San Pedro de Arlanza

posted in: Home, Spain | 2

In its time The Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza1 was one of the most important monasteries in Castile. The oldest remains date from the 11th century, but there was already a hermitage on this site in the 11th century. Today the ruins hide in a deep valley of the Arlanza River, in the middle of nowhere.

Ruins of San Pedro de Arlanza
Ruins of San Pedro de Arlanza

The Monastery

The Monastery2 was closed on the day we visited but we peered over the wall and enjoyed the ambience of the valley. Having seen the photographs on the internet I am sad that we did not have access.

San Pedro was a Benedictine monastery and many legends are attached to its foundation. Some stories attribute the founding of the monastery to Count Gonzalo Fernandez whose son Fernan Gonzalez was active in Castile, others to Recaredo, a King of the Visigoths.

Between 1835-40 Mendizabal3 put forward legislation which resulted in the seizure of monastic properties, similar to the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England in the 16th century. San Pedro closed at this time and the important tombs were moved to Covorrubias.

Nave of San Pedro de Arlanza
Nave of San Pedro de Arlanza
12th century Tower of San Pedro de Arlanza
12th century Tower of San Pedro de Arlanza
San Pedro at the end of the 17th century: De JARAMILLANO – Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Gorge of the Arlanza River

We drove back to Covarrubias along the gorge of the Arlanza River, a particularly spectacular section of this winding and narrow road. Limestone walls rise high above the road, in creams, reds and golds, and holm oaks are everywhere.

Road along the Arlanza Gorge

The Ornithological Mirador was a break in the limestone crags on top of which we saw griffin vultures which were also wheeling around the rocks, high in the sky above.

Limestone crags in the gorge
Vultures on top of the limestone crags
Vultures on the top of the rocks

It had been a wonderful day! A visit to Covarrubias and San Pedro de Arlanza, spectacular and majestic gorges, vultures – and finally another relaxing evening in the Paradore of Lerma. I felt very fortunate.

  1. The Monastery of San Pedro: ↩︎
  2. The Monastery of San Pedro: ↩︎
  3. Mendizabal:ábal ↩︎

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