Belorado

Caves, Museums and Visions in the French Way

Belorado is one of those towns of the Way to Santiago which city center may not catch your attention at the first sight. But nothing is further from the truth, it is a vibrant town with a varied offer to spend two full days in its surroundings: mink in freedom in its wonderful river, a spectacular cave, a unique mining exploitation, a singular museum within a silo of cereal, several temples and a convent of great value, an excellent offer of active tourism, the famous caparrones …. On this page we explain its peculiar gastronomy, and in this other one where to stay to sleep. If there is time, make the Camino to San Juan de Ortega, it is one of the most beautiful and suggestive sections.

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The first settlement of Belorado is of the IV century a.de.C .; It is a Celtiberian town located in the place called ‘La Muela’, located on top of the hill known as ‘Cara del Índio’. The Romans built another town in the place known as ‘La Mesa’ towards the 1st century, to move at some time after the current location. It is a place of passage between the Meseta and the Ebro valley, which would gain importance as the traffic of pilgrims on the Camino Francés de Santiago increases. Belorado counted on a hospital of pilgrims, whose last vestige is the hermitage of Our Lady of Bethlehem.

It is important to note that Belorado was a place of rest before the pilgrims faced the dangerous stage of traversing the thick forests of the Montes de Oca. For in the surroundings of Villafranca Montes de Oca and San Juan de Ortega there was during much of the Middle Ages a large number of criminals who assaulted the pilgrims.

The historical relevance of Belorado is between the tenth and twelfth centuries, when it becomes a disputed border area between the kingdoms of Navarre (which originally controlled the territory of La Rioja) and the county of Castilla (belonging to the kingdom of León); for that reason it was from time immemorial protected by a castle. According to the tradition, it was there that the cedanas were fired at Fernán González when he was released from a captivity in Navarre; reason why he gave him the privilege of celebrating market every Monday. Then he returned to the Navarrese power, until in 1054 the Battle of Atapuerca -which took place not far from there- returned the region to Castile. Around 1074 Alfonso VI would give his castle to his vassal El Cid, as a dowry for his marriage to Doña Jimena.

In 1116 the king consorte of Castile, Alfonso ‘the Batallador’ of Aragon granted a law to him; it collected the right to hold an annual fair in the town, which may be the first of those held in Spain. That fair and its position on the north face of the Sierra de la Demanda – where the large herds of La Mesta flocked to graze in the dry months – enabled it to develop a spinning and drapery industry based on shorn wool, as well as tanning . Its commercial character led to the establishment of a Jewish community, located in the current neighborhood of ‘El Corro’; This group prospered during the reign of Pedro I, being later penalized by the new Trastámara dynasty, which punished the population for having supported the previous monarch.From the sixteenth century was a town of lordship, dependent on the family of the Constables of Castile.

There is a lot to see in Belorado. To take advantage of the time, it is best to start by visiting the tourist office located in the Plaza Mayor; especially well equipped, with some museographic presentations of the Way and its contours that deserve a leisurely visit to organize; in Belorado there are some professionals who know how to direct the visitor and help him to take advantage of the time. Around the main square, the emblazoned houses of its surroundings and its temples; Both the Church of Santa María la Mayor, as well as the Church of Santiago Apóstol and the Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Belén deserve a visit. These are temples with a preserved decoration, which were deeply renovated in the seventeenth century. The Hermitage is what remains of the old pilgrim hospital. Another interesting place is the Santa Clara Monastery – because it is a convent of Poor Clares – it is possible to visit its important church with appreciable works of art, as well as to buy the exquisite products made by the nuns.

Another place to see in Belorado is the Museum of broadcasting, located in a cereal silo. The conservation of the silo and the collection of radio sets, one of the most important in Europe, is a rarity. The availability of space and the concerns of the patron Inocencio Bocanegra led to the addition of an extraordinary trench of the First World War; This is of real dimensions and is magnificently replicated. Another rarity is that a checkpoint has been reproduced from those that separated East Germany from West during the so-called Cold War.But what we believe most to see in Belorado is not in its own municipal district, but in the neighboring town of Pura de Villafranca (7 kilometers away) and requires a concerted visit and some physical skills. It is about the route through the Cueva de Fuentemolinos, a beautiful accumulation of limestone forms of 4 kilometers in length, which makes it the sixth longest in the world. In that same locality, those interested in industrial history have the only mining exploitation of mountains in Spain which is exposed in a real way this Mining Complex.Walks You have to see in Belorado its original Paseo del Ánimo, with tiles that mark the Camino Francés de Santiago, made with the participation of famous pilgrims. The walk should continue to see the houses emblazoned until you reach the Tirón River, where you can see its riverbank forest, the European mink path (with the possibility of seeing one, since there is the greatest concentration in freedom of this species) and the medieval bridge.For walkers or people with certain physical form there are other attractions to see in Belorado. One is the climb to the hill where you can see some remains of his castle, as well as a beautiful view of the Camino de Santiago, the contours and the urban area. After some negotiations with the tourist office it is possible to see the ‘Romanesque’ caves used by the Visigoths, known as San Pancrasio, San Valentín and Santa Pía. Amateurs of archeology also have to see in Belorado the two sites prior to the current town, the Celtiberian town of ‘La Muela’ and the Roman town of ‘La Mesa’ (see more information in the history section on this page).In the nearby town of San Miguel de Pedroso (3 kilometers) it is recommended to enjoy the Interpretation Center of Molino y Fragua.

Practical Data

Coordinates

42º 25’14”N , 3º 11’ 25”W

Distances

Burgos: 47 km, Logroño:  68 km, Madrid:  294 km

Nearby destinations

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