Soria is one of many forgotten provinces in Castilla y León. Many people only know the province from the bus stop between Barcelona and Madrid that offers beautiful views and cold/hot weather, depending on the season. The capital city is a beautiful Castilian city that is often ignored for not being off a main highway between major cities. That’s okay as it keeps it an undiscovered treasure for everyone else. Antonio Machado, famed Spanish poet of the Generación de ’98, taught French in a secondary school for five years here.
I remember one of my first trips from Madrid to Zaragoza or Barcelona and the bus stop at the travel plaza in the province when it started snowing. I hadn’t really heard of Soria before and wasn’t sure which Castilla it was in. I did my research and suddenly wanted to travel. It wasn’t until 2012 when I had my chance. On a hazy summer day, I went to Soria on a day trip and fell in love with it. It only has a population of around 40,000, making it a smaller capital. It has a beautiful park, but my fave part of the day was walking along the River Duero to the San Saturio ermita (small church. Do people really use “hermitage”? As I have never heard of that word in English before, and I’m a native speaker supposedly…) I remember seeing a lot of small villages in the country that looked beautiful. I haven’t had the chance to go back, but I was just looking to see if there was a bus from Bilbao to Soria before writing this. Unfortunately there isn’t a direct one, but if I stop in Logroño and change buses…
I found this in my private journal about the day to refresh my memory just now. Today I crossed another province off my list. Soria. It’s in Castilla y León, north of Guadalajara (Castilla La Mancha) and south of Zaragoza (Aragón) and the capital city has a population of about 35.000.
It took me a bit to find a decent place that had my tostada con tomate, and it as an expensive tostada and not that great. I then took off to the castle, which would be better labeled as ruins, as there was nothing left but a few walls, surrounding a swimming pool. It was on top of a mountain with view of more mountains.
I then lucked out and found a path down to the trail next to the river Duero, which I took to find the ermita which as made out of a cave. So cool, and sort of a religious experience, of course. There is just something about putting Caedmon’s Call on the iPod and being in touch with nature.
I had a decent meal, although I am trying to eat healthy and change my diet. It was probably not the healthiest, but a lot healthier than it could have been.
A walk through the park, and now I’m on the bus back to Madrid, annoyed that the wifi doesn’t work and that the bus left 10 minutes late.
Ermita de San Saturio
Another ermita, yay! The cool thing about this one is that it’s located in a cave. Sure, they have built up around the cave, but the entrance and part of the ermita is located in a cave. It’s a nice hike from the city, or if you have a car, a very short car ride. Construction began in the 18th century and has an octagon shape.
Perched high upon the hill of Soria, the ruins of a former castle (along with the old city walls) look over the Río Duero. When I heard there was a castle, I got excited, but all that remains are ruins like in the photo. Nothing last forever! The ruins are still worth checking out, especially for the views from the hill. Those searching out for a more impressive castle can visit el Castillo de Gormaz, 13 kilometres (about 20 miles more or less) from Burgo de Osma, another meravella of the province. I have yet to visit this castle though.
Madrid Mayor Ana Botella would be happy to have the chance to have a relaxing café con leche in this Plaza Mayor. It’s one of the most important plazas of the city, although on the hot summer morning I was there, I didn’t spend much time there.
The Río Duero is one of the most important rivers (the third longest after the Tajo and Ebro) in the Greatest Peninsula in the World, and this time I say it to include Spain’s frenemy Portugal as the river flows on to meet the Atlantic in Porto, Portugal. It flows through the heart of Castilla y León, crossing through five Castilian Leon provinces: Soria, Burgos, Valladolid, Salamanca and Zamora.
Burgo de Osma (to be discovered)
The third largest municipality of Soria, Burgo de Osma , population 5250, is located on the Duero. It’s another beautiful medieval village that has walls and a cathedral. For the non-vegetarian foodies out there, in weekends between January and April, they have “Jornadas de la Matanza” to celebrate the autumn’s harvest.
Medinaceli (to be discovered)
Medinaceli derives from the Arab word for “city” and the Celtic word for “hill”, so you can imagine that this is a city on a hill. Today this “city” has only 804 people, but it is said to be one of the most beautiful locals in Spain. I can attest to what little I saw from the bus that it looks beautiful. The Arco (Arch) de Medinaceli is one of the most famous images of the village, and there is also a castle.
Laguna Negra (to be discovered)
Located in the Picos de Urbión, the “Black Lagoon” is famous due to Machado’s La tierra de Alvargonzález, where he said the lagoon had no limit to its depths. Perhaps this is where the Creature from the Black Lagoon came into being. It was made by glaciers, just like Lake Erie. It’s usually only accessed by foot after parking the car 2 kilometres away (1.2 miles); however during Semana Santa and the summer a bus connects the parking lot/car park (“parking” in Spanish!) to the lagoon.
Psst: Happy Groundhog Day! Groundhog in Spanish is “marmota”, and the Spanish think this day is pretty ridiculous. I hope the endangered Spanish lynx brings snow to Bilbao before bringing back Lorenzo the Sun!