Palencia, dominated by Cristo del Otero
The industrial city of Palencia, located 235 km north of Madrid, has an interesting architectural and historical heritage. Royal residence under Alfonso VIII, it hosted the first university of Castile.
From its height of 20 meters, Cristo del Otero dominates the city. This sculpture, symbol of the city, would be the second highest in the world representing Christ after that of Rio de Janeiro.
From the Parc Jardinillos de la Estación to the Parque del Salón de Isabel II, the city centre is divided in two by the Calle Mayor, the main artery of the city. In the middle, bordered by arcades and shops, the Plaza San Francisco attracts most visitors.
San Antolín Cathedral is nicknamed “la Bella Desconocida”, the Unknown Beauty, because of its lack of notoriety in the country. While inside, works of art of great value and quality are hidden.
Crossing the city, the Rio Carión separates twice, forming two islands. Dos Aguas Island and Sotillo Island. A huge green park, the Sotillo de los Canónigos, is also home to a sports centre and golf course on the banks of the river Rio, transformed into a relaxation area.
Cathedral of San Antolín
Plaza de la Inmaculada.
The construction on the ancient crypt of San Antolín of the ‘Unknown Beauty’, its nickname, began in the 14th century and was completed in the 16th century. While the exterior exudes a flamboyant Gothic style, the interior displays elements of Isabelline, Plateresque and Renaissance. In addition, the cathedral houses the sarcophagus of Queen Urraque and the tomb of Doña Inés of Osorio, a 15th century Palentian lady and benefactor of the Cathedral.
Plaza de la Inmaculada
Housed in the cloister of the cathedral, the museum is endowed with numerous pieces of great artistic value: Romanesque images, Flemish Renaissance tapestries, paintings by Berruguete and Gréco. Various objects of sacred art, goldsmith’s pieces and sculptures from the 12th and 13th centuries complete the museum’s exhibition.
Opening hours : Monday to Saturday from 10am to 1.30pm and from 4pm to 7.30pm (16am to 6pm afternoons from November to April).
Admission : 5 €, reduced price : 3 €.
Palancia Archaeological Museum
Casa del Cordón
The Casa del Cordón is a 16th century Renaissance building. Hosting the Archaeological Museum, there is a collection of objects dating back to prehistoric and medieval times, numerous remains from the Roman period and Celtiberian utensils from the excavations of the sites of Tariego, Palenzuela and Monte Bernerio, located in the province of Palencia.
Opening hours : Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and from 4pm to 7pm (17am to 8pm afternoons from June to September). Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 2pm.
Admission : 1 €. Free on Saturdays and Sundays.
Calle Lope de Vega, 2.
The foundation museum is dedicated to the work of Juan Manuel Díaz-Caneja, a Spanish avant-garde painter of the early 20th century from Palencia.
Admission : 1,20 €, reduced price : 0,60 €.
Diocesan Museum of Art.
Installed in the Episcopal Palace, the Diocesan Museum has a collection of works of painters and sculptors, religious archaeology, fabrics, silversmiths and minor arts from the 7th to 20th centuries. You can admire paintings by Berruguete, Juan de Juni or Vigarny.
The section dedicated to the goldsmith’s trade includes medieval and Renaissance processional crosses. Other parts are devoted to watchmaking, ornaments and choral books, as well as Calvaries, Romanesque baptismal fonts and wooden sculptures…
Opening hours : Monday to Saturday from 10h30 to 11h30 from September to June, from 10h30 to 13h30 and from 16h30 to 19h30 in July and August.
Admission : 4 €.
San Miguel Church
Plaza de San Miguel
Built in Romanesque style in the 11th century, an openwork tower with a military appearance was attached to it in the 13th century. The church has three naves and a Romanesque apse. The presbytery houses a fourteenth-century Christ and two altars from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Opening hours : Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm and from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Sundays and public holidays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.
Celebrations of the Holy Week in Palencia
Usually towards the end of March
Organized since the 15th century, the festivities of Palencia’s Holy Week are marked by faith, silence and religious fervour. The processions show images and sculptures dating back several centuries.
On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, the inhabitants are invited to the processions to the sound of the cone by the call of the brothers, an old tradition.
The stops and restarts of the procession are punctuated by the sound of tararú, an elongated trumpet.
The end of Holy Week ends with the procession of the Rompimiento del Veto; firecrackers, bells chimes, distributions of bread, almonds and lemonade announce the resurrection of Christ.
27 km north of Palencia.
Considered as the Romanesque capital of the Palencia region, Frómista is a place of passage on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela. The jewel of the city is the church dedicated to San Martin founded in 1035. Compared to a work of art, it is distinguished by the purity of its lines and its perfect balance between architectural art and sumptuous decoration.
