ranchers of the town. In the middle of s. XIX Prádena had 906 inhabitants, who were distributed in 224 houses, "some with high floor and good construction". This is confirmed by Pascual Madoz in his Geographic Dictionary of Spain (1850), which also tells that in this town there was a town hall that served as a jail, a primary school "common to both sexes" in which they studied 80 students, and "three sources of good waters". The author also alludes to the existence of "a batán of sayales, some linen loom and four flour mills", and to the breeding of "fine wool cattle, goats, cattle and yeguar". And finally, the abundance of hunting of hares, rabbits, partridges and other birds is mentioned, "and fishing for good trout".
In the year 1952, Prádena had 1.042 inhabitants dedicated to agriculture and wool cattle. It had six flour mills, a soap factory, a slaughterhouse, a sawmill of wood, four carpentries, two ironworks and forges, a carretería and a soda factory. It held two county fairs, one from 9 to 12 in June and another in October, apart from a weekly market every Monday.
If in the past centuries Prádena has lived in the countryside and, above all, livestock, nowadays the town has managed to convert its economy and also direct it towards tourism and the service sector, especially the hotel trade. With about 600 inhabitants, this town receives many visitors every weekend, and second homes abound. In addition, the arrival of immigrants has favored the rise of the birth rate, something for which Prádena can look with optimism to the future.
Church of San Martín de Tours
The most important building of Prádena is the parish church of San Martín de Tours, a monumental building built in the s. XVIII thanks to the donations of the prosperous cattle entrepreneurs of the town. The first stone was placed in the 1793 year and finished in 1797. It is built in neoclassical style, and its plant is Latin cross.
Inside the temple, the late Gothic image of a Pieta stands out, dated at the end of the s. XV, and the carving of the Virgen del Rosario, patron saint of Prádena. We must also highlight its main altarpiece, the liturgical and goldsmith objects and the collection of canvases, donated by a natural priest of Prádena and representing the 12 apostles.
Hermitage of San Roque
The hermitage of San Roque is a simple temple, probably built on horseback between the s. XVI and XVII, when a plague epidemic ravaged these lands. At the end of the s. XVII was the provisional headquarters of the parish, while the new church of San Martín was being built.
The temple consists of a single nave with a rectangular head that is higher and is covered with an arched vault. Both communicate through a large triumphal arch of ashlar lacking all decoration. On the front of the presbytery is the main altarpiece. It is of baroque style and organized in three streets, with a niche in each of the lateral ones and two in the central one.
Cave of the Enebralejos
The cave of the Enebralejos is located in the vicinity of Prádena, 110 km from Madrid. With its almost four kilometers in length it is the cavity of greater development known in the northern edge of the Central System.
At the beginning of the 30 years, during excavation works of a well for the facilities of a feedlot, a large cave was discovered that soon adopted the name of the place in which it was found:
The cave is structured in three floors: high galleries, medium and low or river, presenting a slope of only 13 m. The central gallery, perfectly prepared for guided tours, holds a magnificent collection of engravings and cave paintings of the Chalcolithic, 2200 years BC We can also see a spectacular variety of mineral colors in its speleothems.
It is worth noting its great value from the archaeological, speleological and tourist point of view, as well as its important aesthetic value. The cave presents a good state of conservation, since for years its access was closed.
From 1995 there is a sector of the cave enabled for tourist visits. It belongs to the City Council of Prádena.
The environment of a prehistoric village is reproduced from the beginning of copper metallurgy. Traveling through the different cabins in which various domestic utensils are displayed, it is possible to know the ways of life of the inhabitants of the enebralejos, people who for more than 4.000 years used the cave as a sacred place, for funeral rituals.
As winter approaches, the Segovian flocks went to the pastures of the south of the peninsula through the Cañada Real Segoviana, crossing the municipality from east to west.
At a height higher than 1.650 m predominate serrano pines and juniper creepers (juniperus nana), commonly known as the jabinos. At an approximate height of 1.200 m oaks appear (Quercus pyrenaica). There is a great extension of oaks of special mention since there are many centenary oaks that with the prunings that the neighbors of Prádena realize to obtain firewood to warm up in the winter, they have reached a thickness in their considerable trunk and to support the hundreds of years that they take in the meadow of the village and juniper juniper (Juniperus thurifera), next to steppes and broom. On the banks of streams abound ash trees and malls of different species.
The holly (ilex aquifolium) shrub or small tree of the family of the aquifoliaceous, evergreen, with leathery leaves, bright dark green, wavy, dentate thorny in the wild specimens, white flowers and druceous fruit, abayado, red, the size of a pea.
