The toponym of San Medel, comes from the medieval denomination of San Emeterio.
The Roman legionaries, Emeterius and Celedonius, assigned to Legion VII Gemina, and outstanding in lands of vascones, were executed in the Arenal of the river Cidacos, in Calahorra (Calagurris), for refusing to renege on their Christian faith, after being persecuted by Diocletian, in the 298 dC At their death they became martyrs (soldiers and witnesses of Christ) and patrons of the city, whose festivity is celebrated March 3. In the work Peristephanon, the Book of the Crowns, the great poet Aurelio Prudencio (348-405) praises these brave warriors.
San Medel and Segovia
The relationship of San Medel with Segovia and its flow through these lands, comes from the Calagurritan settlers, who lived in the outskirts of the capital, after the call of King Alfonso VI, nicknamed "the Brave", and that of his grandson the emperor Alfonso VII, who came to conquer Toledo (1085), and who attracted generations of colonists from the Franks, Basque, Galician, Leonese and Rioja lands. From this influence is born the cult and devotion to the saints, the aforementioned San Medel and San Millán. Also its trace extends to the place-names of Brieva or to Santo Domingo de Pirón.
The itinerary that we propose here is a journey through a unique cultural and natural space. Its origin starts from the Pirón River and the axis that forms with the Torrecaballeros aquifers. From here, we start to discover a territory full of history and nature, which is considered fundamental in the process of Spanish reconquest, between the 11th and 12th centuries and in the socioeconomic development of Segovia in the following centuries.
Segovia is, in the XI century, the Extremadura (extremity Durii), of the lands more to the south of the Duero river. The Community, governed by its Council, acquires an extraordinary power and prominence, at the end of the 12th century, by the dominion of an extensive territory, on both sides of the mountain range.
For adventurers, we will cross and skirt forests of Scots pine, oak, open holm oaks, ash groves, riparian vegetation, meadows, pastures bristling with rocks and extensive cereal lands. Also, we will know relevant examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, an old bridge, the remains of a watchtower and flour mills that took advantage of the water from channels and streams from the end of the Middle Ages, until the twentieth century. We will walk through livestock trails and shear ranches, which gave Segovia such a boom. All this with the backdrop of the Sierra de Guadarrama and the constant color changes of the countryside, which draw unique postcards at sunset.
Beautiful Collado in the vera de la sierra, Santa María and Sotosalbos
This section begins, in the lands that in the 12th century and thanks to the important donations received, they were part of the ecclesiastical lordship of the Cathedral of Segovia. Due to this ecclesiastical favor, knights and monarchs of the time were able to participate in the repopulation process of the area.
Collado Hermoso, mentioned in 1247 as Collado de Sotosalbos, was a village that began to be populated in the first half of the 12th century. It was integrated into the Community of Villa and Tierra de Pedraza, when the bishop granted him a privilege of population, to the Basque Munio Vela. It is in the communication route that borders the sierra (Vera de la Sierra), from the Sorian lands, converted into the Cañada Real Soriana Occidental and a multisecular route of people and merchandise. It was the original road, followed by many Rioja people, in their transfer to the Castilian lands and where, surely, also came the devotion to San Medel.
We find the parish church of Romanesque origin, San Nicolás de Bari, which was rebuilt in the seventeenth century and in which the image, attributed to the twelfth century, of Our Lady of Health is kept.
The landscape we discovered, is made up of oak groves, overflowed by Azores and blackbirds, below the 1200 meters, we find hillsides and foothills, forming "matas" in the "escurrideras", which over time were progressively replaced by hawthorn, heather, broom and blackberries.
Towards the mountains, the path is flanked first by ash trees and then by oaks, and later we find wild pines, next to the monastery of Santa María and Santiago Apóstol, founded in 1133 by the Benedictines with the patronage of Alfonso VII and the impulse of the Frank bishop, Peter of Agen.
The extraordinary ruins that rise in the area called Mata del Fraile, today is annexed a textile workshop and a space to host courses and conferences called Àbbatte. Private property, correspond to the monastery of the order of Císter, dating from 1212. Occupied until the 18th century, it suffered its decline due to the disentailment, until it became the current group, which was declared a National Historical Monument (now BIC) in 1931. The light of winter and the beginning of spring give the place, from a distance, a magical aspect; a romantic image in the purest style of the ruins that nineteenth-century travelers liked to draw and describe.
