22nd August 2021: Romanesque Soria {Spain, summer 2021}

We just spent the morning in Soria, in the region of Castilla y León, before we got on our way back in the early afternoon, but I have to say that the good morning sunset was spectacular.

As again we had a breakfast slot at 8:00, we were out to see stuff at around 9:00. The Parador de Soria is located on the top of the Castle Park Parque del Castillo, we just had to go down. First we came across some of the ruins and the buildings that had populated the area in Medieval times.

As we continued our trek downwards we ended up at the church of Our Lady of the Thorn Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Espino, which was closed as it was still early on a Sunday morning.

In the tiny garden in front of the church there is a dead tree that has been preserved by pouring fibreglass and other synthetic materials on it – the dry elm tree, Olmo Seco. In 1912, the Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote a poem – to an old elm tree, struck by lightning and half-rotten, which has sprouted a few green leaves after April rain and May sun… Well, this is the tree, preserved for all to see, with the poem in a small sign (and another in Braille) right next to it.

After staying there for a few minutes, we went on our trek downwards and we reached another church, the church of St. John San Juan de la Rabanera. It is known that the church had already been built in 1270. In the Renaissance and Baroque periods it was heavily remodelled, but restorations during the 20th century recovered most of the Romanesque purity. The main portal, although Romanesque too, used to be part of another church. The apse keeps all the Romanesque decoration – unfortunately, it was closed too.

We kept strolling around the town centre and came across a bunch of palaces – some of them have been repurposed into public-service buildigns such as the local government, revenue and taxes services, town’s archive, a high school… others were for sale or rent.

In front of the high school we found the sculpture to the poet I mentioned before, Escultura a Antonio Machado.

Not far from there we found the church of Saint Dominic Iglesia de Santo Domingo. Like the church of St. John, it is a reformed Romanesque temple. The most important and impressive part of the church is the main façade, in golden stone with amazing carvings (considered by some the best Romanesque façade in the country), and a rose window.

We decided to try to find the co-cathedral of St Peter Concatedral de San Pedro. Dating back from the 12th century, on the outside, it just looks like yet another Romanesque church, but that changes when you enter. When it is illuminated, the church seems to glow.

Furthermore, you can access the cloister of the former collegiate, which was also built in the 12th century as part of a now-disappeared monastery.

We walked back to the centre of the town. We left the main square Plaza Mayor de Soria, which I accessed through a tiny archway delimited by coloured windows, named Arco del Cuerno.

We ended up at main park Alameda de Cervantes.

However, we were more interested in seeing the archaeological museum Museo Numantino, which was open by then – it holds a few ancient straight-Tusked elephant (Elephas antiquus), Pehistoric art, and most of the artefacts that have been found in Numantia, both Roman and Celtiberian, including Roman statues, Celtiberian weapons and drinking jars and the most famous relic of all: a tiny horse-shaped fibula (brooch) that has been adopted as the symbol of Soria.

Finally, on our way out, we stopped at the ruins of the monastery of Saint John of the Douro, commonly just referred to as “archway” and not monastery Arcos de San Juan de Duero, a very cool cloister with different arc styles – a typical Romanesque one from the 13th century, and a second one that might have had Arab influence.

And with this, we drove back home for around 170 km after walking for 6.57 km. Fingers crossed for the next adventure working out!