AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY: Castille and León
DISTANCE TO SANTIAGO: 205 km
LINKS OF INTEREST
TELEPHONES OF INTEREST
- Town Hall: [+34] 987 446 600
- Civil protection: [+34] 987 415 565
- Health Centre: [+34] 987 409 109
FESTIVALS & OTHER EVENTS:
- Festival of the Encina (Holm Oak): September 8th, the festival dedicated to the patron saint of El Bierzo usually lasts 10 days and floods the city with popular music, handicraft exhibitions, gastronomic tastings, concerts, street shows and fireworks.
- “La Noche Templaria” (The Templar Night): recreation of a fantastic medieval event, under the light of the rose moon. Frey Guido de Garda, master of the Order of the Knights Templar, returns to the “city of the Iron Bridge” to seal a pact of eternal friendship and put under the city’s custody the symbols found in the holy land of Jerusalem: the sacred Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail.
City through which the Camino passes and nowadays also the starting point of the Winter Way. The town emerged at the end of the year 1082 and is closely related to the river Sil. Bishop Osmund of Astorga ordered that a granite bridge be built near an existing church, reinforced with novel pieces of iron, thus giving the city the name of “Pons Ferrata” (“Iron Bridge”).
- Castle of the Knights Templar: it was, in its origin, a pre-Roman fort. In the mid-12th century, the Order of the Knights Templar decided to create the fortress that we know today. Their purpose was to establish a stronghold in Ponferrada that would allow to receive and provide shelter for the pilgrims doing the Way of Saint James. The current castle is the result of many reforms that have taken place over the last six centuries, but it is, undoubtedly, one of the gems of the Camino.
- Basilica of Encina: Renaissance temple with a Latin cross plan, inside which the main altarpiece in polychrome wood stands out, presided over by the statue of the Virgin of La Encina (“Our Lady of the Holm Oak”), known as ‘La Morenica’ (“the Dark-Skinned Saint”), the patron saint of El Bierzo. The tower was added in the 17th century, and so was the “camarín” shrine of the Virgin in the 18th century.
- Royal Prison: nowadays occupied by the El Bierzo Museum, it was once a prison, the magistrate's house and a meeting place for the local councillors, and whose construction began around 1565.
Track Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo
NEARBY POINTS OF INTEREST
- Santo Tomás de las Ollas: this church is an excellent masterpiece of Mozarabic art from the 10th century and the oldest temple in the province, the result of Arab, Carolingian, Lombard and Visigothic influences. It is accessed through a simple doorway, with semi-circular arches, in 12th century Romanesque style. At its foot rises the belfry tower. The square side chapel has diagonal buttresses at its outer corners and it was built in 1700 with the dome supported by pendentives.
- Otero: Church of Santa María de Vizbayo, probably the oldest in El Bierzo in Romanesque style, dating from the late 11th century, it shows a mixture of Romanesque style with elements reminiscent of Mozarabic art.