Soria, to the east of Castilla-León
Away from major roads, the capital of Spain’s least populated province lies between two hills overlooking the banks of the Duero River to the east of Castilla-León.
An important centre of woolly production in the Middle Ages, Soria preserves a Romanesque architecture that is still very much alive in the narrow streets of its old medieval quarter.
In the historical centre, the church of Santo Domingo built in the 12th century boasts one of the most beautiful portals of Spanish Romanesque art.
Running from the Plaza Mayor to the Plaza Mariano Granados, Calle El Collado, with its shops and traditional tapas bars, is the main artery of the city. In its extension, bordering the park of the Alameda Cervantes, we walk along the Paseo el Espolón, commercial artery of Soria.
Opening onto the city centre, the Alameda Cervantes, whose main entrance is located on the Plaza de Mariano Granados, is said to date from the twelfth century and is one of the oldest public gardens in Spain. On 9 hectares, there are a hundred varieties of trees and shrubs, endemic and exotic plants, squirrels, many birds and a colony of pigeons sheltering in a beautiful dovecote.
A large meadow completes this immense park, with its alleys and gardens adorned with a pond and sheltering the hermitage of the Soledad, a small half-gothic, mid-baroque 16th century chapel.
Soria is connected to Madrid, 230 km to the south-west, by several daily trains and buses.
Visit and monuments of Soria
Paseo del Espolón.
This pleasant museum is dedicated to the history of Soria from the Palaeolithic to the modern era. The exhibition allows visitors to discover objects from different Celtic cultures and Roman sites in Tiernes, Uxama and Numance.
There are painted ceramics from Numance, a medieval Arabic alphabet found in Osma, funerary trousseaux and various objects tracing human activities in the province of Soria.
Opening hours : Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 7pm (17am to 8pm afternoons from July to September). Sundays and holidays from 10am to 2pm.
Admission : 1 €. Free on weekends.
Cathedral of San Pedro
San Pedro Plaza.
Built in the 12th century on the site of an ancient Augustinian monastery, it was then rebuilt in the 16th century in a Renaissance style under the patronage of Bishop Acosta. Austere in appearance, it nevertheless has a plateresque portal on which a semicircular arch opens. Its 12th century Romanesque cloister is still well preserved.
Opening hours : open at the time of the services. 19h from Monday to Saturday, 10h and 12h on Sundays and public holidays.
Admission : 2 €.
Monastery of San Juan de Duero
Paseo de las Ánimas.
Abandoned in the 13th century, only the church and cloister remain of the medieval monastery of the Order of the Hospitallers of Jerusalem. Although Romanesque in style, the influence of early 13th century Muslim art is evident in the cloister.
The arcatures reveal the different architectural tendencies in Spain at that time: the persistence of the Romanesque, the appearance of the Gothic and the presence of Muslim interlacing. The monastery exhibits pieces from the three cultures that founded Spain: Hebrew, Muslim and Christian.
Opening hours : Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and from 4pm to 7pm (17am to 8pm afternoons from July to September). Sundays and holidays from 10am to 2pm.
Admission : 1 €.
Palace of the Counts of Gómara
Plaza de Aguirre, 3.
Considered the jewel of Soria’s civil architecture, this Renaissance palace was built in the 16th century. Reconverted into a Provincial Court, the building features a dressed stone facade and a high tower.
Hermitage of San Saturio
Situated 1 km from the town on the other side of the river, it is reached by a promenade along the Douro River. The hermitage is perched on a rock over a cave in the middle of a breathtaking landscape.
Inside there are frescoes depicting the life of San Saturio and paintings by priest and painter Antoni Zapata, a disciple of Palomino and Luca Giordano. The places were one of the favourite walks of the Sevillian poet Antonio Machado.
Santo Domingo Church
Plaza Condes de Lérida, 2.
This Romanesque church with its decorated facade dating from the 11th century has become a convent of the Clare sisters. The door features four archives, a tympanum and a large rose window. Two series of blind arches line both sides of the facade.
