Houston, we have a problem.
I have very little photographic evidence of my day in Palencia. I apparently had forgotten my camera that day and only have a few blurry ones taken with an iPod Touch. My apologies. You just have to believe me when I say Palencia, while being one of the less famous provinces (and constantly referred to as “With ‘P’ so it doesn’t get confused with Valencia), is a great rural get away. The capital is a bit boring, I have to admit, but there are amazing villages and mountains in the province, and a statue of Jesus Christ is always watching over you wherever you go in the capital.
My spring day in Palencia in 2013 began with a three-hour bus ride from Madrid. Three hours is my limits for a day trip, and at the time I was still hoping that I’d somehow swing a placement in either Catalunya or Valencia and wanted to visit places that weren’t so far from Madrid while in Madrid. I remember watching and loving Crazy Stupid Love on the bus. The bus station isn’t much to write about, and I didn’t write a lot about the city in my private journal. I do remember meandering the streets and admiring the Cathedral and Casco Viejo. The river was quite muddy with the spring rains (It had rained for a month in Madrid, where rain is rare. The north, of course, got more.) I was lucky as it was sunny and 15ºC (upper 50s/low 60s range). For me, the highlight of the trip was my walk to the hill at the top of the town to see the statue of Jesus, El Cristo de Otero. It’s Palencia’s most famous tourist attraction. I was beginning to fall more and more in love with walking during this time in my life (it was only two years ago!), and the walk up the hill was short but fun. The views were quite nice too.
I’d like to go hiking in the northern part of the province sometime soon. As I am now 98,72% I’ll be staying another year in Bilbao, I may have my chance soon. I should mention that the Camino de Santiago Frances passes through 70 kilometres of the province.
El Cristo del Otero
This statue of Jesus can be seen for kilometres. Located on a knoll (Otero) , the Statue, situated as if it were blessing the city of Palencia, was built in 1931 by architect Victorio Macho and is said to be 21 metres high (or 21 yards or 63 feet high). Of course, like everything in Spain, the actual height is up to debate. There is a museum at his feet, along with an ermita and the grave of the designer.
Casco Viejo y Catedral
Palencia is the province capital and has around 80,000 people. The Carrión River flows through the city and there is a Roman bridge (that has been replaced various times). La Olmeda Roman Village is a house that dates back to 4 AD, and there are some traces of the old city walls. The Cathedral was built between 1321 and 1504 in Gothic style.
Carrión de los Condes
40 kilometres from the province capital, peregrinos on the Camino can stop in Carrión de los Condes, population 2300, home of the fictitious sons-in-law of El Cid. The town has a number of old churches and some nice streets to travel back in time on.
Pedrosa de la Vega (La Olmeda)
Pedrosa de la Vega, population 366, may not offer much, but it is located only 1 kilometre away from La Olmeda, a Bien de Interés Cultural. La Olmeda is a Roman village excavated professionaly in the 1960s and also has a museum.
El Canal de Castilla
Canals aren’t just for Venice, Brugges and Panama. Built in the 18th century, the Canal de Castilla is one of the few canals in Spain and runs through Burgos and Valladolid too. It is 207 km (129 miles) long and was a major help in irrigation after trains took over the transport. Today they are using it to study wetlands in Palencia to improve the biodiversity located along the canal.
Villalcázar de Sirga
Another stop on the Camino Frances, Villalcázar de Sirga only has a population of just over 200, but it also has a beautiful church that is burial site of Infante Felipe de Castilla and his second wife Inés Rodríguez Girón.
Iglesia de San Juan Bautista
Located 13 kilometres from the province capital, the oldest church in Spain, the Church of San Juan Bautista (John the Baptist) dates back to the Visigoths. The church is located in Baños de Cerrato and Venta de Baños, which used to be a major train transportation hub.