The Route Of El Cid

The route of el Cid is a cultural and tourist route that crosses Spain from north-west to south-east, following in the steps of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid, the famous 11th-century mediaeval knight.
This route is based on “El Cantar de mio Cid”, the great Hispanic mediaeval epic poem written at the end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century. Due to its length (some 1,400 kilometres of paths and 2,000 kilometres of road), it is divided up into Sections, each having a length of about 300 kilometres, Themed Rings (circular routes) and Branches.

On foot or by mountain bike, along paths that have signposts bearing icons of the Route of El Cid. The Route of El Cid was originally a network of paths (to be traversed on foot), and so certain parts of it may be difficult to travel along by mountain bike. These sections are marked in our travel logs and alternative options are given. By car, bus or bike. The Route of El Cid also contains many sections of road which are often side roads and have little traffic, and so they are used for cycling along the route up to about 70 kilometres from the city of Valencia. In all cases, tourists wishing to cycle along the route who would like to find out more can obtain information at and

Castles, monasteries and palaces

A process of reorganization took place in these lands following the conquests of Gormaz, San Esteban de Gormaz, Haza and Roa in the year 912 by Counts Rodríguez Téllez, Gonzalo Fernández and Nuño Núñez. This began to produce benefits, particularly from the third decade of the 11th century onwards. The development of the significant townships under Clunia, the presence of look-out towers, castles and the distribution of power between the crown, the monasteries and some important noble families and of the Communities of Villa and Tierra, with the villein knights, were to become the supports of the administrative organization of this territory.

External signs of the institutions from this bygone world and its organizations, with its essentially medieval ways and concepts, can still be seen today in the palaces, fortresses, churches and monasteries, a faithful reflection of a reality that was to last until the 19th century with the development of the greater municipal corporations.

We are reminded of our past by the fortification of Haza, the towers of Hoyales and Caleruega, the castles of Torregalindo, Peñaranda and Coruña del Conde, the palaces of Peñaranda and Guzmán, the monastery of Santa María de la Vid and the municipal walls of Gumiel de Mercado, Aranda de Duero and Vadocondes, as well as many other items that have survived from that period of our history. Although many of our institutions and constructions date back to those medieval times, it is also true to say that modernity brought a profound transformation in the constructions and, in many cases, the buildings display Renaissance and Baroque forms.

As some of these towns and their monuments have already been discussed, let`s now look at some of those which are not included in other routes but which will appear in the route map.

The middle and lower sections of the Riaza pass through our territory after the flow is canalized and regulated from the Linares del Arroyo reservoir. Our route starts at the imposing Montejo gorge, on the way to the nearby town of Milagros. The gentle flow of the regulated waterway makes it possible to make careful use of its waters in the ribera until the end of its journey in the shadow of the imposing cliffs of the old Roman “amansión” of Rauda.

In our route we will enjoy well cared for fertile plains, pleasant groves, some imposing cliffs, a countryside with vineyards, cultivated fertile fields and dry land farming lands, as well as some big woodland areas. We cannot fail to enjoy watching the Griffon vultures in flight, and we will follow the tracks of a roe deer or a wild boar. We will be charmed by the ineffable spectacle of the red partridge.

In our relaxing stroll we will enjoy the bleak and dry plateaux, the gentle shapes on which the vineyards are planted, the cliffs on which the birds of prey have their nests and the fertile plains at the bottom of the valley, where most of the towns in the route have been established. We cannot fail to appreciate the changes brought about by the changes in the seasons, especially the rich and spectacular colours of autumn.

The route can be covered by car, or bicycle, along the tracks and paths which allow us to reach unexpected places. It can also be covered on foot, although this would take several days. In this delightful place, the country atmosphere, the tranquility and the spectacular sunsets of the ribera will be our inseparable companions.

In the shade of the Peña Cervera hill, looking southwards, almost in silence, the River Esgueva takes its first steps. It slowly makes its way from the north-east to the south-west until it joins the Pisuerga near the city of Valladolid. This little valley, defined by the river and its little escarpments, has been a communication route since the most distant times.
During the High Middle Ages the territory passed through a great historical period when the great territory belonging to Clunia was reorganized. Bastions, feudal estates (both lay and ecclesiastic) and the various townships began to appear. One of the significant elements, witnesses like few others of this period, are the Romanic chapels that can still be found in some of the towns in the valley.

These Romanic elements, both constructional and ornamental, and developed over the course of the 12th century, display a great personality and their own unique features. These are so marked that we dare say that the churches of the area belong to the Esgueva School. The great nobles, the bishoprics of Burgos and Osma, certain monasteries and the small municipal communties participated, to varying degrees, in the construction of these chapels. Each of the workshops working on the churches or small monasteries left their mark, especially in the forms of construction and the elegant sculpting that “speak a Romanic language” of the mid 12th century. We can also find earlier works and, particularly, later works, as occurs in the parish church of Torresandino. This special language, that of the Esgueva workshops, is not separate from the universal and universalist sense of the Romanic world. Thus, together with elements that show its great personality, such as the typology of apses and entrances, we find that the way the church is articulated, the form of construction of the walls and the magnificent sculptures take us to distant places.