When winter approaches, a great transformation takes place in the landscape of Prádena. Everything is sad, cloudy and gray, the leaves come off the trees, but not all, the holly, bright red berries, challenges the rest of species. Its leaves are evergreen, glossy green, and the red berries on its branches adorn the Segovian Christmas homes for a long time. There are several species of holly, the most common having dark green leaves, thorny and curly edges with berries in clusters. They are not true berries, but drupes (fruits with bone). Their white flowers, grouped in bouquets, appear in May.
The holly trees are found in forests and thickets, in their natural state, and when they are not pruned, they reach 15 m in height. Its wood, hard of fine grain, is very appreciated by cabinetmakers and manufacturers of musical instruments. Its flowers attract bees. It is said that with the wood of the acebal the windows of the Royal Palace of Madrid were built.
The recreational area of El Bardal is a vast expanse of prairies shaded by junipers, the vast majority centuries old and of special beauty, where there is no shortage of swimming pools, sports courts, football field, racquetball field, barbecues and even a beach bar.
"Day of the Candelas", in each neighborhood the neighbors make a bonfire with the firewood that has been collected weeks before, they have lunch and they have dinner around the bonfire until the wee hours of the morning.
During the days of carnival, the boys of the town take out "la tora". Four woods are placed, joined together making a rectangle and with cow horns in the back, the boys try to "catch" the girls. On the Tuesday of Carnival, "the day of the roosters", they kill the bull. On this day, a rope with pitchers filled with flour and pepper and some colorful bows are placed on the balcony balcony square, while the boys on donkeys and horses, disguised, have to break the pitchers with a stick. In the past, instead of pitchers roosters were hung, hence its name. Later this was prohibited.
On Thursday, Good Friday and Sunday of Resurrection, processions are held throughout the town. On Thursday and Good Friday the porters of Prádena sing in the processions, being these, a reference in the region for their silence and respect that characterizes the processions of Castile.
On Easter Sunday, at dawn, the people of the village carry out a procession through the village crosses, ring the bells at dawn and at noon the Procession of the Encuentro takes place, in which on this day the women sing.
"The day of the meadow", on Sunday and Monday of Easter, all the neighbors of Prádena, meet in two meadows for lunch, lunch and dinner. Stone tables are made. The children play "inque", a wooden stick that they point to and stick in the grass. 15 of May "day of San Isidro", that day a mass is made with a procession to the patron, and in the town square a popular stew is made.
First weekend of July
Festivities in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
San Juan Day
The 24 of June, the young men and girls of Prádena go up to the San Juan River to wash their faces and eat chocolate. The waiters take bouquets of flowers, bouquets of sabuco to put their beloved ones in the doors.
First Sunday of October
Festivities in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, patron saint of this town.
During 5 days the celebrations are celebrated with the accomplishment of different activities and on Sunday afternoon the multitudinal procession with the image of Ntra. Mrs. the Virgin of the Rosary is celebrated.
The November 11 is celebrated in Prádena on the day of its patron Saint Martin.
St Andrew's Day
The November 30 is celebrated this day, popularly called "Day of the Cowbells". The waiters place several cowbells on their backs and walk the streets of the town performing dances to the sound of cowbells.
In the transhumance the shepherds went through the ravines with the flocks of sheep. If they saw that one of them was patiquebrada (with a broken leg), the pastor sacrificed it and with it the stew was made. Formerly in Prádena, the stew was not made but the frit: the meat was cooked a lot (because it was very hard), a garlic was crushed and paprika was added with a little oil. When coinciding Castilian pastors with Extremadura in transhumance, the frite was evolving to what we know today as stew, which today, is no longer sheep, but lamb, for its meat is more tender and faster to cook.
When the shearers sheared the sheep, the "owner" gave them one for each 100 sheared, which they killed and cooked for sustenance for the whole day.
For the stew, the best lamb that exists is that of Prádena, Casla, Arcones and Matabuena.
Garlic soups are traditional in this area because of their low temperatures.
They were cooked in a pot over low heat, adding cumin, a little fat, paprika and crushed garlic.
The lamb is the basis of the traditional cuisine of Prádena. The roasted lamb, exquisite dish for the quality of the meat of the cattle of the region. The best lamb to roast it was that of Sepúlveda, since it was raised on the grass and fed on the best herbs.
Although the migas are not typical of this region, they were brought to these lands by the shepherds of the people who traveled with their flocks to Extremadura.