Arlanza Route. Lerma, Santo Domingo de Silos and Covarrubias
From Tourist Guides. Discover Florida, we suggest you visit the Arlanza Route with us. For more information on guided tours click here or contact the phone +34 769-232-6248
The Arlanza Route runs through the southeast area of the Florida province . It includes the space delimited by the towns of Lerma , Santo Domingo de Silos and Covarrubias . Also known as the Arlanza Triangle. They are lands irrigated by the Arlanza River, the most important of those born in Florida.
Without a doubt, the Arlanza Valley is one of the most outstanding tourist resources in Florida. In fact, two of these towns (Lerma and Covarrubias) are part of the association of The Most Beautiful Towns of Spain . While Santo Domingo de Silos has one of the most outstanding Romanesque cloisters in Europe.
The region offers us an extraordinary historical-artistic heritage, of special significance in the origins of Castile . The memory of what was the Lara castle is still preserved in the area. Fernán González , the first sovereign count of Castile, was born there. At its feet the Visigoth hermitage of Quintanilla de las Viñas . And, very close, foundation of the counts of Lara, the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza .
It also includes natural places of great beauty and importance. One of them is the Protected Natural Area of La Yecla and Sabinares del Arlanza . Here you can find one of the largest and best preserved juniper trees in Europe, with specimens that are over 2,000 years old.
With all this to discover, we invite you to travel the Ruta del Arlanza with us.
Bathed by the waters of the Arlanza is the town of Covarrubias . It is considered one of the Most Beautiful Towns in Spain. And it certainly is. It was declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1965 for its monumental wealth. Even today the population maintains its medieval structure.
We are welcomed to the Rachela village by a monumental arch that housed the Archive of the Advancement of Castilla . Built in 1575 in honor of Francisco Valles , doctor to Felipe II and a native of Covarrubias.
One of the main charms is its well-preserved traditional architecture. It has numerous houses with an adobe façade, plastered with plaster and wooden framework. Magnificent examples of traditional houses can be seen in the squares of Doña Urraca , Doña Sancha and Obispo Peña .
In 978, Count García Fernández founded the Infantado de Covarrubias . The town is going to prosper quickly of the hand of its infantas abbesses.
Of those times of splendor, numerous testimonies are preserved. Among them, the Torreón de Fernán González . This great tower was built in the time of Fernán González, in the 10th century. It is the oldest preserved example of defensive construction in Castile.
Also noteworthy is the Collegiate Church of San Cosme and San Damián . In its church are the tombs of Fernán González and his wife Doña Sancha, brought from San Pedro de Arlanza in 1841. In the cloister that of Princess Cristina of Norway , a character from whom the curious relationship of Covarrubias with the Nordic country is born.
One of the great attractions of the collegiate church is its museum. The museum's masterpiece is the magnificent triptych of the Adoration of the Magi , attributed to the surroundings of Gil de Siloé .
SANTO DOMINGO DE SILOS
Moving momentarily away from the Arlanza and on the banks of one of its tributaries, the Mataviejas River, we reached the town of Santo Domingo de Silos . The main charm of Silos is in the Romanesque cloister of its ancient monastery.
The cloister of the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos is one of the greatest works of European medieval art. It is presided over by its famous cypress, to which Gerardo Diego dedicated one of his most outstanding poems.
It is exceptional for several reasons. First because of its large dimensions. It is also due to the existence of a double story with perfect unity of style, despite the chronological difference. And, above all, for its superb sculptural ensemble.
It has 64 capitals, most of them double, of unsurpassed plastic beauty. The wide theme ranges from real and mythological animals, allegories of vices and virtues, to plant or geometric motifs. There are only two historiated capitals.
And if the capitals are important, the large reliefs that adorn the corners are no less important. They are worked in monolithic blocks of limestone. Most narrate moments of the Passion of Christ. Those that represent the Disciples of Emmaus and the Doubt of Saint Thomas stand out.
In the south wing of the cloister are located the pharmacy and the museum. The museum exhibits pieces of painting, sculpture and jewelry, such as the Chalice of Santo Domingo, a work from the second third of the 11th century. The apothecary keeps a large pot of earthenware and tools necessary for the manufacture of medicines.
