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Soria Capital

Description |  Towns |  What to see |  What to do |  Where to stay |  Where to eat

It seems as if a halo of pure poetry wraps the entire capital thanks to the works of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer or Antonio Machado. Both were inspired by the stately homes to create a universe of legends and mysteries about the Knights Templar who lived on the Douro riverbanks. Soria has recently reinvented its town centre with many innovative features although it still preserves its ancient roots by accommodating its heritage gracefully to newer times.

 

Visit the city

We invite you to walk Soria’s streets. In less than four hours, you’ll be able to see pathways, squares, alleys and interesting spots with this route.

 

The tour starts off at Calle Caballeros, headquarters of the Provincial Council (23). This building was built over the Palace of the Marquises of Vadillo and is guarded by a line of bronze statues that represent the eight most emblematic people of Soria’s history. On the same street, you can see the Treasury Palace, which is a three-floored building with a tower on its corner topped with balls in a Herreran style. A few metres further, you can find the Alcántara Palace (22), a Baroque-inspired building with two floors and a tower on its corner from 1704.

 

In front of the Council, you can see the Romanesque silhouette of the church of San Juan de Rabanera (1), a 12th-century church that is quite impressive due to its architectonic purity, so much so that it has been declared a National Monument. Its slender apse and its altarpiece made by the painter, Baltanás, and the sculptor, Francisco de Ágreda, are worth seeing, as well as the spectacular oriental features that can be seen on the façade that once belonged to the church of San Nicolás.

 

In San Esteban Square, there is a building that once was the local headquarters for the Bank of Spain. This massive Neoclassical building is placed on the lot where the Palace of the Vinuesa family once was.

 

One of the city’s distinguishing marks is Alameda de Cervantes (2), most commonly known as ”La Dehesa”. This great park with boardwalks and a massive meadow is always full of Sorians going for a walk or doing exercise, children playing on the playground or families and friends enjoying a refreshing drink in one of the many terraces that are set up in the summertime. In the middle of the park, there is a structure that is known as “árbol de la música” (the music tree) that replaced an ancient elm tree that decomposed. The current “music tree” has a platform so the Municipal Band can go up and play for all the city. To the right, you’ll see a small chapel called ermita de la Soledad (3). This simple temple has a portal with three rounded arches and inside, in one of the smaller chapels, there is a shrine dedicated to Cristo del Humilladero, a magnificent 15th-century Baroque carving supposedly by Juan de Juni.

 

Just outside of the park, to the right, you can see the Numantian Museum (4), inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1919. There you can see a collection of archaeological pieces found all around the province.

 

Our next stop is in front of an incredible landmark of Castilian architecture, the church of Santo Domingo (6) which is considered one of the loveliest examples of Romanesque architecture in Spain. It was built in the second half of the 12th century and its façade is pure visual poetry for its beauty and the quality of the craftsmanship of all the decorative elements. On it, you can see scenes of the Apocalypse or the Life of Christ. Between the portal and the rosette, there are two seated statues of Alfonso VIII and Eleanor of Aquitaine. This sober building is part of the convent of the Order of Saint Clare where the sisters make delicious treats.

 

Our route continues towards calle del Hospicio, where the Tirso de Molina Event Hall (7) is located. This space belonged to the old convent of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy and it was the place where the Baroque dramatist Tirso de Molina lived and died. An event venue in his honour was opened up in this space that was once a church.

 

The next building worth seeing is the Antonio Machado Institute (8) due to the fact that it is a great example of Jesuitical architecture with is solid ashlar structure mostly free of embellishments. The only decorative features are on the main façade, opened up to the north-west that has a lintelled portal with moulding crowned by a split triangular gable. The last finishing touch is the coat of arms of Charles III of Spain with the Golden Fleece. Inside, the cloister remains as a memory from when this building was a monastery and the classroom where Antonio Machado once taught still remains intact.

 

Now, going down called Aduana Vieja and before reaching the square plaza de San Clemente, known among the locals as “El Tubo”, you will see a series of Renaissance style palaces:

 

Palace of the Viscount of Eza: this palace was built in the 12th century by one of Soria’s most influential noble families that was in the lineage of San Clemente and was granted the title of Viscount of Eza, among many others. In the 19th century, the Marichalar family became related to them and they are now the heirs of this palace. It is the only fort-house left of the Twelve Main Noble Families (Doce Linajes). Throughout the years, it has been modified, for instance, in the 18th century, a coat of arms was added to the façade and you can still see chains under the balcony that prove that it was a royal accommodation. King Alfonso XIII stayed here when he came to inaugurate the Numantian Museum.