Church of San Juan de Rabaneda
Dating from the 12th century, this cruciform Romanesque church has oriental and classical influences. Its apse is decorated with vegetal motifs and has two warhead embrasures. The portal, facing west, once belonged to the church of San Nicolas.
El Burgo de Osma
55 km west of Soria.
On the banks of the Ucero River, El Burgo de Osma, whose old town has been declared a historic and artistic site, offers one of the best preserved medieval villages in the province of Soria.
Occupied by the Arevacos, the places will fall under Roman jurisdiction then Visigoth, a period of splendour that will make the city during the 6th an episcopal siege until the Muslim invasion.
It is after this domination, from 1101 onwards, that the city took its present form, when Bishop Pedro de Bourges (San Pedro de Osma) chose the monastery located on the banks of the Ucero River as the seat of the cathedral. Attracting many craftsmen and merchants, this golden age lasted until the Renaissance, when the city saw the foundation of a university.
The city is articulated around the main street, the Calle Mayor and its square bordered by the traditional arcades. There are the City Hall and the Hospital of San Agustín.
One can still admire the well-preserved San Miguel Gate, which gave access to the city and the walls that were built in the fifteenth century by Bishop Pedro de Montoya. Outside these are the University of Santa Catalina built in the 16th century.
Do not miss the old castle of Osma, the remains of the fortifications, some of which date back to the 8th century, and the ancient Roman bridge that still spans the Rio Ucero.
San Esteban de Gormaz
65 km west of Soria.
The beauty of the city and its historical heritage have earned San Esteban de Gormaz the status of a Historic Site.
It is at the foot of the castle erected on a hill that the main streets of the city unfold inside the old ramparts. Two Romanesque churches declared of cultural interest will be discovered. The church of San Miguel dating from 1801 was the first Romanesque church in the province to be endowed with arcades, while the church of Nuestra Señora del Rivero, from the twelfth century, is situated on a promontory overlooking a bank of the Duero.
As for the city’s arch, it was at one time the main gate of the ramparts and still remains the main access to the Plaza Mayor and the main street, Calle Mayor, bordered by emblazoned houses. Do not forget a pleasant walk on the old medieval bridge that spans the Rio.
35 km south of Soria.
It was the Arabs who gave the name Almazán (the fortified) to this town, nicely nestled on the banks of the River Duero. From this medieval period, there are still two old stone gates: the Puerta del Mercado and the Puerta del Herreros as well as remains of fortifications.
In the streets that start from the Plaza Mayor are discovered several religious and civil buildings such as the Palace of the Count of Altamira, the church of San Vicente or the church of San Miguel of the twelfth century and declared National Monument.
75 km south of Soria.
With its surroundings dotted with Roman, Arab and Christian remains, Medinaceli, a town of 730 inhabitants, is part of the association of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of Spain’.
This heritage heritage includes the Roman arc of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, which is the only one preserved in Spain to have three arcades, and the 17th century ducal palace of the Medinaceli. Before its construction, they occupied the old Arab castle whose ruins are still visible. The museum of the Medinaceli Palace houses Roman mosaics from excavations in the surrounding area.
The religious patrimony of Medinaceli is composed of a late Gothic collegiate church, which was erected in the 16th century on the site of the Romanesque church of Santa María la Mayor, as well as the convent of Santa Isabel founded in 1528 by the Clare sisters.
In the collegiate church there is the Roman crypt, the burial of the 16th century Medinaceli Christ and an 18th century organ.
Cañón de los Lobos Natural Park
Ucero. 55 km west of Soria.
The canyon formed by the course of the Rio Lobos between the provinces of Soria and Burgos is characterized by its high vertical limestone walls. The 9580 hectares of the massif are lined with pine, juniper and coppice forests overflown by many birds of prey.
There are also numerous caves, ‘cuevas’, of great geological value: Cueva Galiana, Cueva Fría, Cueva Grande… and a Templar heritage hermitage.
Access to the park is free, but stop at the park’s interpretation centre located in the village of Ucero to find out more about visits.