Soria is a city in the Castile-Leon region of Spain.
Soria is located in the Northern part of Iberian Peninsula, on the banks of the Duero river, at an average altitude of 1061m.
Winters are harsh by Spanish standards, the coldest provintial capital in Spain. Summers are dry and warm and Summer storms are common. It has scant rainfall (512 mm per year), Spring being the rainiest season.
Northern Spain has many airports now serviced by the budget airlines, such as Vitoria-Gasteiz, Valladolid, Zaragoza and Bilbao, giving the visitor more options regarding the port of arrival, all of which are in easy travelling distance to Soria.
Soria is easily accessible by train from Madrid, with 2-3 services a day stopping in Guadalajara and Sigüenza. Journey takes just below 3h, and it can be quite jumpy at some points, because it follows the original 19th century railway line. The advantage is that the route is quite picturesque, with the train crossing pinetree forests and wildlife can easily be seen.
Soria is easily accessible by bus from Madrid, Pamplona, Valladolid, Zaragoza and other cities in Northern Spain.
Santo Domingo Church (Soria)
- Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo is a Romanesque-style, Roman Catholic church. It was built in the 12th century and partially renovated in the following centuries, particulary in the 16th century, when it became part of a Dominican priory. It has a latin-cross plan with three naves of nearly equal heights. It has an impressive façade built in red sandstone, unique in Spain and somehow influenced by St Mary of Poitiers (France). There are two sets of blind arcades at both sides of the portal. The portal has an elaborated archivolt with Biblical characters and scenes. The tympanum has representations of the God the father sitting with the Child, four angels with the symbols of the Evangelists, the prophet Isaiah and the Virgin Mary. The capitals on the jambs of the entry feature biblical scenes from the Genesis and the life of Christ. The portal is surmounted by a large rose window. edit
- Concatedral de San Pedro, Plaza de San Pedro s/n. Soria pro-Cathedral was built in the 12th century. It partially collapsed and was subsequently rebuilt from 1548 onwards in Renaissance style. The church has three naves of equal heights, covered by vaults with star-shaped skylights. It has quite austere décor, except the south doorway, which is in Plateresque style, with a round arch with archivolts and a high frieze. The highlight is its large (30 x 30 m) 12th century Romanesque cloister, with richly decorated capitals. edit
- San Juan de Duero. Across the river we find this ruined, medieval monastery. It was built in the 12th century by the Order of Hospitallers, and abandoned in the 18th century. The cloister, one of the most exceptional claustral spaces from all over Europe, was built in the early 13th century with Gothic, Mudejar and Eastern architectural elements. edit
- Muralla. Remains of the city wall can be seen at various points in the city. Largely destroyed during the Independence War against France in the 19th century, Soria's city wall had a perimeter of more than 4 km. If you are reasonably fit, you will enjoy the breathtaking views when walking along the best preserved section, from the Ermita del Mirón down to the river Duero. edit
- Puente de Piedra. Built in the 12th century, the stone bridge has 8 arches. It was originally fortified, with 2 towers (one in the middle, the other in the city wall) that were destroyed in the 19th century. edit
- Palacio de los Condes de Gómara. It is the most representative building of Renaissance civil architecture of the city of Soria. It was built in the 16th century by the local "Ríos y Salcedo" family, which became rich and powerful on the wool trade. edit
- Plaza Mayor. The main square of the city was not the historical center of the city (that would be the area around the pro-Cathedral), but became the center of power during the 16th century. On the southern side we find the 16th century city hall, still referred to as El Palacio de los Doce Linajes, because it used to be the headquarters of the local nobility, organized in 12 families since the 13th century. The symbol of this ancient institution (12 family cresps around a round table, with Santiago riding his horse in the center) still dominates the facade. As a counterbalance, on the opposite side of the square, the commoners built La Casa del Común in the 17th century. Other notable buildings include the 12th century church Santa María la Mayor and the 18th century neoclasical Palacio de la Audiencia. edit
Gardens and parks
- La Dehesa. This park was actually renamed Alameda de Cervantes more than a century ago, but the stubborn inhabitants of the city still call it by its former name. It is one of the oldest public parks in Spain, containing a wide range of plant and tree species. It is now one of the centers of the city life, and some of the most important events during the "San Juan" city festival happen here. It contains a small 16th century church (Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad), two children’s playgrounds and two small restaurants. edit
- Parque del Castillo. A large park in the highest part of the city, where the city originated. Here, you can enjoy the best views of the city and you can see the remains of the Soria Castle. Inside the ruined keep, an outdoors children's swimming pool opens during the Summer months. How cool is that! edit
San Juan's festival, around june 24th, with bulls let running loose from the neighbouring fields into the town streets.
Getting around the province is best done with either a local tour company or by hire car. Public transport is limited to the town of Soria. There are daily buses out to most of the rural villages but they tend to run once a day each way so are not that practical for tourists and visitors.
Numantia (Numancia in Spanish) was an ancient Celtiberian/Arevaci city, whose remains are located 7 km north of the city of Soria, on a hill known as Cerro de la Muela, near the modern town of Garray. It is best known because of its role during the Celtiberian Wars agains Rome in the 2nd century BC. Defeating legion after legion, Rome had to send its best general against them. He refused battle, and laid siege to the city instead. After 13 months of siege, the Numantians decided to burn the city and commit suicide rather than surrender and be slaves. Because of this, Numantia is now a symbol of freedom and resistance, and an important element to understand the local culture (even the local football team is named after the ancient city!).
- Numancia (Ancient city), Garray (Soria), . edit
The small remote 11th century hermitage of San Baudelio with its painted frescos is worth a visit. There is said to be around 100 years difference between the construction of the hermitage and the paintings. The frescos are of arab and christian influence and are some of the most important 'mozarabe' art.
- San Baudelio (Painted Frescos), Casillas de Berlanga (Soria). April, May, Sept & Oct:10am till 2pm & 4pm till 7pm. June thru to Aug: 10am till 2pm & 5pm till 9pm. Nov thru to March: 10am till 2pm & 3.30pm till 6pm. Sundays and holidays: 10am till 2pm. Closed every Monday & tuesday except if public holiday. 0.60€. edit
A short distance from the picturesque village of Vinuesa, high up in the ‘Sierra Urbion’, in an area of lush, dense pine forests, renowned for its abundance of wildlife is the magnificent ‘Laguna Negra’ or Black Lake. This glacial lake was formed during the last ice age; its impressive 80m (260fft) high granite walls cast a black shade over the waters below. Make sure you allow enough time to soak up the magic of this area, a favourite and inspirational place for the Spanish poet Antonio Machado. This peaceful place can also be accessed from the GR86, one of the walking tracks that criss cross the province. If you have a passion for mountains, with suitable equipment a hike from here of about 2 hours will bring you to the birthplace of the mighty Dureo River which ends its course on the Portuguese coast.
- Laguna Negra (Glacial Lake), 18kms from Vineusa (signposted). The Lake can be visited all year round. As there is no entrance fee, there are no opening hours. edit