 

Palace of Don Diego Solier: this palace was built towards the end of the 16th century, little after the Palace of the Counts of Gómara, reason why it has so many similarities. Its façade of stonework and ashlar has great windows decorated with coffers on the sides and gables on the upper part. The upper floor has a continuous gallery with rounded arches and Tuscan columns. Up to the 20th century, the main entrance was on an alley which disappeared and led to the opening of the current main entrance and the two windows on the main floor.

 

Palace of Ríos y Salcedo (9): this 16th-century Renaissance palace with three floors built in stone and ashlar has Extremaduran influences, such as the window on the corner, which could have been brought with the Transhumance. The central balcony, with lintels and crowned with a gable, is also a feature worth mentioning. The old house of the Ríos and Salcedo family was occupied by Conceptionist Nuns after the counts abandoned it, and the by Poor Clares. Later on, it was the headquarters of the Spanish Civil Guard, a warehouse for drinks, and nowadays it is being used as the Provincial Historical Archive.

 

Life runs through the city’s main artery, El Collado (10), a lively street with many hints of history and emotion. Just take a moment to look at all the manor houses that show their coats of arms with pride, honouring the heraldic memory of Soria’s past. Within the arcades, you can still see the casino where Antonio Machado would spend his afternoons. It is a sort of time capsule in the middle of a street lined with display windows great for window shopping (or even shopping) on your tour through the town.

 

Before going to the main square, there is a smaller one called plaza del Rosel with a great monument in honour of the Twelve Main Noble Families of Soria. In the background, you will see a massive building which is the Palace of the Counts of Gómara (11), currently used as the Provincial Court. This magnificent building made up of three structures has a façade of about 100 metres. It was built between 1577 and 1592 by the major lieutenant of Castile during Felipe II’s reign. It has an indoor courtyard lined with columns and outside you can see a massive quadrangular tower. Make sure to look carefully at the façade and find a woman figure in an opening. Legends say that she was put there to prevent conjugal infidelities.

 

From here, you can go to the main square which like in any other city, town or village in Spain is called Plaza Mayor (12). This space is the main meeting spot for local events and festivities. The square is dominated by the Town Hall building which was once the headquarters for a medieval institution that ruled over the land called Casa de los Linajes. On the façade, you can see a disk with the coat of arms of all twelve families that were part of this fellowship and in the middle, you can see King Alfonso VIII.

 

The City House is a cultural centre located in the old Courthouse. On top of the building, you will see a clock, like Antonio Machado, called it vetusto tocahoras, that still marks the vital rhythm of Sorians. Other landmarks that can be seen are the tower of doña Urraca and the church of Nuestra Señora la Mayor that still has some original Romanesque features such as the tower and a simple portal that were maintained during its 19th-century renovation. It was in this precise temple where Leonor Izquierdo and Antonio Machado got married.

 

Now, you can go down calle Real, an important street since the Middle Ages that is also lined with noble mansions. On this path, you will see the remains of the church of San Nicolás, a 12th-century temple with a triptych that narrates the assassination of the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in 1170.

 

There is a Renaissance-style church called iglesia del Carmen (13) and nearby there is a convent that was founded by Saint Teresa of Ávila in 1581.

 

If you keep going down calle Real, you will reach the Co-Cathedral of San Pedro (17). The original Romanesque temple was built in the 12th century, although it had to be rebuilt over the 16th century. However, it still maintains some of its original Romanesque features such as the cloister which is a masterpiece declared National Monument in 1929. Don’t forget to look at its columns decorated with oriental elements. The main façade has Plateresque elements and is made up of a rounded arch. Above the portal’s lintel, there is the image of Saint Peter. Inside there are three naves covered with Gothic ribbed-vaulting and a major altarpiece with a triptych of the Crucifixion. The chapter hall is a beautiful room with great windows and a sepulchral urn.

 

If you keep going down the hill, you will cross the Douro River on an ancient bridge to see one of the most emblematic places of Soria: the Monastery of San Juan de Duero (18). Only a 12th-century church is what is left of the ancient monastery of the Knights Hospitaller that has an exhibit of a medieval collection from the Numantian Museum, and, of course, the impressive cloister with intertwined arches where you can see all sorts of styles, making San Juan de Duero one of the most unique Spanish Romanesque landmarks.

