Lerma

The village os the court and the convents

This village located close to the Arlanza river has its golden years during the kingdom of Felipe the Third, at the beginning on the 17th Century.

Plan your journey to Lerma

The visit to the Colegiata, the Parador (that used to be the Duke’s Palace) and the walk through the other places we will mention in the “What to see in lerma” section, can take around three hours. The trip can continue through the highway Bu-900 on the way to Santo Domingo de Silos and the beautiful natural space of La Yecla y los Sabinares del Arlanza. If you take the highway Bu-904 you can make a visit to the amazing village of Covarrubias, a nice place to eat. After this, continue to the ruins of the Monastery of Arlanza. If you keep going to the North, you will get to the N-234; take it to the East and you will get to the beautiful town of Salas de los Infantes, where you can visit the small dinosaurs’ museum. The Denomination of Origin Wines of Arlanza is located in Lerma, and you should definitely visit the wineries. On your way back to Madrid, instead of taking the beltway we suggest you to go to Aranda de Duero. Their famous asados and the many attractions available will delight you. There are many possibilities of places to sleep and eat in Lerma.

Getting to know this place

The first inhabitants were from the Vacceos tribe. Romans, Swabians, Arabs, Vigodos, passed through this place, which used to be just a temporal refuge, until the year 900 when the Christian advance to the Arlanza river started the repopulation of the town. Between the squares, fortress and castles that were built the most important one was the Lerma castle, which was also given a wall with four gates. The victory of Almanzor in the Peñas de Cervera over the Count Sancho García was his last Muslim punishment. The fights between the Castro and the Lara, between the dominance from Castille or Aragon, gave Lerma two kinds (Fermando the Third and Alfonso the 10th) that besieged the village. The extinction of the Lara lineage turned this place into a royal town until 1414, when Fernando de Antequera donated the village and all of his propertied to Diego Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas to thank him for his help in the Battle of Antequera against the Count of Urgel. Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas received the primogeniture of the house as the 4th Duke of Lerma and the 5th Marquis of Denia in 1574. He turned into a duchy the title of Count and set in Lerma the head of his states instead of in Denia. The transference of the Court to Valladolid in 1601 gave him the idea of building his own village to reduce the circle around Felipe the Third, a kind of little ability and interest for politics and government. The duke of Lerma was his favorite for twenty years and used this to make his village even bigger. Between 1600 and 1617 he hired the best architects to work on it, such as Francisco de Mora, Juan Gómez de Mora and Fray Alberto de la Madre de Dios. Famous people like Góngora and Lope de Vega went to this village, where parties and banquets were celebrated nonstop. The seventh child of Felipe the Third was born in Lerma, the Princess Margarina, baptized in the Convent of the Clarisas. The duchy of Lerma had 40 villages, and their taxes were used to make the vaults of the Duke bigger. He used that money to build and preserve the Ducal Palace, The Plaza Mayor de Armas, six monasteries and one Church Colegial. He also built a industry of cloth and dye, a printing house with a royal license and a hospital. After the fall of the duke in 1620, the village started a decline that lasted many centuries. During the Independence War this region was one of the most visited by the priest Merino, reason why the French decided to loot the Ducal Palace and the convents.  

Francisco de Sandoval y Rojas, duque de Lerma

During the Carlist wars the liberal soldiers lived in a pacific harmony with the religious people. For those, the Desamortización de Mendizábal was a terrible moment, when three of their monasteries had to be abandoned. Today this is village focused on tourism, with a National Parador and an industrial progress that can be seen on its industrial area, where the best enterprises are the industries of embutidos (sausage), cakes and textiles (the designer Amaya Arzuaga has her headquarters here), as well as the Arlanza wine (a product with D.O.) that has its Regulation Council in Lerma.

Arriving from the North, Lerma is like a transatlantic (then Colegiata de San Pedro could be the prow and the Ducal Palace, the current Tourism Parador, the stern. The only par from the old medieval wall that is still alive is the door, called Arco de la Cárcel. Through it, flanked by two big cubes, the entrance to the monumental area is located. The Calle del Reventón leads to the Colegiata de San Pedro. In the Calle Mayor, or the street of the General Mola, many transverse streets meet, with beautiful noble buildings. Through the calle del Barco you will be able to get to the Plaza Mayor, which is where the Ducal Palace, nowadays the Tourism Parador, is located. The Palace, built in the beginnign of the 17th Century, with a Herreriano style, has symetric shapes. Its façade shows the shields of the Sandoval y Rojas house; the door is flanked by two columns and above it we can find windows and balconies of a monotonous symetry. The interior has Renassence patios. Close to it is the Convent of San Blas, that belongs to the Dominic nuns. The building maintains the architectural union of the combination of buildings it is a part of. The Plaza del Mercado Viejo is really close, also called the San Antonio square. It is organized along a music temple and gives access to the typical streets. You should walk through the passage that unifies the Palace and the Colegiata at a good height above the Arlanza river. The Plaza de Santa Clara is where the cemetery monument in the honor of the priest Merino is located. This man was a hero of the independence fights and after that a fighter for the abolutism. Two convents close this square, the old Convent Carmelita of Santa Teresa and the Convent of the Ascención from the Clarisas nuns. Some rooms of the first one have been reformed to be the new location of the city hall, spaces for the municipality, the Center of Touristic Initiatives and the Center of Interpretation of the Village of Lerma. The cloisters of the monastery hold many expositions throughout the entire year.

Colegiata de San Pedro

Walking down the street we can find the Colegiata de San Pedro. This is a monumental temple from the beginning of the 17th Century, of a late Gothic style with Herrerian influences. The exterior is sober, with a simple, square tower that ends with a pinnacle. The interior is composed of three naves of the same height above the Ionic columns, covered with star-shaped domes of a Gothic style. There is a beautiful praying statue, made of golden bronze, of an uncle of the duke of Lerma: the archbishop Cristóbal de Rojas. Out of the urban area, many other convents and a medieval bridges are located. 23kms to the north, we can find the Church of Santa María del Campo (13th and 16th Centuries), Gothic, with gates to both sides of the transept and a beautiful Renassence tower made by Diego de Siloé and Juan de Salas. In this temple Juana la Loca took care of her husband’s dead body for almost a month, during the long pilgrimage that she made with his body.

Must see

Puerta Oeste de entrada
Convento de la Ascensión de Nuestro Señor

Practical data

Coordinates

42º 01’ 35’’ N, 3º 45’ 20’’W

Distances

Burgos 42 km, Palencia 81 km, Madrid 199 km

Parking

It shouldn’t be a problem to park in the Plaza Mayor, except for Wednedays, when the market takes place.

Altitude

849 m

Inhabitants

2848 (2013)

The celebrations in the honor of the Bith of the Virgin (from September the 7th to the 10th, with cultural activities, bull fights and open-air dances), the Romería de Maciles (the next Sunday after September the 8th, with a folkloric exhibition of Castillian jotas).

Borroque Celebrations (August, music, fireworks, street plays, giants dances and popular games that remind people of the times of the duke of Lerma and Felipe the Third. It is mandatory to wear a costume from these old times). Celebration of Maquinaria Agrícula – Agriculture Machinery (may), Concerts of the Colegiata de San Pedro de Lerma (August), National Contest of Chamber Music Sounds of the Arlanza (August).

Market (on Wednesdays at the Plaza Mayor)

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