Route through the towns of the Black Architecture of Guadalajara

The route through the towns of Black Architecture is one of the best excursions that can be done in the province of Guadalajara. Under the faults of Pico del Ocejón A series of villages with a unique architecture and a landscape in the middle of nature form one of the most beautiful places in the Iberian Peninsula. A perfect car break to enjoy the architecture, nature and cuisine of the area.

We can say that the route through the towns of Black Architecture brings together all kinds of public. From lovers of trekking, car trips or simply those who prefer to enjoy a good meal by a hot fireplace.

Peoples of Black Architecture

What can you find?

On the route of the Black Architecture villages in addition to a series of idyllic villages it's possible to do hiking trails, visit imposing waterfalls, walk around oak Tale or just taste the good gastronomy from the area while watching the beautiful landscape of the Sierra de Ayllón. A perfect plan for a weekend like the one we'll tell you later.

Valverde de los Arroyos
Black Architecture Route

What villages comprise the route of black architecture?

The towns that belong to the singular route of the black architecture are the following:

  • Cogolludo
  • Holds
  • Tamajón
  • Frog camp
    • Campillejo (district)
    • Roblelacasa (district)
    • El Espinar (district)
  • Oak tree
  • Majaelrayo
  • Almiruete
  • Levers
  • Valverde of the streams

Black Architecture Route

Anything I should know?

Thearchitecture of the black houses is composed of slabs of blackboard and oak wood. They are houses with thick walls to protect themselves from the harsh winter. Many of them have become beautiful Rural houses or in peaceful restaurants. This way of seeing urban planning and architecture is what attracts visitors to the area.

On gastronomy of the peoples of the Black Architecture we can say that meat and blunt dishes predominate, so it is impossible to go hungry. Carrillada, braised wild boar, tenderloin, pot sausage, churrasco or steak are usually not lacking in any restaurant in the area. In autumn mushrooms abound, a season where ash trees or theOak trees yellow this corner of the northern highlands of Guadalajara. For us, the most beautiful time, the most colorful time.

Autumn on the Black Architecture route

For Cardoso de la Sierra are the southernmost beech trees on the peninsula and in Majaelrayo, birches, yew, willow and hazelnut trees predominate. For flora that is not missing, a combination with the architecture of the area that makes a really beautiful landscape.

Our route by car through the Black Architecture

Then we will tell you the route we did during the autumn touring the main villages in the area. It took us a whole day and still, we left several small towns. The ideal is to go a full weekend, although in a day trip you can see much of the area.

Our route in Google Maps

We start from Cogolludo in the direction Holds, then go up the Vado reservoir and then take the west face villages as Frog Campillo or Majaelrayo. Later we returned by the same road until we took the turnoff to Tamajón and then go up the east side of the Ocejón until Valverde de los Arroyos. They are about by car 2h and 30 minutes without stopping, so to make this route takes a whole day with stops included (apart the section from Madrid which is just over 1h30).

Google Maps route

Our route therefore was:

  1. Cogolludo
  2. Bonaval Monastery
  3. Vado reservoir
  4. Frog Campillo
  5. Majaelrayo
  6. Tamajón
  7. Valverde de los Arroyos

Now we tell you that we could see in every corner of the Black Architecture. By the way, if you don't have a car, we recommend you read our articles about car rental discounts.

It is not necessary to follow the route to Rajatabla, any town in the Black Architecture route It is worth it, although these are the most prominent. By the way, there are no gas stations on the entire route, so always carry the full tank.

1 Cogolludo

Cogolludo is famous for the Ducal Palace (you have to book to see it inside) that stands in the Main Square, but it also has interesting places like the church of San Pedro and the ruins of a ancient fortress where a tower of the 10th century is preserved. Cogolludo is the starting point of the Black Architecture route and a good place to have a coffee next to the arcades of the Plaza Mayor to head to the main towns of the Black Architecture.

We recommend you go up to the castle, since there are some views Excellent from all over town.


Once seen Cogolludo we take the road to the Uceda's Cubillo to go to Retiendas, which is about 30 minutes away. In Holds It is one of the most hidden and unknown monasteries in the province. A true discovery.


2 Retiendas and the Bonaval Monastery

What deserves the penalty of Retiendas is the Bonaval Ruined Monastery. It is a monastery that seems forgotten, in the middle of the mountains and that to access it you have to walk for 15 minutes along a path surrounded by holm oaks. In autumn it is beautiful, since the holm oaks of the place turn a yellowish color and make the path of the monastery an idyllic walk.

Bonaval Monastery
Bonaval Monastery

The monastery being in ruins has recently been fenced for danger of collapse, a shame since its beauty is perceived from within. Too bad there is no money to restore it, as it seems doomed to oblivion and disappearance.

Bonaval Monastery
Bonaval Monastery

To access it you have to take the road that leaves from Retiendas as soon as you get to the left. The one that goes to himVado reservoir. Shortly after there is a sign that indicates the path to the monastery (the car is left at the entrance of the road).

To follow the route we take towards the Vado Reservoir on a road in poor condition but paved. The reservoir is a few kilometers from Retiendas and is a most interesting place.

3 Vado Reservoir

Before going to Tamajón We passed before the Vado Reservoir. There were two options to go. Return along the same road to the junction or continue along the narrow Retains road through the Vado Reservoir. This reservoir seems to be in the middle of nowhere, as lost in time and almost hidden between the mountains. He barely has visitors and one of the things that most it caught our attention It was the sluice where there are two imposing “dragons”. Yes, as you hear, two beautiful sculptures that almost nobody notices them.