Next, Sotosalbos (white groves), and its fantastic ash grove, already known since the time when the cult of San Medel was introduced. This area was part of the inheritance, which the bishop received from the Segovian Council, and which was ratified by King Alfonso I, the Battler, King of Aragon and Pamplona, but temporarily also by Castile for his ephemeral and tortuous marriage to Doña Urraca . It belonged to the episcopate, and in its power it remained until 1536 when it was sold, along with Aguilafuente and Pelayos, to Pedro de Zúñiga, son of the Duke of Béjar. Its parochial church, San Miguel Arcángel, is a good example of the rural Romanesque of Segovia. Inside, along with other pieces of singular interest from the 13th to the 16th centuries, the Gothic image (13th century) of Our Lady of the Sierra, from the monastery and transferred there in 1825, is kept. The place is part of the universal literature for being reference and point of passage, way of his visit to the "Serpent of Troy" (the Aqueduct of Segovia), Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita, in the Book of Good Love (century XIV). Its farmhouse maintains, in broad strokes, the typology of the villages of the Segovian piedemonte and the influence of the predominant farming activities of the time.
Cañadas y Ranchos
Livestock, especially sheep, became from the thirteenth century, the fundamental basis of the economic development of Castile and especially Segovia.
The wool, and its derivatives, like the cloths, achieved fame and international prestige. The transhumance system generated an extensive livestock network composed of ravines, twine, trails and coladas, which formed part of the so-called Cañada Real Soriana Occidental, which runs diagonally through the center of the Iberian Peninsula from Tierras de Cameros (La Rioja and Soria) to Badajoz, passing through Segovia.
From Collado Hermoso, we continue the route, which is followed by the Cañada, which is practically superimposed on the national road, which crosses the irrigation channel of the Viejo River, before reaching Sotosalbos. This town is overflowed, bypassing the own river arroyo Viejo. Following the path through the aforementioned canyon, the oak forest of Mata de Pirón is left aside, a refuge for the legendary bandit of the 19th century, known as El Tuerto del Pirón. It is reached later, the House of Pirón, without losing the imposing reference of the mountain range and the Port of Malangosto, place of step that united the two sides from at least, the Average Age. Then, you come to the Rancho de Alfaro, now in ruins, but one of the most important testimonies of the cattle industry and the wool industry of Segovia. The ranches were places of shearing, but, in this case, it was included, not only this fundamental work begun in May, but also the washing of the wool obtained, leaving it ready for distribution. It had lockers, laundries, furnaces, pieces of shelter for 180 shearers and offices and was built from 1748 by José Alfaro, secretary of Fernando VI, also buying the rights to bring water from the Pirón River. There, 63.500 heads were sheared annually. A deliberate fire in 1809 demanded a partial reconstruction, but it went into decline at the same time as the great transhumance in the 19th century.
San Medel Cacera
The San Medel hunt is a ditch, which takes its waters from the Pirón River by means of a small dam that is next to the Molino del Romo, the first user of the work. Its function was to guarantee, by means of a rigorous distribution, the supply of lands in the northeast and north of Segovia: Torrecaballeros, La Aldehuela, Santo Domingo, Basardilla, Adrada, Brieva, La Higuera, Espirdo, Tizneros and Cabanillas. Only its relationship with the inhabitants of the town of San Medel, located southeast, and with the stream of the same name that crosses it (originating in La Aldehuela and Torrecaballeros) would satisfactorily explain its name. Surcates pine forests, oak groves, pasture lands, shrubs of broom, broom, rose hips, blackberries and also fields of dry land. The relationship of Segovia and its extensive municipal term with the water, is made manifest through this important hydraulic work that is added to other singular ones, among which the Roman Aqueduct stands out for its historical and monumental relevance. Its route from the origin is complex, because it is an area with very limited accessibility when crossing private properties, some wire and imposing the need to travel very close to the channel, even fording it on some occasions. However, their interest, from a natural and cultural point of view is relevant, because not only the presence of different ecosystems can be appreciated, but also the ways of using and distributing waters of the hydraulic work (waterfalls, compasses and sharing teeth). ).
Further on, the Cañada reaches the point along which the San Medel Cacera runs, leaving the piedmont on a more suitable terrain for the excursion.
