On a promontory in the foothills of Guadarrama stands majestic Pedraza de la Sierra, one of the Spanish villages that has conserved the dimensions, urban planning, and architecture of its medieval past. The village is fortified by walls and a castle on its northern side. To its south, you’ll find the only door in and out of the city that existed in the 11th century.
The settlement was formed by pronounced slopes that led to running of two streams, which led to its nearly impossible urban center, which was declared a Conjunto Monumental in 1951. Since 1991, this medieval town has celebrated the Concerts of the Candles during the nights of the first two Saturdays in July. It has its name because, from dusk till dawn, Pedraza remains lit by miles of some 30,000 candles, which are put in the streets, in windows, on balconies, on handrails, on ledges, and any other place that people can come up with.
The castle enclosure is too small to house the gathering that, attracted by the spectacle of seeing Pedraza illuminated by candles and the expert selection of orchestras and performers, supported the idea since its inception. For this reason, the concerts are held in the Plaza Mayor of the town. The Plaza Mayor is squared and paved, and it has two sections of arcades. One of these houses the balconies of manor houses, and it conforms as well with the Casa Consistorial and the Romanesque parish church.
The Conciertos de las Velas are organized by the Fundación Villa de Pedraza, created in 1993, with the intent of fostering and protecting the historic and artistic heritage of Pedraza and its correct rehabilitation, promotion, and management of the cultural activities in the town. The principal objective of this entity, and what it uses all its money for, is the conversion of the Iglesia de Santo Tomás into a permanent auditorium.
The stage in the Plaza Mayor de Pedraza has seen many groups, orchestras, and soloists from all around Spain and abroad including the following: Les Cuivres D’Aquitaine, the Orquesta de Cámara Reina Sofía, I Musici, Sinfónica de Castilla y León, Sinfónica de Galicia, Hamburger Solisten, the Orquesta Filarmónica Novossibirsk, the Orfeón Donostiarra, Sandra Pires, Ainhoa Arteta, Antonio Canales, Vicente Amigo, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Orquesta de Cámara Nacional de Bulgaria, the Virtuosos de Sofía, the Sinfónica Bohemia de Praga, the Orquesta de Cámara del Covent Garden, the Philarmonische Geigen Berlín, and the Strauss Festival Orchester Wien.
Only those who arrive very early will be able to get a parking space inside the walls. However, those who park within the walls should keep in mind that they’ll have to wait for the streets to clear of all the other spectators before they can leave the city.
There is also parking available outside the village. Although everyone, whether they go by car or by foot, will have to climb the slope lit with candles and candelas that feeds into Pedraza. Crossing its threshold opens you up to a town where you’ll find a fascinating spectacle at every step and in every corner.