"Upper Patones:" the village hidden in the hills
Hello! As some of you know, I am from the U.S., but currently live in the outskirts of Madrid, Spain. The village of Patones where I live has a rich history, so I thought it would be nice to share it with you. Also, there is a connection to Japan: some of you may have seen this village featured on Japanese public television!
The village of Patones is actually divided into two parts: Patones de Arriba ("Upper Patones") and Patones de Abajo ("Lower Patones"). "Upper Patones" is called “upper,” as it is carefully hidden up in the mountain-like foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. It is a historical village that is now of touristic interest. "Lower Patones" is a modern village that was built on the plain at the foot of the hills in the mid-twentieth century by former "Upper Patones" dwellers.
"Upper Patones" was founded in the early 1500s. It was built right into the nooks and crannies of the mountains so that the fleeing Christian refugees could hide and escape religious persecution. Legend holds that because the village was so strategically hidden, Napoleon’s soldiers completely missed it when they passed through the area! If you scroll down to image #4, you can see how it is completely hidden!
Image #1: "Upper Patones" is wedged in between various mountains.
Image by: Ayuntamiento de Patones (link to: http://www.efetur.com/noticia/un-recorrido-por-pueblos-con-encanto/)
Almost all of the houses in "Upper Patones" were built with black slate, which is common of medieval architecture. To this day, there are no modern conveniences. Furthermore, since the village was built in the middle of a few mountains, I can tell you that getting around the village is no walk in the park! The streets are so steep.
Image #2: a steep street in "Upper Patones."
Image by: Guía Repsol (link to: http://www.guiarepsol.com/es/turismo/localidades/4279-patonespatones-de-...)
Currently, only a few people reside in "Upper Patones," as most have moved down to "Lower Patones." This is because life was difficult as it was so isolated. In the 1950s, many former "Upper Patones" dwellers started building houses in "Lower Patones" at the bottom of the hill where it was completely flat and everything was much more accessible and comfortable. This is where my husband and I live along with his family. It is not as interesting, but it is so much more practical! Nevertheless, since my husband’s family is from "Upper Patones," I have been able to see the village in a whole new light. His elderly relatives have so many stories of what the village was like when it was still hustling and bustling. Their stories really take me back in time and bring the village to life.
Image #3: the modern village called "Lower Patones." As you can see it is on a plain and is completely flat.
Image by: ANGEL, EL ALFA III (link to: http://www.panoramio.com/user/2977545)
How is Japan involved in this?
Some of you may have seen this village on public television in Japan! My husband used to work in the tourism office in "Upper Patones," which allowed him to really see just how many people come to visit this charming village. One of his duties was to record where each tourist that passed through the office came from. The top three countries were: France, Japan and the UK. We thought it was a bit curious that so many people from Japan knew about such a small village so far away. My husband finally asked a tourist from Japan how he had come to hear about it. He said that he had seen a documentary on public television in Japan about the village. Interestingly enough, the man said that the documentary’s focus was not on its history, but on the large amount of stray cats in the village instead! Have any of you seen this documentary?
Image #6: a stray cat in "Upper Patones."
Image by: Jubitapas (link to: http://jubitapas.blogspot.com.es/2015/04/patones-de-arriba-torrelaguna.html)
dweller [noun]: a person or animal that lives in a certain area
nooks and crannies [idiom]: a place or part of a place, usually small or remote
strategically [adverb]: very carefully
scroll down [verb]: to move the cursor down on a computer screen
wedge [verb]: to pack tightly in a small or narrow space
a walk in the park [idiom]: something that is super easy, a piece of cake
steep [adjective]: having a vertical slope or angle
see [something] in a whole new light [idiom]: to see something from a new perspective
be hustling and bustling (verb) [idiom] // the hustle and bustle (noun) [idiom]: the chaotic and busy lifestyle (usually of a big city). For example: “He loves the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles as there is always something to do there.”
bring [something] to life [idiom]: to make something very interesting or exciting
a stray animal [adjective]: an animal that doesn’t have an owner and therefore, usually lives in the street