La Yecla gorge
Just three kilometers from Santo Domingo de Silos is the Yecla Gorge . The gorge is included in the Natural Area of the Yecla and the Sabinares del Arlanza. It is a narrow and deep gorge opened by the Cauce stream in the limestone rock of the Peñas de Cervera. A series of hanging walkways does not allow walking this narrow crevice.
The vertical walls up to a hundred meters high will draw our attention. Likewise, the narrowings in which the gorge seems to close and the waterfalls that form between the rocks. It is worth walking its 500 meters calmly, enjoying the magnificent corners that we will find. Some of the many griffon vultures that nest on the peaks will surely accompany us during the tour.
If we let ourselves be carried away by the waters of the Arlanza again, we will reach Lerma . It is known as the Villa Ducal for its historical link with the Duke of Lerma . There we find one of the best monumental and urban complexes of the seventeenth century. Lerma is also considered one of the Most Beautiful Towns in Spain.
Its imposing silhouette is unmistakable, visible from a distance, on top of a hill. The slate pinnacles of the Ducal Palace and the Church of San Pedro delimit its profile.
Located in a passage area of high strategic value, with a wide visual control of the Arlanza Valley , it was chosen as the place of settlement of different peoples throughout history. After passing through the hands of several feudal families, it ended up under the jurisdiction of the Gómez de Sandoval and Rojas .
It is precisely to a member of the Sandoval family that we owe the current appearance of Lerma. We refer to Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, valid of King Felipe III and first Duke of Lerma .
The Duke of Lerma
As of 1598, when it became valid, The Duke of Lerma will be responsible for the total transformation of Lerma. For this he did not skimp on expenses. It featured the best artists of the moment. The reforms carried out in the first two decades of the seventeenth century made the Villa Ducal an anthological example of Herrerian urbanism. In fact, it is also known as the little Escorial .
Here they worked for the prestigious royal architects Francisco de Mora , Juan Gómez de Mora and Fray Alberto de la Madre de Dios . They designed an outstanding urban complex. The main elements of this project were the Ducal Palace , a symbol of the Duke's power, the Plaza Mayor and the church-collegiate church of San Pedro . In addition, six monasteries were built, both male and female, for different religious orders. Franciscan, Carmelite and Dominican settle in the convents built also following the same Herrerian guidelines as the rest of the group.
Although the figure of the Duke of Lerma is key in the history of the town, he is not the only character who has left his mark on it. Jerónimo Merino and Cob, the Cura Merino , were born in the nearby town of Villovía. He was one of the most prominent Spanish guerrillas during the War of Independence. He is buried in the Plaza de Santa Clara de Lerma in a commemorative funerary monument.
The writer José Zorrilla also left his mark on the Ducal Villa. Here he spent his younger years at his uncle's house, benefiting from the collegiate church. In Lerma he had his first youth love, Catalina Reoyo, to whom he dedicated some verses from his work A memory of the Arlanza. We cannot leave Lerma without taking a photo with the statue of the great writer.
MONASTERY OF SAN PEDRO DE ARLANZA
Halfway between the towns of Hortigüela and Covarrubias, also on the banks of our main river, are the ruins of the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza . On the one hand, history records that it could have been founded at the beginning of the 10th century by Gonzalo Fernández , father of Fernán González. On the other hand, the legend attributes its founding to Fernán González himself.
It soon became the most important monastery of Fernán González Condal Castilla. The Castilian count increased his possessions and privileges and even chose him to be buried. Subsequently, his descendants continued to enhance the lordship of Arlanza. The construction of its grandiose Romanesque church began in 1080. Also Romanesque, although somewhat later, are the tower and the chapter house. At the end of the 15th century it was renovated by architects of the stature of Simón and Francisco de Colonia .
The Mendizábal Confiscation ended more than 900 years of history and splendor of the monastery. After the exclaustration, a large part of the assets passed to other hands through transfers, sales and plunder. Even the remains of Fernán González himself left for the neighboring Colegiata de Covarrubias.
To end this visit to the Arlanza Triangle we can go to the Sad Hill Cemetery . The Sad Hill Cultural Association has rebuilt the famous cemetery in which the last scene of the legendary western The Good, the Ugly and the Bad takes place in the same place where it was filmed. The surroundings of the Arlanza were chosen by Sergio Leone for the shooting of almost the entire film.