SORIA: PLACES TO VISIT
A number of cave paintings have been discovered in the area surrounding Soria, in addition to a Bronze Age Celtiberian settlement reliant on the city of Numantia, populated by the Arevaci.
Numantia’s resistance shows the courage of a people who chose to die in defence of their most precious commodity: freedom. They perished defending their city from the most powerful army of the time, the Roman army under the command of Publius Cornelius Scipio.
In the 6th century CE, during the Visigoth period, the hermit San Saturio lived in Soria in the location now occupied by the hermitage constructed in his honour.
King Alfonso I, The Battler conquered the city from the Arabs in 1109, proceeding in its repopulation and rendering it a strategic settlement between the peninsula’s various kingdoms, until its definitive annexation to the Crown of Castile in 1134.
Alfonso VIII of Castile is born in Soria, he would later marry Eleanor of England. In the struggle against the Almohad invasion, Alfonso VIII was defeated in the Battle of Alarcos in 1195 and later victorious in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212.
During the Middle Ages, economic activity in Soria revolved around the wool trade, an important business in the hands of the Honorable Council of the Mesta. Soria was known as the “head of Extremadura” due to the province being situated at the head of several royal cattle trails that ran through the Castilian Extremadura of the time, where transhumance of Merino sheep took place.
King John I of Castile was defeated at the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 in dispute of the right to the Portuguese throne, in which the vast majority of the army’s Sorian contingent perished fighting at his side.
Soria also suffered grave economic repercussions as a result of the War of Succession for the Spanish throne in 1701 and the War of Independence in 1808 resisting the Napoleonic invasion. The railway arrived in Soria in 1892.
Soria preserves various important examples of Romanic heritage, such as the 12th-century Church of Santo Domingo complete with a grand rose window in the facade. The Church of San Juan de Rabanera is another example of the Castilian Romanic style. Other notable monuments include the arcade in the cloister of the Monastery of San Juan de Duero and the Pro-cathedral of San Pedro.
In terms of civil architecture, Soria’s Plaza Mayor, with its lion fountain, and the Casa del Común (common home), where the city’s charters are still preserved. The Renaissance palace of the Counts of Gómara, today the Palace of Justice, the palace of the Viscount of Eza and the House of the 12 Lineages, now the City Hall. Soria also boasts a National Parador with delightful views of the city.
Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer cites Soria in a number of his tales, among them the legend of the Mount of the Souls. Soria is also mentioned by Antonio Machado in his poem Fields of Castile “Soria the cold, Soria the pure, head of Extremadura!”, and in Gerardo Diego’s Romance del Duero.
The surrounding area includes towns such as Almazán, with the Church of San Miguel and its lantern tower. Burgo de Osma, famous for its cathedral and cloister in addition to the Renaissance University of Santa Catalina. Medinaceli stands out for its Roman arch and San Esteban de Gormaz for its castle and the Church of San Miguel.
Further afield in the province we also find Berlanga de Duero’s fortress and the town of Calatañazor where “Almanzor lost his tambour”. Soria boasts various protected natural areas such as the Río Lobos Canyon or the Sierra de Urbión and the Black Lagoon.
The gastronomy of Soria boasts dishes such as migas de pastor (“shepherd’s breadcrumbs”) and pork scratchings, roast lamb or traditional stew, as well as an abundance of wild mushrooms including boletus, milk-caps and black truffles.
Ribera del Duero’s designated origin wines are the perfect accompaniment to the region’s local delicacies.
Also worth mentioning are products such as Sorian butter and Almazán’s egg yolk cakes.
Documented with the collaboration of Amalio de Marichalar y Sáenz de Tejada