“Tales from the trails” is a series of posts in which we will talk about riding some of the nicest trails in the Sierra de Madrid, spots that we will take you when choosing your MTB holidays with BlackTown Trails. We will talk not only about the riding, but also about all the history and legends that surround those spots, as every single trail in La Sierra, has a story to tell...
La Silla de Felipe II (Philip II ´s chair) is a spot close to San Lorenzo de El Escorial, where the legend says Philip II, King of Spain (1556-1598) used to relax while watching the construction of the El Escorial site. Officially titled Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, it groups many functions into a single location. It served as a monastery for monks of the Hieronymite order, royal palace for Spanish royalty and as the final resting place for numerous Spanish kings. Today El Escorial is designated a Unesco World Heritage site.
There are different legends that explain why Philip II chose this particular spot to build his monastery. The first reason was the favorable climate, and ease of access to building materials. Since El Escorial is protected by the mountains of the Sierra the weather is cool in the summer, and cold, but mostly dry, in the winter.
The second, and most intriguing reason, was to protect the empire from the Devil’s influence. A medieval legend said that Lucifer, in the days between his expulsion from Heaven and his exile to Hell, lived in a cave near the base of Mount Abantos (Sierra de Guadarrama). In the days that the rebel angel roamed the earth, it is believed he created seven doors to access the underworld. One of those doors was believed to be located near Mt. Abantos. For a deeply religious person like Phillip II, this would be an ideal place to locate a religious structure to protect the realm from Satan’s influence.
The first architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo, designed the monastery in a gridiron scheme, based on the grill on which St. Lawrence of Rome (San Lorenzo), the patron of the building, was martyred.
Nowadays, El Escorial maintains its energetic atmosphere and the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama are packed with singletrack, making it a real playground for local mountain bikers. Locals tend to ride here in combination with a backcountry journey around the highest peaks of Abantos or Guadarrama, and then finish in the “Silla” for some flowy singletrack joy.
It is also a great spot for winter riding, as it is rarely covered by snow, and opens lots of possibilities for connecting with other low altitude spots in the Sierra.
In BlackTown Trails we will always make sure that in your mountain bike holidays in Madrid, you have lots of fun riding in the best spots that will help you feel the magic of these places. And, we’re sure you will return home with a smile on your face. After all, aren’t we smile creators?
Come join us!
Words: Félix Torija / Charlie Chewning
Photography: Ale Cubino .
Riders: Emilio García, Iago Garay, Félix Torija
Special thanks: Mariano Gon ( Santa Cruz Bicycles) , Pedro González ( LTM Racing )