The Barranco de la Virgen de la Hoz is located just 15 kilometers from Molina de Aragón, between Corduente and Ventosa, and today we tell you everything you need to plan your visit (including photos and videos in view of our drone "Perejildo").
Barranco de la Virgen de la Hoz, a privileged enclave of Guadalajara
We have always been captivated by those enclaves embedded between imposing vertical rock formations, generally constituted by the fluvial dynamics throughout the centuries of the channels of a river by karst phenomena, which we call sickles. They had already talked to us about one in particular, quite unknown to many (including ourselves), in which legend and nature intermingle creating one of the most magical places in the Iberian Peninsula and that we begin to intuit as we approach with the car in just 20 minutes from Molina de Aragón, our "base of operations" to know these days the Geopark of the region of Molina de Aragón - Alto Tajo
He Barranco de la Hoz (or also called Barranco de la Virgen de la Hoz) is the result throughout the times of what the Gallo River has been carving, true sculptures and rock formations of reddish color in a river canyon, leaving in its path some of the most impressive gorges that can be visited.
Leave the green fields behind (at the time we have gone in May) and enter parallel to the stream channel between such colossal conglomerates of sandstone rock molded after millions of years really ... IMPRESS!
Visit the Barranco de la Hoz (hermitage and viewpoint), our experience
Count the legend that a spring years after the Reconquest, a "cowboy" from Ventosa entered the thickness of the forest in search of a lost cow from his flock and, almost without realizing it, his steps led him to the depths of a nearby gorge where the night caught him. Fear and restlessness increased as the hours progressed but at that moment a miracle happened. From a great rock emerged a great radiance That claimed your attention. Wasthe image of the Virgin and under her, her lost cow with her eyes fixed on the divine light.
Be that as it may, to this point we have arrived, a place where a Free parking allows you to leave your car before a small hermitage and a restaurant that occupies the place of an old house for hermits.
The hermitage or sanctuary of the Virgen de la Hoz It is not a great temple but is preserved more like that small rural sacred place that one can imagine after the previous legend. Is about a simple Romanesque-Gothic nave under one of the huge monolithic rock masses that surround us in this river canyon. We enter? The first thing that surprises are carved firefighters that give access to what should be the old lodge and the imposing vertical walls where the set is embedded.
This place is already documented for the first time in 1168 as the Sanctuary of Santa María de Molina, years after Alfonso I of Aragon conquered Molina and his Land in 1129, although its current architecture dates from the Romanesque style of the 13th century. Its interior is that of a simple place, far from the pompous decorations of other Catholic temples, composed of Gothic arches, built in good quality sillar and with several chapels (San Blas and San Antonio), in addition to a presbytery that gives access to High Altar with a magnificent baroque golden altarpiece from the early 18th century and the Virgin's dressing room (Whoever is interested in your architecture has a good article on Wikipedia with plans)
On the opposite side of the South Portico that gives access to the temple is the callGrotto of the Appearance, a small cavity where an image of the Virgin indicates the exact location where it seems that the miracle took place centuries ago
It is believed that since then the Lords of Molina (1231), the religious-military order of the Templars (late 13th and early 14th centuries) and the Cistercian monks of Ovila (1321) would be in charge of caring for the monastery until the Molinese gentleman Fernando de Burgos rehabilitated the hermitage, built a house for hermits and turned it into a place of worship and pilgrimage to this day.
But we said in the introduction that Visiting the Barranco de la Hoz is much more than knowing its legend and its hermitage, it is to enjoy one hundred eighty million years of the chisel of the atmospheric agents in the rocks of our surroundings and, for that, there are 3 viewpoints on our heads to do it with the height that this landscape deserves (they leave 50 meters a little ahead of the chapel on the right).
We, as we take our little "traveling Oli" will only go up to the first viewpoint which is accessed by some Stone stairs called "Camino del Via Crucis" in just over 15 minutes (You can not use a seat, cart or similar, you must use a backpack). It is not difficult and they are protected with lateral metal stakes connected with cable that serve to grip both the ascent and descent. Slowly and looking well where you step on it does not involve too much complication although perhaps it would be if it has rained or is very wet, which was not the case.
So we get to a balcony to the most wonderful nature that shows us again that in those places where miracles happen or where hermits are isolated, they are usually the ones that are most worthwhile (Do you rememberThe Monastery of San Jorge de Cobiza in Palestine, of the Byzantine complex of the Church of San Simeón the Stylite in the ill-fated Syria, ofChak Chak in Iran or of Rila Monastery in Bulgaria? The sensations are very similar.
Oli has fallen asleep while climbing but do not take it into account, it is still very small. He First viewpoint on the sickle of the Gallo River lifts us over the thick forest to show us one of the most impressive landscapes in Spain, one where huge stone cliffs defy the law of gravity itself and which look even better in view of Perejildo, our drone, which we have taken a while to fly. Perhaps it reminds us, saving distance, a little to those formations of Belogradchik in Bulgaria.
The different glaciations, the oxidation of the stone that gives rise to the reddish color or the remains that the volcano lava itself left millions of years ago, are subject to different explanations that are found on the same path and in the viewpoint itself.
