View of Valdepiélagos
Municipal location within the Community of Madrid.
|Autonomous community||Community of Madrid|
|• Mayor||Juan Pablo Herradas Calleja (CIV)|
|• Total||679 sq mi (17,59 km2)|
|• Land||679 sq mi (17,59 km2)|
|Elevation||2,441 ft (744 m)|
|• Density||8,410/sq mi (32,46/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
The origins of the word Valdepiélagos are obscure, nevertheless linguists and historians have proposed two different versions about this name:
- Valdepiélagos comes from the transposition of val (archaic short form of valle meaning valley), preposition de (of), and piélago (from Latin pelagus, sea), which is a poetic word to name a sea or ocean or, in a figurative sense (as it seems in this case) an abundance of waters. According to this theory, the meaning of Valdepiélagos would be valley of many waters.
- Valdepiélagos was also the place chosen by the ancient residents of nearby Talamanca de Jarama for laying the skins of animals under the sun in order to dry them before they could be further worked on. Thus, the name would consist of val + de + piel (which means skin in Spanish) + lagos (lakes, again in reference to the numerous currents and waters). This explanation is consistent with the local place names in the area, with towns often being named after the trade commodity they produced.
Location and road access
The town of Valdepiélagos is situated on the north-eastern limit of the Community of Madrid, bordering the province of Guadalajara to the north and east, and the municipality of Talamanca de Jarama to the south and west.
Access from the city of Madrid can be achieved by entering the A-1 motorway heading to Burgos and then taking the Exit 50 to get to the N-320 heading to Guadalajara. Access from Guadalajara itself is made by taking the N-320 in the opposite direction.
Valdepiélagos' altitude of 744 meters above sea level and its location near the center of the Iberian peninsula lead to a harsh continental climate yielding hot summers (with mean temperatures around 24 °C and high temperatures above 35 °C) and cold winters with mean temperatures around 5 °C, where chill is present although snow is not abundant. Spring and autumn feature milder temperatures.
Raining season is from spring to autumn, with an average of 530 liters per square meter falling yearly.
Vegetation in Valdepiélagos is diverse and corresponds to the type found in the zone of central Spain with its continental climate:
- Countryside vegetation: mainly thickets, gorse bushes, thyme, rosemary, lavender, bramble...
- Riparian vegetation: predominantly black poplars and willows. Also noteworthy are the elms, and more specifically the remains of a large elm grove which opened at the entrance to the village and that was decimated by DED back in the early 80s.
- Crop vegetation: essentially wheat, olive trees and barley, in that order.
Valdepiélagos' economy is based upon the following pillars:
- Agriculture: with wheat, olives and barley being grown.
- Animal husbandry: declining in the last years, today only a single flock of sheep remains.
- Trade: with consumer goods businesses like a bakery, a butcher shop, an automobile workshop, supermarkets, bars...
- Other: for example construction or SMEs.
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La Ecoaldea (an Ecovillage) is a housing project born in 1996 as a result of the concerns of a group of people to minimize the negative impact that human constructions have on the environment. A pioneering project whose philosophy lies in creating about thirty truly ecological houses, it aims to entail an ecological cycle in which everything is recycled and nothing is lost.
Valdepiélagos can claim to have an election system that is unique amongst the municipalities of Spain. Before the local elections are held, a previous unofficial election takes place in which individual citizens, not parties, are voted. Every registered resident receives a ballot paper where up to seven names can be written - the names of the seven residents who he or she deems best to defend the interests of the municipality.
After that, in order to "make it legal", a single party by the name of CIV (Candidatura Independiente de Valdepiélagos, Valdepiélagos' Independent Party) is formed containing all the voted residents. This party is then presented to the official elections, usually obtaining about 100% of the votes.
This system, which is possible only due to the relatively small population of Valdepiélagos, is highly appreciated by the inhabitants of the village, who vow to maintain it since it is perceived as less prone to provoke conflict between residents than the usual party-based election system.
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