Torrecaballeros and Cabanillas del Monte
Continuing on our way towards Torrecaballeros, we found the transit routes of merchandise, animals and people, which were often marked by watchtowers, in order to give them security but also roadside assistance. Oter de los Caballeros or Tor Caballeros, is an enclave of these characteristics, from which the current town of Torrecaballeros derives. Next to the remains of the medieval quadrangular tower, located in the Caserío de la Torre, nowadays, privately owned, runs the Cacera de San Medel. This was a land of pastures and meadows populated by holm oaks, without doubt the most extensive ecosystem in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, at which time the repopulation and clearing cleared large areas of land that, little by little, were occupied for the cattle and the cultivation of the cereal. At present they are open land, where we can find a wide variety of species for wildlife lovers, such as the wood pigeon, the red kite, the fox, the wild boar, the rabbit or the fallow deer (now virtually nonexistent). ). In the center of Torrecaballeros, transformed into a hotel complex, the ranch belonging to the Company of Jesus is identified until its exclaustration in 1767, in which 40.000 heads of cattle were sheared, annually. Like the rest of the sites originated during the medieval repopulation, it had its own church, the current parish of San Nicolás de Bari, whose Romanesque origin is unquestionable although altered by continuous modifications and with a major altarpiece, of churrigueresque style.
A derivation of the Cacera de San Medel, it deviates towards the South until passing next to the Shear of Cabanillas del Monte, built in 1762. There he feeds some charcones used for years to wash. Because of its state of preservation it is a unique example of industrial heritage, declared BIC, which preserves, not only the original structure, including the house of the lords and its oratory, but also painted on its walls names and drawings of the workers, of extraordinary historical interest.
Another diversion towards the North reached Basardilla passing next to the Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Pedernal, from where an extensive landscape is composed, with the mountain range and its foothills.
Espirdo and Veladiez
We continue our journey, to find ourselves at the point where the stream of San Medel, born between the towns of Torrecaballeros and Tizneros and fed by the river's hunt for centuries, crosses the territory surrounding the town of Espirdo, (known as Spiritu). in the Middle Ages).
Also it is collected the denomination of Spiritu river, that very probably alludes to the own stream San Medel.
In Espirdo there was an important royal serna, lands of the Crown that little by little were given to individuals, by way of inheritance, or for a certain time for their enjoyment and exploitation. At present, the pastures destined to the extensive cattle ranch and the cereal dominate. Any populated nucleus had to have its own church, as it happens in La Higuera, whose secluded temple of Santo Tomás is one more example of the relationship of the territory, nature and man with God, through the saints and patrons during the times of Romanesque
In an elevated enclave, dominating this important territory of medieval repopulation, is the hermitage of Veladiez, seated on a Visigothic cemetery and of probable ascription to an old population with the surnames of its founder: Vela Díaz. It respects the canons imposed on the rural Romanesque of Segovia and its prescriptive orientation from East to West becomes very evident on sunny spring days.
Bernuy de Porreros
To the west, we discover in our journey, as the stream of San Medel, favors the population of Bernuy, dating from the twelfth century and whose foundation is attributed to a gentleman named Bermudo. As all the agricultural enclaves, born during the repopulation stage has a temple, Santiago Apostle, Romanesque style provided with a small portico that offered, like so many others in Segovia, the necessary protection to the faithful, giving them the opportunity to settle their matters, before or after the office. Also to the side of the San Medel, source of the economic life of the territory that crosses, is the hermitage of San Roque, of the XVIII century.
The Castros, the town of San Medel and its stream
Next, we find the village of San Medel, founded by the inhabitants of La Rioja in the 12th century, which is located at the foot of the Los Castros Promontory, from which the walled outline of Segovia can be glimpsed with the sierra in the background. If we move in time, we can guess by observing the ruins of his church, the strength and sense that this place should have, strategically located next to the road that, from Segovia to the North, was heading to the Turégano fortress. Its people formed the parish in 1247 and belonged to the sexmo of Cabezas, one of the constituencies integrated in the Community of City and Land of Segovia. The mill (mill below to distinguish it from the other that is in the same course), which took advantage of the waters of the stream, belonged to the Dominican convent of Santa Cruz la Real in Segovia and is a true reflection of the industrial activity that took place in the margins of rivers, streams and canyons for more than five hundred years, from the Eresma to the Pirón. The economic changes made this place, like many others, depopulated later the eighteenth century. There was a sale there frequented by muleteers and travelers, in which a crime occurred, which led to its decline as a meeting point.
