75km (47 miles) N of Madrid

The only township inside Madrid province to have retained its original Arabic walls, charming Buitrago is the last stop before the high Somosierra pass at the eastern end of the province's northerly mountain range. Poised like the prow of a ship on the curve of the Lozoya River, this small town of just over a thousand inhabitants boasts a picturesque medieval center and unique little Picasso museum. To the east lies the slate and shrub-dotted Sierra Negra (Black Mountains) replete with hidden streams, reservoirs, and villages, one of which, Montejo de la Sierra, shelters the most southerly beech tree forest in Europe.