When it has little water it is possible to see the constructions that covered the reservoir is its origins, since there were houses and some farm where the dam was built.

Vado reservoir
Vado reservoir

From the reservoir you can go to Tamajón or to Majaelrayo bordering the reservoir on the right, by a narrow road with many potholes surrounded by pine trees that almost do not let see the water. Halfway there is a point for rent kayaks, one of the few activities you can do in this reservoir, and shortly after the detour to Majaelrayo or Tamajón.

El Vado Reservoir
El Vado Reservoir

4 Frog Campillo

Campillo de las Ranas is formed by several districts, where the village of Campillo, Campillejo, Roblelacasa and El Espinar stands out, where the spectacular waterfall of the Aljibe is. Campillo houses several of the best restaurants in the area, besides being one of the most beautiful villages.

The towns of Campillejo, Robleluengo, Roblelacasa, El Espinar, Matallana, El Vado, and La Vereda depend on Campillo de Ranas. The first one you see is the hamlet ofCampillejo, where that blackboard attracts attention, especially the church that is in the small town square.

Frog camp
Frog camp

It deserves to walk in each of its districts, although Campillo de frogs as the main nucleus has both the square and the most outstanding church in the area, at least from our point of view. In any case, these villages give off something, since it seems taken from the medieval or from a rural space that today is very difficult to find.

Frog camp
Frog camp

5 Majaelrayo

What to say about Majaelrayo, the most famous town in the area. Here we stop to eat, where we take some crumbs and a sirloin marinated in a small canteen / pub at the entrance. Total, all restaurants with 4 or 5 stars according to Tripadvisor they are full… . Do not forget to book with two days minimum, you do not eat ...

In the end, eating there was a success, small, like a mountain, and an excellent treatment. A part they looked very rockers :).


Majaelrayo is for a walk, even if it's only seen in 15 or 30 minutes. With the Ocejón as an escort, always present from any street in this beautiful town. Visit the village church and go up the streets to see a panoramic view of the area and Majaelrayo. Worth.


6 Tamajón

Tamajón highlights the mini Enchanted city on the outskirts towards Majaelrayo, the Hermitage of the Enebrales and the Church of the Assumption, both leaving the town in the direction of Majaelrayo. Tamajón itself is not worth it like the rest of the towns of the black architecture route, and the latter have known how to unify the architecture in all the houses of the town unlike Tamajón. In any case, both the hermitage and the church attract attention, as they serve as an entrance or bridge to the spectacular villages that are further forward.


7 Valverde of the streams

It is next to Majaelrayo the most tourist town in the area. It is also one of the most frequented points by hikers, since it is the main route to ascend to the Ocejon. After all, Valverde de los Arroyos sits on the top of this peak, with really beautiful views.

As you have many visits Valverde there is a parking in the highest part of town. This town is worth knowing the main square, from where its picturesque streets leave. Although it is very popular at lunchtime, it is easy to find yourself in solitude, since the few restaurants you have are not far from each other.

Valverde de los Arroyos
Valverde de los Arroyos

About 2km outside the village is the Despeñalagua waterfall, a must-see excursion since it is the prettiest on this side of the Ocejón.

Valverde de los Arroyos
Valverde de los Arroyos

Other excursions

If you have plenty of time and you go at least one weekend or just want to know the area, here we leave you several excursions that you can do in the area.

Waterfall of the cistern

At the time we talked about the Cascada del Aljibe, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Guadalajara. From the town of El Espinar there is a short hiking trail to this beautiful place.

Waterfall of the cistern

Despeñalagua waterfall

Behind Valverde de los Arroyos and under the summit of the Ocejón is the Despeñalagua waterfall, accessible from a road that leaves from the town square.

Despeñalagua waterfall

Ascent to Pico del Ocejón

With its 2,049m, the Pico del Ocejón is one of the most classic in the Sierra de Ayllón. It can be accessed from Majaelrayo or from Valverde de los Arroyos, the latter where the simplest and busiest route departs.

Pico del Ocejón

Practical data

How to get?

You can take the A-2 from Madrid and then take the detour at Km 51 towards the N-230 towards Humans. Arriving in Humanes, you have to go around it to take the CM-101 towards Cogolludo, the starting point of the route.

Where to eat?

Campillo de las frogs like Valverde de los Arroyos are two of the most frequented towns by tourists, as they host several of the best restaurants in the area. Of all of them we recommend:

  • La Fragua in Campillo de las Ranas. The food is not 5 stars, but the place is really pretty
  • Black Tejera Village. Both the food and the treatment of the best in the area
  • Mesón los Cantos in Valverde de los Arroyos. For something it has almost 5 stars on Tripadvisor

Where to sleep?

In the area there are many rural houses and everything depends on what area you want to sleep. Personally, the area of ​​Campillo de las Ranas and Majaelrayo is the one we like the most, since the villages are closer to each other and the most beautiful, without a doubt.

  • Casa Rura Spa El Huerto del Abuelo. With Spa, modern rooms and even terrace in summer
  • Rural apartments La Plaza, in Majaelrayo. Individual apartments next to the Ocejón
  • The Black Bird, in Majaelrayo. A cottage of WOW! You just have to see the photos
  • More hotels or rural houses in the area

If you want car rental

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