Saturday, March 31, 2012


Soria is situated in Castile-León about 110 miles northeast of Madrid and lies on the western bank of the River Duero. The city's historic centre preserves an important Romanesque legacy as well as excellent examples of civic architecture.

In the delightful and typically Castilian Plaza Mayor stands a number of interesting buildings including the Casa de los Doce Linajes, a 17th-century building that is currently the town hall. The former town hall is next door but is currently used as a Cultural Centre. The Tower of Doña Urraca is situated in one corner of the square and the Church of Santa María La Mayor stands just behind it.

Plaza Mayor - photo: public domain (Txo)
Santa María La Mayor
photo: public domain (Zarataman)

Talking about churches, Soria is noted for its collection of architect-urally distinctive churches many of them Roman-esque. Let's take a look at some of them!

The 12th-century Church of Santo Domingo, situated in the historic quarter, is one of the town's most important places of worship. Its main front is considered to be one of the finest Romanesque façades in existence - so much so - that it has been declared a National Monument. This honour has also been bestowed on the cloisters of another religious building in Soria - the Procathedral of San Pedro. It was built at the end of the 12th century and reconstructed during the 16th. It has a Plateresque façade and three Gothic naves. The Church of San Juan de Rabanera is pretty impressive too - probably why it, too, is a National Monument! This 12th-century temple has a number of Byzantine influences. Its façade is particularly beautiful and the inside is also attractive, especially the apse and reredos.

Santo Domingo
photo: public domain (Txo)

San Juan de Rabanera
photo: public domain (Elena FD)

Soria Concatedral de San Pedro
photo: public domain (Zarataman)
There are other fine churches in Soria but I don't want to weary you with all their details. I will, however, mention two other religious buildings - the Hermitage of San Saturio and the Monasterio de San Juan de Duero. Both are on the opposite side of the River Duero than the town centre. However, it is not too far to walk to the monastery - less than 500 metres! From the Plaza Mayor, walk along Calle Real and then Calle San Augustin, which crosses the river, and then turn left to find the monastery. It is well worth the short detour from the town centre because the site is one of the most original Romanesque monuments in Spain. A 12th-century church and a wonderful cloister are the only remains of the former monastery. The arches are quite splendid - and different! They are a mix of Romanesque, Mudéjar and Arabic styles. The monastery belonged to the order of the Knights Templar from the twelfth century until it was abandoned in the eighteenth. It is yet another National Monument and one of the most visited sites in Castilla y León. It is a delightful place to visit and the scenery is not bad either - situated as it is on the banks of the River Duero it has provided an inspiring landscape for Spanish artists and poets.

Monasterio de San Juan de Duero cloisters
photo: public domain ( Txo)
Hermitage of San Saturio
photo: public domain ( Zarataman)
Less than 1 kilometre down river is the Baroque Hermitage of San Saturio, patron saint of the town. It was carved out of the rock in the eighteenth century.

Before we leave Soria, we must explore some of the other delightful places in this attractive city. In the streets of the historic quarter there are many beautiful buildings - no more so than the Palacio de los Condes de Gómara. It is considered to be the jewel of Sorian civil architecture with its outstanding stone façade and quadrangular tower. It is a Renaissance building built in the 16th century and now houses the Provincial Court. It goes without saying that it has been declared a National Monument! Another fine residence is the Palacio de los Ríos y Salcedo. This 16th-century Renaissance building is also a National Monument and, these days, it serves as the Provincial Historic Archive.

Palacio de los Condes de Gómara
photo: public domain ( Numantino)
Soria isn't just ancient monuments however. There are green spaces like the Dehesa, which contains many exotic trees and shrubs, and the Parque El Castillo - a hill on which stands the Parador de Soria. It offers lovely panoramic views of the Duero, the countryside, the distant mountains and the city - a city that has inspired poets like Antonio Machado, Gerardo Diego and Gustavo Bécquer. Soria, situated in a natural beauty spot by the banks of the River Duero, is certainly worth visiting!

This is an extract of the text in the "Soria" section of "Spanish Impressions"

more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

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