Free stopoversatlocal entrepreneurs in the countryside,when purchasing local products or services. España Discovery offers the Spanish version of ‘France Passion’. Our editor Agnes tries it out,spending three nights along the route of El Cid.
Camping Fuentes Blancas in Burgosis remarkably busy at the end of April. Apparently, Burgos is a great starting point for a tour of Spain. We start withexploring the city and visit the final resting place of El Cid in the cathedral. Here, the famous knight and his wife were reburied in 1842. In the tourist office, we get our hands on a brochure (folleto) in which the ‘Camino Del Cid’ route is described, partly based on “The Poem of the Cid”. This famous epicsings the praises of El Cid’sReconquista campaign to Valencia, between 1092 and 1094.
The nearly two thousand-kilometre route starts in Vivar del Cid. This is the birthplace of El Cid and is located north of Burgos. Our first stop is the San Pedro de Cardeña monastery. During his exile, El Cid’s family stayed in this monastery. It’s also the place where he was honoured for ten years after his death and laid buried for several centuries. A brother shows us around the church, the monastery and the beautiful cloister. Our guideonly speaks Spanish, but tries his bestto get his story across and is very proud of his monastery. It takes more than an hour before we end up outside again. If all viewings take this long, we’ll be working the night shift today!As we continue the route, we enjoy the red soil, the young green grain and the flowering yellow broom. Herds of sheep populate the hills, and occasionally we see a few cows and horses. The roads here are sometimes a bit narrow, but otherwise fine.
In the town of Covarrubias, we admire the timber-framed houses. Even the bins are consistently styled. It’s very cold and deserted. In the next village, Santo Domingo de Silos, it’s slightly warmer. This place is known for its Gregorian chants and the beautiful Romanesque cloister in the Benedictine monastery. We can visit the cloister, but there’s no singing until the evening. Two kilometers further, we park the motorhome just after a tunnel. We encounter a small, very narrow gorge: the Desfiladero de la Yecla. Via a staircase and walkway we enter the gorge and immediately find ten vultures circling over our heads.
For the first night of España Discovery, we stop at the local wine cooperative in Peñaranda de Duero. They’re still open and we register in the shop, waving the España Discovery book, which serves as proof of membership. We’re allowed to pick a spot in the parking lot and – of course – quickly purchase a bottle of wine. There are even wine pumps installed in the wall for after hours. In case we’re still thirsty, or become overwhelmed by the boring parking lot, we can get our hands on enough wine to last us the night.
The next morning, we resume our route. Along the way we enjoy the views and the many villages, abandoned castles and towns. All places on the route are mentioned in the aforementioned epic. We consider turning left, to enter the Parque natural Cañón del Río Lobos, but decide to continue our way to Gormaz. There we see the remains of an Arab fortress that El Cid conquered in 1060. We take a small detour, to visit the burial chapel San Baudelio de Berlanga. The exterior isn’t much to look at, but the interior is beautifully decorated with pillars, arches and murals. This time we spend the night at the Motorhome stopover of Medinaceli.
We start day three on El Cid’s route, and again we find the roads deserted. This region of Spain faces significant depopulation. We pass the castle of Molina de Aragón, after which the route crosses the Alto Tajo Nature Reserve. There are huge red rocks on both sides of the road. What a spectacle! In the afternoon we arrive at our next ‘España Discovery overnight location’. This motorhome stopover is located a few kilometres before the town of Albarracín. It’s a sheep cheese factory with a shop. We’re assigned a place for the night and buy some sheep cheese to pair with tonight’s drinks.
We take our bikes from the garage and leave for Albarracín. A beautiful, but touristy town of more than a thousand years old. With many steep and narrow streets, squares and beautiful views. The next morning, we return, this time with the motorhome. There’s a large parking lot just outside the town, where you can easily park. Although we have only travelled part of the official route, we decide to leave El Camino del Cid for now, because we promised our daughter a few days Valencia. But we’ll be back! A little later in the season and at a time when we have more time to enjoy this beautiful route.
For more route information, check caminodelcid.org
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, nicknamed El Cid Campeador, is a historical national hero in Spain. Born in Vivar in 1040, he was knighted at the age of seventeen and fought against the Moors under the kings of Castile and León. Around 1092, he started his great campaign to conquer Valencia. He took this city in 1094 and reigned there in the name of the king until his death in 1099. The story goes that at that point, the Moors thought they could easily retake the city, but when they sawEl Cid’s embalmed body in full equipment on his horse, they becamealarmed and fled. His wife Jimena sentEl Cid’s body – in combat position on his horse – back to his native region. Along the entire route to the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, his mounted body was met by a reverent population. At the monastery, his body was exhibited for ten more years and people drew from near and far to honour him. His heroic deeds are described in the epic “El Poema del Cid”, the first version of which must have originated from around 1140. One of the later fourteenth-century versions formed the basis for El Camino del Cid.
Source: Agnes Jeurnink (editor NKC).
The NKC is the Dutch parent company of Campercontact