Church of San Medel
We make a detailed tour of the church of San Medel, to discover in its remains, the mystery and romanticism of the time.
Its emaciated walls and its raised bulrush transport us to another time and way of understanding life. Its loneliness caused that, in 1945, in order to preserve its most noble parts, the cover, a window and other architectural elements of the interior, were literally torn from its place and moved to the building that is now the public library of Segovia. There we can imagine, the beauty and seclusion of this beautiful temple, dedicated to Saint Emeterio.
It highlights to the visitors an unknown phenomenon to the date: in the facade (the feet of the church, oriented to the West) a small quadrangular orifice is found that has gone unnoticed, even to the experts. The sun of the sunset penetrates through it between the days 13 and 20 of March, coinciding with the octave of San Medel (3 to 11 of March in the Julian calendar used in the Middle Ages) that was celebrated since time immemorial in its city of origin , Calahorra, in which a luminescent point crosses those afternoons the side of the Gospel, and the bottom of the temple.
Encinillas, Roda de Eresma and the Orchards
Our route is located in Encinillas, where cereal cultivation land predominates, fruit of the progressive transformation suffered by open oak forests from the 12th century. Here we find his church, of Romanesque origin, under the patronage of San Vicente Mártir. In its interior the original baptismal font is conserved, as well as Baroque altarpieces and a tower of the XVI century. The stream of San Medel crosses its term, surrounded by black poplars and poplars and begins to be diluted with the concurrence of other streams in the vicinity of Roda de Eresma, where traces of human habitat have been located since the Upper Paleolithic and evidences of the Roman presence , documented through a necropolis. A small bridge, known as "Roman bridge" denotes an old road that crosses the Santo stream. The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Roda also has Romanesque origins but, like so many others, its interior was remodeled to Baroque taste, from which it retains its altarpiece.
The waters of the San Medel, together with those of the Roda stream, flow into the Eresma River near Los Huertos, a natural area that enjoys, in a small fertile plain, abundant water, which allowed the development of the flourishing orchard , not always easy in Segovia. The original town was called, in the thirteenth century, Santa María de los Huertos and in its vicinity other villages disappeared today. Our Lady of the Assumption is her parochial church, separated from the nucleus populated by the stream itself and dating from the sixteenth century, with an outstanding baroque altarpiece. Closer to the Eresma is the hermitage of the Virgin of Las Vegas. In the immediate vicinity, slightly to the southwest, the Roman road linking Segovia with Coca circulated.
To finish, whenever possible, there is no better destination than the city of Segovia, where we find places that are related to the route of San Medel, such as the convent of Santa Cruz la Real and, above all, the public library, where are the architectural and sculptural remains of the church of the town known by the name of the Roman martyr: archivolts ornamented with fleurs de lis, taps in attitude of attack, fronds topped in volutes, linked pigeons flanking a human figure, lions and harpies of meandering tail. Part of the medieval iconographic universe in Segovia.
Total length of the route (not including the final displacement to Segovia): 49 Km.
- Route and milestones:
- Beautiful Collado - Santa María de la Sierra
- Santa María de la Sierra - Collado Hermoso - Sotosalbos
- Sotosalbos (by the Cañada Real Soriana Occidental) - Rancho de Alfaro
- Rancho de Alfaro - Molino del Romo - Río Pirón
- Molino del Romo - Cruce de la Cañada Real with Cacera de San Medel
- Crossing of the Cañada Real with Cacera de San Medel - Caserío de La Torre
- Caserío de La Torre - Torrecaballeros
- Torrecaballeros - Shear of Cabanillas del Monte (optional)
- Torrecaballeros - La Higuera
- La Higuera - Espirdo
- Espirdo - Hermitage of Veladiez
- Hermitage of Veladiez - Bernuy
- Bernuy - Molino de Arriba
- Molino de Arriba - Los Castros - San Medel
- San Medel - Encinillas
- Encinilllas - "Roman bridge"
- "Roman bridge" - Roda de Eresma
- Roda de Eresma - Los Huertos
- Los Huertos - Hermitage of the Virgin of Las Vegas (optional)
- Segovia (public library)
The route can be done walking or cycling. Most of the stretches are suitable for conventional cars, although it is important to take into account the time of year and the alterations that agricultural vehicles cause in the dirt floors in winter. The walking route can be split into three or four stages; biking in two or three and with the support of motor vehicle is reduced to one.