We are in a land which has a long history, with significant items remaining from the Roman world, a period in which the cultivation of vineyards is already documented. This land had a great presence and prominence in medieval times with the Communities of Villa and Tierra – with its leading centre in Roa. It was a bastion of confronation with the Cordovan Islamic world from the year 912 with the presence of Count Nuño Núñez and the concession of the famous charter and with the towns linked to Clunia and, later, the “state” of Santo Domingo de Silos. It is a fertile plain that was ecclesiastically linked to the Bishopric of Osma from the year 1136 right up to the 1950’s in which the unattached towns and those linked to abbacies had a great prominence. 

This land enjoyed a significant resurgence in the Modern Era, especially from the 17th century, and this was linked to the cultivation of vineyards. This is when the increasingly imporant development of vine cultivation really began. The important materials remaining in the town centres, some of which lie within great walls, such as Gumiel del Mercado, the majestic architecture, such as is to be found in Ventosilla, and the magnificent parish churches, such as those of Gumiel de Izán, Sotillo de la Ribera, Gumiel de Mercado and the unique and beautifully restored Franciscan convent of La Aguilera were witnesses of this major development, of the development of great towns, of the efforts of the Duke of Lerma and other noblemen and of the presence of religious establishments of the scale of San Pedro el Regalado in La Aguilera.

We are aware of the importance that has been attached to wine in these towns, the axis of our route, but equally important is its rich historical and artistic heritage. We invite you to enjoy that heritage, to discover it at a gentle, relaxed pace, just as good wine has to mature in an unhurried manner. Our route begins at Quintana del Pidio, but we will not fail to visit the elegant parish church of Villalbilla de Gumiel or the nearby town of Tubilla del Lago.

To speak of the Ribera lands – linked to the noble Roman town of Clunia and the large community carrying its name – at the height of the Middle Ages is to recognise the ecclesiastic link with the bishopric of Osma, the significant influence of great Benedictine monasteries such as Silos and Arlanza and the dominating role of certain noble families, such as those of Haza and Guzmán, without forgetting the excellent municipal and council layouts.
The times of economic growth, artistic development and territorial advance towards the south are the dominating elements of 12th and 13th century Castile, without forgetting the struggle against the Moslems, the Reconquest, the crusades and the doctrinal offensive against the heretics of Albi. It was in this changing world of noblemen, scholasticism and the beginnings of the Gothic culture that the young Domingo de Guzmán who, as canon of Osma, opted to undertake the doctrinal struggle against the Cathars and ended up founding the Dominican Order.

In this route it is important that we mention some of the places that had family and personal ties with this disinguished character living between the 12th and 13th centuries. It is thought that he was born in the year 1170 in the town of Caleruega and that he died in 1221 in the Italian city of Bologna. In our journey we shall focus on the towns of Caleruega (his place of birth), Gumiel de Izán (where he is believed to have lived for a period), Guzmán (the town where the father of the saint, Félix de Guzmán, was born) and Haza (the town of birth of lay sister Juana de Haza, the mother of Domingo).

We must not forget that the work of Domingo de Guzmán took place alongside a major reform that occurred in the 12th and 13th centuries that involved beggars, Fransiscans and Dominicans joining the urban world and the development of a new religiousness that gradually left aside the great monasteries whose presence was felt mainly in the rural context and much less in the urban context.

The Roman world and its culture also have a major effect on these lands. It forms part of their history, customs and peculiarities. The enormous political, juridical, administrative, social and military importance of “Clunia Sulpicia” is felt throughout these lands. This is expressed in the communication routes – roads -, tithes, bridges and, above all, the imposing ruins of the great Roman city of Clunia, seat of the “conventus iuridicus cluniensis”.

The Roman city was built on a spectacular plateau. It posseses an elegant forum and great mansions, churches, a basilica, a market and other public buildings. Beside it there are noteworthy public baths and a spectacular theatre, which was built making great use of the natural shape of the rocks.

This noteworthy city would mark the future history of the area and, subsequently, the large community of townships under Clunia was to take shape. This was to become a great attraction to both Moslems and Christians in the process of occupation and domination of the area. Only the end of the old world, the deterioration of the communications and the lack of state and commercial organization were to slowly but surely bring about the weakening of this Roman city, turning it into a mere reminder of the power and juridical strength it once enjoyed. This weakening was to begin in the 10th century and, more especially, in the 12th century. .

This somewhat unusual route will take us along some of the Roman roads which, whether part of the Itinerary of Antonino (Caesar Augusta- Asturica Augusta) or documented by remains, linked Clunia with other significant areas. An attempt will be made to indicate the remains of these and to see their significance on roads, bridges and towns.