It is possible to continue climbing towards the upper viewpoints (Although from what we have read, the one that most impresses is this first -and more if you have a drone's perspective too-) through paths that cross some caves carved by the Gallo River through the rocks or you can even get there to the top by a hiking trail from Corduente. You have more information in the Castilla La Mancha Tourism website and, looking for information, we really liked the experience of our colleagues in A Fascinating World.
It goes without saying that the magic of this place has another important ingredient, the peace and tranquility that breathes the absence of tourist massification that we have enjoyed in all our route by car through the Alto Tajo Natural Park, a jewel of the province of Guadalajara still to be discovered.
More information of interest to complete your visit
How to get to Barranco de la Hoz?
Come from Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza (where from the A2 you turn towards the N-211 in Alcolea del Pinar) or lodged like us from the same Molina de Aragón, you will have to take the CM-2015 leading to Corduente where you will see the corresponding signals.
An alternative from Molina de Aragón is to come by the GU-958 even more integrated with nature
Do you have entrance and / or visiting hours?
No, has no entry neither hermitage nor viewpoint but if you want to visit the sanctuary you will consider that It has visiting hours from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from the beginning of Spring to Autumn
If you want to visit it outside of that season, call before the Tourist Office of Molina de Aragón at 949 83 20 98
At what time is it better to visit the Barranco de la Hoz? Any advice for the photos?
From the beginning from May to September, any time is good to visit both the Barranco de la Virgen de la Hoz and the entire P.N. Alto Tajo since it is still a great unknown and you will not find large crowds at any time. If you are passionate about photography, maybe sunset colors from any of its viewpoints it must be amazing (or just enjoy it without taking pictures). Of course, be careful when going down later (do not do it at night).
How can you reach the different viewpoints?
Although our experience was coming directly to the parking lot in front of the sanctuary, there are 2 ways to enjoy the best panoramic view of the river canyon that forms the Gallo River:
- Going up the stairs carved in the stone 50 meters ahead of the hermitage of the Virgen de la Hoz, on the right, you will reach the viewpoint you see in our photos. From there you can continue climbing to the viewpoint of the Cave or the last viewpoint above everything
- There is a dirt track that goes into a pine forest that goes from the Interpretation Center "Dehesa de Corduente" to the upper viewpoint In a comfortable walk. From there you can descend the path and previous stairs to the sanctuary.
What hiking trails can be done in the surroundings?
The most popular is a circular route of about 9-10 kilometers that goes from said Interpretation Center "Dehesa de Corduente", going down the viewpoints to the hermitage of the Virgen de la Hoz and returning to Corduente eastbound by the road. You can see more information on the website of the boys of Guadalajara hiking
Where to eat near here?
If it is good, it is not a bad option to bring you some snacks and have a picnic at one of its viewpoints. You can also do it in the restaurant adjacent to the sanctuary. However, and knowing the excellent cuisine of the area, we give you some of the best options you'll find in Molina de Aragón (which you can also visit on the same day) that we have personally tested:Palace of Los Molina, varied and well prepared menu with typical dishes of the area (tasty).
Marisqueria Rafa, with a huge menu that includes all kinds of fish and seafood and excellent service (and we recommend some Galician eh!)
Friendship Casino, another great menu where we would especially recommend the meat of the area (and prey)
San Juan Restaurant, with an extraordinary and economical daily menu.
A special recommendation in the same N211 is to approach a unbeatable option in Anquela del Ducado:La Zofra Restaurant / Bar, David's personal project where in a simple place he combines excellent gastronomy with kilometer 0 products, resulting in dishes such as those tasty torreznos, his mortar with a touch of cinnamon or that confit lamb that we had never tasted so rich. There it is.
If you are one of those who will continue towards the P.N. Alto Tajo, we will talk about this in the dedicated article "Route by car through the P.N. Alto Tajo de Guadalajara (with map)"of two restaurants where we would go explicitly even if we were not visiting (Parri House in Poveda de la Sierra and The Corrinche in Alcoroches)
Where to sleep near here?
We decided to use a single base because we have come with little Olivia on this trip (and thus facilitate her comfort) but we have met several establishments where we would stay without thinking, either by location or charm. These are:Baltan Mill, a restored 19th-century mill with spacious rooms a few steps from Molina de Aragón (our choice)
Casa Rural Las Campanas, a rural house in Torremocha del Pinar that has 2 bedrooms, living room and kitchenette to isolate yourself from the world
Houses of Salto, former facilities of a hydroelectric power plant rehabilitated to rural tourism in the heart of the P.N. High pit
Scholars say that the statue of Our Lady of the Sickle is a much older piece than initially believed, tracing its origins to Roman or Visigothic times. Will it be like that?
Did you like our Visit the Barranco de la Hoz, its hermitage and its first viewpoint? Don't you think we are facing one of the most beautiful places in Spain still very unknown? In the next few days we tell you much more than we have traveled these days through the Alto Tajo de Guadalajara.
Paula, Isaac and little Oli (with 5 little tables), from Barranco de la Hoz (Guadalajara)