 

If you keep walking along the river, you will reach the Monastery of San Polo (19) where the Knights Templar once lived. Its history and the bucolic path lined with poplar trees give this place a spiritual magnetism impossible to resist.

 

To finish this route that Antonio Machado did along the Douro riverbanks every day of his life in Soria, you need to continue on this path up to the chapel of San Saturio (20). According to spoken tradition, Saturio donated all his belongings to the poor and he went to live as a hermit in this cave that can be visited before entering the 18th-century temple. Inside the chapel, there are frescos made by Antonio Zapata that depict the life and miracles of Soria’s Patron Saint.

 

To return to the city, we suggest crossing the bridge, turning right onto the San Prudencio Path and then going up a hiking path to the Castle of Soria. There are few remains left of what must have been an enormous fortress that once protected all the Sorians. Tradition has it that Count Fernán González ordered to build the oldest part, then in the 12th century, Alfonso I of Aragon continued by ordering the outer walls to be built. During the Spanish Independence War, after regaining control of the castle that was under French domain, General Durán ordered it to be destroyed to avoid sieges by other troops.

 

Our tour of the capital ends with a visit to iglesia del Espino with an incredible Tardogothic sanctuary from the 16th century. In front of the church, you can see the elm tree that Antonio Machado dedicated a poem to, while in the cemetery nearby lies his wife and muse, Leonor.

 

Other interesting places worth visiting

 

Chapel of El Mirón

Although it is said that it is originally Visigoth, before the chapel was here there was one of the 35 medieval parishes dedicated to Santa María del Mirón. It is located on one of the best hills to watch over the city. This Baroque chapel stands out for its major altarpiece that features the Virgin and its boudoir. In times of drought, a fraternity called Cofradía de Labradores celebrated San Isidro with processions in the small square in front of the church where there is a Churrigueresque column with a bust of San Saturio.

 

Church of San Francisco

It is possible that this convent was founded by Francis of Assis in 1214. In the 17th century, a fire destroyed the monastery almost entirely, which was abandoned after its ecclesiastical confiscation. The temple, where it is said that the Majorcan king Jaime IV was buried, has an interesting altarpiece from the end of the 16th century made by Gabriel Pinedo. The only original part of the church is a small chapel on the side with a tomb that is profusely decorated and currently holds a crucifixion.

 

Convent of Santa Clara

This convent that advocates Saint Clare was founded in 1224, although it was originally dedicated to Saint Catherine. The temple was enormous, almost as big as a collegiate. The magnificent major altarpiece can be seen in the old collegiate of San Pedro. In 1834, it was used as a barrack and then it became the headquarters for the Military Government. Part of the buildings still serve this purpose, while the rest is used as the main office for the Health Sciences Institute of Castile and Leon, and outside there is an ample courtyard with parks.

 

Church of El Salvador

This church was built on the land where a humble temple was erected after the Reconquista. The modern church is in the heart of the city, built in 1967 to meet the needs of the ever-expanding city. The only parts left of the original church are the apse and the two chapels in the sanctuary. Inside, you can see a major altarpiece made by the sculptor Francisco de Ágreda.

 

Outside the city, you can visit Valonsadero, one of the preferred recreational areas for Sorians. In the middle of this idyllic landscape, you can see traces left behind by primitive hominids, such as 4,000-year-old cave art. Most of the more than 50 paintings represent hunting scenes or shepherds.

 

About eight kilometres away from the capital, you can find the ruins of Numantia, known as the “martyr city” due to the heroic resistance of the Celtiberians that lived here against the Roman invasion. After defeating consul after consul, Cornelius Scipio encamped around the city, besieging it, and finally gained control in 133 C.E. when about 8,000 Numantines preferred to commit suicide before being ruled by the enemies.

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Tourist Map

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Chapel of San Saturio
Chapel of San Saturio
Cloister of San Juan de Duero
Cloister of San Juan de Duero
Chapel of El Mirón
Chapel of El Mirón

Diputación de Soria (Desarrollo Económico y Turismo)

C/ Caballeros, 17 - 42002 Soria

Tfno. 975 220 511 Fax 975 231 635

turismo@dipsoria.es