A few kilometres from Frómista, next to the fountain of Pozomingo, there are Roman ruins which suggest the location of the town in Roman times.
Villalcázar de Sirga
40 km north of Palencia.
This small town on the Pilgrim’s Way of Compostela owes its fame among pilgrims to the miracles attributed to the statue of Santa Maria la Blanca. Moreover, the monumental 13th century church of the village is considered as the “Sistine chapel of the ogival novel”.
Dedicated to Santa Maria la Blanca, with a Flemish altarpiece built in the early 16th century, it houses a representation of the Virgen de las Cántigas from the 13th century and the tombs of the Infant Don Felipe and his wife.
Carrión de los Condes
45 km north of Palencia.
Carrión de los Condes, an important medieval town on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela, is famous for its splendid Cristo en Majestad, also known as Pantocrator, housed in its Santiago church.
The Santa Clara monastery, founded in the 13th century, houses a museum displaying various ornaments and sculptures as well as a Pietà by Gregorio Fernández.
At the exit of the city, past the medieval bridge, stands the monastery of San Zoilo, an ancient refuge for pilgrims dating from the 10th century. It is endowed with a magnificent Renaissance cloister due to Juan de Badajoz.
65 km north of Plasencia.
Located in the area called Saldaña-Valdavia, the center of the city presents typical Castilian houses.
The San Pedro church has been transformed to house the Monographic Museum of the Villa de La Olmeda, whose Roman archaeological remains can be seen in the nearby town of Pedrosa de la Vega. The site has given a collection of Latin mosaics, baths as well as a necropolis and ruins of a second villa. The museum’s collection gathers funerary objects and various utensils: tools, bronze horse harnesses, ceramics…
Las Fuentes Carrionas y Fuente Cobre National Park
Cervera de Pisuerga. 110 km north of Palencia.
In the extreme north of the province of Palencia, on the borders of León and Cantabria, the Las Fuentes National Park includes summits exceeding 2500 metres in altitude, deep valleys with lakes and impressive precipices.
The 80-hectare park is crossed by two rivers, the Carrión and Pisuerga Ríos. The first generates the Carrión valley and its rocky slopes contrasting with vegas covered with vegetation while the banks of the Puiserga River are bordered by beech and oak forests.
Cervera de Pisuerga
110 km north of Palencia.
The gateway to Las Fuentes National Park, Cervera de Pisuerga is nestled near the source of the Rio Carrión, at an altitude of almost 1000 metres. Situated on an ancient Roman road that led to Cantabria, the city, which was the seat of the counts of Siruela, inherited a heritage of houses decorated with coats of arms, squares and monuments.
Among this heritage, the Church of Santa Maria del Castillo is declared a National Monument. The Santa Ana chapel houses a Hispano-Flemish altarpiece with paintings on wood by Juan de Flanders. Three kilometres away, the Parador National Fuentes Carrionas dominates a landscape of lakes and mountains.
Aguilar de Campoo
95 km north of Palencia.
Dominated by a 12th century castle perched on the Peña Aguilón, Aguilar de Campoo is a key stopover to discover the Romanesque route of the province of Palencia.
Standing on the Plaza Mayor, bordered by arcades, the Collegiate Church of San Miguel is home to a museum displaying the parish treasure composed of goldsmiths, paintings and marbles. The Monastery of Santa María la Real, one of the oldest Gothic monasteries in Spain, houses a museum dedicated to the Romanesque style.
20 km west of Palencia.
Ampudia, whose old town is declared to be of cultural interest, is located in the region of Tierra de Campos.
Near the remains of the ramparts there is an imposing castle built between the 13th and 15th centuries. In Gothic style, it houses an interesting archaeological and ethnographic exhibition. The Renaissance-style collegiate church of San Miguel, emblematic of the city, is endowed with a 63-metre-high tower that earned it the nickname’ Giralda de Campos’.
Another religious building of the locality, the San Francisco convent, whose sacred art museum deserves a detour, is a Renaissance-style building with Mudejar ornaments.
Venta de Baños
15 km south of Palencia.
Located in the Cerrato region, the city is home to the Visigothic church of San Juan Bautista de Baños in the suburb of Baños del Cerrato. Built in the 7th century at the request of Visigoth king Receswinthe, the San Juan Bautista church is the oldest of its kind to be preserved in Spain.
20 km south of Palencia.
Nestled at the edge of the Castile Canal on a hill overlooking the Pisuerga River, Dueñas Old Town has been declared a Historical and Artistic Complex due to the large number of churches, palaces and monuments it houses.
From its medieval past, there remains traces of fortifications and the Puerta del Oro de la Virgen. In Romanesque style, the church of Santa Maria has many treasures, including an altarpiece: the representation of San Isidoro by Gregorio Fernádez.