The hidden beauty, Church of San Juan de Baños
The Church of San Juan de Baños de Cerrato is one of the most remarkable temples of the pre-Romanesque period. Visigothic church consecrated in 661 by the monarch Recesvinto, as recorded in an inscription located on the triumphal arch. It is a temple that has undergone many reconstructions and modifications. It has a basilical plan with three naves. The highest being the central one and a tripartite chevet.
The arches that separate the naves are horseshoe arches on marble columns. These were reused from an ancient temple of Roman origin. Its capitals have a classic decoration. Finally, in the chevet is exposed the King’s Crown, a replica made of gold with precious stones and pearls. The original was found in the vicinity of the temple and is preserved in the National Archaeological Museum.
PROVINCE OF PALENCIA
The Cerrato Palentino is a wavy territory, crowned by several hills, according to which the area was named. It is an extensive region with more than 1700 square kilometers located in south of Palencia.
The Pisuerga River, its tributaries and streams provide freshness and greenery with its riverside vegetation. Here the ocher tones dominate, allowing one to see among them the green of pines, holm oaks and kermes oaks. Between the hills and crops that dominate the line of the moorland stand out villages we suggest you visit.
ROUTE OF THE INTERIOR CERRATO
This route invites us to visit some of the least known although highly interesting areas of the Cerrato. We begin our tour in the monumental village of Palenzuela. There stand several monuments such as its medieval castle and the magnificent churches of Santa Eulalia and San Juan Bautista. Also we will have a look at the Arco de la Paz, vestige of a gate leading to the town. Moreover, one should visit the San Francisco convent and the Hermitage of Our Lady of Allende the River. From Palenzuela, on another occasion, we can make the Carlos V Route, which includes the villages of Torquemada and Dueñas.
Afterward we leave Palenzuela after crossing the Arlanza River and we cross the 622 national road to Villahán and Tabanera. Arriving to the village of Antigüedad, where after visiting its church of Our Lady of the Assumption, we will take the detour to the entrance of the town heading down towards Espinosa and Cobos to finally get closer to the Hermitage of Our Lady of Garón.
ROUTE OF THE RIBERA DEL PISUERGA
With this route we suggest you, fellow traveler, getting to know the north of the Cerrato. So we begin our trip in Astudillo, where we can enjoy a rich Artistic and Historical set. The Arch of San Martín and the Remains of the Castillo de la Mota (Property of Cultural Interest) are what remains of the old fortified town. We can visit the Monastery of Santa Clara, which is partly built on what used to be the Palace of King Pedro I. Today, an interesting Museum is located there.
In addition, the churches of Santa María, San Pedro and Santa Eugenia are conserved within the town. The Santa Eugenia church has become a large local museum. It displays part of the heritage of the aforementioned temples. One must visit the Cross Hermitage, which treasures the steps of Holy Week and the Hermitage of Torre Marte. Keep on strolling through the streets with emblazoned houses and go up to La Mota to see some wineries.
The river Valdavia crosses the village of the same name. In this area you will find oaks, junipers and various shrubs along with a variety of medicinal and aromatic plants. Wild boars, foxes, wolves, roe deer, coots, herons and ducks are some species that we can find in this area.
Following the course of the Valdivia River, we begin our route in Congosto de Valdavia. To the south of this town is the Dehesa de Tablares, where the Church of the Transfiguration is located. Also, it has an interesting Romanesque main front from the 13th century. In addition, it has two lateral reliefs, one with the Pantocrator and the other with the Calvary. Finally, images of Saints Pedro and Pablo can be seen on the sides of this facade.
We will continue to Puebla de Valdavia, Buenavista de Valdavia, Polvorosa and Renedo de Valdavia in whose church we will see an interesting baptismal font. Then we head towards Arenillas de San Pelayo to see the remains of the church and monastery of Saint Pelayo. Its three apses, the capitals of the toral arch and chapter house are a Romanesque work from the 12th and 13th centuries.
TIERRA DE CAMPOS, LAND OF CHURCHES AND MUSEUMS
The surprises offered by Tierra de Campos Palentina are many and varied. At first sight, it appears to us as an apparently homogeneous geographical space. With a closer look, its landscape, light and volumes are rich in contrasts, fluctuating according to the different seasons.
Here, the sunlight, the blue of the sky, the sunrises and sunsets are unique. Adding to this a great variety of temples, museums, and places of interest, your visit is more than justified. This rich diversity ranges from the great works of art by painters such as Pedro Berruguete, to the beautiful and unique dovecotes, an example of rural architecture in which adobe is the essential element of construction.
There are farmland cereal, fields laden with art, municipalities that deserve a careful and restful visit. Additionally, these lands are abundant in artistic works, most of them guarded inside their temples. There we will find first-order pieces, or as they say colloquially “with names and surnames”. Other temples tell us about the history of each locality.
Of all the styles and times there is something interesting in the Tierra de Campos Palentina. We suggest you take the time to walk through the streets and squares where these monuments and museums are located. For example you can find works made for kings, nobles, bishops, brotherhoods, civil orders. Look for simple signs of the passage of time and popular ethnography and culture while enjoying nature and landscapes.
We begin our tour dedicating a day to Palencia capital. There we can visit the Cathedral and the Cathedral Museum, which constitute a review of History and Art. The museum is installed in the anteroom and chapter house. In the inside we can find Greco’s San Sebastián, works of Mateo Cerezo, Alejo de Vahía, etc. It is completed with a visit to the San Antolín Crypt of the Visigothic and Romanesque era.
We can get to know more about the sacred art of the province without leaving the capital. We can see the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art located in the Episcopal Palace. Here, works around the provincial scope are kept, some of them by authors such as Pedro Berruguete, Juan de Flandes, Felipe Vigarny, Alejo de Vahía, etc. Also with Romanesque stacks, altarpieces, goldsmith’s works, etc.
This experience can be extended with the visit to the Museum of Palencia. Located in the Casa del Cordón, it exhibits different materials found in archaeological excavations carried out throughout the province. Prehistoric materials of the Bronze Age, ceramic objects and Celtiberian goldsmiths; funeral steles, portraits, bronze sculptures, coins and different remains of daily life from Roman times. For example, Visigoth, Romanesque and Gothic remains can be seen in the different rooms of this museum. Visiting the Diaz Caneja Foundation would be a good counterpoint to the Museum of Palencia. There we will learn more about the artistic legacy of this painter.